By Phil Hecken
A couple of months back, reader R. Scott Rogers approached me with an idea for some weekend content for Uni Watch. At the time, I mentioned to Scott I’d probably be needing some help with ledes for weekend columns as I progress further into my “Capstone” project for grad school — basically the equivalent of a Masters Thesis — which I am hoping to complete this spring.
Well, now it’s crunch time for me — and the column idea is quite timely — so I’m going to present to you today the first of three of Scott’s ledes. “What’s it all about?” you say, “and why is there a picture of John Goodman in a crown over there in the right hand side of the page?” Well, you’re about to find out. So now I’ll turn it over to Scott, who’ll explain and explore…
League Ralph – Reconstituting the Big Leagues, Part 1
By R. Scott Rogers
So let’s say Major League Baseball gets every player and executive from all 30 teams together, along with all their team equipment, to take one giant group photo in honor of Bud Selig’s final season as commissioner. You know, like how they take a photo of every living member of the royal family at the start of King Ralph. And, as in the movie, just as the flash goes off, Zap! Tragic electrical accident and in one fell swoop, big-league baseball as we know it is gone.
What next? Thankfully, we won’t need to send Mr. Dursley to Vegas to find a lounge singer to take over. Instead, we could just find the 30 best-uniformed minor league and independent teams and reconstitute the big leagues with them.
The bad news: All your favorite players are gone. The good news:
So is Ryan Braun The new MLB will be a much better-looking league.
Here, in no particular order, is my list of the 30 teams whose great uniforms should earn them a spot in a reconstituted MLB, divided into three weekly segments. Got a favorite farm or independent club that didn’t make the list? Let us know, and why, in the comments.
Things you will never persuade me to believe:
- Denny Green was a great football coach;
- Bourbon is bad for your health; and
- The Burlington Bees are not among the ten best-uniformed teams in the history of pro sports.
These are, simply, perfect baseball uniforms.
Since their introduction in 2006, these uniforms have changed only slightly, with the newfangled hen-head caps generally replaced by the team’s classic T-with-mascot caps. On the one hand, the old cap they now wear is a terrible baseball cap. Just dreadful in every way.
On the other hand, plenty of teams have deeply flawed uniform elements whose legacy charm outweighs their suckiness. In that regard, the Mud Hens would be the Tigers or the Yankees of the reconstituted big leagues.
The distinctive but still readable number font? The feathered E on the script? Three, maybe four, MLB redesigns since 1986 have been as good as Toledo’s.
True, the Marauders look a lot like their parent Pirates. Normally, that would disqualify them from this list.But.
But they put their own distinctive spin on the identity, from the name to the lettering. And that distinctive spin is better than the original. I like the Pirates. But head to head, every single element of the identity, from logos to jerseys to scripts to numbers?
I’d take the Maurauders every time.
Yes, the Blue Wahoos are a bit over-designed, right down to the “neon red” highlights at the top of the numbers. But we’re repopulating the big leagues here, and plenty of MLB teams are over-designed these days too.
Pensacola may be similar in kind to too many Brandiose-packaged minor-league teams, but the Blue Wahoos succeed where most of their peers fail.
Royal blue and black. Terrible color combination, unless you get the proportions just right, in which case it’s one of the best looks in sports. Such as the Saints.
Plus, the Saints have a ball pig. The big leagues need a ball pig. Speaking of pigs …
Conceptually, I hate everything about Lehigh’s identity. Somehow, they pull it off.
Simple test at play here: Do they look better than the Marlins?
Yes, yes the IronPigs do. (After this was written, the IronPigs tweaked their uniforms for 2014. While most of the elements are a step up from their existing identity, the overall effect of the old-and-new mishmash is a downgrade. Pick a theme, Lehigh Valley.)
Joliet Slammers – IND
Complete uni set
How do you resist a baseball team called the Slammers? You don’t, that’s how.
Another lower-level team, along with the Greensboro Grasshoppers, that uses green and orange to good effect.
The basic identity is already kind of over the top, so it’s appropriate that the team dials it back a bit on the uniform execution. There’s more classic baseball elegance than whimsy here.
Good looking team.
Simple, clean, distinctive.
And like the best pro nicknames, the Aces pay tribute to local industry and culture.
Lately, the Aces can’t quite decide whether they’re a pinstriped team or not, but then neither can the Mets, and until 2013 neither could Houston.
Better than the Marlins.
That is, better than the Marlins…
back when the Marlins didn’t look like crap, and “better than the Marlins” meant something.
I see a lot of Carolina League ball every year, and the Pelicans have by far my favorite uniforms in the league.
Light blue and yellow could easily be too soft a combination, but the Pelicans use just enough navy accents to make the whole scheme work.
Contrasting raglan sleeves looked great when the Oakland Oaks did it and they looked great recently when the Fighting Pheasants did it.
For a couple of years, the Beavers came within a stitch or two of being the best-dressed team in baseball. Ever.
Then, acting like a typical big-league team, the Beavers chased richer public subsidies to
Escondido Tucson El Paso, where they will look like this. Too depressing for words.
Thanks, Scott! Great concept for spring, especially with the games just starting. I’ll have more from Scott over the next couple of weekends.
Readers? What say you? Anything to add?
Lewis & Clark Uniform Design Contest
Every Sunday, we’ll have news and updates on the design contest being sponsored by Ross Clites. If you missed the introductory post on this, please click here. Last weekend, we introduced Part VIII which is the second article here. You can also visit the Lewis & Clark homepage for more information and updates.
Yesterday we revealed the sixth set of concepts for the “Navigators” (you can still submit for the Pathfinders [deadline 4/9] and the Pioneers [deadline 4/16]). And today, we’ll reveal the ninth team for concepting.
If you missed yesterday’s post, which revealed the readers submissions for the “Navigators,” you can vote for your favorite concepts (you may vote for up to three). Link here.
Here’s Ross with this week’s updates/information:
The Weary Travelers
Wait. What? The River Men are supposed to be up next. Yeah, well you see.. life gets in the way sometimes. The remaining two Lewis Conference teams need to jump the line to get their gear going to the press. Their season will start a week ahead of those in the Clark. The best laid plans, right?
So, anyway. The Travelers are where it all began, a few short years ago. The Christmas color scheme comes directly from Washington University in St. Louis, where I have been an assistant baseball coach for four years. We utilized the common denominator palette in hopes of landing Wash.U. players — same ridiculously colored swag for spring/fall and now the summer, too.
It comes with its quirks and design challenges but it always seems to work out.
For this concept remember something my grandmother always said: “red and green should never be seen without a color in between.” It should certainly help you out a great deal with any submissions made for the Travelers. Best of luck and keep all the solid submissions coming. We are coming down the home stretch and I couldn’t be more excited.
As for the winner of the Lookouts:
To all that entered the contest for the Governors of the LCBL, thank you for your thoughtful presentations. Big thanks to all the readers that cast votes. We had an unprecedented finish to the voting; one that the board could not resolve with conventional methods. Three men (Scott de Fasselle, Denver King, and Will Sinnott) all accumulated over 200 votes. While Denver was the “king” of the poll, all three presented such great elements. We would have gone with Will’s complete concept, but many board members shied away from two woodpeckers in the same conference. So compromise was made to reward the high vote totals.
The owl was chosen and given ocular surgery. Will’s eye ball boosts the intensity of the sleepy-looking owl and also ties into his solid secondary logo. The whole thing comes together with the 80s feel of Denver’s red alternate jersey; complete with thick maroon banding on the chest and arms. So sharp.
In this, all three will be awarded a victory and play a key piece in the Lookouts aesthetics. All three will be welcomed at our July 3rd All-Star Game at Busch Stadium as honorary Uni Watch Contest Winners. The primary logo is Scott’s, the secondary logo is Will’s, and the jersey will be the scarlet colored concept by Denver. One team, three designers — who did not collaborate together. This is truly what the contest was meant for. The LCBL board feels we are getting the best look based on the given submissions. It is a work-in-progress more than other winning submissions, but that comes with the territory of a three-person collaboration.
The uniform will remain (somewhat of) a mystery until a final reveal of all twelve at the end. But we wanted to give Uni Watch Nation a taste of the winning identity.
Thanks, Ross! One final note (and this was in last week’s section as well, in case you didn’t see it) — Ross wanted me to inform everyone that “we will be skipping the Settlers in the alphabet. We are in a bit of time crunch and they are a 2015 expansion team.”
So, to anyone who was hoping to design a uniform/logo for that team, you’ll understand why that team was left out of the alpha-rotation.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Michael Kearney, with a tweak for the Red Sox roads:
Just saw the new Red Sox road uni’s (which are pretty much the same uni’s they wore just a few years ago). As much as I like this look over the drab gray and blue they’ve been sporting the last couple of years, I really think they missed an opportunity to do something better. My quick take on what could have been is attached. I think leaving the “BOSTON” blue but adding red details around the uniform would have made for a sharper looking uniform that stands out a bit from some of the other ‘Gray and Red’ uni’s currently out there.
Next up is Paul Lee with an NBA ASG tweak:
Tweaked the NBA All-Star Game away team jersey.
And we close today with Troy DeCeuster who has a concept for the Rutgers Baseball team:
I have a concept here for Rutgers University baseball team. I tried to make it a modern vintage look and feel. Just a lazy day at the office. Great site.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Here’s a good story on the Durham Bulls’ team name history (thanks, Paul). … The New York Daily News ran a short article on the history of Presidents’ and uni numbers. Paul is quoted in that article, saying “It’s in his hands for all of five minutes before it’s off to the National Archives.” … Which prompted former White House staffer Dennis W. Alpert to tweet at me that “not all jerseys end up at the National Archives”. Those are in his personal collection. … @allen_y tweeted at me: “Great image for the ticker from the Dodgers opening ceremony.” He points out “Tommy’s no front number, some w/ sleeve patch, some not, Sandy in a jacket and new poly cap (usually wears a wool cap). I wonder if they recycled old jerseys?” Allen also got a closeup of the sleeve patch, which looks like this. … Our friend Shannon Shark notes that Mets radio broadcaster Howie Rose invoked the phrase “BFBS”. … eL GAP (@gap_fsu) sends along a photo of FSU Softball wearing ‘Paint In Pink’ jerseys. … Reader David Kendrick sent this photo of a historical Braves logo (decal from Cooperstown Collection), and asks, “I thought all the caricatures were gone??”. … Our Notre Dame expert Warren Junium notes that today, the Irish will wear this cap, and some peeks at portions of their jersey for today’s game against FSU. … It was cold in Chi-town yesterday, so Darwin Barney was wearing some type of turtleneck/hoodie undergarment (thanks to David Arnott for the screen grabs). That prompted Walter Young to suggest that the garment is a balaclava. … Which, in turn, prompted C.J. Fogler to say “It’s just like this”. Glad we cleared that up. … Stanford’s baseball sure looked purdy with high cuffs and stirrups yesterday (h/t Alex Allen). … Here’s Mr. Cub sporting a Cubs cap & Negro Leagues jacket yesterday. He still looks great. … Exactly 101 years and one day ago, the Dodgers and Yankees played in the first game ever at Ebbets Field (an exhibition game). Casey Stengel homered for the Dodgers (pic via Dodgers History). … Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt
had their numbers retired by the Astros were celebrated by retiring as Astros, and they were presented with 2005-style jerseys with their numbers on them.last night. Giddyap. … Dave Moore sends this beautiful Dodgers vs. Reds shot from 4/7/69 at Crosley Field. “Bench v. Drysdale … Haller catching. Donatelli the ump”
NFL News: “Check out the placement of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary patch on Troy Aikman’s jersey as opposed to Emmitt Smith’s, not to mention the blocker’s,” says Max Levy. Good catch! … Reader Ed Gefen noted yesterday’s ticker mention of Bills player NOBs regarding possible “MA” or “MI” initials for Mike and Mario Williams. Ed says “Turns out, the Bills don’t use first initials, so it’s potentially more confusing.” Hmmm. If only there were some way to tell which Williams is which without initials.
College Football News: Yesterday afternoon, the new LSU tiger head made it’s debut on helmets used for the team’s spring game (thanks to Andrew Lopez for the good spot). For reference, this is the old LSU logo, and a closeup of the old (left) and new (right) logos. … Add Penn State to the list of teams with the Riddell SpeedFlex helmet. … “Remember the incident last year with Michigan wearing orange QB practice jerseys from Oregon State?” writes Christopher Hall. “Looks like Adidas fixed the problem this year. It also serves as proof that Michigan should never wear maize jerseys in-game.” … App State will have a “new look” as it heads into its new conference (h/t Chris Kroeger).
NBA News: “Are asymmetrical unis interesting,” read the subject line of an e-mail from Pete Svendsen. He “came across Jason Williams top 10 Plays on youtube and was very distracted once I realized the asymmetry of the Kings and Sonics unis. I know the Wizards and 90s Heat unis also had stripes/piping only on one side as well. Along with pinstripes, this seems to be one of the trademarks of 90’s NBA design.”
Hockey News: In yesterday’s ticker, I referenced the Grand Rapids Griffins Calder Cup champions ring designing process. Now, “Chester Copperpot” (”@Pettymania) has video of that. … Minnesota Wild’s Ilya Bryzgalov is getting a new mask. … Toronto’s crack smoking Mayor wouldn’t happen to have an own-NOB jersey to wear to Leafs games, would he? Of course he would. … Apparently the Calgary Flames rookies were given Mets jerseys
as punishment as they attended the Mets/Reds game on their day off yesterday.
College Hoops News: Within four minutes of each other, I received TWO e-mails with the subject “March Sadness: NCAA Confiscates Kitty Cat Mug,” (one from Ethan Sheets, the other from Joe Makowiec). If you couldn’t glean from the title, they were referring to this article detailing the douchebaggery of the NCAA. … Cork Gaines thinks NBA ads probably won’t look as bad as this “trainwreck”. … This probably isn’t an official Nike ad, but it was making the rounds after UConn’s win yesterday. … Interesting graphic was momentarily on screen last night showing Wildcats vs Wisconsin. Nice grab by Manager Problems (@wemanagethat). Apparently that’s from the UK teamcast. My TV just showed Kentucky vs Wisconsin. Lots of folks seemed confused about the Teamcast concept.
And that’s a wrap for this Sunday, Uni Watchers. Thanks to R. Scott, Ross, and the concepters, and all who submitted for the ticker (or tweeted at me). You guys have a good week and I’ll catch you next Saturday.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Kiddie-speak? Really? Every acronym that isn’t easily pronounceable as a word (like NASA) typically ends up with “the” stuck in front of it. The FBI, the NRA, the NSA, the NFL, etc, etc.”