By Phil Hecken
I’ve been spending a lot of time with my pop the past few weeks, unfortunately due to circumstances that are less than pleasant, but one of the better things we’ve been doing is discussing sports in general, and the local teams in particular. This is due in part to the fact that it’s a much easier conversation for both of us, and one around which we’ve bonded since I was a wee lad. Lately, we’ve been discussing the remarkable playoff run of the New York Jets.
Now, in the past I’ve given you all a “uniform confession” (I really liked the original Ducks highlighter unis), but I’ve never really come clean on my “team” confession(s). Part of this, I think, has to do with both how and where I’ve been brought up. You see, as a New Yorker (OK, Long Islander), we’re almost expected from birth to choose one team from each of the three major sports (and hockey), stick with them through thick and thin, and hate the “other” team(s) in your market. So, if you’re a Mets fan, it’s basically in your genes to detest the Yankees, a Jets fan will detest the Giants, Knicks/Nets, and Islanders/Rangers. We’re also generally not big college fans (not that we don’t enjoy college sports) but since with a few rare exceptions, unless we’re an alumnus/a of a school, we don’t really have a local rooting interest. Certainly not in the way that say, someone from Nebraska is almost guaranteed to be a Cornhusker fan, even if they never attended the University.
So what’s my confession? I’m kind of a closet Jets and Yankees fan, and I’ve always had a soft-spot for the Nets (since when I was growing up, they played in the Nassau Coliseum, which is a mere 5 minutes from where I grew up), and I don’t detest the Rangers (or even the Devils). Now, since I’m a Mets, Giants, Knicks and Islanders fan, I’m expected to hate the Yankees, Jets, Nets and Rangers, but I really don’t — in fact, unless they’re playing each other or unless a playoff spot is at stake, I will usually root for the New York team against their opposition. I “blame” this all on my pop.
So how did I get this way, and is this extremely unusual or are there more closet fans? Growing up, we had no cable (I don’t think it was invented by Al Gore yet) so all the sports I watched was on local TV. I remember watching, usually with my dad, any and all of the local teams — the Mets on Channel 9 (WOR), the Yankees on Channel 11 (WPIX), Jets & Giants on the networks, and the hockey and basketball teams were also relegated to Channel 9 — and always and ONLY away games. So, I almost never saw the Isles or Rangers in white, or the Knicks or the Nets. This made the “white at home” very special for me, and why today I still pine for the NHL to return to that uni statement. But it was my father who instilled this “all New York” pride, or rooting interest, in me. When we were watching the Jets play the Pats last weekend (for a very small portion of that game), he told me the story of how we came to acquire the oriental rug that is to this day in my parents’ living room — mom got it while dad watched Joe Willie Namath win Super Bowl III. He told her he’d buy her a mink coat when they won their next Super Bowl. To this day, mom is still freezing in the winter. I asked him if he’d make good on that if the Jets continue their run and finally win their second Super Bowl. Like a typical Jet fan, he responded, “I doubt that’ll be happening.”
Anyway, I became a sports fan, I guess like many of you, because my dad is a sports fan. I’ve tried hard to be a typical New York sports fan and to hate the “other” teams in the same leagues, but I have never been able to quite shake my “all New York” upbringing. I asked dad why HE liked all the New York teams, and his answer probably shouldn’t have surprised me: “Because your grandfather did.” My old man was born in Brooklyn, and of course was a huge Dodgers fan. I asked him if he was also a Giants fan, since those two circles almost never co-mingled. His reply, “Yes. Except when they were playing the Dodgers.” How about the Yankees, “Yes. Except when they met the Dodgers in the World Series.” When the Dodgers and Giants moved away, he became a Mets fan in 1962. He was a New York Football Giants fan from birth, and embraced the AFL’s Titans and Jets as soon as they were born. Same thing with the Knicks and the Nets, and the Rangers and the Islanders. We’re fortunate in New York to have a bunch of teams to choose from to root for, if we choose to root for the locals.
But what about the rest of you? A guy I worked with a few years ago was kind of the “LeBron” of fans — they’re the same age, and his favorite teams are the Yankees, the Cowboys, the Bulls and the Rangers. Not surprisingly, those were the winning teams during his formative years. He’s always liked the front runner. Of course, he also is deep into fantasy baseball & football, and spends many of his waking hours playing video games with made up rosters — so his fanhood is much more player oriented than team oriented. If you are not a “local” team fan, do you root for the teams who were the “winners” while you were young? Did you have a favorite player growing up who just happened to play for a team of which you found yourself becoming a fan?
Did you ever select a team to root for (and I don’t mean for a single game, but to make “your” team) because of the uniform? While I’ve always been into uniforms, it has never affected my rooting interests. Sure, I hated when the Mets went to the racing stripes, but I still rooted for them. Even when they went BFBS, I lived and died by them. But if a “new” league were to form, and there was no local team, I don’t even know if I’d root based on the uniform. I like to pick teams playing each other based on their uniform, but as far as my loyalties, dad always taught me to root for the locals. In fact, the only time I really ever root against a local team is when they play one another — and then, at least — I’m all business. I will always root for the Mets over the Yankees, the Giants over the Jets, the Knicks over the Nets, and the Islanders over the Rangers. Even when there is a playoff spot at stake.
So, are you a homer, like me? And how did you get that way — did you find a Ken Willard card in a box of cereal when you were young and become a 49er fan? If you live in a city like Chicago or LA, do you have divided loyalties, or do you root for all the “home” teams? Did you grow up rooting for the teams who won a lot, and as a result, you’re a fan of those teams today? Did you ever choose a team because of a certain player or uniform? Growing up, and even now, I downplay my affection for the “other” team in my market, but secretly, I almost always root for that team. Until interplague in MLB, it was very easy to root for all NY teams, because in baseball they never played each other and in football, the Jets and Giants only meet every few years. It was, and is, harder in hockey and basketball (although I’m far less of a fan of those two sports) because they’re in the same division.
What kind of fan are you?
This past week, in the comments section, longtime UWer Susan “Tex” Freeman mentioned she had full size postcards of the 1969 “College Family Portraits,” in her collection, and a few of which had been posted. None of those was particularly high quality, however. These actually came from a set of 6 x 9″ postcards, which Susan’s father had framed — she offered to scan them for me. I talked about it with Tex and there’s quite a story behind them, one which we hope to explore in greater detail down the line. For now, here’s what she discovered:
“The print at the bottom (of the cards),” says Susan, reads “1969 Collegiate Marketing Corporation ”“ Box 3436 ”“ Austin Texas 78704.”
There were 8 scans which she sent to me, some of which you have seen, but the rest are probably new to us:
1 – SEC Family Portrait
2 – SWC Family Portrait
3 – “Up For Grabs”
4 – ACC Family Portrait
5 – Big 8 Family Portrait
6 – Big 10 Family Portrait
7 – Ivy League Family Portrait
8 – PAC 8 Family Portrait
Great stuff. But after scanning those, Susan was just a bit more curious as to the origins of these cards:
FYI”¦ I just opened one of these frames up because I was dying to see what was on the back ”“ and drumroll… It is a large postcard with the same markings as the small postcards. Odd, don’t remember large postcards when I was kid! It does identify the teams though: i.e. Vanderbilt Commodore, Alabama Crimson Tide (Mr. Crimson), Georgia Bulldog, Tennessee Volunteer, Clemson Tiger, Louisiana State Tiger, Kentucky Wildcat, Florida Gator, Ole Miss rebel (Col. Rebel), Mississippi State Bulldog”¦ I guess if the mascot had a name it was included.
And sad to say”¦ as the brochure says these were 6x9s that DAD CUT DOWN TO 6x8s! :/ If there is any back story, it would be the artist — they were clearly paintings, you can see brush strokes. Did a search for Don Collins and GOT NUTHIN’! Maybe you or someone else has heard of him. My bet is he was a Texas guy, they did this for SWC and then the Austin based “National Collegiate Marketing” guys commissioned him to do the rest.
Many of us would give up the search there, but then again, we’re Uni Watchers, and we need to know more. Susan not only confirmed it was Don Collins who painted all those, but, it turns out he’s a “Busy guy”¦ illustrates books, his own books, even some Resort ads for magazines. Looks like he has his own shop in Arlington.” A bit more digging reveals the illustrator, Don Collins, is a native Texan and a veteran of the Korean War. After attending the University of Texas at Austin, he has been working as a freelance illustrator in the Austin area since 1956. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, attended classes at several Texas universities, and in 1956 entered an informal partnership with Austin printer Jack Wilson. Operating from a business they called The Art Studio, the two men designed and produced graphic arts materials for customers that ranged from real estate agents to book publishers. All this time Don inclined toward drawing old architectural works. Several large commissions from printers stimulated a long-time interest in rural scenes and architecture. He lives in Austin and Arlington.
Tex put in a call to Mr. Collins and is hoping to find out much more about the series and possibly other works he has had commissioned that relate to college football. Of course, I have actually planned on working on a feature article with Susan in the future, so any additional information she can gather will be included in that. Great stuff Susan!
It’s been a while since the boys from Benchies appeared on Uni Watch, but they’re back, at least for today, in honor of the one year “anniversary” of the Uni Watch Deep Freeze in Minnesota.
Here’s Rick to set her up:
My, how time flies. Already a year since the UniWatch Deep Freeze gathering in the Twin Cities. Although ’11’s daytime wind chills below zero will be a far cry from the rain and relatively temperate conditions of ’10. Anyway, to commemorate the festivities, here’s “Benchies” from a year ago, when we all were just a bit younger. And a whole lot warmer.
Thanks Ricko. If you guys enjoy and miss Benchies, be sure to let Mr. Pearson know. I understand he’s got the creative jones again, so if you missed it, like I did, be sure to urge its return!
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 Kaleb Stuckey, who starts us off with a new look for the Texas Rangers:
These are my tweaks for the Texas Rangers.
I tried a combination of both old and new, and red and blue. I believe the Rangers have been going through an identity crisis, indecisive about whether to be red or blue. Why not incorporate both? This is very evident in the hat I have created.
The home set is what I have heard people want most over the years- a throwback to the classic script, and putting the team name instead of the “Texas”. There are three jerseys and one set of pants, which are double striped in the red and blue.
The road set is basically the same with the exception of the red jersey. I don’t find it appealing on gray pants.
Next up is Austin “Tex” Fischer, who has a few NHL concepts for us:
My name is Tex and I’ve sent you some NHL jersey concepts. First of all, I really love “Uni-Watch” and look foward to another year.
First I made a Buffalo Sabres concept, without the dreaded Buffa-slug logo.
Then an All-Star jersey prediction, based off the info I got off your site.
Third a variation on the Avs third with a matching road white.
A “different” Flyers concept that isn’t that good, but I think would make a nice alternate.
Finally, a nice gold Penguins jersey set to finish things off.
Hope you like them,
Next is Paul Lee, with a Sacramento Kings logo concept:
Here’s a logo-tweak for the Sacramento Kings. The purple and black look is just awful!
And finally, some pro combat concepts from Sean F.:
I really liked your work on all the NFC uniforms using the Pro Combat template. I had to try it myself. I only did these two so far.
Kansas City Chiefs
With this uni, its more like the fire chiefs. I did this by accident, using the eraser on the helmet with a lowered opacity by mistake. I liked the look however, similar to what the Jaguars did with their new helmets. I eliminated all the black and increased the amount of golden yellow.
New England Patriots
I really like the NE logo the Patriots have, although you only really see it on Bradys hat during press conferences. I used that as the main logo on the helmet and made the silver white. I also tried using some verticle stripes on the sleeves, reflecting the look of the pants stripes. I also used the socks from the late 90’s uniforms with the red band separting the white and blue. I like how these came out, but it reminds me more of the Texans than the Patriots.
Thanks for you time,
That’s all for today everyone. Check back tomorrow for more.
And we’ll call it a wrap for today. Apologies for the non-uni nature of the lede, but it was kind of a rough personal week. Don’t worry tho, because there’s a big set of NFL championships on tap for tomorrow, and if all goes according to plan, it should be a pretty interesting post. Thanks again to Susan Freeman and all the tweakers, and to Ricko for (hopefully) bringing back Benchies.
Phil walks 57 miles in 16 feet of snow uphill to and from work to his log cabin where he eats bear grease bread-cake cooked on a wood stove fired by moose dung as he flogs his back with a jersey o’ nine stripes and writes his UNI manifesto. He doesn’t have time to meet your great expectations my good sir, good day. — Robert P. Marshall, III