By Morris Levin
Bill Henderson publishes the Game Worn MLB Jersey Guide. The most recent edition was the Sixth which he released in 2012. Bill catalogs and identifies every jersey worn in a Major League game since 1970, and shows the unique attributes specific to each garment to assist the collector in identifying authentic game worn jerseys.
Paul posted on this site “Thus Spake Henderson (again)” on July 16, 2012 to announce the release of the Sixth Edition for which he wrote the Introduction. I first came to know of Bill and his work through Uni-Watch and came to serve as editor of recent editions. The guide is available for sale on Bill’s website here and on Amazon here.
Bill is a collector himself. In many ways, he wrote this as a filing system for his own notes and collection of corroborating photographs to organize the information he found in his research and purchases.
He was most interested in the double-knit era of baseball uniforms. These were the uniforms, which started to appear in the early 1970s and with which he grew up. The Pirates were first to wear polyester double-knits in 1970. The Yankees (the only year they wore double-knit at Yankee Stadium prior to the 1973-1975 renovations) and Expos were the last to adopt the uniforms in 1973. Bill started each team’s chapter with the year of the team’s first polyester uniform (or expansion year for post-1969 teams). In 2012’s Sixth Edition, Bill traced each team’s history to the beginning of the 1970 season and showed game worn flannel examples and their evolution into the team’s first knits.
While intended for the collector, the thoroughness of the guide, and Bill’s receptivity to receiving corrections and additions from readers, has rendered each subsequent edition ever more precise and definitive. The guide came to be a history reference guide overlapping with and picking up where Marc Okkonen left off.
In pricipio creavit Okkonen Baseball Uniforms of The 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide. I first encountered Okkenon’s work in Sports Illustrated in 1989 (and for the first time had the distinct feeling that I was not alone in my otherwise idiosyncratic infatuation with team uniforms and logos). Accompanying Sarah Ballard’s April 5, 1989 article “Fabric Of the Game: The Baseball Uniform Has A History As Colorful As The Players Who Have Worn It” in the 1989 Baseball Preview edition was Okkenon’s “The Illustrated History of the White Sox Uniform”. The illustrations do not accompany the SI Vault reprint but this is the introduction:
Some five years ago, commercial artist Marc Okkonen set out to”¨ document the history of every uniform of every major league team of”¨the 20th century — a task which, understandably, no one had ever ”¨taken on before. Okkonen’s work, just completed, provides voluminous ”¨visual proof of the fickle ways of baseball’s fashion czars. In the”¨ 89 years, the major leagues have produced nearly 3,000 different ”¨uniforms, including 56 significant variations for the Chicago White ”¨Sox alone.
Okkenon released a hard cover edition in 1989 and soft cover in 1993. You can purchase a physical copy of the book here and search the work in the database now maintained by Tom Sheiber and the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at Dressed to the Nines.
Rob Holecko introduced the Diamond Baseball Database under the headline “Uniform Database Expansion” in April 2012. It now resides here. The database is similar to the database on Chris Creamer’s Sportslogos.net which is the MLB Uniform Tracker. These are Marc Okkonen’s database for the internet age where every day-specific uniform may be rendered in line-art and published to an easily accessed database.
The value of Bill’s work is in his commentary to guide the reader through the distinctions of each game worn uniform be it in its decoration and fabrication. He knows the garments because he has collected for so many years and educated himself on the evolution of the polyester fabrics used in MLB. This deconstruction of the actual garments through images and words distinguishes Bill’s work from and compliments the MLB Uniform Tracker.
I came to know Bill when I wrote to him with additions and edits to one of his first iterations of his Phillies chapter. Over the years, Bill has built a network of experts with knowledge of certain teams or eras to review and provide feedback on chapters, and supply information on special jerseys or details he might have missed.
The most challenging part of updating the Guide is compiling the huge number of special event uniform games now held every year. This is where he needs our help. He would like to release a revised, Seventh Edition in 2015, and wants to include all of these events. This includes league-wide one-offs like the patches worn for the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s seventy-fifth anniversary on Sunday, July 27, and on Friday, July 4 for the 75th Anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s Speech, as well as every team’s Turn Back the Clock uniform.
Compiling a list of all special uniform events in 2012, 2013, and 2014 is a daunting task. It not only takes time, but a knowledge of every permutation presented by all thirty teams. When this list is compiled, Bill then seeks game photographs and where possible photographs of the jerseys themselves. The rise of the Internet has made this task easier than ever. It still takes time, and those of us who follow a specific team can also provide details that Bill might have missed. While Bill has tracked dates, he is certain he does not have all of them captured from the calendar, and needs game and jersey photos for many.
Would you like to be a contributor to the creation of the Seventh Edition?
This can be done from the comfort of your own chair and web browser.
Bill also seeks fact checkers for the chapter on each team to review chapters prior to publication. Bill has a list of individual team experts (I am on the Phillies-review team), many of which are Uni Watch readers, and Bill welcomes new blood, enthusiasm, and perspectives.
Contributors will be credited in the book. If you are interested in helping and being part of uniform tracking history, Bill wants to hear from you. Please write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morris Levin will be pinch-hitting the next three Fridays: August 15, August 22, and August 29. Next week’s column will be on the Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. 1990 catalog which remains a gorgeous example of printing and baseball uniform histories. On August 29 he looks forward to sharing a picture-looking gallery of MLB uniforms on which he has been working. He’s not sure yet what to write about on August 22, but is considering the Philadelphia SPHAs logos and word-marks. Morris would love to have enough images to compile a uniform chronology of the team’s jerseys from 1919 through the 1940s. If you have images or info on the SPHAs, send them his way at morris[at]elysianfieldsphila[dot]com.
Morris Levin is the proprietor of the business consulting practice Elysian Fields LLC in Philadelphia. He is not compensated for the editing of the Guide and has been reimbursed for postage expenses. Morris pinch-hits for Phil on Fridays when Phil pinch-hits for Paul in August. Morris’ favorite jersey is his 1987 Phillies #42 Don Carman batting practice jersey, and favorite uniform the 1950 to 1969 Phillies home set.
This item would normally appear in the ‘skins Watch section, but this is a potentially a huge development that probably deserves its own sub-section.
Yesterday the University of Minnesota requested that the Washington football team wear throwback uniforms for their November 2 game against the Vikings.
While they don’t specify which “throwback” they want worn, they want uniforms “without the team name or logo.” (Maybe the Lombardi-inspired “R” helmets? Problem is that nasty “one helmet” rule. I suppose they could just remove the decal from the current helmet.)
has also asked that the game not have any Washington apparel or paraphernalia sold on the premise; that the word “Redskins” not be uttered by the game’s public address announcer, and that the team’s moniker not appear on the scoreboard or in the program guide and other game-related print or digital material…
It should be noted that this request did NOT come from the Vikings but from the University of Minnesota (as the Vikings will be playing their home games in U of M’s TCF Bank Stadium this fall). And while the Vikings themselves do not have to power to “force” Washington to do this, according to Katrice Albert, UM’s Vice President in the Office of Equity and Diversity,
“(The Vikings) said they’d make that request of the Washington team, but were not sure how it would be received,” she said. “The two Vikings officials said they are part of the NFL and don’t have the authority to force the hand to change the Washington name, but understand it’s offensive to some members of our community. The Vikings have a great working relationship with the tribal nations of Minnesota, and they’re very understanding of how this team name and logo impacts our community.”
This may be just the first of many shots fired across the bow of the Washington team this year as the momentum upon Dan Snyder to change the team’s name continues to intensify nationwide. We’ll just have to see.
Now, here’s the rest of your Friday …
‘skins Watch: The Governor of Virginia feels the ‘skins are Virginia’s team, since the team’s players all seem to live there and the fan-base seems to be from there (according to Mike Wise, the article’s author). Wise notes Virginia’s Governor has accepted campaign donations from Dan Snyder and “wanted no part of the name-change scrum,” (submitted by Garrett McGrath). … Chris Cooley, a former player, asked Snyder for his thoughts on the team’s name, specifically ‘what it means to be a Redskin‘ to which Snyder replied, “It’s honor. It’s respect. It’s pride” and more, (thanks, Paul). … Also from Paul: while Virginia’s Governor is apparently a big ‘skins fan, the Governor of Maryland (where the ‘skins actually play their games), is not a fan of the name, saying, “I do believe it is probably time for the Washington Redskins to change their team name.” … “A friend of mine posted a picture of his new t-shirt bought a few days ago at a Pow-Wow,” writes Jared Kurtti. “Appears two different shirts are out there to wake America up into how it feels to have your race depicted as a sports team. The t-shirt he bought was a likeness of the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo and the other one I found was the likeness of the Washington football team.” … A state senator from Cincinnati, Eric Kearney, wants to apply pressure to Cleveland Indians ownership to change the team’s nickname and mascot, Chief Wahoo (thanks to Patrick O’Neill). … Yesterday’s NFL matchup featured a cartoon of the New England Patriots vs. the Washington no names (via WEEI).
On Tuesday, we took a look at teams who flocked their helmets in Major League Baseball.
I mentioned that if there were any additional teams we could add to our list, I would update them here. Sure enough, we have a few examples. Click on
any most images to enlarge.
We begin with the Philadelphia Phillies, and we have TWO examples (one was from Chris Hickey, who posted in the comments, and the other from an e-mail submission from Robert Wong):
Next up are the New York Mets (top submission from Robert Wong, bottom comes from Sean O’Shea):
Another one from Robert Wong, here is the Washington Senators:
Also, it is a bit tough to tell, but it looks like the Kansas City Athletics also flocked (from Chris Hickey):
Reader Tim Dunn found the following helmet on eBay for the New York Giants [EDIT: This is a reproduction according to reader Scott Johnston]:
And finally, thanks to Susan Freeman, (who notes that at about 4:50 of this video), it looks like the Houston Colt .45s also flocked:
Great sleuthing, people! If anyone comes across more examples of flocking, please send them in!
for the Ticker
Wow. Nice find today from Joseph Gerard, who sent me the following e-mail:
I’m at the Pirates-Marlins game now, but was at Steelers training camp earlier. Anyways, I was in the Traveling Great Hall and noticed they had a colorized image of Bobby Layne with white numbers when the numbers were gold at the time. Don’t know if this is an oversight on the Steelers part when the image was colorized or not, but that uniform is what the throwbacks that were used a few years ago were based off of.
Also on display were the Steelers rare white pants that they wore with the white jerseys in the early 1970s. Didn’t know any of these survived.
Here are the images he sent to accompany the e-mail (click to enlarge slightly):
At first I was skeptical and didn’t think the image was colorized, but it has to be — because Bobby Layne played for the Steelers from 1958 through 1962, and if we check the GUD, we find that for those years (1958, 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962) — the years Layne was a Steeler — they never wore a black jersey with white numbers.
Even a cursory google image search on Bobby Layne Steelers yields exactly ZERO photos of him wearing a black jersey with white numbers.
It’s a good thing the Steelers didn’t completely base their throwbacks off that image (the throwback numbers were properly gold), but it’s a curious oversight.
The only other option that comes to mind is if that image is not colorized, when did Layne ever wear that particular jersey? And no other photographic evidence (at least in my cursory search) exists to show the team wearing that style jersey with white numbers. And if we go back to the GUD we find that the Steelers never had white numbers on a black jersey in any of the years prior to Layne’s playing days — so it’s not like they were wearing a previous year’s jersey — and that definitely appears to be a game shot, so those aren’t practice jerseys. Guess the photo is colorized, but that’s a pretty huge oversight.
Thanks to Joe for bringing this to our attention!
Great stuff. OK, now onto the ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Check out this 1889 photo of Joe Visner of the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms with “Plaid and laces and a pillbox cap! And that BELT!” (thanks to Leo Strawn, Jr.). … In a ‘turnabout is fair play’ sort of story, since the Mets gave out a collectible truck with a Phillies logo, it seems only fitting that the Phils gave out the same truck with a Mets logo (thanks to Jonathan Daniel). … Are the Braves planning on wearing 1914 throwbacks? Looks like they might on August 16th (h/t to Mike Nessen). … Oooohhhh, this is nice: “Got an email from the California Historical Society today” says Dave Sikula “with a link to a Flickr page with a bunch of historical club baseball teams.”
NFL News: As noted in yesterday’s comments, the Eagles probably won’t be going back to kelly green jerseys (at least not as a primary — possibly as an alt — but the ‘one helmet rule’ is the issue). Dang. … The Lions have been practicing in black, stripeless pants. Hmmm. (thanks to Joey Zurek). Apparently it’s nothing to be concerned about, since they do it as a camp thing. … After Saints Coach Sean Payton expressed mild annoyance during offseason workouts with the presence of sponsorship patches on the team’s practice jerseys, the next day, he arrived at the team facility to see in the coaches’ locker room an array of polo shirts carrying the same patch, all courtesy of QB Drew Brees (thanks Brinke). And what was the patch? Update from Brinke: “after Payton made his comment about the patches on the practice jerseys, then Brees put them all on the coaches shirts. Then Payton retaliated by putting the Rogaine one solely on Brees jersey.” … The Washington football club is/was selling t-shirts for last night’s preseason game v. the Pats. Says Leo Strawn, Jr. who sent that in, “Kinda pricey, but no logo creep.” … Not only do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers new fonts suck, they’re also
magical reflective. Just what we need. … Looks like Peyton Hillis’ 2013 facemask didn’t make the cut: 2013 through most of 2014 training camp, and 2014 HoF game (great spot by Ryan Perkins). … There is the expectation that the Patriots are going to update their uniform font this year, but they were wearing the old wordmark during their pre-season game against Washington last evening (h/t Paul Woods). This is the new wordmark. … “I came across this patch on a jacket at the Goodwill store in Junction City, Oregon,” writes Alex Allen. “The only NFL alum living nearby that I’m aware of is Hall of Famer Dave Wilcox.”
College Football News: The “Hate Maps” continue, this time with one of the most hated NCAA football teams by State. There were some complaints about the methodology, and a new tabulation was made. … Here’s a pretty neat article on how LSU’s helmets are “prepped for battle” (thanks to Joel Manuel). … Here’s a few more looks at the new Utah Utes unis (say that 3 times fast). … The University of Mississippi discusses changing (or at least limiting the use of) its “Ole Miss” nickname as part of a broader debate about race relations (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Here’s some neat old photos of Ballard (Seattle) football, most from the turn of last century. … The Northern Illinois University Huskies are going to wear special “Cornfest” jerseys in their season opener. Yup. … Clint Richardson asks, “What’s with the black stripe.”. It’s one of those “freshmen & transfers have to earn the orange stripe” things. … WSU’s 2014 football poster has the schedule featuring an opponent’s helmet. Submitter Eric Read notes this “is tough to predict in the Pac12.”
NBA News: Now that the “deal” to send #1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves (for Kevin Love) is pretty much a done deal, the NBA store is giving refunds to those who bought Cavs jerseys with Wiggins’ name on them. Only catch? They gotta have the tags still on them. … Great photo of the 2008 Olympic Team (posted by Darren Rovell) in which the only non-Nike player, Dwight Howard, has his adidas shoes blocked out by Coach K, and his hand appears to be blocking the swoosh on the shorts as well (though it is still visible on the jersey). Rovell points out that normally the coach would have been standing and Chris Bosh should have been holding the ball. … This is probably not an intern-firing offense, but who is LeBron Jones and why is he visiting the Browns’ practice and chatting with Johnny Football? (via Allan Upton).
Soccer News: The new unveilings continue, as Newcastle United has revealed a new home kit and Everton have revealed a a new third kit (thanks to Mark Coale for the second submission). Bit more on the Everton third kit here (from Casey Hart). …
College Hoops News: After the Notre Dame Mens’ Hoop toured the Colosseum and Roman Forum, they saw the Vatican, after which the Swiss Guard “laced up their UnderArmour kicks” and joined the team for what looks like a little scrimmage on the court (from Joe Reimers). … Check out the uniforms THE OSU will be wearing for their Bahamas competition — note the LBJ logo! (thanks to Chad Wonderling). Here’s what the University of Kentucky will wear in the Bahamas (I think we’d seen these before, but just in case…).
Grab Bag: Is the biggest rivalry in “sports” actually between swooshie and three stripes? adidas is planning its biggest advertising campaign ever next year as it fights back against rival Nike. … Carleton College (a Minnesota institution) has gotten a new set of logos. … Here’s a long, convoluted and expensive story of Army’s “new” camo pattern (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Do you want to know what the difference is between a logo and a symbol? Now you can (thanks Brinke). … Also from Brinke, this “stunning photo series shows the evolution of British soldiers kits from 1066 to 2014.” … If you care at all about Provincial Rugby jerseys, well, here is a “definitive” ranking of them for you. … More on those protective guards for helmets, from Steve Johnston: “If you go to this story it looks like the entire team (except for the punter) is wearing the protective padding during practice. They even seem to have two colors – offense vs defense?” … Alan Reifman found some old NBA color-by-number drawing sheets from his childhood (late 1960s). “They show some interesting old NBA uniforms (e.g., the Seattle SuperSonics’ hula-hoop-like stripes on their shorts),” he notes. … And finally, douchebaggery at the PGA: Chris Edwards writes, “my Dad went to the PGA Championship practice round Wed and said as long as the bottle was sealed upon entry, you could bring in water. As you got to the entrance, officials were there telling everyone that if your water was not Aquafina, you had to take the label off.”
Whew! That will do it for this fine Friday. Big thanks to Morris for the first of his Friday guest articles (always look forward to these during Paul’s vacation — glad to have you back, buddy!). Lots of stuff to digest today, I know.
This weekend you’ll be treated to the unique stylings of Uni Watch Webmaster John Ekdahl, who will be subbing most weekends for me while I’m on weekday duty.
You guys and gals have a great weekend and I’ll catch you on Monday. Happy August 8th, Robert Marshall!
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I make all kinds of uniform-related comments to people, but aside from the wife and you guys, no one knows the real extent of my fascination with uniforms and logos and the aesthetics of athletics. I’ve gotten enough ‘Who cares about that?’ responses that I know when to keep my mouth shut and when to share my enthusiasm.”
— Jim Vilk
Raffle reminder: Remember, we’re currently raffling off three copies of this visual compendium of baseball uniform history.
Full details here.