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The Disney/ESPN Connection Suddenly Makes a Lot More Sense

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Got an interesting note the other day from reader Leo Strawn, Jr., who’s picked up on an interesting trend. I’ll let him explain:

Most Uni Watch readers are probably already familiar with the story of Bert Anthony. He’s the designer who created the Arizona State Sun Devils mascot, Sparky, and in so doing perhaps “demonized” his former employer, Walt Disney, who bears a striking resemblance to Sparky.

Most Uni Watchers are also no doubt familiar with the agreement between Disney and the University of Oregon that allows the school to use Donald Duck as its mascot.

But there’s another story involving Disney and a college athletics program — one that I didn’t know about until I recently ran across it purely by chance.

Apparently, in the mid-1930s, the University of Missouri-Kansas City — known then as Kansas City University, or University of Kansas City — was considering a mascot for its debate team (the school had no athletic competition teams at that time). The Kansas City Zoo had evidently acquired two baby kangaroos around that time, which generated a lot of local interest, so Kangaroos became the school’s nickname. But editors of the school’s yearbook wanted a different mascot, and it looked like the Kangaroos name might be changed.

Walt Disney had a studio in Kansas City, near the school’s campus, and also had a number of old schoolmates who had attended the university. In 1937 he created Kasey the Kangaroo as a mascot for the school, based upon his Academy Award-winning character, Mickey Mouse.

So that makes three instances of Walt Disney either directly or indirectly influencing a college mascot/logo. Running across this story makes me wonder if there are any others out there that we aren’t yet aware of.

Good story — thanks, Leo. Kasey’s visage has changed a bit over the years, but he still endures, both as a cartoon graphic and as a live mascot. Hmmm, but I don’t see any pouch on that mascot costume. Bogus!

As an aside: About five years ago I got to pet a joey (that’s a baby kangaroo) at a petting zoo. It was absolutely the softest thing I have ever touched. Hope I get to pet another one sometime.

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

One week from today we’ll be opening our uni-related Christmas presents and watching the daylong loop of A Christmas Story on TBS. If bobbleheads count, and they do to me, I am pretty sure Santa is gonna have this, plus this, and this, along with some Skyfall stuff, under the tree. Speaking of the tree, the one thing we don’t have on it is this. Couldn’t find one locally, not even at the Giants Dugout Store (although they did have “Baby’s First Giants Christmas” — meh).

Okay, enough about my Christmas. Here’s some last-minute stuff for yours:

• Wow, an early-1960 Patriots helmet from Sears?

• Elliot Teichman sent in this “Let’s Get Metsmerized” late-1980s jacket.

• Cool 1970s Minnesota North Stars skate plaque. [Gawd, how could would it have been if the team had actually worn that skate design? ”” PL]

• Reader “Smedley” sent in this early-1960s LA Angels inflatable figure.

• Got baseball buttons? You will with this early-1970s MLB collection.

• Love this late -1970s Chicago White Sox book bag, co-sponsored Lee Jeans.

• Hmmm, NBA tennis shoes from Korea. Authentic or not? You be the judge.

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.

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Raffle reminder: My annual reader-appreciation raffle is currently underway. Details here.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: More Newtown uni memorials: The Jets wore an “S.H.E.S.” decal; Rex Ryan wore that decal on his headset; Titans RB Chris Johnson wrote the names of the victims on his cleats; and UConn hoops added an “SH” patch, with a green/white ribbons for the coaches last night (green and white were the school colors of Sandy Hook Elementary). I keep waiting for someone to wear a decal or patch like this, but maybe they just haven’t been shipped from the factory or something. … Titans CB Jason McCourty had extremely high whites last night. ”¦ This is pretty fascinating: MLB and MiLB pitchers may soon start wearing padded caps to protect — at least a little bit — against line drives. No joke: After reading that story yesterday, I had a dream about padded caps last night! … Cincinnati has some pretty mod helmets for the southern department store chain bowl. They’ll keep this design as an alternate helmet next season. ”¦ Here’s more about Oak Park, Illinois’s plan to have all Little Leaguers wear White Sox uniforms (from Ben Gordon). … The Dolphins had a reunion of the undefeated 1972 team on Sunday, and dressed them in proper throwback jerseys. Oddly, Bob Griese’s jersey was autographed, presumably by himself (from Preston Feiler). … Evan Longoria and his girlfriend are expecting a baby, and the jersey is ready (from Brady Phelps). … Sam Chandler says this unusual Gretzky jesey is displayed at a bar in St. Louis. Anyone know more? … Some players for Katy High School in Texas had a different chest mark, marker’s mark, and jersey fabric than their teammates the other day (from Patrick Woody). … If you want this vedeo recap from Saturday’s K-State/Gonzaga game, you’ll see a massive ad for a video game plastered beneath the baseline (from Brayden Ruthart). … Adam Hancock found this swell varsity sweater at a resale shop in St. Louis. … Not uni-related, but this is interesting: New York Post columnist Ken Davidoff (full disclosure: a pal of mine, although not on the level of a close friend) wrote a column on Saturday that was criticial of R.A. Dickey and basically supported the notion of the Mets trading him. That apparently prompted a torrent of response on Mets blogs, on Twitter, and via e-mail. Davidoff gave a very straightforward, level-headed response to all of that yesterday on his blog, and it’s a revealing look at how a contemporary sports columnist engages with his job and his audience. Excellent job, and fascinating reading. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Pats defensive end Justin Francis had some decal issues on Sunday night. … U. of Detroit hoops wore a blue alternate uni last night (from Justin Remington). … Several readers report that last night’s episode of Jeopardy! included a category called “New Jersey,” which was all about uniforms. ”¦ Yesterday I mentioned that the Cardinals still had their “Salute to Service” printed on the end lines on Sunday. What I didn’t realize — at least not until Aaron McHargue told me — was that the Cards and Lions both wore G.I. Joe captaincy patches for that game. What the fuck? ”¦ Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim was presented with a No. 900 jersey last night — completely with sweatback! — to commemorate his 900th win. … One. More. Day. In. The. Fucking. Cast.

Comments (86)

    I believe the Gretzky jersey is a replica of his jersey worn on the cover of Wayne Gretzky and the NHLPA All-Stars, (link

    which itself The cover art features pictures of Wayne Gretzky taken during exhibition games held during the 1994—95 NHL lockout. The white jerseys with black shoulders and the NHLPA logo were worn in games held in North America; the red-striped jersey, based on the Detroit Red Wings throwback, was worn on an European tour.


    This link is for an auction for a similar jersey. The product description explains its history and the history of his European Tour

    It’s just too bad they didn’t wear those in their exhibition game against the Detroit Vipers before they went to Europe – they just wore the NHLPA logo jerseys for that game.

    Thanks for the info, boys! I saw this while eating at my favorite restaurant in St. Louis (Syberg’s) and knew it would find interest here. It’s pretty interesting that this series took place during the 94-95 lockout and that the all-star team roster included Blues greats Al MacInnis and Brett Hull… who would become Gretzky’s teammates for the 96 season when he was signed by St Louis. Here’s a bit more that I noticed and related to Mr. Lukas in my email.

    The jersey has a “Ninety Nine” word mark as a logo
    Gretz was captain of this team apparently
    The jersey is Team Canada colors, but has an NHLPA patch on the chest, an LA Gear patch on the left shoulder and a USA hockey patch on the right shoulder. Lots going on.

    Number 99 of course
    Two CCM manufacturer tags. Weird, because I’m a hockey player and generally you only see one of these on one side. I don’t own any jerseys that have the double tags.
    Signed by Wayne and a limited edition number written below the signature. 106/999
    Has a fight strap

    Double-tags are only “common” for Gretzky’s jerseys. Gretzky had a lifelong habit of tucking only the right side of his jersey in. That would have obscured the logo. The Oilers used to have a different solution. They moved the manufacturer’s logo (I think it was Nike in those days) to the left side of the hem, for all players, so Gretzky’s tucking would be a moot point. But most manufacturers kept the logo on the right side. What you are seeing is the more common accommodation: Keep the logo on the right hem for everybody (for keeping the visual tradition and/or for keeping logo protocol consistent for all applications), and give Gretzky an extra logo so that the viewers could see one of them on him.

    Ah yes, forgot about his habit of doing that. I recall reading in a hockey book as a kid that he even had velcro incorporated into his uni so as to make sure the jersey stayed tucked the entire game. That’s pretty wild that teams would go as far as changing the entire squad’s equipment to accommodate one player! Again…the Great One.

    I think Denver University had a Disney logo at some point. I could be wrong.
    I could be right.
    I could be black, I could be white.

    My neighborhood school, the University of Denver, had link from the 60s until the 90s. There have been a few efforts to bring him back, but the administration doesn’t like the little fellow. A watering hole near the campus has taken his name.

    D Boon?
    My brother teaches at DU, and he lives by the school. Nice area. I guess my source was correct.

    The Gretzky jersey is from the ’94 lockout. Part of a touring team. The NHLPA patch was my clue. There was another series of games played pitting players who originally hailed from Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes and the USA, where the jerseys had a notable sponsor patch from Post Cereals.

    Blood jersey is a good possibility.

    My guess was going to be that they just kept old jerseys that were still in decent condition instead of just throwing them all out. Sure, it looks tacky. But maybe they thought that it was close enough and could save a few bucks.

    I’m sure things have changed since I played JV football, but I remember the JV team using the older jerseys and the Varsity team getting the new ones. The JV season ended earlier and some of the kids got called up to play Varsity. I don’t remember if they gave them Varsity jerseys or just a unused number in a JV jersey.

    That is exactly what happened. It is common for Texas schools to dress most of their JV for playoff games, which results in uni mismatch. They seldom see the playing field, though.

    All of Katy’s playoff games were blow-outs until the semifinals, which would explain the mop-up time for the JV players. (link)

    “Adam Hancock found this swell varsity sweater at a resale shop in St. Louis” I believe that sweater is from the old O’Fallon Tech High which is now Gateway High in St. Louis.

    The gretzky jersey was from an all star team that Gretzky assembled during the ’95 lockout, as a way to stay in shape, and raise money for charity.

    Many times, Texas high schools will dress JV and scout team players during the playoffs. That could explain the different jersey fabrics and word-marks for Katy High School.

    Fun, fascinating to learn about the Disney influence on mascots. Certainly was an era of more cartoon-like characters rather than the tough-guy, aggressive model of today.

    Similarly, Disney art found its way onto nose art of WWII bombers and other uniform insigniae back in the 40’s.

    I bet those Katy High jerseys were from some of the JV players moving up to the V for the playoffs, and they did not have enough varsity unis for everyone, so the JV had to wear that or…. they are old varsity unis that they had to put the JV players in.

    The Arizona Cardinals apparently did not do a Salute to Service in November when everyone else did theirs. Arizona had one home game in November versus the Rams, but did not GI Joe it up then. Number 58 on the right side of the picture has a regular Captain C patch.

    Upon further searching, on November 1st, had an article that listed all of the Salute to Service events for the NFL and the Cardinals’ listed date was December 16th…

    Extremely odd that they would do the Salute to Service outside of when everyone else was doing theirs in the month of November.


    Unrelated note… For as much attention to pointless details Nike placed on the Seahawks jerseys, you would think they would have made the captaincy patches a bit easier to see otherwise what is the point of having them?

    The Captains patches on their White jerseys are blue.

    The Ninety-Niners were a Gretzky-built touring team of mostly his friends and former teammates that toured through Europe during the strike shortened season that played in Europe. The money they made went to charities as they split the gate with the Euro-based teams.

    The roster included Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Brett Hull, Sergei Fedorov, Rick Tocchet, Steve Yzerman, Al MacInnis, Grant Fuhr, Kelly Hrudey, Marty McSorley, Tony Granato, Paul Coffey, Pat Conacher, Russ Courtnall, Rob Blake, Todd Gill, Charlie Huddy, Steve Larmer, and Kirk Muller. Doug Wilson coached, and his dad Walter Gretzky was the assistant coach.


    Secondly, not all kangaroos have pouches. That would indicate that Kasey is a male kangaroo. The pouch is used for protecting the baby while nursing as it grows from a one-inch being to a full joey. The buck/boomer/jack (male kangaroos) does not have the physical requirements needed for nursing, so they don’t have a pouch.

    Secondly, not all kangaroos have pouches. That would indicate that Kasey is a male kangaroo. The pouch is used for protecting the baby while nursing as it grows from a one-inch being to a full joey. The buck/boomer/jack (male kangaroos) does not have the physical requirements needed for nursing, so they don’t have a pouch.

    [Headslap] Of course! Thanks for setting me straight, Teebz.

    Not setting anyone straight, Paul, just eliminating that misconception started by Warner Bros. cartoons. LOL

    All good, sir!

    Disney also designed the Sacramento Bee mascot, Scoopy the Bee, in the 40s. That design is still used for every “Bee” paper the McClatchy company owns (Sacramento, Modesto, etc.)

    In addition to mascots, Disney did a ton of squadron logos during WWII. The USAF Museum in Dayton, OH has a huge display of them, along with a brief documentary of the process used in coming up with the designs.


    Interesting to note the NFL Players Association held a couple of exhibition games during the 1982 strike. Forget how they organized the sides, but each squad wore either mostly red or mostly blue, like a Pro Bowl game. I believe all players wore the same helmet, a red/blue design with the NFLPA logo.

    Both NFLPA games were sparsely attended, and no more games were played.

    The first game, at RFK Stadium on October 17, 1982 at RFK Stadium, saw the NFC East beat the AFC East, 23-22 in front of an intimate gathering of 8,706. Mark Moseley (who would be the 1982 NFL MVP, if memory serves) kicked three field goals, including a late one for the win. Bob Avellini (who could forget him?) went 14-for-17 for 137 yards and led the NFC East team to the win in the fourth after the AFC East had taken a 22-17 lead. The game was televised on TBS, which was supposedly paying $500,000 per game to the NFLPA for the rights.

    Then only 5,331 fans showed up for the second game, a 31-27 AFC win over the NFC at the LA Coliseum. The immortal Ed Luther (who would later go on to the USFL) threw two TD passes, including one in the fourth quarter, for the AFC.

    There were supposed to be as many as 20 games (ambitious), and they moved the third one from Philadelphia to Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, anticipating a small crowd. I can’t find that it was ever played.

    Some players for Katy High School in Texas had a different chest mark, marker’s mark, and jersey fabric than their teammates the other day (from Patrick Woody).

    Katy High School has a long and storied football program in the Houston area, and usually make deep playoff runs. The reason for the differences in jerseys is that they bring up their sub-varsity players for the playoffs. It’s pretty common for many teams in Texas to do this. They end up with more than a hundred kids on the sideline and have to duplicate numbers and jerseys.
    The picture you have posted is late in the game, when they have an insurmountable lead (which is usually the case). They allow some of the younger pups some playing time on the big stage.

    Wish the Dolphin would either go back or sell those throwbacks.
    I saw a pic of one 1972 player, No. 60, who was wearing the current jersey instead of the throwback. He must have been a late addition and they weren’t able to have a throwback with that number.

    interesting that the reunion team would be wearing the aqua jerseys. they only wore them twice that year..home games vs Bills and Cardinals…otherwise they went storm trooper all season.

    Another possibility with the Katy jersey is that they could be replacing just a few jerseys (tears, misslaundering, etc.) after the season, and the fills don’t exactly match. I’ve seen this before and had it explained to me thustly. Sometimes the fills are even made by a differennt company than the existing jerseys.

    Paul, I agree with you on Davidoff’s blog entry. I liked the candor, thoroughness of explanation and self-deprecation. The column that preceded it, however, was very poor. He used vague wording to make a point that was difficult to discern and made generalizations about an individual’s character without backing them up (other than by briefly mentioning the holiday-party incident with no context whatsoever). My assumption when reading the column was that there were some incidents that I didn’t know about but with which New York sports fans would be familiar. That was proven wrong by the strong response Davidoff received from Mets fans. If he didn’t have room in the column to explain his criticism of an individual’s character, he should have stuck to the baseball side of the trade and added the blog entry as a supplement to his argument.

    This clip has been making the rounds in the american soccer blogosphere


    It’s the 1924 U.S. Open Cup Final between Fall River and Vesper Buick of St. Louis. As far as we know it’s the oldest extant footage of a professional soccer game in the United States. But even more uni-notable is that Vesper Buick are wearing numbers on the back of their shirts. This is a big deal because conventional soccer history has it that the first soccer team to wear numbers was English club Arsenal in 1928, and here is an American club doing it four years before!

    No pouch?

    Perhaps the joke is that he is wearing a sweatshirt with a pouch on it? I’m assuming that’s why the mascot is wearing that rather than boxing headgear and gloves.

    Or, like, Foster’s beer and Outback Steakhouse paraphernalia…

    Lemme try this again…

    “Right, but the live mascot can change clothes as easily as you or I. The logo that they live with day in and day out cannot be changed, and that kangaroo has no pouch on its sweatshirt or was drawn with it.

    I get the mascot, but I was referring to the actual logo. Sorry in not being clearer. My bad!”

    Hopefully that’s placed better. :o)

    UMKC marketing employee here. Kasey the Kangaroo almost always wears a shirt or jersey because otherwise, the Athletics Department gets the constant question of “Where’s his pouch?”

    The sweatshirt in that photo is coincidence. Kasey wears everything from jerseys to sweatshirts, usually just oversized versions of whatever the A.D. has lying around.

    By the way, that’s an old photo. An updated Kasey can be seen here: link

    My high school mascot is the Cricket. link

    Rumor has it that the school district calls him “Bob” the Cricket in order to not create any confusion with this guy…

    Actually the Dolphin jerseys are not quite accurate…their 1972 aqua jersey (only worn twice) was stripeless. Due to manufacturing limitations on the new-fangled mesh jerseys of the early 70’s, the Dolphins were one of several teams to temporarily lose their sleeve-striping. The Dolphins were without striping on their aqua set from 1970-72, and on their white jerseys from 70-71.

    I don’t agree. The Sox are trying to buy future fans – a marketers dream. In reality, it is, essentially, advertising to kids (and parents). It’s a bit much, if they wanted all the teams to wear a little Sox logo on the sleeve, fine.

    Cubs fan!

    Tho I thought the same thing when the Padres did it: it’s all a marketing plan. Hell a Sox home mesh cap from McDonald’s in 1984 is how my fanship started. Tho to be fair, I did pick the cap myself with no preference (even tho the Cubs one was more familiar to me at the time).

    I believe the article also noted that some teams had sponsors that would continue under the new system. Wouldn’t they also be guilty of trying to “buy” future customers? Wouldn’t a White Sox patch just gain a different sort of criticism (i.e. A White Sox patch on a Padres shirt)? If the money saved from the Pale Hose supplying the jerseys wasn’t passed on to the families in the form of lower entry fees (or something else), then I would be critical.


    Regarding that Gretzky jersey you asked about in today’s column: I seem to remember the NHLPA putting on charity games during the 1994/1995 lockout and that was the jerseys that the players wore. I hope this helps you out…

    Mark Zrebiec

    If you want to see what the North Stars would have looked like wearing the skate design from that plaque, just glance at photos of the California Golden Seals from the Charlie Finley era. The answer is many shades of “awful.”


    Michigan’s Steakhouse Bowl uniforms

    apparently, in addition to those hideous maize numbers, the navy portion of the helmet will be matte.

    Great video of a 1980 World Series rematch of the Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals on Family Feud. It doesn’t get any better than Richard Dawson as host and Garry Maddox’s suit.


    In this month’s edition of the University of Houston alumni magazine, there’s a photo of a Cougars alt logo, circa 1950, that was designed by Walt Disney Studios. I will scan it and post it, If it hasn’t already been consigned to recycling.

    I just finished RA Dickey’s book. Maybe this isn’t the forum for this, but it seems that people who are healing from great childhood trauma have an obsessive need for openness. I can see Dickey being driven by this need answer every question, no matter the circumstance, as if any evasion or delay is “keeping secrets” or being dishonest. It can be off-putting to be around. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy, but I can see how it would be a little exhausting to be his teammate.

    Better that he has that obsession for openness rather than keep it in and blow off steam by getting addicted to drugs or becoming violent or whatever. If you know someone who has gone through a traumatic event(s), usually the best thing you can do for them is listen and be there for them.

    A site on UTEP history (link)claims Walt Disney designed the original UTEP (or Texas Western) mascot, Clyde the burro. However, I cannot verify the accuracy of that claim or find any images of a cartoon Clyde – there’s plenty of photos out there of a live burro on the sidelines. As a student, I was told by a professor the original Paydirt Pete was a Disney creation, seen here: (link). But, I haven’t been able to verify that either.

    So a sportswriter hides behind ‘anonymous teammates’, and defends other colleagues who were asking baseball questions at a charity event yet RA is the bad guy because he acknowledges a desire for a big contract. When writers go out of their way to promote an agenda, why are they surprised when readers call them out? At least be like TJ Simers and own your role as gadfly. He should have put as much effort and insight into the initial column as he did in the response, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

    You’re tossing around a lot of loaded terms. The use of anonymous sources doesn’t necessarily equate with “hiding” behind something; often it’s just the terms of how journalism gets done. And Davidoff doesn’t have an “agenda”; he has an opinion (just as you presumably do, and that’s not an “agenda” either).

    Simmer down.

    Well, the thing is with the Cards-Lions game with the GI Joe message and captaincy patches…

    “If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound?”

    Seriously, even Detroiters probably watched something other than the Lions get pounded by a team that hadn’t won in months. Heck, I expected them to lose just because this team is bad and would lose to a team worse-off them they were. The Lions are exactly who they thought they’d be this season. Worse off, they’ve added to my reasons to complain about them!

    kind of a weird feeling…getting ready to head out, check some websites before i go, and “tadaaaaa”, my name is right at the top of the page on uni watch!!!

    thanks, paul…made my day!!!

    btw, it looks like disney was pretty busy with sports, from the comments left by some of the readers…

    The Valparaiso University Crusader logo that was used from the early 1950’s through 2010 was also designed by a Disney cartoonist.

    Here is a link to the logo:

    The Gretzky jersey was a taken from the Detroit Red Wings. In 1991-92, all original six teams NHL 75th anniversary jerseys that they would wear when they played each other. That jersey was based on the Detroit Cougars or the mid to late 1920’s.

    Not to start a flame war or anything, but the University of Akron’s Zippy blows that UMKC thing out of the water.


    Nice read on what could have been the Knicks logo (courtesy of Posting and Toasting). Teaser: it includes the Empire State Building.


    Does today’s Comments section set the record for most comments posted by those who did not read the preceding comments…?

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