I’m a hockey fan but I think baseball has the best jerseys — especially the vintage wool ones. Plus I can’t make a vintage-style knitted sweater myself. So I decided to make a hockey jersey from materials more similar to what would be used for a wool flannel baseball jersey.
Then I then came up with a fictional framework to explain the existence of the jersey: In the 1940s or ’50s, an obscure minor league team called the Fin Whales needed jerseys that were more durable than the standard sweaters. So they approached a local baseball uniform manufacturer, who complied with their request for a durable jersey with custom features to give the team every advantage [for all of today’s photos, you can click to enlarge]:
The material is a thick wool coating material that looks similar to a baseball flannel but is much heavier. As opposed to a single-piece crest, the logo on the front was created from multiple pieces, more similar to an old-school baseball jersey The single logo on the left sleeve looks like something a baseball jersey manufacturer would do, and the “flying puck” emblem looks more like a flying baseball design adapted to hockey (when do pucks ever fly at that trajectory?). And the lack of stripes feels more suited to the diamond, not the ice.
The numbers, admittedly, they don’t look very baseball-ish, but I couldn’t resist using my favorite rounded seven o’clock drop-shadow style.
One noteworthy detail is that the sleeves are a tearaway design — they’re held together by buttons but can come apart during an altercation to give the player more freedom of movement, anticipating the tearaway Velcro sleeves from the late ’80s (so this jersey combines eras as well as sports):
The jersey includes a tie-down/fight strap fashioned from existing materials, including a button. This resembles the belt loops from a pair of wool baseball pants — another example of the fictitious manufacturer sticking with what they know:
The project was satisfying and seemed pretty successful, so I decided to come up with additional teams and create hybrid jerseys for them:
The Bowheads. I always liked those early-1900s canvas football (and hockey) pants with with the slatted inserts, so I came up with this design:
The sleeves are canvas with rounded-end slats similar to the ones I’ve seen in old photos. To create the slats, I used two popsicle sticks glued together with felt added for padding. The design was intended to be more durable than the wool sleeves, but it also turned out to be very comfortable to wear, as the canvas really conforms to the arms and feels flexible and protective.
The Breachers. As I looked at old photos for ideas and inspiration, one thing I noticed was that baseball jersey designs didn’t seem to change much from roughly the ’20s through the ’50s, even though there were lots of design styles to draw upon. For example, the Art Deco style influenced the design of so many things from the ’20s to the early ’40s, yet I have never seen a jersey with significant Art Deco influence. At first I thought of just doing some Art Deco cresting, but then I decided to rework the tailoring of the jersey:
I found the perfect vintage-looking buttons to replace the lace-up college that I’d normally use. Art Deco often concerned itself with themes of speed and technological advancement — a good fit for sports — so I gave the breaching humpback whale wings instead of pectoral fins.
The Narwhals. After I did the Art Deco jersey, I thought about other design styles from the flannel era. I really like 1950s design, so I made this jersey for a team called the Narwhals:
The basic tailoring template and silhouette are the same as the Fin Whales, but with a few ’50s-looking design details. I found some cool “N” buttons for the tearaway sleeves (finally an excuse to shop in the novelty button section!), and the left sleeve features a fun logo with a narwhal poking his head out of a hole in the ice that’s shaped like one of those ’50s blob shapes:
The Rorquals. I liked the Narwhals jersey but wanted to do a 1950s design that included more structural changes instead of just graphic changes. So for this one I designed the collar to have the lacing at the top of left shoulder (which, incidentally, is surprisingly easy to tie and untie while wearing the jersey):
I also came up with a new sleeve design for this one. Hockey jerseys often show extreme wear in the forearms due to sticks coming up, so I added canvas half-sleeves for durability. The canvas parts button on (similar to early baseball jerseys that had button-on sleeve extensions), so they could be replaced as needed if they wear out.
Paul here. Holy moly — Anonymous, you have outdone yourself!! Tremendous stuff, and I’m very proud to showcase it here on the site. Thank you!
But what’s with all the whale-based team names? I asked Anonymous about that. Here’s his response:
Sea creatures are my favorite team name category. I also like the idea of using names that have not been used before in sports but still have some plausibility. And at the same time, I hope a little bit of humor comes through, as I think it’s kind of an absurd thing for them to all have whale names.
After it was clear that all the names were going to be whale-related, I thought about why such a league could have existed, and why every team would have a whale name. I imagined a rough storyline that goes something like this: The teams all played in a league that was actually a syndicate, formed on the east coast after the demise of the whaling industry, by former whaling industry moguls who needed a new revenue stream and who had a large supply of unemployed men to keep busy and/or sell tickets to. A league by scoundrels, for scoundrels. Extremely rough-and-tumble, which explains the need for the thick wool, tearaway sleeves and fight straps. After I researched it a bit, it seems my time frame would be off because the whaling industry was pretty much gone well before the supposed period for the jerseys. Still, that’s the origin story for my fictitious league.
Man, even when he’s just dreaming up stories, Anonymous is more creative than most of us. Well done, sir!
Baseball News: Lots of uni combos this season for Nebraska (from David McGee). ”¦ Holy moly, look at this amazing 1912 Washington Senators jacket (big thanks to Small Papi). ”¦ Someone showcased some old Mets memorabilia — including a very cool Lady Met figurine — on Antiques Roadshow (from Ronnie Poore). ”¦ New bat decals for Vanderbilt (from Jerry Lawless).
NFL News: Don’t look now, but the Pro Bowl is in 11 days — a week from this Sunday. Seems odd that we haven’t yet seen the uniforms, especially since Nike made such a fuss over the ones from last year. Maybe they’re just sticking with those.
College Football News: Surprising to see LSU toy figurines wearing the rarely seen purple jerseys (from Christopher LaHaye). … Ohio State coach’s Urban Meyer’s strategy to beat Oregon in the title game was to force the Ducks’ offense to take longer than 16 seconds per play. He called this strategy “Eliminate 16.” According to a note buried within this article, “Ohio State took Eliminate 16 so seriously while preparing that [team strength coach Mickey] Marotti elaborately ripped the jersey off poor Cam Burrows, the reserve defensive back who wears the dreaded number. He wore No. 8 for the title game” (nice one from Jonathan Daniel). … Here’s a pretty cool interactive guide to the history of college football bowl games. ”¦ Porn star Mia Khalifa says she’ll wear Ohio State QB Braxton Miller’s jersey in an upcoming shoot if he transfers to Florida State. ”¦ The Buckeye baby blanket thing was cute at first, but now it’s way overplayed (from Tony Crespo).
Hockey News: The Sabres retired Dominik Hasek’s number last night and wore this patch for the occasion. They had a Hasek-themed puck, too”¦ “Pink in the Rink” promotion upcoming for the Charlotte Checkers. ”¦ Some great caricatures of old-school NHL luminaries here (from Chris Mizzoni). ”¦ Several interesting things about this shot from the Russia-based KHL. First, the player got his jersey stuck in the glass. Second, the KHL officials have an interesting zebra stripe pattern. Third, what’s with the “No Logo” patches — anyone..? That screen shot came from this video clip (from Taylor Nicolaisen).
College and High School Hoops News: Here’s one observer’s choices for the five most iconic unis in college basketball. ”¦ The Kansas women’s team will wear pink-accented uniforms on Feb. 7. ”¦ New black unis for Davidson next Tuesday (from Ethan Faust). ”¦ Pantego High School in Dallas has uniforms that are red in the front and G.I. Joe in the back (from Cameron Macaulay). … Lots of photos of Indiana high school basketball through the years here (from Gary Moore).
Soccer News: All of these are from Yusuke Toyoda: West Ham will wear a purple third kit for their FA Cup matches. … The Asian Cup kicked off this past weekend. Japan debuted its champions kit and Australia’s Tomi Juric celebrated his goal by exposing “Mama, Tata, Braco” (that’s “Mom, Dad, Brother” in Croatian) on his undershirt. … Here’s how soccer balls are depicted in team crests from around the world. … The Star Wars uni trope has hit the soccer world.