By Phil Hecken
There was quite the kerfuffle yesterday as news began to break that these caps were NOT designed by MLB, nor were they designed to be worn in the All Star Game (or batting practice, or the home run derby or any other part of the ASG festivities). They were, in fact, just concepts leaked to Paul and myself (and others who picked up on it); I (and Paul) was not alone in being duped by the Twitterer who goes by the pseudonym of WallendaNik. The story, which had some pretty long legs, was debunked pretty quickly yesterday morning, and by yesterday afternoon, more details became clear (and I’ll have a bit to say on that shortly).
I did some sleuthing (something I should have done Thursday night before I basically Re-tweeted “Nik”‘s tweet), and have found out Nik’s identity. Turns out, I’ve worked with him on Uni Watch before (which may have been why he tweeted at Paul and me to begin with).
I’m embarrassed that I ran with the tweet like I did (and never realized so many would r/t it and run with it as if it were fact) — one of the first things one is taught in Journalism 101 is to always have at least two sources verifying a story. Although I did see others, including Darren Rovell of ESPN (who debunked the story early yesterday morning), taking them seriously enough to comment on them. I can’t say whether Rovell was duped either, or if simply was re-reporting (without attribution) my original tweet. Either way, it doesn’t matter, I was in the wrong to do so, without first verifying the authenticity. I’ve still got some egg on my face.
I am embarrassed for myself, but also for Paul, who I inadvertently put in an untenable position of first posting these “leaks” as fact, and then having to retract them as bogus. Clearly that was not my intent. Even so, I asked Paul if he’d like to say something in today’s post. Here’s what he had to say:
There’s a lot to learn from this episode.
I was out of the house when these images began circulating last night. By the time I got home (close to midnight), the images were all over the place and Uni Watch was a part of the story because Phil had retweeted them.
Frankly: If I had been home, I would not have retweeted the images, and I would have advised Phil not to do so either. I never like to put my name next to a leak until I’ve verified who the source is, how he/she obtained the content, etc. (as I did, for example, with the recent Clippers, NBA Xmas, and MLB Independence Day leaks). If I can’t verify, I usually don’t retweet the leak, much less write about it.
But in this case, the toothpaste was already out of the tube, and Uni Watch had a hand in that, so I felt like I should make it Friday’s lede — which I did, with a disclaimer that I hadn’t yet verified the source. That gave me a bit of cover, but it was really only a fig leaf. As the story unraveled over the course of a few hours on Friday morning, I felt foolish for having written the entry. I should have waited, even though the images were circulating.
I’m not trying to throw Phil under the bus — I’ve made plenty of mistakes of my own, and will no doubt make more. But the lesson from this one is that we should always treat leaks with skepticism.”
Lesson learned. But there’s more to this story.
It turns out that “Nik Wallenda” is actually Jesse Alkire, a great designer and a name you may recognize. You see, I’ve worked with Jesse before (in a four-part sub-series called Designing Minds, Volume V — several posts are linked within that one). His talent is amazing, which partially explains why I was duped by the quality of the “leaks.” These legitimately could have been designed and produced by MLB. But they weren’t — they were entirely the product of Jesse’s very vivid imagination. He’s hoping to catch the eye of some of the major leagues to do some work. Sharing his concepts with me, which I will gladly run on Uni Watch (and have) is a great way to get noticed — creating a new twitter personality and tweeting at Paul and me may have been a good way to get noticed by the leagues, but it’s not the way I would have gone about it. But hey, I guess when you’re looking to have your talents noticed by the major leagues, “leaking” designs is one way to do it.
Once I became aware Jesse was behind the leaks, I asked him about it. His reply:
Just trying to get the attention of MLB, New Era, Nike, whoever. Look at the buzz this created — sports design can and should be better, and I want to help.
A re-tweet of my tweets to MLB and New Era would help, you guys have a solid following. You guys do a good job of critiquing sports design, but what if you started to actively make a positive change with all your power?
I think it’s possible.
All very well and good, but it would have worked better if Jesse had tipped me wise to these designs as his own. And who knows if the “attention” he got from MLB, Nike, New Era etc. will be positive. Maybe there really is no such thing as “bad publicity.” But there is bad reporting, and of that I’m guilty.
There’s more: I asked Jesse if he was indeed behind “Nik Wallenda” and he said “all me.” About the ensuing stories that followed, Jesse said, “Well, I started it — but its ending up in some weird places that I didn’t plan for, so obviously once I seeded it out in the right places it becomes it’s own animal.”
I asked Jesse if it was cool to mention this and show his full set of MLB ASG caps on Uni Watch, and to describe them to me, and he replied,
Yeah, promote the hell outta me — MLB needs to give me a call, for sure. I’m ready to help.
The designs are conceivably what I believe New Era will actually release this July, based on last year’s ASG hats as well as their recent history of special limited editions. The use of the Diamond Era 59FIFTY, the modernization of a retro style that is a major part of the host city’s brand, the split of white hats to be paired with home white National League jerseys, and teams’ road hats to be paired with the American League road jerseys — all things I would guess New Era is or will be considering for their final designs.
And if they weren’t considering any of this, well, then they now know where to reach me.
Yes. Yes they do.
I have to admit that while not necessarily my cup of tea (I’d say the “these are awful” comments were running about 2-to-1 over the “these are great”), they are very intriguing, and certainly something that took a LOT of talent and vision. As concepts, some of them are actually really, really good. And thanks to Jesse, you can see all of these concepts here, or watch the slideshow below:
Pretty impressive, right? In fact, on Jesse’s own design site, he asks the question, “Why the hell did I do this?” answering it like so:
When Major League Baseball issued special All-Star hats for the 2014 game in Minnesota, they were a huge success. The 2014 designs were based off an old Twins batting helmet and resonated with fans of the game’s history and New Era hat collectors, alike — arguably pro baseball’s two biggest niche consumers.
So what does MLB have planned for the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati? We won’t know what New Era has come up with until late June or July, but I already know what I’d like to see — the return of the “pillbox” hat.
Many teams throughout baseball’s early history have worn pillbox hats, beginning in the late 1800s and sporadically up through the early 1900s when the style finally died out. The last time pillbox hats were regularly seen was back in 1976 when five teams wore the style to commemorate the National League’s 100th anniversary. Of the five teams to wear the pillbox hats that year, one of which was the Cincinnati Reds, only the Pittsburgh Pirates continued to wear them regularly after that season, finally switching back to a normal hat after the 1986 season.
Although Reds teams of the past weren’t exactly known for wearing the hat style more than most, the pillbox hat is now used heavily in Reds logos, uniforms, merchandise, and stadium imagery, largely as a tribute to the early days of baseball and to the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team formed in 1866. Another nod to that tradition was seen in this year’s All-Star game logo, with a two-striped pillbox hat featured featured prominently atop the logo.
So, like the All-Star game logo, my designs are relatively simple and clean — two team-colored stripes on white hats for the National League (this year’s home team) to mimic Cincinnati’s old pillbox hat, while the American League teams wear a striped version of their respective road cap.
I continue to be impressed by Jesse’s talent, and I do hope MLB (or the NFL or some other league) sees his work and thinks maybe he’s talented enough to join them. I just wish this post weren’t necessary, as I’d have gladly helped promote his talents as I have on UW before.
Well played, sir. Shame on me. But I won’t get fooled again.
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards
I’m pleased to continue with a favorite weekend feature here at Uni Watch, “Classic Ballpark Scoreboards,” which are created by Gary Chanko. You probably know Gary best for his wonderful colorizations, but he has been a solid contributor for many years, and this is his new project. This segment will appear every Saturday on Uni Watch.
Here’s Gary (click on image to enlarge):
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards – Series II
by Gary Chanko
In this edition of Classic Scoreboards we pay a visit to one of last of the Jewel Box ballparks, Braves Field as it celebrates a Centennial Anniversary.
Baseball home of: Boston Braves/ Bees (MLB) (1915”“52)
Also known as: The Wigwam; the Bee Hive and National League Park (1936-41)
Opened: August 18, 1915; Last baseball game: September 21, 1952
Demolished:1955, Reconfigured as Nickerson Stadium. Located on the campus of Boston University, the right field pavilion and concourse remain.
When it opened in 1915 Baseball Magazine heralded Braves Field as “The World’s Greatest Baseball Park.” All steel and concrete, the 40,000 seat Braves Field was built in a remarkable five months. It was baseball’s first million-dollar ballpark and MLB’s largest ballpark until surpassed by Yankee Stadium in 1923. For a complete, detailed history of Braves Field you will want to read this SABR research article and watch this slide show.
Braves Field was well suited for baseball’s Deadball Era but struggled to keep pace as the game changed over the succeeding decades. New ownership in the 1940s brought much needed investment in major renovations to the Wigwam.
The original scoreboard, located at the top of the right field bleacher section, was finally replaced in 1948 with a new 68-foot tall monster scoreboard. Back then it cost $70,000, equivalent to nearly a million in today’s dollars.
The new scoreboard and the double-decked outfield fences were dominated by billboard ads. A few years later the owners completed a ballpark beautification effort and eliminated those excessive billboard ads. The Chesterfield cigarette brand became the replacement advertising revenue stream. Chesterfield advertisements were located throughout the outfield on light towers, the old right field scoreboard, and of course, the mammoth new scoreboard.
The scoreboard illustration is based on a game played on September 27,1951 against the Dodgers that resulted in a storied rhubarb. The game was photographed by the noted LIFE magazine photographer George Silk. Several of these game photos were used as reference to complete the illustration.
A Few Things to Know
• The Longines digital clock display was an oddity. For this era, a Longines analog clock was a more common sight sitting atop scoreboards throughout major league baseball.
• After the Braves departure the scoreboard was recycled for use in Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium, the new home of the similarly recycled Philadelphia Athletics.
• The Always Buy Chesterfield scoreboard display was a potential source for snagging a ball in play. If this occurred, the ground rules called for the batter to be awarded second base.
The next edition of Classic Scoreboards will stay put in Braves Field. We’ll turn back the clock to look at the original scoreboard in right field bleacher section, famously known as The Jury Box.
Many thanks to Bob Brady, President, Boston Braves Historical Association (BBHA), for helpful assistance in research for this project. Bob’s personal knowledge of the Wigwam and photo archives filled in many key scoreboard details. The BBHA is commemorating the Braves Field centennial thought 2015. If you are interested in following the activities and leaning more about the Boston Braves and Braves Field, please visit their website.
If anyone is interested in purchasing a digital copy of these posters, Gary is working on an online purchase option. In the interim you can contact him directly at Classicscoreboards@gmail.com.
for the Ticker
Got an e-mail from Jimmy Corcoran, who you may remember is the son of King Corcoran, the star QB of the WFL’s Philly Bell. I’d previously spoken to Jimmy about my annual “Fathers in Uniform” piece that runs every Father’s Day, and Jimmy will of course have something for that — but here’s a “little” something he prepared in advance.
Jimmy’s e-mails are always great, so enjoy:
How are you Phil? I made a couple of Pottstown cereal boxes for your Dad’s in their uniforms piece you do every father’s day but I also did this piece that has the King in some of his uniforms plus some family pictures from the 70’s and 80’s. He loved the movie Super Fly and he had suits made just like the guys in the movie, when we showed up to my grandparents house and he was wearing this my grandmother thought he drove to New Jersey in his pajamas? The King got to wear some really classic uniforms during his ten years of playing in various leagues, The Patriots, The Jets, Pottstown Firebirds but you will be surprised when I tell you what was his favorite uniform he ever wore was, I will tell that in the father’s day piece.
After his football career ended in 1975 he still stayed in touch with his teammates like Ron Holiday, Claude Watts and John Land. He had lost touch with Jack Dolbin and Firebirds DB Herbie Nauss but I remember them coming to our beach house as a kid and hanging out while my father cooked hamburgers for everyone and told his King stories.
I took the picture of my father with his old Bell teammates in the spring of 1977, we were also with Vince Papale that night but he didn’t come back to our house, he had to get back to Philadelphia that night.
In 1973 it looked like the King’s football career was over, he was playing for a team in Flint Michigan called the Sabers, they gave him a blue velvet cape that said King on the back to wear on the sidelines but he wouldn’t do it, he thought someone would shoot him. On September 16, 1973 we went to see the san Diego Chargers play the Washington to open the season. My father’s Pottstown WR Ron Holiday was now with the Chargers and Ron Waller was coaching with them. I sat on the Chargers side with the King, Claude Watts and John Land. During the game the King kept saying to me “Jimbo I could start on this team, they have nothing right now, the Chargers need the King!” The Redskins shut them out 38-0 and Johnny Unitas took a real beating.
After the game I went into the Chargers locker room with my father, I had been in the Chargers locker room before in 1972 and I noticed that they had changed the jerseys. I picked up a jersey in 72 after the Colts game and the white jersey was shiny durene with the numbers sewn, after the Redskins game the equipment guys were laying all the game jerseys flat on top of each other and checking them off on a list. I went over and picked one up and they were mesh with pressed on numbers and had gold around the numbers (I know today that this was a one year style) but in 1973 there was no Uni Watch so I had to figure this out myself.
The mood was pretty somber in their after losing 38-0 but as usual the King was holding court, he was talking to his old Eagles buddy Tim Rossovich and Ron Holiday and somehow a lot of the Chargers players seemed to know him. I decided to get a couple of autographs I walked up to Deacon Jones and he was real nice to me, he said how are you doing little man? I told him I saw him on the TV show the Odd Couple doing a shaving commercial with Oscar Madison and this made Deacon laugh, I then went over to Mike Garrett and he was nice too. Dan Fouts was in there too that day but he was a rookie and I didn’t know who he was at the time? My father said ” Jimbo, don’t forget to go over there and get Gary Garrison’s autograph, he is a great receiver” Gary was talking to reporters but saw me walk over and grabbed my pad and signed for me.
There was one more autograph I wanted to get, Johnny Unitas. He was sitting on a very small stool in his jockstrap and his ankles still taped, since I grew up in Maryland I had seen him many times on TV playing for the Colts, but now that I was only two feet away from him there were two things I noticed, he looked much older than all the other Chargers players and he wasn’t wearing a shirt and I was surprised he had no muscles at all. At the time my father was an avid weight lifter and I thought all QB’s were supposed to have big arms and a big chest like the King had.
Unitas had his face in his hands and it looked like he was crying, I walked up to him and asked him for his autograph? when he took his hands away he wasn’t crying he just looked really down. He never made eye contact with me and signed the pad and handed it back, the other players were a lot friendlier when I asked them. I walked over to my father and said “what is wrong with Johnny Unitas?” My father looked at him then back at me and said “He knows it’s over and he can’t accept it” I didn’t know what he meant, and I said you mean the game is over? and the King said ” no his career is over, he can’t play anymore and he knows it, he got killed out there, he can’t move anymore” Unitas heard this and shot a dirty look at the King.
The King was such a good self promoter he was telling the Chargers player’s if the signed him this week he could help them win games. He said look, Unitas is done! Fouts is a rookie and isn’t ready and Wayne Clarke is garbage, you guys don’t have a QB! But never fear the King is here! I can run Ron Waller’s offense, it’s the same stuff we ran in Pottstown. By the time we left some of the Charger’s players were slapping him five telling him we need the King! Of course Ron Waller was not retained in 1974 and Dan Fouts went on to have a Hall of fame career and in 1974 Waller, the King, Ron Holiday, Claude Watts and John Land all went to play for the Philadelphia Bell in the World football League. When we were driving back to our house the King said “What do you think Jimbo, can you dig the King in powder blue?”
Here is a picture from that game. After the game when we were in the locker room Ron Holiday asked me for my windbreaker, I handed it to him and he turned around in his locker and rolled something up and handed it back to me. It was wet and kind of heavy so I thought he gave me a game jersey. He said don’t open this up until you get outside of the stadium. When I got outside I opened it up but it wasn’t a game jersey, it was a gray Champion team issued Chargers t shirt that all the players wore under their shoulder pads. It was a size XL and I was 9 years old so there wasn’t much I could do with it but my father grabbed it and said “Great, the King has a new workout shirt”
Thanks, Jimmy. Great Stuff.
OK. Now, onto the ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: In yesterday’s ‘skins Watch, there was a photo of the Braves’ bullpen bag. Reader Richard Jurnack adds, the “Braves Bullpen Bag … it’s even got a weird white supremacist patch on it!” and notes “The three percenter patch on the bag is a symbol embraced by assorted white supremacist/militia/anti-government types.” …
Future Mets Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki went with two undershirts on Mother’s Day, which probably pleased Nike to no end. … Good spot by Stephen Hayes who writes, “Never noticed this before, but here’s a nice card with Jeff Newman wearing catcher’s helmet/shell for the Sox in 1984 that appears to have the Sox’ “B” logo on the front.” … Vintage official specs for Pirates pillbox caps back in the 70s refer to them as “Anson style!” (from Todd Radom). … Here’s a look at the Paul Konerko t-shirt the White Sox are giving away for their free shirt Monday (h/t Captain Covert). … Pretty cool article from The Alaska Dispatch News entitled, “Innings under the Midnight Sun: Museum exhibit links baseball with the history of Alaska” (h/t Josh C.). … Minor League Promos notes, “on Instagram the @RiverCats are showing off their SacramenTones jerseys the’ll be wearing 5/27 for #PitchPerfect nite.” … What’s up with those Missouri State baseball uniforms? … Saturday, May 16th is Armed Services Day and Military Appreciation Night with the Chiefs. Just gonna leave it at that. … “Brought my 8 yr old daughter to the NCAA softball regional in auburn for the weekend,” writes David Keel. “UT-CHATTANOOGA is rocking some good looking striped stirrups. Also their helmets have a snake skin look to them but I can’t get it to show up in the pics.” Also from David: “More great high cuffs and stirrups from the same Auburn regional. This is from Girls of Tennessee Tech.” … I don’t know too much, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t Starling Marte (h/t Kenny Williams). … Edwin Encarnacion has new Franklin Sports CFX Pro gloves with a custom “Walking-The-Parrot” logo on the wrist (h/t Patrick Lahaie). … So this is how Tim Lincecum cleans his spikes. Says submitter Matt Larsen, “Isn’t there a specific tool for that?” … The St. Louis Cardinals will be wearing a 30th Anniversary Patch on June 14th (via Andrew Jenkins). New Era doesn’t really explain what the 30th Anniversary is, but if you go to their promo site, you’ll see they’re celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their 1985 National League Championship. … It’s a small capital D for Chase d’Arnaud — Scranton AAA road uni (h/t Jeff Smith).
NFL News: Marcus Mariota didn’t have his signature facemask in his first Titans practice (via Tres Lawless). A couple people replied to that tweet saying some custom facemasks are no longer permitted, so perhaps that’s why. It could also be because he is wearing a Schutt Air XP not a Riddell Speed Revolution. … “This disturbing clip from an upcoming Vice documentary about violent homophobia in Uganda has a weird uni note — one of the men interviewed is wearing a Matthew Hatchette Jets jersey (good view around :50)” writes Alex Spanko. … On “The Amazing Race” contestants were at AT&T stadium in pseudo Cowboys uniforms, writes Jon Solomonson“No star. No swoosh. No shield. No star at midfield either.”
NBA/Basketball News: Here’s a good article from the New York Times entitled, “From the Quotable Mouths of the Memphis Grizzlies, Straight to Ad-Libbed T-Shirts,” (thanks Paul). … Reader Kevin Brown writes, “It hasn’t been announced anywhere, but the LA Sparks replica jerseys for 2015 just went online and they have a new sponsor replacing the team logo.” … Here’s the new official socks of the NBA (@stancesocks) — Being worn at the NBA Draft Combine for the first time ever (via Jonathan Givony). … Here’s a Vogue article entitled, “How the Chicago Bulls Jersey Became a New Global Street Style Obsession” (from Aaron Husul).
Hockey News: Have we had enough logo mash-ups yet? No? Check out these NHL team logos combined with their Province/State flags (via BarDown). … Tweeter Patrick Thomas was watching OHL hockey, and stumbled upon this photo of Eric Lindros playing for Oshawa. “Half/half cooper shells!” he exclaims.
Soccer News: Apparently the new Benfica 2015-16 kits have leaked — that site is in Spanish, but a google translation describes the jerseys (h/t Mike D.). … The new Schalke alternate kit is here (h/t Brad Denny).
Grab Bag: Since there aren’t already enough “vanity” license plates already available, New Yorkers may be able to get Jamaican bobsled plates (for the record, I think this is a cool option). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: here’s an Idaho mascots quiz. Poster Brad Iverson-Long notes,”there (are) blatant Georgia Tech and Wyoming rip offs, but there’s also the Orofino Maniacs, which isn’t a great mascot or a great nickname.” … Race leader Alberto Contador dislocated his shoulder in a crash at Thursday’s Giro d’ Italia, making it impossible to slip the pink jersey on during the post-race podium ceremony. The tailor who takes care of the jerseys after each stage has now customized a new one for the injured Contador (from Sean Clancy). Here’s a bit more on that (From Bryan Redemske). … An architect is proposing to build an underwater tennis stadium in Dubai. As the article notes, not sure if this is the greatest or stupidest thing ever. … Did you ever wonder how McDonald’s got its famous “Golden Arches”? Wonder no more (thanks Brinke). … Great Deadspin article, “Nike To Tennessee: Don’t Talk About What We’re Doing” — definitely worth a read (thanks Paul).
That will do it for today. Everyone have a great Saturday — enjoy the hockey & hoops, and the Preakness later this afternoon. Thanks to Gary for the Scoreboards, the concepters, and all who send in for the ticker, and of course Jesse Alkire.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken
“My wife & I were lucky enough to be able to see Mr. [BB] King perform a few years ago at Club Nokia, a relatively small-ish venue near the Staples Center in LA. At the end of the show, instead of just a wave from the stage & the raising of the house lights to signal it was time to go home, somebody came out from backstage with BB’s overcoat & hat. He put ’em on, said goodbye, and exited.”
— Hugh McBride