Got a note the other day from reader Billy Quinton, as follows:
I’m fascinated by the old Dallas Texans of the AFL, who later became the Kansas City Chiefs. My family is good friends with Bob Halford, who was the Texans’ PR director in inaugural 1960 season and later moved with them to Kansas City in 1964. He recently showed me a book he received after the team’s 1960 season.
The book features all of the Texans’ programs from that season. It was produced by Mayo Brothers, the Dallas printing company that printed the programs. They gave a copy to all of the team’s front office employees, complete with a letter from Mayo Brothers’ owner, congratulating them on a great year.
Billy scanned a bunch of the program covers and sent them my way. I was surprised to find that the book even includes the program covers from the Texans’ road games — in other words, programs produced by their opponents. Did Mayo Brothers print the programs for the whole league? Or did they just get copies of the programs from all of the team’s road games? Either way, the net result is an interesting glimpse at how the various teams approached one small but visible detail of their businesses — program cover design — during the AFL’s first season. It would be fair to say that some of them splurged while others did the bare minimum.
Here are some highlights from this amazing trove of material:
• Here’s the cover from the first game in Dallas Texans (and Houston Oilers) history. Interesting to see that the inaugural game was pitched as a leukemia-research benefit.
• When the Texans went on the road to Oakland, the Raiders used generic high school/college artwork with their logo slapped on as an afterthought. Embarrassing. Also, note that the home team is listed first (this also shows up on a few of the other programs) — unusual.
• How do you defeat a Charger? With a DisCharger, of course. Meanwhile, note that the Charger appears to be a centaur!
• How often do you see a football program cover featuring a branding iron?
• Hmmm, looks like someone didn’t know how to spell “peacemaker.”
• Another team that relied on generic collegiate artwork: the Broncos.
• The Bills commissioned their own artwork but only sprung for a two-color design.
• Here’s my favorite design of the lot. Love the typography, love seeing Pat Patriot as a bartender, love the spittoon at the end of the bar. Makes me want to see the rest of the Patriots’ program covers from that season.
• The Jets played up the fact that Sammy Baugh was their coach.
• I don’t know about you, but I find this cover commissioned by the Chargers to be a tad disturbing.
• This is pretty clever: When the Texans and Oilers played for the third time that season (!), the program cover referenced the covers from their two previous games.
• The Bills were named after Buffalo Bill Cody, the old Wild West star, but you never see him referenced in any of the team’s graphics. He makes a rare appearance, however, on this program cover.
• You know what I like better than almost anything? An infinite regression!
You may have noticed that most of these tremendous program covers carry a stylized signature: “Chase.” I asked Billy what he could tell me about the illustrator. Here’s his response:
John Churchill Chase was an editorial cartoonist from New Orleans. He did the first cartoon of the University of Texas mascot “Bevo” that’s still used today and did most of the Longhorns’ football program covers in the 1950s.
According to Bob Halford [the Texans PR guy who provided the book from which all these scans were taken], Chase was the New Orleans Times Picayune’s political cartoonist when the Texans came into existence. Bob knew Chase from their days at UT (Bob was sportsiInfo director there from ’57-’59) and hired him himself to do the team’s programs. The Oilers also had him do their programs, because they liked the Texans’ covers so much. Chase kept on doing the covers when the team moved to KC, at least until Bob left the Chiefs in 1964; he’s not sure how long Chase did them afterward. ”¦
The Texans logo was done by Dallas Morning News political cartoonist Bill McClanahan. Bill was well known in Texas because he did the cartoons of all the Southwest Conference mascots for “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.” That’s the football Bible down here. Some are still used today.
Phew! That, my friends, is some serious background info. I can’t thank Billy enough for sharing all this great material with us.
Cubbie Corner: I’ve written before about how the Cubs have been unsung uni innovators on several fronts. Now reader Joe Coney has turned up a 1959 Sports Illustrated article about Phil Wrigley, a portion of which finds the team’s then-owner weighing in on the subject of uniforms. Here’s the relevant section of the piece, beginning with a lengthy quotation from Wrigley:
“Take another thing we did. Around 1933 or ’34, we took the sleeves off the uniforms and had sweatshirts knit the same color as the uniform. It gave the players more freedom of motion, but they practically ran us out of the league for that. We had to go back to the conventional uniform because they were kidding our players, calling them pantywaists. I got the idea while I was in Canada at a directors’ meeting. We went some place where there was bowling. Canadians wear waistcoats, you know. They took their coats off to bowl, but they left their waistcoat on. They had freedom of motion. Look at the change in baseball uniforms! They’ve hardly changed!
“Last year, we had to make a rule about protective helmets. No one would wear them. Yet construction workers have been wearing them for years. In case someone dropped a rivet on their heads or something. Another thing was the socks! The socks stretched up to the thigh, then they rolled them down around the knee and wadded them. The player’s got all that wadding — and they expect him to break a record running to first! I often think baseball must have been invented by an Englishman — it’s so hard to get anyone to change.”
If the occasion demands it, [Wrigley] will personally impose his taste on the design for a new Cub uniform. “I’ve always preferred CHICAGO rather than CHICAGO CUBS on the uniform,” he says, “CUBS ends up on the stomach, and that emphasizes it. Just CHICAGO across the chest makes them look huskier. And all that lettering, CHICAGO CUBS, makes it look like JOE’S GARAGE.”
Priceless stuff there, especially the revelation that the Cubbies’ vests — which were the first ever worn in the bigs — were inspired by Canadian bowlers! That’s a major historical detail that I hadn’t previously known about. Major thanks to Joe for spotting this great info.
Uni Watch News Ticker: What the hell is this? Answer: Viewed from the front, it’s the Greatest. Full story here (thanks, Kirsten). ”¦ Check out this football player with letters spelled out in tape on his pants, these other players with tape-wrapped pant legs, and this sensational jacket. Those photos are from this absolutely spectacular photo site. The “Times Square” and “At Work and at Play” sections are particularly good, but all of it is worthwhile. Highly recommended (major find by Jon Hammer). ”¦ Speaking of major finds, dig this sensational 1938 Wilson basketball ad that Peter Greenberg turned up. I especially like the name on the ball. ”¦ Oh baby, check out this super-tasty Miami Amigos jersey that Dan Cichalski found. ”¦ According to the second graf of this story, Baron Davis is wearing No. 85 with the Cavs because “he grew up in his grandparents’ house on 85th Street in the Los Angeles area” (with thanks to Kurtiss Dilley). ”¦ The U. of Richmond is having an online vote to choose a new mascot. “The good news is they will have eight legs on the new spider,” says Ted Bloss. “The bad news is that all three designs are terrible. The odd news is that apparently everyone calls the mascot Spidey, but they can’t officially call it that because of a Marvel copyright.” ”¦ Donald Brashear, now playing in a semi-pro league in Quebec, is still wearing his old Rangers gloves (good spot by Alan Kreit). ”¦ The Yankees’ pinstripes have nothing on the ones worn by deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, whose pinstripes spelled out his name (great find by Eric Trager). ”¦ Here’s our first look at the Dodgers’ er-satins with the pants. “Not sure I like the white belt tunnel with the powder blue pants and royal belt,” says Phil. ”¦ Reds and Angels went red-vs.-red yesterday (with thanks to Michael Burnett). ”¦ Here’s a fun piece on the history of soccer balls used in the German Bundesliga (with thanks to Joe Poll). ”¦ New gray alternates for Oregon hoops (with thanks to Isaac Rosenthal). ”¦ Speaking of gray alts on the court, here’s a good story on Kansas State’s grays (with thanks to Ben Traxel). ”¦ Three of my favorite things — meat, the Mets, and uniforms — had a sort of harmonic convergence the other day in a court case (Eric Trager again). ”¦ Had ideas about bidding on this great football jersey until the price got way out of hand. ”¦ New uni set for Arkansas State football. Some chuckleheads on the Chris Creamer board noted the reinforced seams around the crotch and quickly made a Borat comparison. … This is fascinating: a photographer’s behind-the-scenes account of how Photo Day works at an MLB spring training camp (big thanks to Dan Cichalski). ”¦ Last week I mentioned that Arizona State would be saluting freshman Cory Hahn, who recently suffered a severe neck injury, by adding his uni number to their stirrups. That has now been done, plus the fourth graf of this story indicates that Hahn’s high school will be adding a patch (with thanks to Kyle Mackie). ”¦ The Cardinals played their first road Grapefruit League game yesterday. And just as they do every spring, their wore their red home caps with the road grays. I really should have included that trope in my ESPN column earlier this week. ”¦ Speaking of spring training rituals, someone on the Chris Creamer board just wrote, “The Yankees wear the pinstripes for their first home game of spring training. Other than that, they wear their BP jerseys.” Hadn’t realized that was a set protocol.