By Phil Hecken, with fond recollections by Rick Pearson
Welcome to 2011 everyone. Let’s hope it’s a great year for all.
New Year’s Day is traditionally one of the greatest days in sport, as we’re always treated to a whole mess of bowl games, and, in more recent years, an outdoor hockey game featuring fauxback uniforms. The Bowl games, unless the first of January falls on a Sunday, are always a staple of the day, and we can always count on the Rose Bowl to be one of those games. So it is today. The Winter Classic, the new kid on the New Year’s Day block, has been moved from it’s usual early starting time due rain forecast — I’m guessing this is the first time in history we’ll have a rain delay in the NHL.
Today’s splash photo of Joe Willie Namath was painted by none other than Rick Pearson. It’s from the 1965 Orange Bowl, which for many years was actually played on New Year’s Day. With the big business surrounding college football, many of us who grew up watching all the “big” bowls, before they had corporate names, looked forward to New Year’s Day since it was the end of the college football season. The games were played in warm weather locales and had simple names like “Rose,” “Cotton,” “Sugar” and “Orange” — not “Beef ‘O’ Brady” and “Meineke.”
Today we’ll have six bowls and a night-time outdoor hockey game. The early ones all have corporate names: “Ticket City Bowl,” “Capital One Bowl,” and “Outback Bowl.” The latter three, at least (and despite their corporate sponsorship), are the “Gator Bowl,” the “Fiesta Bowl,” and the granddaddy of them all, the “Rose Bowl.”
I asked Rick about his painting. “First Orange Bowl at night (first major bowl game at night, in fact), 46 years ago,” says Rick.
That was a year before I was born. It reminded me of another version (which you’ll see below) that Paul first showed us in one the early “Ricko Files” series.
“Alabama’s Joe Namath — knee-braced, soccer shoe-wearing, spatted up and for all the world almost introduing his trademark white cleats — lights up the Texas Longhorns, one of whom would later become one of his favorite targets with the Jets, George Sauer,” says Ricko.
That is a “Ricko original watercolor and tempera from 1966,” he explains. “Jeez, I’ve been doing this uniwatching thing a long time. The ‘1964’ is reference to his ‘look’ that season, not the actual date of the game.”
Amazing work Rick. Of course, Alabama looks pretty much the same today as they did before many of us were even a gleam in our mother’s eyes. Rick painted that just after he turned 20. Aside from Namath being a huge deal, even then, I asked Rick if he had any memories from that game, something which stuck with him all these years. As usual, he didn’t disappoint. Turns out that Orange Bowl game marked a sea change in the televising of college sports, turning one of the biggest bowl games into a prime-time spectacular. Perhaps not as seminal a moment as the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Colts and the Giants, but with a young, hotshot kid, wearing “white” cleats, and an upstart AFL looking to sign a bonafide college star, the Orange Bowl of January 1, 1965, would have a profound influence on the sporting world.
As a bonus, Ricko included another painting based on a photo from the same game. That’s the one we’d seen before. Here’s Rick’s thoughts on that memorable game that took place 46 years ago today:
I was a freshman at U of Minnesota, and working as warming house attendant at an outdoor skating rink during Christmas break. Brought a little portable B&W TV with me that night so I could watch the game. Was really the night the country discovered Joe Namath and his (apparently) white shoes.
Was almost a template for his entire career. Pre-game was all about his injured knee and whether he’d play. I remember the announcers saying he was wearing soccer shoes because the cleats were shorter, which might help keep him from catching a cleat and tweaking the knee.
And what did he do? Went out and played spectacularly. The audience reaction, I think, had a lot to do with Sonny Werblin being sure he and the AFL needed the guy…and to sign him to that “amazing” $400,000 contract.
Plus, the TV audience was monstrous, and made the network realize night-time bowl games would be huge, and that, in general, Americans would watch football at night. So it also may have have influenced Roone Arledge (pretty sure the game was on ABC) and had something to do with the creation of Monday Night Football a few years later.
In that sense, that particular Orange Bowl is a little bit like the GGEP…with regard to its influence on Bowl schedules and TV programmming.
Thanks Ricko. Great to have your rememberances of that day, and for the perspective on how it’s changed the way we watch college football today. And, of course, an outstanding set of paintings. Aside from being our sage and one of the first ‘uni historians,’ your remarkable artistic talent goes far beyond your “kid cards” (many of which can be seen in that set).
Will anything today stand the test of time like the 1965 Orange Bowl? Do you all have any memories of any games that stood out for you like this game did for Rick? Let’s hear it.
As for today, the NHL’s Winter Classic, a matchup between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, will be subject to a rain-delay, with the scheduled start being moved from 1:00 pm (Eastern) to 8:00 pm. Surely not what the NHL had in mind when they selected the game and locale (Pittsburgh). If you want to check out the situation early, I believe this link has a webcam that should show the scene before it unfolds.
As in past years, the two combatants, the Pengiuns of Pittsburgh and the Capitals of Washington, will be wearing special uniforms. Pittsburgh will be sporting a hybrid/fauxback look that features navy and powder blue, while Washington will go red-white-and-blue for their vistor’s gear. Of course, the NHL should be white at home, but that’s neither here nor there. And that’s of course, if they do actually play the game at all.
I loved the Inaugural Winter Classic three years ago in Buffalo, and was equally pumped for the Wrigley Classic and last year’s game in the Fens. Obviously, the NHL quickly exhausted their supply of 90 year old stadia in which to hold games, but for sure I figured they’d play the 2011 WC in either New York or Minnesota (even though Toronto or Montreal would be equally good). I also predicted last year that the “novelty” of the game was beginning to wear off, and I was proven right when the ratings went down.
Whether this year’s game was desperation or a last-ditch effort to sell its stars, I was extremely disappointed that Pittsburgh was chosen to host the game. But obviously, Bettman felt the star power of AO and Sid the Kid outweighed the historical significance of New York, Minnesota or Canada. Of course, you can’t predict the weather, but even an amateur meterologist could tell you the chances of it being above freezing in Pittsburgh on January 1 are far higher than any of the other locations. Now, they lose out on their “early” slot and will have to compete with the late (and great) bowl games. It’s a matchup I think they will lose.
I hope the game goes well and they don’t abandon old-time, outdoor hockey. But maybe next year they’ll consider location and historical significance over a couple of overrated stars who just may be skating through puddles of water.
As for today’s football, I’ll watch a lot, but I’m most excited for the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl. Undefeated TCU, who it was announced would be wearing black over lizard skin, may not be wearing that at all. Whether they will go with a purple top or something else (it was reported when TCU was taking their Rose Bowl team photo, they were wearing black jerseys and purple pants), remains a mystery. Nike and their toy combat soldiers wouldn’t want it any other way.
Whether or not they can topple #4 Wisconsin will be interesting — because if they do, it will just add more fuel to the “should the NCAA have a playoff system” debate that’s been strangely quiet this past year. And, could an undefeated TCU (if they do win today) legitimately lay claim to #1 over either Oregon or Auburn (one of whom will finish undefeated)? It may not even be debatable — but without a playoff we’ll never know. For those who oppose such an ‘unthinkable notion,’ you better root for the Badgers today.
Rose Bowl Update: Anonymous sources have confirmed this will be TCU’s Rose Bowl helmet, and they will be wearing “the new black tops [from the Nike event] with some purple added and some new purple pants we haven’t seen before.”
*Sigh* I’ll be rooting for you, Texas Christian, but I can’t imagine you’ll be much to look at.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Last time we had a “colorize this” segment, I gave the readers a choice of several wonderful photos, and as usual, you guys didn’t disappoint. Lets get right to them. Got a few new names this time around, so it’s great to see some others getting into this wonderful (albeit time-consuming) hobby.
Shane Thomas was the first to check in with this colorization of Art Herring in his satin blue uniform.
Next up was George Chilvers, who, as always, had some wonderful submissions from snowy England. His first was the same photo of Art Herring, with a different take on the colors. George also submitted his Bob Feller colorization (which was a popular one, as you will see).
Later on, as his football (I think we call that “soccer” here in the States) was canceled, he did another version of Art Herring (love how he got the eyes so blue!). We’ll be hearing more from George in a bit.
Next to send in his colorization was John Majka, who also took a shot at Bob Feller. I love how different people interpret the colors differently. Great stuff John.
Next to send in his efforts was Adam Hill, who is a graphic designer and who said this was his first ever attempt at colorization. I think he did an outstanding job with Bullet Bob. (And I love how he chose brown eyes for this one — anyone know what color eyes Feller had?)
I also got an “off-the-board” colorization from Joe DeAngelis, who took on the one and only Vince Lombardi:
Attached is my very first attempt to colorize a B&W photo. In response to the positive feedback from the HBO special “LOMBARDI”, I submit this photo of Vince Lombardi in his collegiate uniform when enrolled at Fordham.
Thank you for your time …
Great stuff Joe.
Moving along, reader Doug Mooney went for the satin Dodgers:
I tried another one of the B&W photos, using this to try to gauge the color.
Here is Art Herring. I might try Bob Feller if I get some time.
As the week progressed, I also received some colorizations from Michael Ferry, a UW favorite, who colorized all four of my “suggestions.”:
Hope you’re having a great holiday. Down here, can’t complain — my Christmas tradition these days is homemade chicken and sausage gumbo…and this year’s version came out, well, pretty good.
Anyway, hope you like these pictures. Again, happy holidays!
George must have been really snowed in, because he then sent me an oldie — this Hank Gowdy shot from several weeks back.
On a snowy Sunday in New York, I received a colorization from another first-timer, Tim West, who took on Rapid Robert:
This is my first shot at colorization. You see, I was trapped in a blizzard with no power, but I did have a fully charged laptop and that Bob Feller picture. As I had no internet access, the colors are mostly a guess, but I think it turned out alright.
And that’s almost it for the colorizations today. I got to chatting a bit with George Chilvers, and I asked him how sure he was that the Dodgers were wearing the “lighter” blue as opposed to the “darker” blue (since it definitely appears they had both a lighter and a darker version of that uniform — this wonderful photo from the Life archives seems to be the darker one). Since he’s pretty much of an expert, he was pretty certain. But as a favor, he also produced a darker version of Art Herring as a comparison.
If you’re wondering about Mr. Chilvers and his skills, you may have already seen his work (which I believe was featured on Uni Watch before, although I’m not 100% certain). George has his own site, and he’s got an entire section of colorized soccer (football) pictures. Tremendous stuff there, and well worth a few minutes of your time to check it out.
Thanks to ALL the colorizers — fantastic job by all.
For next time…I’ll post a couple of suggestions below, but if you folks have any you’d like to submit on your own, those are always welcome. Also, if you spot a hi-res (usually 1000 x 1000 pixels or higher) black and white you think would be a great photo for colorization, send that my way as well.
A while back, I had grabbed a couple of great photos from the Life archive, and they might be just ripe for colorization:
Marines vs. Army (1924). That’s from Shorpy, and the photo cap reads, “Nov. 1, 1924. Washington, D.C. “Devil Dogs vs. Infantrymen. McQuade makes gain for Marines against Fort Benning at American League park.” Jack McQuade, former University of Maryland football star, in a game that saw Quantico’s Leathernecks mop the field with Army in a 39-0 rout.”
As always, if you colorize those, or just want to send one it (either a colorization you’ve done or a black & white you’d like to see colorized), drop me a line.
Thanks once again to all the gents who participated in this latest segment. Tremendous job one and all!
Lots and lots of tweaks keep pouring in, so obviously this is a popular feature. A bunch new to get to today. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great a keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!
Got a big set of tweaks today…so lets get right into it.
Now, on to today’s tweaks:
Starting off the show is Tim O’Brien, who has a Hornets to Chitown concept:
With news that the New Orleans Hornets might be on the move again and that Chicago – or at least the near west suburbs – might be at the top of the list for desired locals, I came up with a few designs for the (hypothetically) new team.
Tim E. O’Brien
Next up is Ken Sorrentino, who has some mocks for the Colts:
I was watching th Colts vs. Titans last night when I realized that those Colts unis were really outdated. I mean, the Patriots throwbacks are the same exept in different colors. They need a redo in the Manning-era. Here is my take.
— Ken Sorrentino
Next up is Joe DeAngelis, who has a New York Football Giants tweak:
My New York Giants design is somewhat of a throwback to the 1970’s, featuring blue pants. The jersey is the current road however I recolored the stripe pattern to better accommodate the scheme. The helmet is also a throwback to the 1975-81 gear with the white/red/white center stripes. Finally, I capitalized and redesigned the “ny” logo on the helmet using a more simpler font, but accented it with a matching red outline.
Thanks for looking,
Closing down today’s tweaks is Jay Shelton, who has a redesign for the Cardinals helmets:
I’m sending a design for a new Arizona Cardinals helmet that I came up with 10+ years ago. My design is based upon using the whole helmet as the cardinal head, with the yellow facemask representing the beak.
That’s it for today. Check back tomorrow for more.
And now, a Top 11 for 2011
No year end or year beginning would be complete without the obligatory “Top 10” list. Unless you’re Jim Vilk, who always has to do things just a bit differently. So, instead of a normal Top 10… this one goes to … eleven:
Honorable Mention to a couple of Liberty Bowls in the 70s…if I could only remember which ones.
My 11th favorite bowl game, the 1991 Peach Bowl. Great game.
10. 1981 Bluebonnet Bowl, UCLA/Michigan — Don’t recall any details, just know that I saw it and enjoyed it.
9. 1979 Cotton Bowl, Notre Dame/Houston — Lindsay Nelson, Houston’s Veer offense, an icy day and the Irish in green numbers.
8. 2010 “Citrus” Bowl, Penn State/LSU — By far the prettiest-looking bowl game ever.
7. 1983 Sugar Bowl, Penn State/Georgia — JoePa finally gets an official championship!
6. 2005 Rose Bowl, Texas/Michigan — The best Rose Bowl I ever saw … until the following year.
5. 1980 Orange Bowl, Oklahoma/Florida State — The wishbone, JC Watts (who could throw, too) and Don Criqui calling the game. Ooooohhh, yeah.
4. 1987 Fiesta Bowl, Miami/Penn State — The first thing we ever taped on our first VCR, and it turned out to be a classic.
3. 1982 Sugar Bowl, Pitt/Georgia — Keith Jackson, Dan Marino, script Pitt and an exciting game — it doesn’t get much better than that.
2. 2006 Rose Bowl, Texas/USC — What a way for Keith Jackson to go out — one of the best games I ever saw, period.
1. 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State/Oklahoma — I jumped out of my seat for that hook and lateral play. Just a joy of a game to watch.
Great job with that Jim — shocked you didn’t have more Penn State games on that list, but at least you got the greatest finish ever correct. The Hook and Lateral was great, but the Statue of Liberty was the icing on the cake.
Calling All Yinzers!
SECOND ANNUAL YINZER WATCH GATHERING: Saturday, January 8th, 2011 at the Fox and Hound on McKnight Road in Pittsburgh. Noon till whenever. The planning committee (aka, me, Ryan Connelly and Jason Bernard) at first thought we’d keep tradition and do it on the night of the BCS Championship Game but then we reconsidered for two reasons: Pitt’s bowl game will be on this date and we’d like to accommodate any readers that might want to come in from out of town. Native Pittsburgher? Displaced Pittsburgher? No ties at all to Pittsburgh? It doesn’t matter, ALL are welcome. Please RSVP to me at dkeklak(at)comcast.net if you are able to attend so that I can get a handle on how many folks we might get.
And so, let’s put the first post or 2011 into the books. Thanks to Ricko, Mothersunbowlker, and all the colorizers and tweakers. Great stuff today. Everyone enjoy your bowls and the Winter Classic.
Happy 2011 To One and All!
Fully striped went to 3/4 striped when it was determined the stripe was slippery. Then it went to half striped when menufacturer’s remembered that 3/4 striped balls were still slippery for lefthanders. — David Murphy (on why the stripe no longer goes all the way around a football)