By Phil Hecken
…It’s fun, Goddamit!” — Crash Davis, Bull Durham
Yesterday the Cubs, continuing their throwback-to-each-decade-in-Wrigley’s-existence promo, turned back the clock to 1988, for their game against the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays. Of course, the Tampa Bay Rays weren’t in existence in 1988, so instead of throwing back to a minor-league team, they had some fun with the whole idea and “created” a uniform they “might” have worn, had they been in existence in that year.
We’ll get into them in a minute or three. But first — the Cubs.
The Cubs, in theory, selected 1988 as their year in the 80’s, since that was the year they entered modern baseball. The uniforms the Cubs wore in 1988 looked like this (for these and all images, click to enlarge):
As you can see, the uniform is similar to today, with pinstripes, and the same “C-ubs” logo, but with a different (angry bear) patch, and a pullover jersey with sansabelt pants. You can also see that the stirrups were ribbons (and as you’ll see, it’s possible that 2-in-1’s were also worn). The unis were quite tight-fitting. How’d the 2014 Cubs do?:
Pretty well! They got the pinstripes, the pullovers, the sansabelts, the “angry cub” sleeve patch. Everything.
Very nicely done! I have to say, over the past four or five years, I’ve given a lot of grief to Majestic for their treatment of throwbacks, but these were pretty spot on (as have been most of their throwbacks for the past couple years). These were great. Just one problem — the players.
If you saw in the splash photo, almost ALL the Cubs wore 2-in-1’s (if you’re not familiar with what that is, look here or here). They were “created” in the 80s to emulate the look of the ribbon stirrups that were popular at the time. They’re a single sock, with the pattern made to look like a stirrup. Dig:
Yuck. Not only did they wear 2-in-1’s, the wore them wrong. Because the players cuffed their pants too high, the top portion (the solid color) of the sock was showing. Even if you accept the fact that the 2-in-1’s are legitimate baseball hosiery, they were NEVER to be worn with the upper portion showing. Player fail.
But wait, you say — even though the Cubs were throwing back to 1988, didn’t one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, a guy who played for the team in 1988, and who just went into the Hall of Fame this year, Greg Maddux, wear 2-in-1’s? Is it possible they were doing it to “honor” him as well?
That’s actually the rationale I heard yesterday as this game was being played. Indeed, Maddux wore 2-in-1’s and he pitched for the Cubs in 1988. I searched for photos of him from this year, and while I found some of him in 2-in-1’s, it appears he was wearing actual ribbon stirrups in 1988:
It’s tough to tell, but the top two photos clearly show Maddux wearing ribbon stirrups, while the bottom two may show him with 2-in-1’s. So, if the Cubs indeed wore these to honor Maddux, then I’ll give them a plus for that — but a minus on the guys who cuffed their pants too high.
Still, it looked like the players were having fun with this one — so more power to them!
Now…about those Rays…
If you read yesterday’s Uni Watch (and I know you did), then you know that these uniforms were designed by Stuart Sternberg. Sternberg described the uniform thusly:
The new road “fauxback” uniforms the Rays will debut for today’s ’80s Day game against the Cubs were designed by principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who admits he was inspired by the 1978 Padres. “Pure ripoff,” Sternberg said. “With a little, you know, here and there.” The pants (beltless, by the way) and most of the jersey are light blue, with the sleeves, trim and socks yellow. Sternberg, who also designed the original Rays logo and the first fauxbacks, was quite pleased with his latest. “The retro uniforms I’m in love with,” he said, “and clearly the rebranding and logos worked out beautifully.”
We’ve covered the other Rays’ fauxbacks before — you know, the ones they’ve worn the past three years and that look like this:
The difference (which we’ll get to momentarily) between yesterday’s fauxback and the previous one was pretty much just a color swap. They took the navy blue primary and made it a powder blue, took away the powder blue sleeves and made them
gold yellow, and changed the cap. They also removed (or didn’t add) the City of St. Petersburg patch. They also, um, had the “ZIM” patch for recently deceased (2014) Don Zimmer — if they were wearing that patch in 1988 it would have been pretty scary. Oops.
How’d those look on the field?
OK! Now, I happen to think these uniforms are horribly awesome — so I was incredibly pumped to see them. There are clearly a number of problems with them, not the least of which is the fact that we are required to suspend disbelief to accept that not only did the Rays have a team (and uniforms) in 1978, and that not only did this mythical team exist into 1988, they kept essentially the same uniforms (and uniform style) from a decade earlier — a design that was (admittedly) a ripoff of the 1978 Padres. Logic dictates the trajectory of the “1988 Rays” uniforms might have evolved along these lines. Nope — the team that didn’t exist was caught in a uniform timewarp of 10 (design) years. But still, the unis were great. Awfully great, but great. And clearly it looks like the Rays are having fun with this.
Although they did create new caps for this uniform, the went with the ‘1978’ batting helmets, which actually didn’t look too bad at all:
The other concern raised by several in yesterday’s comments, and elsewhere, was the fact that these Rays began their “real” baseball life as the “Devil Rays” so therefore, shouldn’t either the dark blue 1978 fauxbacks, or these 1988 jobbies, have said “Devil Rays” instead of just the shortened (and current) version? To which I say, “so what”? They’re making this all up, they should be able to call themselves “Rays” for their mythical team.
After all, there is certainly precedent for a team beginning life with one name, changing it, then changing it back (as the Reds/Redlegs/Reds) have done. Maybe there was a push after 1989 to name the team simply after the animal “Devil Ray” due to the harmful effects of the sun’s rays? Then they came to their senses in 2008 and returned to just “Rays”? Who knows.
Interestingly, a couple weeks ago, Rob Holecko came up with a mythical 1978-1997 Rays->Devil Rays progression. Perhaps they could have gone with something like this for their fauxback.
There was also some internal discussion amongst the CorC (a secret, sub-UW-society) as to why they didn’t just go with a minor league team (for their throwbacks). Well, there were (at least) two minor league teams in the Tampa/St. Pete area in 1988 — the Tampa White Sox and the St. Petersburg Cardinals — both of which probably would have posed some issues — so they went with the mythical Tampa Bay Rays instead. And it was good.
I really enjoyed the uniforms yesterday — even the Cubbies miswearing of the 2-in-1’s. This game is fun, OK?
“And don’t hold the ball so hard, OK? It’s an egg. Hold it like an egg.”
Readers, what say you?
[special thanks to Cork Gaines and Jamal Wilburg for two of the photos used above]
And now a quick word from Paul: The Uni Watch 15th-anniversary patches are now in stock and available for ordering, and I don’t mind saying that they look pretty damn good. Full details here.
Raffle reminder: Remember, we’re currently raffling off three copies of this visual compendium of baseball uniform history.
Full details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: The Braves will be wearing this “Pete” patch, in honor of Pete Van Wieren, for the rest of the season (h/t Mike Nessen). Who is Pete Van Wieren? Now you know. … This is neat! Apparently based off of Paul’s tweet, C. Trent Rosecrans has mocked up possible pillbox caps for the 2015 All Star Game. C’mon Reds, make it happen! … Todd Radom notes that the pillbox style was known as Anson for the 1981 Pirates. … From Bruce Menard, feast on this 1953 Bowman Color Baseball Card 5 ¢ Box – featuring Joe DiMaggio. Also from Bruce, check out The Mick and the Yankee Clipper (with Jerry Dior’s patch), from 8/9/69. … On Friday night, the Baltimore Orioles had a 60th anniversary celebration in which they wore 1954 throwbacks. They looked awesome. Also, that night, Gary Thorne pulled out the sleeve patch from 2011 (to honor the late Mike Flanagan) and used it as a lapel pin for the Orioles 60th anniversary celebration (great grab by Jack Krabbe). … On Friday, The Ogden Raptors wore camo for Military night (thanks to Tyson Jex). … The York Revolution wore 1969 York Pirates (AA Eastern League Champions) tribute jerseys & caps on Friday. … “My father-in-law shared a State College Spikes (short season A, Cardinals) program with me that he picked up recently at a game,” writes Mike Wissman Check out the photo I found on the back page — it’s your ‘Play Ball Family Of The Game’!” … Is that the MLB logo on Curtis Granderson’s right sock? Sure looks like it (thanks, Paul). In fact it definitely is (thanks, Brinke). … “It strikes me as odd that the Oakland A’s use two different button layouts on their alternate jerseys,” writes Peter Fahey. “Even though the basic designs are the same, the gold jersey uses a large gap between buttons on the placket as if lettering was to be included there. In contrast, the green one uses evenly spaced buttons, as common sense would dictate, because there is nothing actually sewn on the center of the jersey. Is it possible to ask Mr. Vucinich from the Oakland staff about this discrepancy?” It’s especially odd since the A’s old green jersey used to spell “Athletics” across the rubicon (and would need the uneven button spacing), since changed to A’s on the left breast and placket piping while the gold jersey never had anything but an “A’s” in this style. You’d think if anything, the uneven spacing would be reversed. … JD Denison was looking at the “A Visual Compendium of Baseball Uniforms” print and found a mistake: The Mariners TATC jersey (second from the bottom, sixth from the left) is listed as having been worn in 1999. It was actually worn in 1998. The 1999 Mariners TATC jerseys were red. … Despite the dearth of players to actively wear the Iso-BLOX protective cap, the MLB union is working to get better head protection for pitchers. … The Brewers broke out their ‘retro BP jerseys’ (again) on Friday night. … The Brewers did their annual ethnic heritage celebration yesterday, and it was Cervaceros Day at Miller Park (h/t Jeff Ash). … One added benefit of the O’s throwback game — on Sunday, Zach Britton was still wearing the striped stirrups! (via @ColonelWill). … I’m not exactly what the “Perfect Game All-American Classic” is, but it was played at Petco Park yesterday (h/t Brady Phelps). If you dare, you can see more photos and tweets here. … The Toronto Blue Jays wore red caps & jerseys yesterday because “Canada Baseball Day” (more photos here).
NFL/CFL News: The new CFL “third” uniform unveilings have begun – here’s what the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be breaking oot (Mike Styczen will have a full breakdown on the new CFL unis shortly). … Check out the backplate on Hakeem Nicks. Connor (@CKruggs) wonders if he brought his NY Giants gear with him. … Here’s what the Panthers 20 Seasons logo looks like on their field, and on their jersey. … The Eagles have finally adopted the “Elite 51” style uniform from Nike. Look at that collar — woof! … On Friday, we revealed the Bucs awful number font was “reflective.” Here is how reflective those jerseys looked under the lights (big thanks to Samuel Lam for those grabs) — full gallery here. … Johnny Ek had this on Saturday, but ICYMI: During Friday night’s Washington football team game, there was an upside-down “3” on the field (thanks Rydell Commisso). … Red Zone adverts (h/t @TheRealBirdGang) is really getting out of hand (via CJ Fogler). Here’s some more on that (thanks, Brinke). … Looks like the Jaguars didn’t update their logo for the area where the ref goes under the hood to check a replay (nice spot by David Gambill). … According to this article, then-Chiefs offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz (now with the Giants) spoke at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Day School, the only Hebrew day school in Kansas City, where he was presented with a personalized yarmulke with his uniform number and HNoB (that’s “Hebrew name on back”.) No photos though (thanks to Gregory Koch). … Reader Kenneth Warren was watching the Browns preseason game and noticed what appears to be an error in the height of the uni numbers. … On Saturday night, Kevin Dorsey of the Packers was missing TV numbers on his jersey (from Taylor Meiklejohn).
College/High School Football News: Here is a nifty little slideshow of Wyoming helmets from 1969 through today. … Here’s an example of a memorial patch on a high school team from 2000. Says submitter Raymie Humbert: “Note the ‘KV 50’ memorial patch and the ’50 on the back of player #54’s bumper. This was Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Arizona.” … Ugh: Pearland High School in Texas has introduced a gray uniform with gray numbers (thanks to Chris Mycoskie). Chris notes this is a clear violation of first rule mentioned on page 3 here. “Now will officials actually enforce it?” he adds. … The Marshall Thundering Herd released a shot of their all green unis for 2014. Clint Richardson, who submitted this, thinks those numbers might be illegal. Marshall says “no”. Here’s another look (from Graham Nesselrode). And another and another (from Coleman Mullins). … Also from Clint Richardson, new home, away and “blackout game” uniforms for Middle Tennessee State University. … Also getting new uniforms are the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks (h/t @TheNotRealLeo). … GT posted a picture of this billboard with the same uniforms and the new ACC logo. Submitter Daniel Hargis says, “this billboard shows the GT helmet has a white facemask. Either this is new or the Tech marketing department is being lazy and not showing any attention to detail, which it has been guilty of for years (especially since they have Russell as it’s uniform provider).” … This is the new University of the Incarnate Word helmet (via Chris Mycoskie). Since I knew you’d ask. … “This is my high school in Northwest Indiana,” says Gary Moore. “Our school colors are black and gold, there is much uproar on Facebook about the new field being yellow instead of gold.”
NBA News: On Friday I mentioned that NBA fans (per Darren Rovell) could get a refund on their Andrew Wiggins jerseys if the item was in original condition an still had its tagging. Well, he amended that to note the jersey can be returned with or without tags (thanks, Brinke). … Reader Mike Wernsing, Jr. saw this picture of Mitch Richmond with the Golden State Warriors. On his jersey he had a Captain “C” patch. “Thought that was odd with him only playing for 3 years in Golden State (to have the Captaincy patch),” says Mike, but then “vaguely remember something in the ticker a few days ago about Chris Mullin with a C patch also.” … NBA Rookies get style advice “the Rest Of Us Can Use” (from TommyTheCPA. … From this weekend’s Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement: both Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond posed with mid-90s alt unis, Mourning in the red Heat number and Richmond in the Kings’ black/purple checkerboard getup (from Yusuke Toyoda).
Soccer News: Most of the new Euro league kits have been released for their upcoming season, and here is a nice roundup of Barclays Premier League kits for 2014-15. … Interesting note from Gabe Oppenheim about the Liga MX (Mexican top flight soccer league) unis this year: “I’m watching Jaguares de Chiapas vs Leon right now. What makes Chiapas unis so interesting is that they’re covered in nature-conservation messages (in Spanish). One says, ‘Guard the water,’ another says ‘the rainforest is green’ and a third (the biggest one) says ‘Protect Nature’.” … “I was at a soccer game on Monday between my own team IFK and rivals AIK,” says Magnus Olsson. “AIK has Costa Rican World Cup player Celso Borges on their team but I did not expect him to play due to injury. He however did, and this was apprarently something that AIK did not count on either which resulted in an odd uni-issue.” … Southampton are going back to manufacturing their own kits (which Uni Watch has discussed before), after a dispute with Adidas (nice find by Gabriel Luis Manga). … BogotÃ¡ side Independiente Santa Fe wore throwbacks on Saturday, which doesn’t happen really often in soccer, notes Fernando Cardenas. If you want a look at the team regulars so you can compare, you can find them here. He adds the throwbacks don’t “really look that throwback (the red team) for two factors: 1. sponsorship, Honda Motors’ logo actually looks a bit funny because it had to be placed lower; 2. The team’s consistent look throughout time with red solids and white sleves.”
Grab Bag: A British food company is under fire for a new logo, which just happens to look like
an ejaculating dick a phallus (thanks, I think, to Brian Wulff). … There’s a new kit for the Welsh rugby team Ospreys (from Eric Bangeman). … The Leicester Tigers have a new home shirt (via @TheLupineOne). … Back in the mid 1990’s South Australian National Football League team Norwood experimented with zip-up jerseys, but the idea was quickly abandoned (thanks to Graham Clayton). … Here’s the new BLK white kit for USA Rugby, shown with no adverts as it is for Women’s rugby World Cup (thanks to Adam Ingle). … This is pretty funny: A couple of uni-related gags in NBCSN’s new Ted Lasso promo (nice find from Yusuke Toyoda. … Check out this Bears jersey cake given to the cousin of Ryan Lindemann. “It was made by his sister-in-law,” says Ryan. I pointed out the GSH was missing and was harassed.” … Ooooohhhh — nice! The World Hockey Association has a Hall of Fame website that contains great photos and program covers (great, great find from Dave Hembree).
And that’s it for this fine Monday. Lots to discuss in the comments today, so don’t be shy. Hope everyone had a good weekend. And Paul, hope you’re enjoying The Pine Tree State.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken
“The team formed as the Devil Rays. Their pretend history as a team presumably founded in the 60”²s is kinda dumb when it uses the current name and colors. They’re basically saying that the entire Devil Rays era was a fluke, kinda like the blue/white/red Detroit Pistons’ teal era.”
— THE Jeff Provo