I like to look for old uniforms on eBay, so I do lots of searches for “vintage football uniform” and “wool baseball jersey” and so on. I also search on the names of old uni manufacturers like Felco, Sand-Knit, and Spanjian.
It was during one of these searches that I recently stumbled upon this listing for a 1962 Spanjian print ad, which is one of the strangest uni-related things I’ve ever seen. As you can see at right, it shows Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev wearing a baseball uniform, complete with stirrups (but with his usual Panama-style hat, not a baseball cap), and the headline and sub-head are about Khrushchev making some sort of uni-propaganda claim directed at Spanjian.
The ad’s text is too small to make out in the eBay listing, but I blew it up and was able to decipher most of it, as follows:
MADRID ”” Claiming Russia, not Spanjian, invented the revolutionary knit baseball uniform worn by many top college teams, Nikita Khrushchev arrived today to confer with officials of the International Baseball Committee. Mr. K’s words and actions belied his jovial facade. “Nyet!” he exclaimed. “It is a falsehood that Spanjian originated this most cool and comfortable uniform. Soviet Committee #709633 developed and tested it in the field under conditions of utmost hardship.”
Knit of rugged nylon yarn, the uniform in question has earned an enviable reputation for allowing freedom of movement in play and long wear in harder use. It does not rip or tear. It washes as easily as an undershirt, it drapes naturally, without sagging, and looks sharp and trim. It is woven with a flannel-like flock.
Usually reliable sources say the Committee has already [illegible] knit uniforms ideal for Pony and Little Leagues (or [illegible]), and that a decision on the Russian claim may be expected shortly. In the interim, the uniform is to be known as the Spanjian Knit Baseball Uniform, and may be seen at your exclusive Spanjian dealers or in the new Spanjian catalog.
Made to measure in light, medium, or heavy weight stayles and cotton knit. Natural White, Buff, Heather Gray, Spice Brown (no Red).
Okay, so it’s basically an attempt at a bit of Cold War humor. I’ve looked at a lot of old uniform catalogs and ads in my day, and I can tell you that they usually played it totally straight — no humor, no wit, no irony, just the facts. So it’s pretty surprising to see that Spanjian was taking this approach.
I was wondering if the ad might have included a few in-jokes that would have signified in 1962 but wouldn’t have the same resonance today. For example:
• The headline on the ad reads, “Behind This Smile — a Threat?” Was that a play on some then-contemporary line about Khrushchev, or about the USSR? I Googled it and came up empty, so maybe it was just generic Cold War-speak from Spanjian’s ad agency.
• The ad text carries a Madrid dateline. Was this a reference to Khrushchev having done something notable in Madrid? I did some quick research and couldn’t find any evidence of that.
• The photo of Khrushchev wearing a baseball uniform was obviously doctored (and remember, no Photoshop in those days!). Was it based on a famous photo? I attempted to find the original but came up empty.
I contacted the eBay seller and asked the name and date of the magazine in which the ad appeared. He said it ran in something called Athletic Journal (never heard of that before) and that he knows it appeared in 1962, although he’s unsure of the month. 1962 was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, of course, but that was late in the year — I’m assuming the ad run prior to that, because I don’t think anyone would have been making jokey-jokes about Khrushchev in the wake of the missile scare.
Meanwhile, no word on whether Khrushchev banged his spikes on the table.
(Special thanks to Phil for suggesting today’s headline.)
Too good for the Ticker: As many of you are aware, I love documenting instances of MLB All-Star Game batting helmet mix-ups. Two new examples of that phenomenon came my way over the weekend.
The first one is from reader David Taub, who spotted Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman wearing a Cubs helmet in the 1972 All-Star Game (click to enlarge):
The other one comes courtesy of reader Gary Olson, who got a shot of A’s third baseman Sal Bando wearing a Senators helmet in the 1969 All-Star Game (click to enlarge):
I knew about the Bando situation but had never seen a visual until now. Reggie Jackson also wore a Sens helmet in that game, but no visual yet for that one.
Attention NYC-area readers: On Thursday, March 6, 7pm, I’m going to be participating in a very worthwhile benefit event called “Baseball As Good Medicine” at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan. It will feature half a dozen storytellers, including myself, with each of us telling a short tale about baseball’s redemptive, restorative qualities.
All proceeds will go to the Photo ID Foundation, an amazing initiative that puts cameras and other media tools in the hands of childen with life-threatening illnesses, enabling them to create their own media projects and communicate their experiences.
Tickets are not cheap (they start at $25, although that includes beer and snacks), but it’s for a very good cause and everyone involved is donating their time and resources. Come join us! You can purchase tix and see who else is participating here.
Awwwwww…: One of the many things I like about working at home is that I get to spend the whole day with Uni Watch mascots Tucker and Caitlin. And one of the many things I like about Tucker and Caitlin is that they often groom each other’s faces, which is a total cutegasm. I managed to catch them in the act last Friday afternoon:
’Skins Watch: Two members of Congress are warning NFL commish Roger Goodell that the league’s tax-exempt status may be jeopardized if he doesn’t support a name change for the ’Skins. ”¦ There’s an ongoing debate over a high school in Saskatoon, Canada, whose teams are called the Redmen (thanks, Phil).
Baseball News: The wife of one of my ESPN editors, David Wilson, gave birth to their third child on Friday (congrats!). While Dave was at the hospital that day, he spotted a display devoted to the hospital’s old baseball team, complete with an old jersey. And look at the awesome tag design! Here’s the full story. ”¦ Holy moly, look at the absolutely amazing patch worn by the 1883 New York Gothams! It’s based on the New York City seal (team photo from Todd Radom, patch photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame). … The Phillies had vertically arched NOBs in 1976. But when they celebrated clinching the N.L. East title at Jarry Park on Sept. 26, 1976, one player had a radially arched NOB. “That’s Bill Nahorodny, a late-season call-up who would make his MLB debut the next day in St. Louis,” says Steve Kraljic. ”¦ New uni set for the Akron Rubber Ducks (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Pleasant Grove High School in Alabama has gorgeous new striped stirrups (from Nolan Jones).
NFL News: Here’s something so simple and clever, I can’t believe nobody thought of it before: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s name is comprised of the names of two sportswear companies, so Alan Spaude-Filipczak created this logo for him. “It would be cool to see a designer spiff it up and morph the Russell eagle into the Seahawks osprey,” says Alan. “Then three trademarks would be infringed instead of just two!”
Hockey News: Phil mentioned in yesterday’s Ticker that the Islanders wore their Stadium Series jerseys on Saturday, but with a cover-up patch for the Stadium Series logo. Eric, who prefers that his last name not be used, was watching that game on TV and has this report: “The Isles broadcaster said that next season they will ditch the black alternate uniforms and use their stadium series jersey as their new alternate. He also said next season they plan to have a shoulder patch to honor their last season at Nassau Coliseum and then it will change the following year to the islanders logo on both shoulders.” ”¦ Speaking of the Islanders, their ECHL affiliate, the Stockton Thunder, wore these jerseys for their game in Alaska last Friday (from Dane Drutis). ”¦ The Lake Erie Monsters wore Special Olympics-themed uniforms on Saturday (from Tom Pachuta). ”¦ Here’s an early photo of Google employees wearing custom hockey jerseys in the Gretzky-era Blues style (from Matt Fedorka).
Soccer News: New World Cup kits for Colombia and England; new non-World Cup kits for China, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Venezuela; and new club kits for Paysandu, VÃ©lez Sarsfield, Figueirense, FC Kaiserslautern, Nottingham Forest, and Chivas (all this from Trevor Williams).
NBA News: The Magic’s throwbacks have inconsistent NOB fonts. “Neither one resembles the original NOB, but the Harris one was what the team used in previous instances,” says Mark Malazarte. “The Harkless one is the same as on the current jersey.”
Olympics News: The Swedish women’s hockey coach found an interesting way to wear his country’s national colors (from Marc Bauche). ”¦ Former figure skater Johnny Weir, who’s now doing color commentary for NBC, has been wearing some, uh, eye-catching outfits on the air. ”¦ One consequence of global climate change you may not have considered: It’s getting harder to find sites with enough snow to host the Winter Olympics. ”¦ Good story about Russia’s foremost sportswear company, Bosco di Ciliegi, and its involvement in the Sochi games. ”¦ Several readers have noticed that Team USA’s official logo for the Olympics features a 13-star flag. What’s up with that? ”¦ Czech snowboarder Sarka Pancochova took a nasty fall yesterday and cracked her helmet. ”¦ After Russian speed skater Olga Graf finished her run in the 3000 meters yesterday, she unzipped her suit — forgetting that she had nothing on underneath. ”¦ Here’s an Olympics-themed soda display (from Karson Kalian). ”¦ By far the most absurd Olympics-themed commercial I’ve seen so far is this McNuggets spot. ”¦ Olympics-related word that I’m already totally sick of: “podium.” ”¦ Canadian athletes wanted to wear memorial decals for late freestyle skier Sarah Burke, but the IOC put the kibosh on that. Additional info here.
Grab Bag: Good infographic on Girl Scout cookie sales (from Tony Bruno). … Whoa — check the logo on this guy’s back. That’s the “Fat Man” logo, and the guy is prepping the atomic bomb that will be dropped on Nagasaki. Further info here (from David Gratt). ”¦ Steve Dodell made a DIY luge run in his front yard. ”¦ Christmas in Februrary! That color-vs.-color game is from the semi-finals of the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference (KAIAC) Div. I tournament, held this past weekend in Daejon, Korea (big thanks to John Lahey). ”¦ The Fremantle Dockers — that’s an Aussie rules football team — have a new 20th-anniversary jumper (from Leo Strawn Jr.). ”¦ Larry Hedrick, who used to run the No. 41 in the Sprint Cup, had a really good logo for his team (from David Firestone). ”¦ The snowy winter here in NYC has led to a serious shortage of boots. ”¦ Hospital officials in Windsor, Canada, are urging local residents to wear a helmet if they go tobogganing. ”¦ This article about NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s upcoming State of the City address includes the following line: “Though [former Mayor Mike] Bloomberg held his State of the City address in every borough during his 12 years in office, his final one last year was a glitzy, big-budget affair held at the Barclays Center, the gleaming new home of the Brooklyn Nets. In the arena, members of Bloomberg’s staff had hung banners ”” Ã la a team’s retired jerseys ”” that signified important statistics, including the city’s murder and graduation rates.” ”¦ Andrew Sachs, who famously played the Spanish waiter Manuel in the classic BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers, says he was badly burned during one episode due to an insufficiently flame-retardant uniform. Key quote: “I’d become the victim of overconfident stunts experts (so-called), who’d given me a waiter’s uniform treated with 100 per cent BBC-guaranteed fire retardant. This uniform, I’d been promised, would smoke and look dangerously hot but, to me, it would just feel warm. Never trust stunts experts. This was one of the worst experiences of my career.” ”¦ Special shout-out to our own L.I. Phil Hecken, who’s been feeling under the weather. Get better soon, buddy!
Photo by Friederike Paetzold; click to enlarge
What Paul did
last night two nights ago: On Saturday I met up with a bunch of friends for a Dominican feast at a local joint in my neighborhood (see all of us captured in mid-chew above). Then we walked a few blocks to a club, where we saw Bambi Kino, an indie-rock supergroup devoted to replicating the sound and repertoire of the Hamburg-era Beatles.
Now, you might say, “Eh, it’s just a Beatles cover band.” But remember, we’re talking about the Beatles’ Hamburg period, which means Bambi Kino is a cover band of a cover band, and that’s a surprisingly interesting proposition, especially for a band that sounded as good (and had such good taste in covers) as the Hamburg-era Beatles. It also helps that Bambi Kino’s lead guitarist is Doug Gillard from Guided by Voices, but that’s more of a bonus, not a defining factor. Anyway, it was a great, great night. If you can see Bambi Kino, definitely see them.