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A Possible New Addition to the Uni Watch Glossary

I was recently interviewed by a guy from the San Diego Chargers’ website, who was working on a story about the team’s uniforms. We talked about various aspects of Chargers uni history, and at one point he said, “Of course, we were the first football team to wear outlined uniform numbers. That’s why they’re called ‘San Diego numbers.'” When I asked him to clarify, he explained that he meant numbers with a “floating” outline (as shown above), which the Chargers first wore in 1974.

This was all news to me. I’d heard of UCLA stripes and Northwestern stripes, but “San Diego numbers”? That was a new one. So I Googled it and found a small California-based uniform outfitter that uses the term, but nothing else.

I was curious, so I contacted Todd Radom, Scott Turner, and Joe Hilseberg, each of whom has worked with uniform numbers in some capacity. They all said they’d never heard of “San Diego numbers” before. “To me it’s just a standard three-color application,” said Joe. “Making the middle layer the same color as the jersey to give it the ‘floating’ effect has been around for a while. I’m not saying the Chargers weren’t the first team to do it, but lots of others have done so in various sports, including the Dolphins, Cowboys, Braves [who were wearing this style two years before the Chargers ”” PL], and others.”

Then, at Scott Turner’s suggestion, I contacted sporting goods maven Terry Proctor. He pointed me toward this online catalog. If you go to page 18, there’s a fairly detailed description of what the catalog refers to as the “San Diego Style.” But Terry also pointed out that page 15 of another company’s catalog refers to this same number style as “Dallas.”

It’s worth noting that several Big Four teams currently wear this style, including the Patriots, Canadiens, Bulls, and others. And it appears that at least some outfitters refer to this style as San Diego numbers. Should we all start using this term as well? Should I add it to the Uni Watch Glossary? Discuss.

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Indy racing as the lead! Shocking, I know. Before we moved to Dallas, we would drive over to Indy from Louisville for the 500 time trials. I remember this Al Unser Johnny Lighting design quite well. This Super Mario car stands out, too. Raise your hands, everyone who had an STP sticker on your blue fabric notebook binder.

Okay, here are the rest of this week’s eBay picks:

• Here’s another United Air Lines 1960s promo poster, this one showing NBA and ABA teams together — before the merger! Hurry, this auction ends today.

• If you have about 400 friends who are Tampa Bay Bucs fans, you can send ’em each a Bucs mini-helmet. That’s right, almost 400 Bucs helmets in this lot. Reminds me of that great Bucs joke — beat writer to Coach McKay in 1976: “What do you think of your team’s execution?” Coach: “I’m in favor of it.”

• Great cover artwork on this 1970-71 Atlanta Hawks program cover. Is it me, or does No. 62 (!) look like Malloy from Adam 12?

If you’re like me, you were totally into baseball cards back in the day. After trying to collect them a pack at a time, I saw the futility of that chase and just bought the entire set at once from Renata Galasso in Brooklyn. And I would’ve loved to have this MLB carrying case. [But if you’re buying the whole set at once, you’re no longer collecting; you’re just acquiring. ”” PL]

• Here’s a huge lot of Dave Boss NFL posters — with an equally huge price tag.

• Love this — “Bob Trumpy of the Cincinnati Bengals” on a Topps pin-up poster. Can’t really see the scale of it, but it can’t be too large, right? Check the “84” on his helmet, and the obvious Patriots unis.

• Great “TR Rangers” logo on this Maxwell House promo thermal coffee mug.

• Eight NHL greats grace this 1970s NHLPA pencil case.

• Check out this Cowboys poster. I mentioned recently how a Dallas store called Sanger-Harris was my one-stop Cowboys shop, they had a full-size version of this poster hanging on the wall. And speaking of the Cowboys…

The Danderoo, with three sleeve stripes, and no chinstrap!

• Never seen the Detroit Tigers logo munching a baseball bat in two before, as seen on this 1970s promo glass.

• Simple, great cover to the 1967 NFL Pro Bowl press guide. Also from the same year, this Bears media guide, with period appropriate Spot-bilt cleats.

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PermaRec update: The sonogram shown at right is part of a huge trail of medical, financial, and legal records (and, oddly, some Richard Avedon photos) that have been strewn along the Brooklyn waterfront in the wake of a massive fire that took place at a municipal storage facility a few days ago. Get the full story over on Permanent Record.

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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Garrett McGrath

Baseball News: The Fresno Grizzlies are going to wear California state flag uniforms in April. … The Washington Nationals will supply uniform shirts and caps to all Capitol Hill Little League players this season (thanks, Phil). … The Louisville Bats will wear camouflage jerseys at each of their 2015 Sunday home games (thanks, Phil). ”¦ The Chunichi Dragons have a developmental player — in other words, a guy who probably won’t make the team — who’s wearing No. 202! (From Kevin Kleinhans.) ”¦ This is pretty great: 1930s home movie footage of Wrigley Field! (Thanks, Phil.) ”¦ Looks like Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki once played while wearing a belt that still had the MLB hologram sticker (good spot by Tyler Maun).

NFL News: Patriots owner Robert Kraft wore the same suit at the Super Bowl that he wore at the MLS Championship this past year. He’s just like all of us, except he owns two professional sports franchises (thanks, Phil). … Wait, Kraft isn’t like us after all: He wears bedazzled sneakers (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Texans RB Arian Foster took wishes that the team would tweak their uniforms (thanks, Phil). … Someone found a Vince Lombardi jacket from his West Point days in a Goodwill for around 50 cents (from Jeff Ash). … Are the Patriots the first Super Bowl winners to have a championship ugly sweaters? ”¦ Late-breaking Super Bowl note: The Nike logo on Darrelle Revis’s right sleeve was backwards (good spot by Travis DeMarco).

College Football News: Here’s how to spot counterfeit Oregon merch (thanks, Phil). … It looks like UNLV is getting new uniforms for the 2015 season (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Kansas is the latest school to sign a deal with a concussion-management company.

Hockey News: The South Carolina Stingrays will wear pink on Feb. 21 (thanks, Phil). ”¦ NHL ref Tim Peel was suspended for meeting up for drinks with Yahoo Sports writer Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski. Key line: “[NHL refs] only have two jerseys that are both worn in a game, and therefore they must personally wash them in each new city” (from Chris Flinn).

College Hoops News: Division II team Drury will retire two uniform numbers at an upcoming game (thanks, Paul). … “I know you discussed the phenomenon of NCAA men’s basketball players rolling the waist bands of their pants to make them shorter/be more fashionable,” Nik Streng says. “It seems that the trend in women’s basketball is to tuck the bottom of your shorts into your undershorts/biker shorts.” … The Northern Iowa Panthers are going BFBS (from Aaron Wigg). ”¦ Pitt will go BFBS this Saturday. ”¦ New Mexico went GFGS the other day, and G Hugh Greenword wore a black memorial band due to his friend’s mother passing away. Nobody else wore the memorial (from Jason Johnson).

Grab Bag: Here’s why it’s impossible to design the perfect spacesuit (thanks, Paul). … “It seems that neon has reached the shores of Ireland,” Michael Clary says. “County Mayo’s Gaelic Football squad unveiled a new away jersey that incorporates neon green.” … Here is a picture of a 1990 Indy 500 showing the not so subtle way of indicating which tires are supposed to go where on the car (from David Firestone). … During a 1984 South Australian National Football League game between Sturt and Port Adelaide, Sturt player Rick Davies played on after his jersey had been ripped off (from Graham Clayton).

Comments (93)

    I like the term for the double outline numbers, if only because it makes it really fast to describe the style. The question is whether San Diego is known for this more than any one else? Not sure.

    I happen to think of the California Seals, who I think used this as early as 1967, but I’m sure no one else does.

    The Bruins did it before them, in the early-to-mid sixties (before coming up with uniforms with matching stripes in the 1967-68 season). link featuring Johnny Bucyk (along with a rare example of yellow-over-yellow demonstrated by Fern Flaman).

    On a side note, it’s entirely possible that the Bruins were the first team in the Big Four to have outlined numbers of any kind. At least, if the NHL Uniforms site is accurate enough – they show the Bruins first using outlined numbers in the 1925-26 season, which at the very least puts them as the first NHL team to do so. The GUD still has a few gaps for some early teams, but their first documented case of outlined numbers in the NFL appears to be the 1933 Bears’ orange jerseys.

    As for “floating outline” numbers, the Bruins revived the practice for their 1995-2007 black jerseys, and have used the style on both home and road Edge jerseys (but not their alternate).

    I think “floating outline” is a perfectly fine term and describes the style well. There’s no reason to switch to San Diego Numbers now, especially when none of the teams in San Diego actually use them today. It just invites confusion.

    That’s a yellow outline and a powder blue outline. It’s not the same color as the jersey blue, like the 70’s – 90’s versions were.

    Everywhere I have ever seen the floating outline numerals described on this site or in any media guide or description they have been referred to as “San Diego Numbers”. Years ago I had read somewhere about their long time equipment manager having something to do with the design or adoption of that template – Atlanta Braves notwithstanding. He was the equipment guy seriously injured in a road game by a snowball throwing attack that I believe occurred in The Meadowlands in the 1990s.

    The San Diego Chargers have quite a few interesting uniform quirks and oddities, particularly concerning jerseys. In the late 1960s they were wearing truly unique and sharp THREE color numerals on the Powder Blue jerseys – though I do not have a screen grab. These were different from the floating outline numerals called “San Diego numbers”, and different from any other pro team from that era in the USA. By the way, “San Diego Numbers” was the term used to describe the numerals in the New Orleans media and the current published Saints’ Uniform History in programs and media guides, and actually used by the media when they were adopted by the New Orleans Saints in the mid 1980’s at the tail end of the Saints’ Bum Phillips era and the Black jersey/white pants uniform set prior to Jim Mora adopting the current Gold pants/solid Black stripe template.

    Some San Diego jersey oddities involve there being the very last NFL team to adopt spandex side panels, as well into the 1990s the Chargers had 1970s style All Mesh jerseys sans spandex inserts. Gamers worn and purchased from that era prove this. Also, perhaps the most odd San Diego jersey details involve the team wearing DURENE jerseys into the 1990s for certain cold weather games – their being with the Steelers the very last of the NFL teams to wear 1960’s style nylon/cotton blend durene jerseys in NFL games. I was actually able to purchase a few on Ebay tagged “1990” but worn years afterwards …

    More to the point, if Terry Proctor can point us to two different city names, neither is a definitive name. “Floating outline” sums it up well.

    I’m With The(tm). For the specific style of an inner outline that matches the underlying fabric to create the illusion of blank space between the character and the outline, Floating Outline is perfect. If one needs a term of art for the general concept of a double-outline in which the outer outline is more prominent than the inner, sure, San Diego Numbers is fine, if a bit arbitrary.

    Scary day if I’m agreeing with both THE and Scotty, but I agree “floating outline” wins for the nomenclature. I’d never heard the term “San Diego Numbers” before today (not that that means anything), but it seems counterintuitive to name the style after a team that wasn’t even the first to use it.

    Now, if anyone wants to rename “UCLA stripes/loops” until that team actually returns to wearing it, then I’m all for that…

    I like the name “UCLA Stripes” in part as a way to try to shame UCLA into bringing ’em back!

    I think you’re on to something, Scott. I like that idea of calling the particular outline element a “floating outline,” while referring to a number style that uses such an outline as “San Diego Numbers.”

    As in, “the essential characteristic of San Diego Numbers is that floating outline.”


    I’m accustomed to the terms “One-color, two-color and three-color” numbers, which encompass the floating appearance of San Diego’s numerals. It makes more sense for tackle twill graphics than the screened-on kind.

    Since it seems like the “San Diego numbers” term is football-specific (if not NFL-specific), and there are multiple examples in other sports that predate the Chargers’ usage, I’d go with “floating outline” as our preferred term, with a notation of the sport-specific connotation of the “San Diego” term.

    The Wrigley footage, which is labelled as being from 1937, is actually from the 4/22/38 home opener versus the Cardinals…and here is more footage from that day, IN COLOR! link

    The Tigers glass is interesting in that it ties in with channel 4, WDIV, which carried a partial schedule of Tigers games in the 1980s and early 1990s. The logo is probably related to this link WDIV used after Tigers victories. (There was also a link for losses.) The 4 logo in particular dates back to 1979, not long after the station was sold and changed its calls from WWJ-TV to WDIV.

    That was also my first thought.
    When I cut my teeth on baseball as a pre-schooler in the 80s, my favorite part of the telecast was seeing which cartoon Tiger would appear.

    I still call it “Floating Outline”

    “San Diego” numbers seems like a regional thing. Something they are very proud of, but outside of their region people really don’t recognize the correlation.

    If more football teams wore their logo on only one side of their helmet, would that be called “Steeler Style”? Personally I would deem it Mono-logo and I’m even a Steeler fan.

    That Mayo jersey is far from the first bit of pointless neon we’ve seen in Ireland. Munster rugby had these out last year: link

    That said, it’s probably the first use of neon in the once ultra-conservative (though perhaps not so much any more) GAA.

    I love seeing the MLB baseball card carrying case. I vividly remember getting one for my sixth birthday (1988). I genuinely miss the old card stores, trade shows, and the like. While I still collect NASCAR cards today, there was nothing like spending $.50 on a pack of Topos cards every week and later buying the whole set.

    As an aside, it was my mom who got me into card collecting. She has Topps sets going back to the 1970s, with random cards going back even earlier. I still drool over her box of Red Sox Yearbooks from the 1960’s to present day.

    i remember when the Dophins changed up their numbers in the 80’s it being referred to as “san Diego” numbers….. I was very surprised to see this article and that you guys hadn’t heard it before.

    Re: Collector’s Corner

    When I was 13 my dad was stationed in Okinawa. There were no places to buy baseball card packs, which, up to that year, I’d buy to assemble my yearly sets. I sent away for complete Topps, Fleer and Donruss sets, at the time the only three makers of baseball cards. I felt like I “cheated” and didn’t really earn it. While I later realized those concerns weren’t really of consequence, I did miss out on the best fun of collecting, which is taking the time to marvel at each individual card photo, reading the backs, and absorbing the info.

    Forgot to mention, I bought them from the same Renato Galasso, which to this 13-year old kid, was about the most unusual name I had ever encoutered.

    In the Late 1970s and early 1980’s, WDIV-TV used to broadcast Tigers games and after a Tigers victory, they’d show an animated Tigers logo growling with a bat or chewing the logo of the other team (or feathers from the Orioles in the sample below.). After losses, you’d see one with an ice bag on his head and band-aids nursing his injuries for a few seconds. I guess WDIV made glasses at some point. I hadn’t seen one until this column.
    Tigers Victory Outro from Youtube(at the 2:10 mark): link
    Tigers loss Outro: link

    I recall a few Yankees Old Timers’ Day participants last year or two years ago wearing belts with the sticker still on them.

    Second bullet point of Collector’s Corner should read; “If YOU have . . .”

    “San Diego Numbers” has more panache than “Floating Outline.”

    How can you say “That’s why they’re called ‘San Diego numbers.'” if seemingly nobody else actually calls them that. It’s like giving yourself a nickname. You can’t just say, “I’m Nick Young but people call me Swaggy P.” and then people just start calling you Swaggy- oh wait. Yeah I guess “San Diego” numbers is fine.

    How can you say “That’s why they’re called ‘San Diego numbers.’” if seemingly nobody else actually calls them that.

    Did you even read the entry? Some uniform outfitters DO call them that. Not many, but some.

    It’s true that the Chargers writer who interviewed me (or maybe the Chargers organization as a whole) may have an inflated sense of this term’s currency. But it’s not like the term has NO currency — it clearly has some.

    The United Air Lines 1960s promo poster that Brinke links to shows a Native American headdress on a ball in the NBA section. Must be for the Buffalo Braves, though I have never seen that used by the team. Seattle & Buffalo both entered the NBA in 1970.

    Saints switched to “San Diego-style” numbers in the early ’80s. They kept them when they switched to the Louisiana-patch sleeves and gold pants uniforms in 1986. Got rid of the SD numbers in the mid-1990s. See the description on the Saints official website:


    The fact that they had to explain what San Diego style meant after they said it tells me that it isn’t a very good term. It may have once been somewhat common in the industry, but it certainly never caught on with the rest of us the way that UCLA Stripes (now known as LSU Stripes), Northwestern Stripes or Michigan Wing have.

    What I really want to know why TA Gear (the small California uniform outfitter that Paul mention above) refers to link as “Fargo.” I tend to associate the “empty space through the middle” style of numerals more with the link and link.

    Because most Americans have a vague sense that Fargo is close to Toronto, and maybe even in the same country? (Speaking from experience as a native Upper Midwesterner living on the East Coast.)

    We has a similar discussion last week about whether the Chicago Bulls’ black alternate qualifies as BFBS when black is one of the Bulls’ official colors. I’ll take the same position on this and say that those New Mexico uniforms are not GFGS and should instead be called SCFSCS (secondary color for secondary color’s sake).

    My opinion is that if it never occurred to you have gray uniforms until it became a ‘thing’, then yes, its GFGS.

    Just like the Bulls, their black uniforms are BFBS.

    /my opinion.


    The Lobos have worn silver/grey basketball uniforms link (and quite possibly earlier). I’d say that was before wearing grey had become a ‘thing.’

    Seeing that there is some historical precedent for using the term “San Diego numbers” (as pointed out by Rich and Gene) and it has more “panache” (I agree with Mainspark on that one), I vote in favor of using the term here. Why not? It’s more fun to have a specialized term for them than simply saying the numbers have a “floating outline.”

    Brooke’s photo on Don Meredith shows the rare 1966 Penn State-style numbers worn by Dallas in its first two games of the season. I’m not sure why these jerseys were used instead of those with the standard (and great) Southland Athletic serif style.

    Thinking aloud, maybe in that year the Cowboys’ regular jerseys were a durene or knit that was very hot to wear early season, and the team wore a lighter jersey with the different numeral font until it cooled enough to break out the regular jerseys.

    Check that – Cowboys DID wear three sleeve stripes for a time, certainly in 1967 and maybe into the next season awaiting new two stripe jerseys to be ready ,,,,, Lots of Cowboys vs Saints footage from 1967 with Cowboys wearing three sleeve stripes ….

    “Floating Outline” works. Surprised no one got alliterative and called it “Orbiting Outline.” If San Diego wants it named after them, they never should have stopped using it.

    Loyola Marymount used to look fantastic with the floating outline:

    California: Not a very good state flag,* but man does that design just kill it when applied to anything other than a flag. Hats, shirts, jerseys, presumably underwear …

    *I mean, yeah, better than any state with the state seal on blue or white, but somehow California never looks all that good to me on an actual flagpole, compared to say Maryland or New Mexico or Hawaii or any of the states with excellent state flags.

    California: Not a very good state flag,* but man does that design just kill it when applied to anything other than a flag. Hats, shirts, jerseys, presumably underwear …

    link. That looks seriously great, amirite? (Chamernik, you should totally not be afraid to buy that on eBay.)

    The most interesting part of the ’30s Wrigley video was the plane pulling an advertising banner. I would have never guessed that it has been a staple in professional sports advertising for long.

    Two down from the “San Diego” style (on page 18) is a style called “Grizzly”, which is the Chicago Bears numbering style. Clever way of saying Bears without saying Bears.

    I don’t have a view as to whether they should be called San Diego numbers or not.

    But I do want to point out that there are at least two different looks going on here:

    1. The number is the same colour as the outline


    2. The number is a different colour as the outline


    IMO the former (Dallas) looks much more like a “floating” number than the latter (Montreal).

    As well, when San Diego and Miami originally did it, they did it with screen printing so that the strip between the number and the outline wasn’t a uniform-coloured layer, it was actually uniform showing through. I think this look is obsolete at the pros, but probably still exists for screen-printed replicas.

    I think the key factor isn’t so much the color of the outline, but rather that the area immediately inside it matches the jersey fabric color, thus producing the appearance of the outline being detached from the numerals; “floating” out beyond a small span of empty space.

    You know, for a troll, you offer some pretty thoughtful insight. Your screen name is kind of misleading. Just saying…

    How do you guys feel about buying used memorabilia cups, glasses and mugs on eBay, for drinking use? I’m not a germaphobe and obviously I’d wash the cups as thoroughly as possible, but it still seems kinda weird when I think about it. Is it just me?

    No different than eating in a restaurant. In fact probably better as you can wash it as well as you want. Who knows who used it at a restaurant and how well it was washed.

    If you’re really concerned, wash them with bleach when you get them.

    Wash with ordinary dish soap, or in the top rack of a dishwasher with temp boost for sanitizing. Then clean again using a bleach solution (or Star-San or the equivalent), rinse really well, and you’ll be fine. Basically, any pathogen that can survive near-boiling water and bleach has out-evolved humanity and will get you no matter what you do, so you might as well enjoy the vintage plastic beer cup before you go.

    Although some older cups/glasses/mugs might not be dishwasher safe. Even if you hand wash with bleach, you might mess up the paint job. Maybe bleach the inside and where your lips go, but use sudsy water on the rest of the outside.

    Older? Heck, the new ones at any MLB park I’ve been to in the last decade degrade quickly if washed in a machine. So caveat puritor, but a single go in the top rack shouldn’t be catastrophic unless the ink is already quite faded or rubbed off.

    It’s just you.

    But you can use them as pencil/pen holders instead. I have some that I use for that and some that I use for drinking.

    Not to go all Marco Rubio but I’m not a scientist, but plastic does degrade so I’d be cautious about using old plastic cups for consuming foods (not an issue for glass).

    As far as cleaning, 10 minutes in boiling water should do the trick, but I’d be careful not to ruin the design.

    A few years ago I received a pair of vintage commemorative Red Wings glasses as a gift – one for their 1997 Stanley Cup, and an older one for the Bruise Brothers (Joey Kocur and the late Bob Probert). I actually don’t use them, and I’ve included them in my very modest Wings display in my living room cabinet. It’s actually never crossed my mind to drink out of them, as I have plenty of cups and glasses.

    I’ve been coaching at the high school level for about 25 years and have always referred to that style as “Gap Outline.” I would use it on uniforms to create a two-color number (the gap being the color of the uniform and the 2nd color) less expensively than having 2 colors screened. I think printers have unique screens for that type of number.

    I asked a buddy of mine who has been in the sporting goods business for 25+ years and he had heard of them referred to as “San Diego” style.

    That’s at least two ways in which the big names in New England are just like us! First, Brady dresses his son in a jersey that’s at least a couple of years old? Unheard of! Now Kraft wears the same suit for at least the second time? Craziness.

    I’m guessing he’s not superstitious, though, as the MLS Cup didn’t go as well for his Revs.

    For whatever it’s worth, Adobe Illustrator, which is used to create most of the artwork files used in sports uniforms, calls this effect “Offset Stroke” or “Offset Path.” Sort of boring names, but precise in term the effect literally being a stroke which is offset from the main number. link

    Of course, Illustrator wasn’t used back when this style first showed up, so that doesn’t mean their naming is definitive.

    I don’t care what font/outlines the Chargers have.

    I cannot stand that their ‘bolts on their sleeves are upside-down!! They look like it to me anyway!!

    By that, do you mean that they’re not going over the top of the shoulders like they used to? Because that does irritate me.

    It looks downright terrible.

    I’m presuming that this has something to do with everyone wanting near-sleeveless jerseys (and the TV numbers have to go somewhere), but it certainly damages the aesthetics of what had long been among the best jersey decorations in sports.

    This is some bull shit. New Mexico’s main colors are Cherry Red and Silver. Therefore, their jerseys are not GFGS but rather a silver jersey that underscores one of the school’s main colors.

    On Friday, the SF Giants will unveil a new home black alternate. I hope it’s in the style of the orange Friday jersey and not the 2001 style.

    Sand Knit made those jerseys for the Chargers and the numbers were silk screened. Sand Knit referred to them as Charger numbers and when Russell Athletic did that style they referred to them as Cowboy numbers .

    Or just have women wear these if they choose to; they wouldn’t need to tuck the shorts into the bike shorts if all they wear are bike shorts (or a one-piece).

    Regarding the Tiger logo chomping a bat on the glass listed in collectors corner. You’ll notice the “first 4 sports” slogan on the glass. That image comes from their telecasts of Tiger baseball in the 80’s. (so that glass isn’t from the 70’s). When the game would end, they would show a Tiger roaring and then chomping on a bat, or logo of the team they just played if they won. If they lost, they would show a Tiger with an ice pack on his head and he just kind of grumbled.

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