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Uni Watch Profiles: Scott Sillcox


As most of you know, I recently raffled off an original illustration from Maple Leaf Productions, the company that has been selling uni-historical posters, clocks, fridge magnets, and other products for the past 15 years or so.

That raffle came about after I received a communiqué from Maple Leaf founder Scott Sillcox, who explained to me that he was selling the company and selling off all the original artwork. I’d been aware of Maple Leaf’s product line but for some reason I had never thought to interview Scott or get the full Maple Leaf story. A few weeks ago we finally addressed that oversight.

Scott turned out to be a real gentleman and a great storyteller. Here’s how our chat went down.

Uni Watch: First, tell me about yourself. What’s your background, and what were you doing before you started Maple Leaf Productions?

Scott Sillcox: When I finished university in the early ’80s, I wanted to start the great Canadian magazine — sort of half Rolling Stone, half Time. But instead, through a series of connections, I ended up organizing trade shows, and I fell in love with it. Boat shows, petroleum shows, you name it. It turned out that I really love organizing things, and that’s what the trade show business is all about. By 1992, I’d started my own trade show company.

UW: And how did Maple Leaf get started?

SS: Well, you know how it is once you’re an entrepreneur. I always loved the history of sports, so I kind of morphed my trade show business into two businesses: one for trade shows and one for sports histories. In the late ’90s I decided I loved the sports history more, so I handed over the trade show business to some friends and concentrated on the licensed sports history.

UW: So you were interested in sports history, but were you always interested in uniforms?

SS: Yes. Let me tell you two stories about that. First, I was known in university as the guy who always wore hockey jerseys. I had maybe 20 jerseys from when I was a kid, and then friends would give me theirs.

UW: And this was 30 years ago, when it wasn’t so common for people to be walking around in jerseys, because merchandising hadn’t taken off like it has now.

SS: Yes, it was a bit unusual at the time. But I loved them. And the second thing is that one of my grandfathers had a series of called The Trail of the Stanley Cup. It was a limited-edition series that the NHL published in 1966-67 to celebrate the league’s 50th season. They only printed 1000 copies of the first two volumes, and then a third volume was published about three years later, and they did 1500 copies of that one. My grandfather was lucky enough to get a set, and he gave it to me late in his life, around 1980. Anyway, the books tell the history of the teams that competed for the Cup, from 1893 up to 1967, and they included some beautiful hand-rendered uniform illustrations:

Those illustrations were the inspiration for what I eventually did with Maple Leaf Productions.

UW: Oh, so your basic style of showing a jersey on a headless mannequin, that was based on the illustration templates from the book?

SS: Yes, exactly. And when the NHL first did throwback jerseys in the early ’90s, I’ve been told that they used those same renderings for the logos.

UW: Wow — I’d never seen those renderings before. In fact, I’d never heard of this book series.

SS: They’re very rare, and I’m so lucky to have a set. I often say that if the house was burning down, that’s what I’d save.

UW: So when did Maple Leaf actually get off the ground?

SS: The licensed sports part was in 1996. I had applied to the NHL licensing department for a few years prior to that. I wanted to produce a family of products, mainly posters, showing the history of uniforms, and I got turned down a couple of times. And they were probably right to turn me down — I had no experience in retail.

UW: And was the way you were envisioning and describing the project at that time very similar to how it’s turned out? In other words, lots of products showing images of old uniforms?

SS: Yes, that was very much what I had in mind. I maybe didn’t fully envision how many products the images could be put on, the basic concept of uniform history and evolution was there from the start.

UW: So what happened after they turned you down?

SS: I thought if I published a poster that didn’t need licensing, and if it was successful, that would show that I knew what I was doing. So I did a poster called “The Original Six,” showing artists’ sketches of the Original Six hockey arenas. I’d consulted with lawyers to confirm that I didn’t need a license to do that. We probably sold about 100,000 of that. So then when I went back to the NHL in ’97, they said, “Okay, you’ve got a track record, you can be a licensee.”

UW: So that was the first Maple Leaf Productions product.

SS: Yes.

UW: Did your company name lead to any problems with the Toronto Maple Leafs, or does every company in Canada just call itself Maple Leaf This or Maple Leaf That..?

SS: Once in a while I’ve heard from the Maple Leafs organization, saying, “How did you get that name?” or “We really should have that name.” But nothing ever came of that.

UW: When you started doing this, people weren’t writing and talking about uniforms as much as they are today, and the interest in throwbacks and uniform history wasn’t as great as it is today. What made you think people would be interested in images of uniforms?

SS: I just thought it could look so attractive that even if someone wasn’t already interested in uniforms, seeing a team’s uniform evolution would make them interested. I just thought a fan of a team would be interested in seeing that, even if he’d never thought much about uniforms before.

UW: So once you got the NHL license, did you immediately put out posters of all the teams, or did you start with the Original Six, or what?

SS: Yes, I started with the Original Six teams, because I thought there would be the greatest demand for those, and then I expanded to the other teams. And then the NFL and Major League Baseball came next, in 2000.

UW: Did you approach them, or did they approach you?

SS: I approached them, and they were both wonderful to work with. At the time, the NFL had about 400 licensees. Now they have only about 80. They’re much more selective now — they keep whittling it down, and fortunately I’ve always made the cut.

UW: And over the years you’ve also worked with the CFL and the NCAA, right?

SS: Yes, that’s it.

UW: How many individual teams or schools have you documented over the years?

SS: I think it’s 115.

UW: And how many individual illustrations have you published in the course of documenting those 115 teams?

SS: Roughly 1700.

UW: You’ve never worked with the NBA. Why not?

SS: The NBA used to call me every year, but it never worked out, for two reasons: First, I’m not an expert in basketball history. I just don’t know that much about it. And secondly, it seemed to me that basketball are a little bit more about the here and now — what’s hot, what’s new — than they are about history and the past.

UW: Part of that, I think, is because basketball is by far the worst-documented major sport in terms of its history. It’s hard for fans to connect with that heritage if the resources aren’t there for them.

SS: One time the Washington Wizards asked us to do a fan giveaway, so we did do that. But aside from that, we didn’t think there was a market for the heritage side of basketball.

UW: Let’s talk about the process of creating the artwork on your products. First, they’re watercolors, right?

SS: Yes, they’re all watercolor paintings.

UW: I know you’ve had several different artists. Did you originally have just one and then you had to expand, or did you have a rotating stable of artists right from the start?

SS: Started with one — a wonderful man named Tino Paolini, who was an art teacher in Toronto.

UW: How did you find him, or know of him?

SS: I run an adult soccer league. A recreational league. And Tino was one of the players. That’s how I got to know him.

UW: So you explained what you had in mind for Maple Leaf Productions?

SS: Yes, and he got it right away.

UW: Is he a hockey fan? I mean, here you were asking him to paint hockey uniforms.

SS: His first love is soccer. But he likes hockey and other sports very much. He’s a wonderful artist, but he took about 24 man-hours to produce a painting, which meant he couldn’t keep up with the volume of illustrations we needed. I was always encouraging him, “Tino, can you work a little bit quicker?” And he’d say, “Scott, I’ll do my best,” and then the next one would be 23 and three-quarters hours. That was just his pace. But he had a great attention to detail, so in retrospect I’m glad he didn’t succomb to the pressure I was putting on him.

UW: So because he worked at a deliberate pace, that’s why you had to bring other artists on board?

SS: Yes. Nola McConnan, who became our most prolific artist, was a family friend. She had a lot of experience painting horses — an equine artist — but she tried a few paintings for us and sort of fell in love with the male torso.

UW: Was she a sports fan?

SS: Yes. After she did about 1000 paintings, she needed a year off, which was completely understandable.

UW: Do the different artists have their own stylistic quirks? Like, does one artist tend to show more texture than another, or maybe one of them has a particular flair for jersey typography, or whatever?

SS: As much as I would love them to be indistinguishable, they have their own identifiable traits. Tino specializes in rich, detailed color — many layers of color, so that the watercolor almost looks like an oil painting. He’s extremely detailed, right down to the stitching. Nola is a little more about light and angles and wrinkles — there’s a little more life in her images, as if the jersey were on a living person instead of a mannequin. And then our third artist, Bill Band, he’s a wonderful artist with a good attention to detail, but I would have to give him very explicit instructions. His style is sort of in between Tino’s and Nola’s.

UW: How large is each original painting?

SS: Most of them are 9 by 12 inches. Some of Tino’s original NHL pieces were larger — 11 by 17.

UW: Is each painting a still-life? In other words, is the artist looking at a real uniform that was placed on a real mannequin?

SS: No. I would give each artist a research file for the team in question. And inside the file would be 10 or 20 pieces of source material, sometimes with notes, along with a page of instructions to the artist — “Please note the double belt loops,” or whatever. [Here’s another page of instructions. — PL]

UW: What would the source material be — photos?

SS: I spent an ungodly amount of money on used books. Every football book I could buy, every baseball book I could buy, and then every team-specific book I could buy. And then I became the kind of razor-blading books. And then I would augment that with many, many trips to the various halls of fame. And then there are media guides, baseball cards. Anything I could get my hands on. So I now have thousands of folders — every team, every year.

And of course you learn along the way that just because a book lists a certain date, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate. I learned to discount almost any caption and to do my own confirming research.

UW: Did you approach any of the teams themselves?

SS: Unfortunately, I quickly learned that there are very few teams with a good sense of their own histories. I don’t mean to say they don’t care about their past, but they don’t tend to have a team historian or someone who’s particularly well versed in that kind of thing. About the only exception was the Chicago Bears — they were wonderful, and were willing to do anything they could to help me.

UW: Most of your old images must have been black-and-white. How could you be sure about colors?

SS: Well, I wasn’t trying to show every single year of a uniform’s evolution — just certain specific years. So if we weren’t sure about the colors a team wore in, say, 1923, we’d just show what they wore in 1924 or ’25, assuming we had good color information for one of those years.

UW: What other factors did you consider when deciding which steps in a team’s uniform evolution to include and which ones to leave out? Some teams have pretty complicated histories that you could never show in their entirety, even if you had perfect research materials documenting each step of the timeline.

SS: I wanted to capture the flavor of a team’s history. The most basic guideline is that I wanted a uniform from every decade. Beyond that, I wanted to include home and away designs and I wanted to honor championship seasons, because that resonates with fans. So we tried to mix in all of those factors.

UW: Would you often commission more illustrations that you ended up using?

SS: No. So much research went into each image, along with the artists’ work, that I almost felt duty-bound to use each one. Having said that, there are maybe 50 that have never seen the light of day, but that’s not very many out of 1700.

UW: Any good stories to share regarding research, like maybe a uniform that you had a hard time tracking down, or any other unusual anecdote?

SS: For years I’ve told my friends about the Steelers’ 1930 uniform. We couldn’t find one, or a photo of one. So we spent an ungodly amount of time in the Pittsburgh city archives, down at City Hall, trying to see what the city’s official crest was back around that time, because that’s what the Steelers’ 1930 jersey crest modeled on. Honestly, I think we spent about 20 man-days on that, and my wife would shake her head and say, “Scott, you have to be mad.”

UW: Obviously you want to get all the details right. Did you ever issue a product that turned out to have an inaccuracy?

SS: Yes. I took great solace in the fact that the second edition of Marc Okkonen’s book included a large number of changes and corrections from the first edition. It’s inevitable — you’re going to make mistakes. And of course we always fix them in the next printing.

UW: One thing I’ve only recently become aware of: When depicting a uniform from a given year, you had to avoid using a uniform number that could be tied to a particular player from that team in that season. I assume that’s due to player royalty issues, right?

SS: Yes. When I first got the NHL license, I sat down with the NHL people and said, “Now guys, can I show real uniform numbers?” And the NHL said, “Yes you can. We control the uniform numbers.” And I said, “Great.”

So we published our first two posters — Canadiens and Maple Leafs — and basically the day they came out I got a phone call from a guy the NHL Players Association, and he said, “So how much are you paying George Armstrong for the use of his jersey?” And I said, “The NHL tells me I don’t have to.” And he said, “Well, we disagree.” And he basically suggested that I pull the posters off the market and re-do them without real numbers — or else pay the players a royalty.

So I went back to the NHL, and they said, “Tell the P.A. to jump in the lake.” So I went back to the P.A., and they said, “That’s fine — we’ll see you in court.” So then I went back to the NHL and they said, “Scott, change your posters.”

UW: So the league gave you this advice — which I’m sure was given in good faith, just as you took it in good faith — but then, if you’ll allow me to mix my sports metaphors, they moved to goalposts on you. Did you they offer you any compensation for the hassle and the reprinting and all the rest?

SS: No. They said, “We could go to court on this — we think we’d win, and the P.A. probably thinks we’d win too. We want to have this fight with them, but you’re not the test case we want.” Basically, I was too small-potatoes. So yes, they did hang me out to dry, and I was very upset. But fortunately it’s not in my nature to stay angry about things. And at that point I had only done a handful of teams. So for those we just changed the numbers electronically — you can actually see the changes noted on the original artwork.

UW: So the version with the original number, which you ended up changing, is sort of like a phantom.

SS: Exactly. And from then on, we only showed uniform numbers that were either not worn by the team that season, or else were worn by more than one player that season, so it’s impossible to tie the number to a specific person. And we stuck to that system when I went to the other leagues. But for the NCAA, we do use real player numbers.

UW: That’s because college players, as amateurs, aren’t eligible for royalties, right?

SS: Exactly.

UW: As a Mets fan, I noticed that the image for the 1973 Mets uniform used number 14, which was actually retired for Gil Hodges during that season, and the 2008 Mets image shows number 42, which was an odd choice, since that number’s been retired by Major League Baseball.

SS: Paul, you’re probably the only person on the planet who would notice that.

UW: Actually, I’m fairly certain most of my readers would notice this type of thing. Don’t you think it’s a little weird to be using retired numbers? I mean, as a Mets fan, frankly, it really jumps off the page to see Gil Hodges’s number being used to represent a year after his death. That number is very iconic to Mets fans.

SS: Hmmm, I see, that’s interesting. I guess from my perspective, I’m trying to honor the team and the jersey — it’s about the team, not the individual. I might be missing that gene where I see a number and automatically think, boom, “That’s Gil Hodges.” But your point is well made. That’s a legitimate criticism.

UW: How many different products have you put those illustrations on over the years? I’ve seen prints, plaques, coffee mugs, playing cards, clocks, T-shirts, fridge magnets — what else?

SS: You got most of them. It’s about a dozen different products.

UW: Do you get feedback or requests from your customers?

SS: Not as much as I might have thought — maybe two or three a week.

UW: And now I understand you’re selling the company. What’s that all about?

SS: In 2009 the NFL did their latest round of licensing consolidation, and it was shaping up like I wasn’t going to make the cut this time, because they were raising the annual guarantee of revenue that they wanted, and it was past what I would be able provide. And that’s fine — I’ve spent a good part of my life pursuing this and it’s been great. But I have other passions that I want to pursue, so I decided this would be a good time to find a buyer and move on. I can’t discuss who the buyer will be, but the plans are falling into place.

UW: And you’re also selling the original artwork.

SS: Yes. The new buyer will acquire the electronic art, which is really all they’ll need in order to use the images. But they can’t pay me enough for the originals. We’re selling about 1500 of the 1700. Most of them are priced at $350, but some are more than that, depending on the team or the year.

UW: The proceeds are going to the artists, which means you’re basically acting as a gallerist here, right?

SS: Exactly. They get a share, I get a share.

UW: As I’ve clicked through the Heritage Sports site, I’ve noticed that some of the paintings have handwritten notes on them. Who typically wrote those — you or the artists?

SS: Some of each. Say the jersey included a patch, and the patch had a very detailed design. It would be too tricky for the artist to render that as a tiny patch on the jersey image, so they’d render it larger, as a separate image, to show all the detail, and then give instructions on how the patch would be positioned on the jersey electronically. “Reduce patch 50%” or whatever. Again, I think that adds to the fun and flavor of the images.

UW: I’ve also noticed that you have artwork for teams that are fairly new. For example, you have two Minnesota Wild illustrations. Now, obviously, two images isn’t enough to group together in a poster or a plaque. Why did you even bother to create those images?

SS: Because at one point we did an NHL deck of cards, so we needed images from every team. I think those images may have ended up on fridge magnets as well.

UW: Similarly, I mentioned earlier that you have an image of the 2008 Mets. But you had no doubt done a Mets poster long before 2008. So you were always updating your image chronologies?

SS: Yes, you’re exactly right. Say we published our first Mets poster in 2000. We might have done another one in 2003, and then again in 2006 and 2008. We like to refresh the posters to show more recent iterations, so everything looks up to date.

UW: Do you think the new owners will keep updating things with new images, either with your artists or with their own artists?

SS: Good question. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.

UW: If they don’t keep updating things, would that make you sad, to think that the progression will end and the project will essentially be over?

SS: Maybe it’s just the way that I’m built, but when I hand it over, I won’t look back. That’s just my nature.

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UW: Sounds like the healthiest approach.
I want to thank Scott so much for this excellent interview, and for sharing some of his research files with me. Speaking of which, one of the Nebraska files he loaned me had a page with a super-cool logo I’d never seen before. A nice capper to a great interview.

+ + + + +

What a beautiful day for an elimination game: A few notes from last night’s Yanks/Rangers game:

• David Robertson was still wearing the wrong uni number font.

• After Bengie Molina (aka my New Favorite Mammal) hit that game-changing homer in the top of the 6th, he changed his catching gear in the bottom of the frame. Apparently it was because his shin guard broke. Fascinating to see that he changed everything — even his mask — just for the sake of visual uniformity. Bengie Molina Gets Itâ„¢. (My thanks to Nolan Brett for the screen shots.)

• Reader Mark Prusinski notes that Robbie Cano has his initials on his cleats, or maybe he just scored an endorsement deal from RC Cola.

• After the Jeffrey Maier incident in ’96 (a game I attended in person, by the way), the Yankees made a big show of installing some sort of railing or barrier, so fans in right field would no longer be able to reach into the field of play. I guess that feature from the old stadium didn’t make it to the new one.

Uni Watch News Ticker: Joe Skiba’s latest video is a really good one, all about uniform customization. ”¦ The Ducks’ third jersey has been leaked. I love the crest and hate just about everything else about it. ”¦ Latest batch of AHL throwback beauties: Hershey vs. Rochester (big thanks to Michael Lingenfelter). ”¦ New hoops uni — or at least a peek at it — for Miami. ”¦ The NBA has banned a high-tech sneaker design because it offered an unfair advantage (with thanks to Michael Niekamp). ”¦ Latest team looking to put advertising on their practice jerseys: the Canucks (with thanks to John Muir). ”¦ Yesterday I mentioned that my Wisconsin friends/heroes Julie and Johnie had photographed me for their Real Postcard Photography Survey project. They also photographed our own Robert Marshall. ”¦ The final Space Shuttle mission will carry an NHL jersey into space (with thanks to Alan Kreit). ”¦ Here’s a really interesting article about new advances in curling brooms (thanks, Teebz). ”¦ Now that logo creep is allowed on college hoops jerseys, UNC is the first school to wear the Jumpman logo. According to a Tar Heels newsletter, the team was also supposed to be adding the ACC logo at the rear neckline, just above the NOBs, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. ”¦ Hauntingly sad photos of abandoned bowling alleys here (major thanks to Rob Walker). ”¦ Love this old Nebraska sweater (with thanks to Jamie Tallman. ”¦ See that dot — okay, it looks more like a light smudge — on Pat Burrell’s bat, slightly above his hands? “According to this video, the dot is a mark to alert an inspector that bat grain is safe for use,” explains Jeff La Haie. ”¦ Here’s a fascinating slideshow of renovations taking place at Fenway (big thanks to David Fitzgerald). ”¦ Check out all the bunting at Forbes Field in 1912 (with thanks to Jacob Pomrenke). ”¦ Here’s another logo-infringement case, this time between Illinois State University and an Illinois high school (with thanks to Nick Yelverton). ”¦ John Tavares of the Islanders loves CCM skates (as forwarded by Jonathan Guay).

Comments (128)

    Absolutely stunning photo of Forbes Field in 1912!! Check out the hand-written sign just inside on the lower right – “Grand Stand Admission – 75 cents”.

    Also, what’s with those guys up on the second tier?! One looks like he’s sitting on a milk carton, and could easily fall backwards and onto the pavement!!!!


    I noticed the same thing. He’s one sneeze away from going ass over apple cart onto the nattily clad gents below.

    Railings?!?! Railings?!? You want to talk about railings!?!?!


    Railings? We dont need no stinking railings!

    Looks like those guys have actually climbed up and are perched on the top of the parapet. The floor level is actually down lower where you see that band running around the building.

    Ah, the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland. I guess some things never change (specifically, the trash in the street).

    Is that kid selling walking sticks/canes?

    Dear all sports teams and leagues everywhere: Please refer to that photo of Forbes Field in 1912 the next time you get the urge to “honor the troops” or to display your patriotic spirit or pride in country of any sort. Note the absence of camouflage jerseys, note the absence of flags on athlete’s uniforms – which by the way is a violation of the U.S. Flag Code and thus an act of flag desecration no different from burning the flag. Note that this photo was taken the year Teddy Roosevelt came out of retirement to run for president as a Bull Moose. Do you really think that you are more patriotic than Teddy Roosevelt? Do you really think you support the troops more than the Americans of that era, who had just destroyed the Spanish empire, liberated vast swaths of the world from tyranny, and were about to save European civilization by going to war against Germany? Do you really? I didn’t think so.

    im noticing the absence of camo and flags on unis

    im also noting the absence of actual players

    /not more patriotic than TR, but possibly moreso than taft

    I don’t know; Taft was a pretty patriotic guy. Who incidentally was a huge baseball fan; he inaugurated the tradition of the president throwing out the first pitch. If he were president today, when presidents wear athletic gear instead of a dignified suit to throw out the first pitch, they’d have to make a jersey for him, and he’d no doubt set a new record for most pinstripes on a jersey. Taft had the girth of at least two Sabathias.

    And yet only five years after that photo of Forbes Field the White Sox put American flags on their uniforms – so it’s hardly a thing unique to recent times. And haven’t we been over this whole issue about whether it is some violation of the flag code or not to put a flag patch on a uniform? Who, exactly, gets so worked up about this?

    It’s been a while since I had the history class that covered this but I don’t think the Filipinos felt all that liberated, hence the war with them. There was also a heavy dose of the long-standing desire in some prominent US circles to annex Cuba that fed into the Spanish American War and lead to the strange restrictions on Cuban independence.

    I’m sure the veterans of the Spanish War saw themselves as having done a good thing and served well. But let’s not pretend it was some great triumph for humanity, it was more complex.

    I’m surprised to find an athlete using a Jersey Diaper in 2010. o_O Used to be common in olden times.

    I sir, am shocked, nay appaled that the sainted uniform manufacturers would allow a mere peon of a team equipment manager to deign to alter or deface one of their revolutionary “performance enhancing uniform design system” garments. It is beyond comprehension that such egregious alterations are made to these athletic works of art. The companies, Reebok/adidas, nike, UA et al, should provide each team with its own company-trained and paid-for tailor. It’s the least that the companies could do for the teams.

    Great interview with Scott Sillcox! I love the slideshow of the illos from that book – any way we could have that book reprinted?!?!


    Hi Jet!
    Thank you for the kind words! Reprinting would be wonderful but I’m not sure it could be done financially. Volume 1 is 800+ pages, Volume 2 is 900+ pages and Volume 3 is 975+ pages. The best person in the world to answer the feasibility of such an endeavor is Dan Diamond, a wonderful book publisher based in Toronto. Dan and his company, Dan Diamond and Associates, have done many hockey books over the years and they have a great/close relationship with the NHL. If you haven’t seen what the “The Trail of the Stanley Cup” books look like, my blog (pales in comparison to Uniwatch I’m afraid) shows a picture:

    I’ve asked before and I’m sure I’ll ask again. What’s the point of the assmark that basketball and football teams have been wearing recently? Do they want us focusing on their butts that much?

    I think it’s something in some designers that they hate blank space. So it’s like piping and colored side panels on football jerseys and the attempts at putting stripes on the shoulders of basketball jerseys.

    Since there’s room in uni watching for every conceivable opinion and personal bit of anal retentiveness, part of me is surprised to have never seen someone who thinks there should be striping up the inseems of pants and shorts.

    Fantastic interview. Those watercolors highlight what I think we miss most from uniform history, texture. Paul talks about it all the time. When you can look at a picture and practically feel the fabric, that’s something special. Okkonen’s pictures are a great resource and when teams throwback, they look like those pictures. But the Maple Leaf paintings show what they felt like. No throwback could ever really approach that. Not even close.

    The lighter/faster/dryer materials are great for the athletes and the sports fan in me wants my team to perform as best they can. But man the artist in me would kill to watch a game played with old uniforms. Not just throwbacks. Just a feast for the eyes.

    Well said Craig. I don’t know about modern era players actually wearing the equipment they wore back in the day for a throwback game, however I hear what yer sayin’. The reason why I enjoy watching my vintage NFL DVDs.

    Love going through the Heritage Auction site now and viewing all of those NFL uniform illustrations. Dig the link mask especially.
    And the link wore.


    Minor point but, the space shuttle mission scheduled for November 1st is Discovery’s last mission. There are two space shuttle launches scheduled. Endeavour is scheduled for launch on February 27, 2011 and Atlantis is schedule for the final space shuttle mission next summer. I am planning to go to the November 1st launch.

    I was about to post the same thing.

    Though the Atlantis mission is still up for debate, there will still be at least one more mission after Discovery.

    Enjoy the launch, I saw Discovery’s prior mission back in February.

    I had the opportunity to meet Scott back in 1999 while I was working in the computer industry. He spent about a half hour telling me about his company. Great Guy and I wish him well. He was the first person that I met who also shared the love of sports uniforms.

    Good Luck Scott!

    Wow, the bowling alley piece was fascinating.

    On another note — after seeing the “crowded” UNC hoops uniforms — anybody wondering why college hoops teams are still including the USA flag on their jerseys?

    I’m surprised … 2002, during the launch of a massive war, sure. But 2010-11? Not making a judgment here — maybe it’s a positive that they’re still remembering our soldiers. Maybe it’s a just patriotic propaganda move, heck, I don’t know.

    Most football jerseys don’t have it, nor do volleyball, among other sports.

    Why hoops? And why to this day?

    Alabama still has the flag on the back of their helmets. No link, but I watch every game. Should it be there? Should it not be? I don’t see what it matters either way. I agree though that once you put it on there, it’s a lot harder to take it off.

    Because if you remove the flag now, you are no longer patriotic. If you remove the flag, you don’t support the troops!!!

    The time when things like that could be quietly shelved is gone. You can’t take flags off uniforms without triggering some degree of outrage from people. And since outrage is the only form of expression left in public discussion, it isn’t worth the hassle. Imagine if baseball dropped “God Bless America.” Can’t happen. We’re stuck with it.

    The only exception I can see a flag patches going away quietly is if a team said up front that they were for a defined time period and that time ended.

    “… since outrage is the only form of expression left in public discussion…”

    Man, I love that. Very well put.

    “… since outrage is the only form of expression left in public discussion…”

    Man, I love that. Very well put.

    Seconded. (Thirded?) Supported strongly! Sheesh …

    Again, why do people get so worked up if an American flag IS on a uniform? It seems to me that people actually express outrage both when a flag is ADDED to a uniform and if and when it’s REMOVED from a uniform. To suggest that the outrage only works in one direction is silly.

    It’s against flag etiquette to put a flag on a sports uniform. That etiquette is justifiably waived under extreme circumstances, like those that brought it about, but nine years on it seems more presumptuous than actually patriotic to wipe dirt and sweat on the flag in the name of patriotism.

    Patriotism and religion should be enjoyed the same way, privately and without jamming it down the throats of everyone else. “God Bless America” encompasses both of those.

    Well put, chris from carver & Richard…..
    Unfortunately your ‘revolutionary’ opinions have been drowned out by the new vulgarity.

    I take it you’re not a fan of the Olympics, the World Cup or any other sports that promote patriotic feelings? Because, you know, those are kinda popular with a lot of people around the globe…

    In international competitions, patriotic displays are fine. But when it’s leagues that are for all intents and purposes intranational, it seems unnecessary and over the top. I know the NBA, NHL, & MLB all have Canadian teams, but they aren’t international competitions per se. I consider myself a patriotic person, I just keep it to myself.

    What a great interview. You really can’t understate Scott’s role in bringing awareness of the history of sports uniforms to a wider audience. I remember that less than a decade ago when the only way you’d ever see a KC Scouts or Minnesota North Stars jersey was on one of his jersey history prints. How times have changed. Good luck to the man!

    Regarding the “Forbes Field in 1912” photo:

    Look at all thoss hats. I’m having a hard time finding one without.
    Imagine, what it must’ve been like to sit next to a woman wearing that emsemble for nine innings ?

    Champions league matches in Europe yesterday and English clubs Chelsea and Arsenal got a chance to use their special number fonts (all Premier League clubs must use the same font for PL matches).
    Arsenal Champions League – link
    Chelsea Champions League – link

    Premeire League Number Font – link

    Gotta admire a guy like Scott. Among other things, he found what so many artists never find: a point of view for his work.

    Great, great stuff. Wonderful knowledge, thoroughness, creativity and skill level.

    Just a special treat from any angle whatsoever.


    Quick question, and sorry if it has already been talked about but what is the patch below the American Flag on UNC’s uni and above the M and Miami’s?

    New NCAA hoops logo. Full story coming soon (yes, I know I keep saying that, but the NCAA is really giving me the runaround on this one).

    Also, I wonder how this will impact the NCAA Tournament patch. Seems like UNC’s uni could get awfully crowded very fast, especially if a team also has a memorial patch. So they could very well have (1) Logo, (2) Flag, (3) NCAA hoops logo (4) memorial (5) NCAA tournament patch (if they do it)

    Wow that is a lot.

    The NCAA tournament patch has usually been an adhesive one, IIRC. I suspect they’ll just slap it over the NCAA hoops logo.

    What a rich interview! Thank you, Paul, and Mr. Sillcox for your story.

    (Oh, and that Saskatoon crescent moon jersey is the greatest thing ever.)

    Yes, the bowling alleys are eerie and sad. And beautiful, too. Thanks for the link to that.

    Illinois St./high school issue got me thinking of my high school which uses the same helmet as Georgia – link
    Is that a Georgia trademark or Green Bay Packers trademark or neither?

    Another interesting note, while looking for pictures of my alma mater (Groton High School, Groton, NY), I came across this team photo of Groton School, Groton, MA link

    My guess is that they have an agreement not to make a fuss between themselves. No matter which one has claim to prior art, a court would likely find that both are so ubiquitous that the trademark includes the colors as well as the shape.

    That fact may also preclude them from protection when a high school team uses the logo. This is only speculation, so don’t take my word for it, but that’s how I would see it being resolved.

    Between the stripes and the mono-black uniform, Paul’s head must be spinning. If those stripes were purple, it’d probably explode.

    Ha, anyone spot the titty picture on the floor of the “anonymous” bowling alley in San Francisco in that gallery of abandoned alleys?


    Just a thought, if the Giants and Rangers were to win their respective series, that would be an Orange&Black vs. Royal Blue World Series (assuming Texas stays away from the red, which has been the MO lately).

    When was the last time we had that combination? Orioles-Mets in ’69?



    the rangers have worn their red softball tops for three of their four home playoff games, winning only one — and it was in their white top

    so “stays away from the red, which has been the MO lately” is kind of a stretch, no?

    will they stay away from the red tops for the duration? probably…but they’ve worn red tops and caps at home 75% of the time so far

    By “lately” I meant “really lately”, as in “this series”. They seem to be shying away for the Alt shenanigans.


    true…the past three games they’ve worn blue caps…which, not coincidentally, is the only cap they’ve ever worn on the road…the red cap is reserved for the home (99.9% of the time with the red softball top) but they did pair the red cap with the white unis in one game (or maybe one series) this year

    and imho, that looks even better than the blue, although i really do like their standard home uni (blue cap/white top)

    Even in this series, we have a sample size of 2, and the Rangers wore their red alts once. That’s 50%. What’s more, they wore the red alts first, and only wore the whites in a day-game-after-night-game scenario, when even teams that wear alts as primaries usually revert to their regular jerseys for logistical reasons.

    Since the Mets wear about as much orange as the Giants (not counting the ugly orange-brim alt cap they introduced this year), I think you’ve gotta go further back from ’69 to Orioles vs. Dodgers in ’66. Texas’ red alt aside, the color proportions for Rangers/Giants would be about as close as can be to Dodgers/Orioles.

    More exciting would be the prospect of two teams that have never won the World Series in their current cities facing each other. Advantage Texas there, since the Giants won some championships before moving west, whereas the Rangers were the Washington Senators, with all the lack of trophies that implies, but still, it’d be nice to see someone end a drought.

    “Only cap they’ve ever worn on the road” – I hope you mean in this current version of the uniform. Used to wear reds home and away in the 1990s.

    The red cap with all white was worn for one game against the Indians this season. Great look, but they stunk it up and lost. Never went back to it.

    yes…i mean in the current uni iteration

    i am well aware of the red period (which i still believe was their best look…and until this year, the one in which they achieved their best results)

    The Rangers are one of those franchises which have interchanged so frequently between red and blue, it’s difficult to get a handle on what is the uniform identity of this franchise. Usually, teams across all sports have either a primary and secondary color scheme, or they have remained with a standard uniform for a long period of time.

    These Rangers have had so many uniform changes in their roughly 40 year history, and when you add in the lack of tradition, it does create confusion.

    Actually, they’ve worn the reds 80% of the home playoffs (4 out of 5). They’ve also LOST all 4 of those red games.

    Here’s an interesting stat I e-mailed the other day to Paul:

    In their miniscule playoff history, the Rangers are 1-12 in red hats. They are now 6-0 in blue hats, 1-0 at home and 5-0 on the road.

    they’ve worn the reds 80% of the home playoffs (4 out of 5). They’ve also LOST all 4 of those red games.

    did i somehow miss a game this year?

    they were the “away” team against tampa…so they had TWO home games (both in red) and lost both

    against the yanks, they are the “home” team…so, so far…two games, ONE of which was in red

    i know my math is off, but i’m pretty sure they’ve only played four home games so far, in which they are 1-3, 0-3 in red, and 1-0 in blue over white

    i do have that correct, yes?

    (talking ONLY 2010 of course)

    There are only two teams in all of MLB that can really pull off red, and the Rangers aren’t one of them. They look much better in royal blue, and I wish they’d stick with that instead of being schizophrenic (we’re blue…no wait, we’re red!). And while I’m already here, the Rangers do have fairly nice uni’s, but it bugs me how busy they are with multiple outlines and dropshadows. If they’d simply dump the black, they’d look drastically better. I’ll leave the argument of thin red trim on royal blue looking purple for another day…

    “Just a thought, if the Giants and Rangers were to win their respective series, that would be an Orange&Black vs. Royal Blue World Series”

    Not as long as Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis are pitching. They don’t wear the blue alts unless under duress – and being 5-0 in greys means the Rangers will probably stick with the greys on the road. CJ WIlson is the only one of the post-season pitchers who prefers blue — and it will be interesting to see if he wears blue today, or if he sticks with the winning system and wears grey.

    I love the Rangers’ red jerseys and caps, and am sick of the blue jersey — it brings back bad memories of Tom Hicks and his 8 losing seasons. My preference would be primary whites (with script Rangers) and alternate red (with script Rangers) at home; and only grey on the road (with a rarely-worn blue road alternate if necessary to keep blue fans happy.)

    Agree completely with the suggestion to dump the black dropshadows, though.

    Outstanding interview.

    I was looking through the online catalogue, and found it rather interesting that the original number choice for the 1991-92 Detroit Red Wings throwback was 24, worn by Bob Probert, who passed away this year.

    Makes me nostalgic… and sad, for what could have been had he not been so self-destructive earlier in his life.

    Sand based natural turf surface with subsurface drainage, hydronic heating (including 30 miles of tubing) and irrigation systems, heated perimeter concrete paving with resilient rubberized surfacing, and now this:


    Lambeau Field. Combining tradition and innovation. I love it.

    I can’t believe this isn’t already standard practice for ALL cold-weather outdoor NFL stadiums. If I was the grounds keeper (why do I hear that term for MLB, but no other equivalent in other sports?), I’d be requesting a heat-trapping, greenhouse-lighting-equipped plastic dome for off days and have a lush green lawn 365!!!

    Some teams rely on a home field advantage against fair weather teams that aren’t used to playing in frosted mud in


    Seeing as, for example, I don’t believe the LA Rams ever won a game at Met Stadium after Nov. 1, what’s the problem? (he laughed, wickedly).

    Weather, we have told for almost a hundred years. is part of the game.

    Is that no longer so?


    The field is manicured and heated. The grounds crew has no control over the weather. Lambeau still provides the “elements” to outsiders who are not used to playing in those cold conditions. So why shouldn’t they be played on an amazing surface?

    I am still stunned when I walk into Lambeau and see just how spectacular the turf is. Granted, the field only sees play 10-12 times a year. It’s still amazing what they do there though.

    I’m saying that’s a good thing, Ricko. I don’t believe they should ever turn on the heating system at Browns Stadium.

    Very true. However, what modern-day NFL grounds keeper that you know of would be willing to take ownership of a field that looks like that in game. Their job isn’t to uphold tradition – their job is to keep the nicest field they possibly can.

    Something struck me when I was watching “Equipped”. When they showed Brandon Jacobs’ pants with the thigh pads sewn in, when those are washed, is there any chance of the pad being degraded?

    “The high school band uniforms carry the ISU logo – but that’s for a good reason: The second-hand uniforms actually came from ISU. Pleasant Plains purchased the surplus outfits years ago to save money. Hicks and Talbert said ISU will let the band wear the uniforms indefinitely.”

    I was not aware that high schools purchased used college unis / band uniforms. Is that widespread?

    I don’t know the extent of the “used marching band uniform” market, but it makes sense. When I was in the Kansas State band a few years ago, they went through a MASSIVE fundraising drive to get new uniforms. The total cost of the uniforms for K-State was up near the $250,000 range, which consisted of maybe 400-500 uniforms of all shapes an sizes. A set of 75-100 uniforms that a typical high school might need could probably be quoted around $40-50k. That’s a big investment for most schools so I could understand trying to pick up some heavily used uni’s at a very discounted price. I know the internet does have several sights devoted to wholesale used marching band uniforms.

    By the way, two things I like about the Hershey-Rochester throwback game:

    1) A distinct absence of “vintage white”.
    2) None of the jerseys were Reebok Edge cuts! It’s nice to see straight hems on the waistline again.

    Tremendous interview today, did the NFL check with Scott about the design of the 1930 Steelers uniforms prior to the 1994 season?

    Those throwbacks with the city crest were fantastic that year, it would be great to see the return of those uniforms someday.

    No, Scott did it several years after 1994. One reason he was so intent on getting the city crest right was that the NFL got it wrong.

    Actually, I believe it has more to do with the dude who designed the original logo asking for a ridiculous amount of money, and the NFL saying screw you, we’ll erase you from our history.

    Hi guys! Interesting story on the Ravens’ 1996 and 1997 helmets, and M. Princip hit the nail on the head. When I submitted my draft design to the NFL for the Raven’s poster, the Quality Control department rejected it because we showed the ’96 and ’97 helmet in side view, thus showing a logo that was the subject of a prolonged lawsuit – you can Google the lawsuit – aspects of it are still going on as of Sept/2010! See link
    At any rate, I proposed to the NFL that we show those two helmets head-on, thus avoiding showing the helmet logo, and the NFL QC department agreed with that compromise. So the ’96 and ’97 Raven’s helmets are the only “head on” helmets in all of our NFL, NCAA and CFL football artwork. What a world we live in…

    It’s not that he was asking a ridiculous amount of money for his design so much as the Ravens rejected his design when he submitted it and then used it anyway without paying him.

    Of course, there were no Steelers (Pirates) to wear uniforms until 1933…

    Much more upsetting is the 2000 uniform on the poster. The numbers aren’t italicized, and it’s like nails on a blackboard every time I see it. (If you still care, Scott, find a photo of Ryan Clark and switch the digits.)

    I was going to say… You probably had trouble finding info on the 1930 Steelers because they weren’t established until 1933! :-)

    jdreyfuss | October 20, 2010 at 8:37 am |
    “I’ve asked before and I’m sure I’ll ask again. What’s the point of the assmark that basketball and football teams have been wearing recently? Do they want us focusing on their butts that much?”

    I don’t even like this,
    so I’m really disappointed in UNC’s unis.

    Names down the leg, on the other hand,
    I don’t have a problem with those. But leave the butts alone.

    Agreed, it is disturbing to have the uniform design in the butt area like that. It’s not innovative, just stupid, kind of like the 1928 Detroit Tiger uniform with the tiger head on the back of the jersey.

    That said, I don’t have a problem with the team name on the back of a football helmet, like the old Jacksonville Bulls.

    the bowling alley piece shows fiesta lanes, my bowling alley from when i attended THE university. so sad that they tore it down, but the neon is still on site from what i hear. i remember that there was this giant black and white poster of 1950’s bowling shots in the wasted space behind a wall back by the lockers. a good buddy of mine and i always wanted it, and lament it was probably just thrown away when they tore down the joint. there is not a week that has gone by for the last 15 years that i have not thought about that poster. link. that pixture makes me sick to my stomach.

    something similar happened to the campus lanes at THE, fiesta was just near campus. by the way, i don’t think much personally of the whole championship game thing, but congrats on being in position if you care for such things.

    by the way, anybody who wants to see me get absolutely murdered, i have two best of three stats league 16″ semi-finals starting around 7 at uic. i know that does not sound like anything special, but if you wish me any ill-will, i can guarantee you can see me get destroyed tonight by overgrown babies even if i am perfect.

    Thank you very much sir. It’s pretty exciting being #1 for the first time ever. I’m going to the UCLA game tomorrow night (although I have to work both before AND after the game, which blows chunks). Rare is success in my history as a sports fan…

    Rutgers tribute to Eric LeGrand, who suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury this past Saturday at New Meadowlands Stadium in a game against Army.



    Pink Alert! Two teams from Orange County, CA will be jumping on the bandwagon this weekend with pink accessories.

    I loved today’s interview with Scott. Those uniform histories are so cool.

    I have wondered about football teams early years of wearing the friction strips. From what I can tell Ohio State wore brown strips in the 1916 era jersey. I have the Ohio State uniform set and have it above my desk as I type. My brother had an early version of that poster and the 1916 jersey had gray strips on front of the jersey. Then the poster changed it. I wonder what made them make the change from gray to brown?

    I do think teams in the 1910’s mostly all wore brown strips. Not until the 20’s did they wear school colors. Like the Ohio State 1928 jersey has gray strips.

    Larry B! My goodness UniWatch readers are sharp! I never realized that the 1928 uniform had gray strips in one version of the poster and brown in another, yet when I now look in my electronic files I see what you’re saying! My intent was that the 1928 strips were to be gray and for the life of me I can’t understand why they were brown in one poster version – one of life’s mysteries I’m afraid. You might be interested in this document that we produced – it offers a bit more info on the Ohio State poster and it shows the gray strips as I intended.

    I have become a daily reader over the past few months and really enjoy the blog.

    I do have a question for you, though:
    I was looking at the new Kansas State basketball publicity poster ( link ) and found the patch on the players’ left shoulders very interesting. link I did a little research and found that it is the insignia of the 7th Field Artillery regiment based just down the road from Manhattan in Fort Riley, KS. link Evidently they regularly link too…
    I know your take on camo uniforms and pants (They are so beautiful!) but would like to know anything you might know about this kind of stuff. Is it becoming common practice for teams to honor specific military groups? Does the NCAA allow the patches because they are military patches? Is there any precedent for other teams/schools doing supporting battalions or divisions in the same manner?

    Idk if this has been covered but the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to wear purple jerseys during the pre-game warm ups tonight

    Has anyone else been watching “Battle of the Blades” on CBC this season? Kelly Chase and his skating partner Kyoko Ina are representing Saskatchewan Children’s Hospital and in turn are wearing a Saskatchewan Roughriders logo on their outfits every week.

    Great photo essay on the decaying bowling alleys. What is it with googie architecture and bowling alleys?! Like peas and carrots I tell ya.

    Brief shot of a spectator in the backstop showed a BURNS patch (for a deceased owner) on the right sleeve of a Majestic Giants dugout jacket. Was that actually a uniform feature, or is that just a DIY on that person’s part?

    Ah, Ray W. Should’ve been the MVP of Super Bowl XVI — not only kicked four FGs (still tied for the Supe record) but also befuddled the Bengals all game long with his semi-squib kickoffs.

    But of course they gave the MVP to Montana, even though he’d had a very ordinary game (14 of 22, 157 yds, 1 TD). Ray deserved it more. A major injustice.

    Anyway, yeah, nice jacket.

    I’ve never agreed with you more, Paul.

    And another Ray, Mr. Guy, should be in the Hall of Fame.

    No one can touch our pitching.

    Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez-MadBum with Brian Wilson in the pen.

    Bring me the head of Roy Halladay. Lincecum goes for the clincher tomorrow night.


    Hi guys, I wonder if anybody can help me. I recall about a year ago reading a piece on a blog about the history of ice hockey goalie numbers but can’t find it now, anyone able to assist me?

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