By Phil Hecken
Ever since the LA Dodgers announced they’d be wearing throwback uniforms for six Thursday afternoon games this year, there’s been a buzz about their new uniforms. Whether through the passage of time or a faulty recollection of history, many have come to accept that the famous “B” logo that the Brooklynites wore for half a century has always looked like this. Not so.
Today, I’m joined by Chance Michaels, UW stalwart, who has sought, unsuccessfully, to buy a true Brooklyn Dodger cap. You’d think something so simple as buying a Dodger cap would be a no-brainer. Also, not so.
I’ll turn the rest of the lede over to Chance, who will give us a fantastic history lesson which accompanies his search for the
holy grail proper Brooklyn cap.
Bleeding Brooklyn Blue
By Chance Michaels
One out of every seven Americans can trace their family roots back to the streets of Brooklyn. I myself am a native; though you probably know me as a Packers chronicler and fan of the Brewers (especially the classic model), I was born in New York City and lived in Brooklyn as a kid.
Recently, my wife and I moved with our kids from Manhattan to my old borough (a journey unheard of in these days). Like many proud denizens of the Borough of Kings, I wanted to buy a Brooklyn Dodger cap to proclaim my local pride.
Only problem — they don’t make ’em.
Let’s take a look at the development of the blue Dodger cap, from the development of the classic B logo and see how we got where we are now.
The Brooklyn Dodgers used a distinctive “B” logo for most of their existence. It may best be described as two equal loops, or an “8”, joined by a vertical bar at the left. The bar’s right edge is straight, and the left edge is scalloped to form three points. The loops and bar come together to create a distinctive triangular “notch” of negative space.
This logo was in use as early as 1909, when the Boys from Brooklyn were known as the “Superbas”. It would be featured on the jerseys and caps as early as 1914, and as the team moved from being known as the Superbas to the Robins to finally the Dodgers, the logo was a constant. The Dodgers experimented with other looks, to be sure, but always came back to the classic “B”.
In 1938, the Dodgers introduced what would be their last home uniform. Snow white, with a blue “Dodgers” script across the chest, it survives to this day. Road caps were blue with the classic “B”, home caps were while with a blue logo, bill and piping (as seen in this exemplar, (manufactured by Spalding and worn by base coach Babe Ruth). The white cap was discarded after one season in favor of blue caps full-time, which would come to define the Dodgers for the rest of their stay in Brooklyn.
The design of the classic “B” was altered slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, depending on which company supplied the Brooks in any given season. Spalding gave them caps with a logo which thinned at the middle, while Rawlings had an interpretation of the “B” involving a more uniform thickness. Rawlings was also known to sew the logo on as a patch, as was MacGregor Goldsmith. But these minor variations aside, no matter where it appeared, the Dodger cap was timeless and true.
Until the early 1950s, that is. The Dodgers gave their cap contract to McAuliffe, a company out of Boston that was huge in that era, supplying the hometown Red Sox as well as the Reds, Tigers and Angels, among others. McAuliffe made some minor alterations to the logo, especially at the points of the bar. I’m having trouble nailing down exactly when this version was introduced, but based on this photo of Ralph Branca, Carl Erskine and Preacher Roe, it must have been around 1951. The National League 75th Anniversary patch is a dead giveaway, but we can’t be sure; photo evidence can sometimes swing more than one way. Not to mention that Preacher is wearing a “classic B” cap in that photo.
1955 is a year burned into the memory of every Brooklyn Dodger fan, even those who weren’t alive at the time. The Bums finally managed to get to the top of the mountain. After ten National League pennants, including five in nine years, the Dodgers finally bested the crosstown Yankees to win the World Series. Only slightly less momentous is that, in the same season, McAuliffe scrapped the classic “B” in favor of their own stock letter.
Although some of McAuliffe’s caps appear to have a notch due to the stitching pattern, the majority do not. In many cases, the gap between stitching is more of a seam. Remember this notch-less logo; it’ll be important in, oh, about forty years.
An ignominious fate for a proud franchise, wearing a second-hand logo (not to mention an early case of the corporate lifestyle apparel shenanigans plaguing pro sports today). This slight was short-lived, if only because the Dodgers would find themselves out of Brooklyn, trading the “B” caps for an interlocking “LA.” And with that, the iconic “B” logo, which had defined a borough for decades, was relegated to the fading world of memories and newspaper clippings.
Until somebody realized they could make money off it, that is.
Thanks Chance. Great stuff. Chance will be back next weekend as the search for a proper Brooklyn (hopefully) reaches a happy ending.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
I took last week off, hoping we would get some new blood, but the stalwarts never let us down. The G&G Boys (George & Gary) are back with a few stellar pictures for us:
Leading off this week is Gary Chanko, who took on another Gary — Player — and Arnie:
I believe you said you were taking (last) week off. However I managed to work through the Palmer and Player image that was submitted last week. Not the best size for digital coloring, but as always, you work with what you’ve got.
Next up is George Chilvers, who first sent me a *corrected* image of Terry Proctor’s Rochester Royal favorite:
I know you’re not doing a “colorize this” this week, but this is either for next week or to send directly to Terry – corrected version of Bobby Davies :)
Have a good holiday!
With a week off to recharge their batteries, Gary & George cranked back up the colorization machine this week. But before they did, reader Alan Tompas came up with three new colorization candidates, and they are supreme:
Dug up some cool images up from the baseball forum page..would be great to see what they’d look like in color! I recently started a blog on tumblr with a lot of my own original photos..I’m still unemployed and it might be a good digital resume. Plus I’d like to get more followers..if you can give me a shout out..it’s much appreciated. Your blog keeps me endlessly entertained and motivated to keep my writing dreams alive. The blog is here.
And here are those three images:
Yankee Stadium (with the Mick)
Polo Grounds (after a Mets game)
All the best..Alan
Back to the G&G Boys, we continue with George, who has colorized the “Leitrim Young Men’s Society Gaelic Football Team,” whatever that may be. But I will say this, I absolutely love the “CAPTAIN” kit on the chap in the center:
This is Leitrim Young Men’s Society Gaelic Football Team from New York in 1914 at a game against Cavan. Having socks falling down was not an option for these young gentlemen :)
And the trainer in the back row seems a belt and braces sort of guy judging by how he wears his belt.
The original is here . Sometimes we can be our own worst critics, but I’m quite pleased with this one.
In case anyone wants a bit more of my non-sports related work then my most recent offering is here showing the winner of the “If looks could kill Cup” – the lady in purple is not impressed by the judges’ verdict, is she?
It’s a long weekend in England – we have a day off on Friday for “the Wedding” and Monday is “May Day” holiday. Hooray!
Gary returned George’s serve with aplomb by sending me this next offering. We’ve seen this one on Uni Watch before, but never in living color. Check out this outstanding effort:
It’s often mentioned that Baseball Fever is a great source for images. And indeed it is. I spent last week scouring their archives for unusual photos to colorize.
I think I found one: FDR throwing out the first pitch at the 1937 All-Star Game in DC. Lots of stuff going on in this amazing photo: marching band, press corps, three umpires (see if you can find them along with FDR’s ball ), and, of course, the players.
When I first saw this photo I said, “No way, you’d have to have lost your mind to attempt adding color to this vintage B&W despite the quality of the image.” So I did lose my mind.
Those that would like to try this one can find the original here, No. 486.
I guess having all of those off-days was good for George’s creativity, because he sent me one more dandy (and you’ll see why it’s special, as well):
Last one for this week, and there’s a story behind this one.
The sport is rugby league (some of your readers may not know there are two codes of rugby – league and union). Rugby League is mainly played in the North of England, and St Helens (here in white and red) are one of the top teams in the world. But in the 50s and 60s there was a small team in the league, Liverpool City, and this photo – which is of much poorer quality than I normally work with – is scanned from a book “Liverpool City RLFC – Rugby League in a Football City”.
They attracted very small crowds of only a few hundred, but have a place in my heart because they were the first professional sports team I actually used to go to watch.
So I just had to do this picture which dates from September 1966 of a game between Liverpool City and St Helens.
Because at the far right of the picture, behind the barrier, wearing the green and white scarf that his aunt knitted him, is a 14-year-old George Chilvers :)
There you have it, readers — another outstanding set from Gary and George. And three new stadia shots for next weekend (although anything is of course fair game). I am hoping to have another tutorial (don’t worry, it won’t be from me) on colorization in the near future. Hopefully we’ll attract a few more submitters to this really fun (and for the historical record, important) activity.
Back next weekend with more. If you have a suggestion or a colorization, drop me a line. OK? OK!
by Rick Pearson
Honestly, there are moments when you simply can’t resist jerking someone’s chain…
And, as always, here is the full-size.
We have another nice of tweaks 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!
And so, lets begin:
Up first is Joseph Gerard, who has something new for the Pittsburgh Pirates:
Okay, although I don’t think the Pittsburgh Pirates current uniforms need to be redone (unlike their logo, but more on that in a minute), I figured I would spruce them up a bit.
For all three uniforms, I made the caps the pinstripe pillbox style from 1976-1986. The standard home and away uniforms have a black bill on the cap, while the alternate uniform has a gold bill. The hat remains black, with the pinstripes being gold. I removed the logo patch from all three jerseys.
HOME: I mostly left this one unchanged, except that I moved the jersey number to the left side of the jersey.
AWAY: I removed the “PITTSBURGH” script and moved the jersey number to the left as well. I replaced the “PITTSBURGH” script with “BUCS” on the right side. The team has used the “Bucs” nickname for almost as long as they have used “Pirates” but have never used the word on a uniform. This changes that.
ALTERNATE: To better connect the team with the Steelers, I gave this jersey Steeler-style Northwestern stripes on the sleeves.
Now for the logo: I don’t like the current logo at all. I associate it with losing. The previous logo isn’t that much better. But I do LOVE the 1968-1986 logo. So I figured I would combine the three together with the “PIRATES” script from the uniforms (which have somehow remained conspicuously absent from the logo over the years) for a new logo. I used the baseball diamond from the 1987-1996 logo, a colorized pirate head from the 1968-1986 logo, and gave him a red bandanna from the current logo. Add the “PIRATES” script, and voila!
I don’t think the Bucs will ever adopt any of this, but it’s a start.
Joseph Gerard, 25
Up next is Scott Schroeder, who has something old/new for the Blue Jays:
This is a tweak for the Blue Jays that is more of a re-colorization than a new concept. It’s also a reversion to the blue and red of the late 90’s. The main changes; more blue, and there’s a new cap logo including a Maple Leaf to make more reference to the city (and country) in which they play in. Some may notice that it’s a bit Houston Oilers-y with the coloring and pattern around the numbers.
And our final concepter today is Justin Kline, who has a
Winnipeg Jets? Atlanta Thrashers redux:
I was pretty pleased to hear that the Thrashers are scrapping their third jersey, but I feel like they need to get rid of the other two as well. With that in mind, I overhauled just about everything.
I tried to blend classic styles with a few modern touches, somewhat inspired by the Coyotes’ uni changes, and eliminated some of the colors since there were way too many. The logos changed a bit as well, especially the shield logo – I never liked that stupid bird, so I borrowed from the Hawks of the NBA in one instance. Hope y’all enjoy these.
Thanks to today’s tweakers. Back with more next weekend.
OK, Uni Watchers, that will do it for this fine first day of May — I hope everyone is wearing their proper stirrups today, correct comrades?
Ruppers of the world, unite.
“You should have an unwritten rule, Phil. NEVER let THE Jeff tweak jerseys. I had a heart attack when I saw the Mets ones.” — Alex Giobbi