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Revisiting a Favorite Topic: the 1976 Braves’ NickNOBs

Back in 2012, I posted a series of entries in which I tried to nail down the specifics on the nickNOBs worn by the 1976 Braves, which had been the subject of a lot of misinformation and poor documentation over the years. You can see those three entries here, here, and here.

Now I have some new info on the Braves’ nickNOBs, beginning with this photo of catcher Vic Correll, which was recently sent my way by reader Tony Cocchi:

Correll’s “Bird Dog” nickNOB had already been mentioned in several articles and confirmed to me by former Braves PR man Bob Hope, but this is the first photographic confirmation of it that we’ve seen. It’s only the sixth Braves nickNOB that we’ve documented with a photo — still a pathetically low total given that the entire team supposedly wore the nickNOBs.

Tony Cocchi, who sent me this newly discovered “Bird Dog” photo, is a serious uniform collector and historian. (You may remember his name from this 2013 post about MLB prototypes.) He’s also based in Atlanta and says he remembers several other Braves nickNOBs from 1976 that hadn’t been listed or mentioned in my previous entries on this topic, and that he double-checked his recollections with a Braves beat writer. I ran his recollections past Hope, who wasn’t sure about most of them but confirmed one of them — Dick Ruthven wearing “Rufus.” As it happens, I recently met Ruthven’s niece, so I asked her to put me in touch with Ruthven, which she did. His response: “I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t remember. But if I had something weird on my back, that would have been it.” So I think we can call that one confirmed.

Cocchi is a generally reliable source who cares about historical accuracy, so I’ve updated my master list of Braves nickNOBs with the new info he’s sent my way, with the proviso that his non-Ruthven recollections are, for now, unconfirmed:

[table id=25 /]

I can’t believe there aren’t more photos of this phenomenon, but I’ve checked through the online archives of all the major wire services — no dice. No video of the ’76 Braves on YouTube, either. Dang.

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Phone case reminder: The official Uni Watch smart phone case, featuring a nifty stirrup-based design created by reader Matt Beahan, is available for one more week.

Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who bought the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s June/BFBS design, orders for which are now closed. I’ll have news on the following month’s design soon — possibly tomorrow.

• • • • •

NYT reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, I wrote a piece for The New York Times about a bunch of fourth graders who’ve been finding a bunch of really interesting artifacts under the floorboards of their classroom’s closet. This story has been a crowd-pleaser — lots of very positive response. I think you’ll like.

• • • • •

Baseball News: A century-old former synagogue in Indiana has been repurposed as the souvenir shop for the South Bend Cubs. ”¦ Here’s a chronology of the Giants’ Memorial Day uniforms over the years (blame Phil). ”¦ Dodgers backstop A.J. Ellis talks about his catcher’s gear, among other things, in this interview (from Tommy Turner). ”¦ Oh great, now even baseball gloves — like, fielder’s gloves — are going G.I. Joke (from Dustin Semore). ”¦ Spider-Man jerseys this Saturday for the Gwinnett Braves (from Joel Mendelson). ”¦ The Orioles will be giving away this Buck Showalter gnome on June 27 (from Andrew Cosentino). ”¦ Someone at last night’s Mets/Phils game had a Mets Phanatic doll. “There is so much wrong and so much blasphemism in this, I cannot even start,” says Max, who didn’t give his last name. ”¦ Sean Marenkovic was at last night’s Indians/Rangers game and spotted three guys wearing Expos jerseys. ”¦ You’ve heard of the Toledo Mud Hens? There’s now a team called the Oregon City Mud Turtles, and I kinda like their new logo (from Jared Gillingham).

Pro Football News: The Browns’ visor tabs have featured Brownie the Elf in recent years, but the tabs in rookie camp have been blank. I asked a team spokesman if that’s a permanent change or just a rookie camp thing, and he said a final decision on this year’s visor tab styles hasn’t yet been made (good spot by Justin Pietrasz). ”¦ I say over and over again that I think overpriced polyester shirts are a waste of time and that the uni-verse would be better off if they weren’t available for sale. So then what happens? The Steelers use my recent Uni Watch Power Rankings to sell overpriced polyester shirts. Sigh (from Terry Haines). ”¦ Nice action shot of 49ers QB Y.A. Tittle with a Lucite facemask (from Ronnie Poore). ”¦ Gene Sanny has spent the past 10 months creating what he believes to be the most detailed set of WFL electric football teams in existence. You can click on the thumbnails on that page to see full-size versions. Impressive stuff! ”¦ Speaking of electric football, there’s a CFL version.

College Football News: The College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta has an exhibit on alternate helmets (from James Gilbert). ”¦ A little odd that a piece on 15 classic college football uniform elements would run on, but hey, ya take it where ya can find it, right? (Thanks, Phil.) ”¦ New matte helmet for UND. ”¦ New 125th-anniversary patch for Colgate (from Ryan Dowgin).

NBA News: Here’s a quiz where you have to identify the faceless NBA player by his uniform and number (thanks, Mike). ”¦ As several readers pointed out, the Hawks wore four different uniforms while getting swept by the Cavs.

Soccer News: Here’s an oral history of MLS’s first season. “It includes a great photo of the all team unis at an introductory event, as well as info on the development of the uniforms and logos,” says Brian Mazmanian. ”¦ Here’s a gallery of unusual soccer uniforms (from DTE). ”¦ New kit for Watford (from John Muir). ”¦ Here’s our first look at the NOB/number typeface for the new Barcelona kit. ”¦ Here’s the L.A. Galaxy’s latest scarf of the match (thanks, Phil).

Grab Bag: Big congrats to longtime Uni Watch reader/pal Joe Hilseberg, who recently became the proud papa of twin girls — Grace and Oliva HIlseberg. My best wishes to the entire clan. ”¦ An Ohio high school is spending $25,000 to have its inconsistent logos standardized (from Kevin Mueller). ”¦ Emirates Airlines is launching a line of cabin crew and pilot uniforms for kids. ”¦ New indigenous-round guernseys for all 18 Aussie football teams. ”¦ “Sunday’s NCAA D-III men’s lacrosse final between Tufts and Lynchburg was a bit odd,” says Scott Jamison. “Not sure whether it was due to Lynchburg being from a hot-weather climate, or them having an old-school coach who eschews glitz, or some of both, but their game jerseys were mesh and adorned only with the letter L. Not even a manufacturer’s mark. Looked kinda scrimmage-y.” ”¦ David Firestone has noticed a quirk regarding funny car design. ”¦ A street vendor in India is selling Adolph Hitler-branded ice cream cones (thanks, Mike). ”¦ Really good article on Waffle House architecture (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Lindsay Resnick was at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham and spotted a car that looks like it would be perfect as the official Uni Watch car. … Love these shots of a young David Letterman in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey (from James Gilbert).

Comments (66)

    Thanks for posting the link to the WFL teams…. I hope everyone enjoys the lunacy of spending all that time on little pieces of plastic :)
    Jimmy Corcoran if you read this, you can see your dad at the front of the Philadelphia Bell players. If you want to see a close up you can check out this link to the Bell post, where I’ve included a pic of Vince Papale, who they made “Invicible” about…. who never played college ball but made the Eagles roster…. guess it’s not as good a story if you know he played 2 years for the Bell before that :)


    Spectacular! i love electric football. i painted sets when i was a youngster, but nothing approaching the beautiful work on these. Gene, please share your methods and techniques for creating your amazing teams.

    Those are quite good, especially considering how difficult it can be to paint on plastic.

    Did you ever paint wargaming miniatures?

    If I still played electric football I’d want your field (or that Canadian one). Love the dirt infield and the sparse crowd in the stands. And of course your teams look superb. Great job.

    Simply glorious! Fantastic work. What type or brand of paints did you use?

    Wow! Gene did an excellent job on the WFL electric football men, I don’t even want to think how long it took him to paint them all? The attention to detail was excellent. I noticed that on the Philadelphia Bell he still had the King wear a gray facemask while the rest of the team wore the blue. In i975 they painted my father’s facemask blue and he hated it! the facemask started to chip and you could see the gray underneath. For a guy who liked to look good in his uniform this was a nightmare for him.
    Almost as bad as when they lost his white astro turf cleats in 1974 and he had to wear black Adidas on the road which he hated because he thought black cleats made his legs look short.
    I was looking forward to seeing how Gene’s WFL players would come out and these exceded my expectations, every uniform his on point, just a great job by him.

    “Well, Terry, Terry Crowley’s lucky he’s in fucking baseball for Christ sake!”

    Whoah, totally NSFW. That could not possibly have made it onto the airwaves…could it?

    And good thing he never ran into Vic Mackey.

    It was a spoof that never made the air. The first time you hear it, it does sound legit.

    And yes, it never, ever gets old.

    No matter how many times one hears that, it gets better each time.

    $25,000 is probably money as well spent on coherent school branding as it would otherwise be if spent on anything else related to athletics and extracurriculars. But if coherent branding is important enough to spend that money, it’s important enough to teach at the high school level. I’d rather see the school develop a brand or marketing curriculum in its art department and use that program to refine its branding in-house.

    I agree with this.

    Judging aesthetics and functional design is a skill that’s sorely lacking in corporate America. And if nothing else, a branding/marketing curriculum would teach kids how they’re being marketed to and to be more literate of messages they receive from corporations.

    Exactly – it’s of a piece with critical media consumption, which is a vital skill for good citizenship in our modern world. There’s an old lobbyist saying that applies across so much of post-industrial life: If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you’re on the menu.

    The car at Birmingham Motorpark is a Lotus. Back before Formula One had sponsors that decided the team’s colors, each nation had a set of colors to compete.
    Italy was red so all Alfa Romeos, Ferraris and Maseratis were red.
    British cars were green (Lotus used the yellow stripe while Copper used two white stripes).
    Here’s a list, albeit from wikipedia link

    Yeah, I know it’s a Lotus. I think I put that in my e-mail to Paul. It was great! Almost all of the Lotuses(?) were green and yellow but this one was my favorite.

    Not sure what to think about the ’76 Braves’ nickNOBs. One comes to expect a lack of photographic documentation for, say, the first half of the twentieth century or earlier. But why it would be so difficult to find images of such an unusual novelty from less than four decades ago is quite perplexing.

    Maybe it’s just one of those weird things. Like Orange Grimace.

    In any case, the NOB lettering for those jerseys was *awesome*. Just look at those floating outlines against the red pinstripes!


    I was thinking the same exact thing…

    It’s so crazy that there isn’t better documentation of the 1976 Braves team other than a few color photos, bad black & white newspaper clippings, and a Mitchell & Ness reproduction.

    It was just 39 years ago. …it’s not like it was 1927.

    That ad with the Steelers jerseys absolutely cracks me up. The power of Uni Watch!

    Though I hafta add, 10% off is nothing. Take it from someone who LOVES overpriced polyester shirts: there’s no excuse to ever, ever, ever, EVER pay retail.

    While I love learning more about (and seeing more photos of) the Braves NickNOBs, I have to wonder: Could a team do that sort of thing today without it

    A) Seeming like a sterile corporate stunt; and/or
    B) Actually being a sterile corporate stunt?

    That is, is it even possible for a team, at least at the “major league” level in whatever sport, to do something like this that actually feels like and/or is authentically spontaneous, organizationally individual, whimsical, even dare I say it, fun?

    And +1 to Uni Troll’s comments on the NOB lettering. I can’t think of a better floating outline.

    The one thing I remember most about the NickNOBs was Messersmith’s “Channel” nickname. Coincidence that #17’s nickname just happened to also represent WTBS (Channel 17) that aired Braves games. I believe the league caught on quick and told Turner change it.

    And 76 was the year the White Sox wore shorts. There must have been some serious bicentennial celebrating going on when teams were having uniform discussions.

    As for the question at hand…

    If a team came out with nickNOBs for one game with no prior advance publicity (maybe issuing a release the morning of the game), with no nickNOB jerseys available in their team store in time for said game, then I’d be willing to believe that there was a measure of spontaneity in the stunt.

    With today’s media-centered and merchandise-driven culture, though, such a thing seems very unlikely.

    Related to the above: As you all know, I’m opposed to the selling of jerseys. Yet another reason for this is that any uni-related stunt is instantly assumed (usually correctly) to be little more than a way to move more merch. Nobody accused the Braves of that because nobody had figured out in 1976 that fans would pay for overpriced polyester shirts.

    So the Braves’ move was simply about exposure, publicity, etc. But any uni-related move today is widely interpreted as a cash grab (and not just by me, but by the vast majority of fans). So that’s another problem with jersey merchandising: It breeds cynicism, which is the last thing the sports world needs more of.

    Regarding the Expos jerseys at last nights Indians game, the guy on the left is wearing Tribe manager Terry Francona’s jersey. The other two must be wearing Self NOBs since the names don’t match any who wore that number.

    I’m just a little bit concerned about the guy in the 49 jersey, since it looks to me like he’s missing his jaw! As for his NOB, it kind of looks like it could be “Turgeon”… or “Sturgeon”, I suppose, since the left side isn’t clear enough.

    It would be amusing if the jersey did indeed say “Turgeon”, and was a cross-sport reference to brothers Sylvain and Pierre, who played for the Canadiens at different times in the 1990s. Sylvain wore 20 for Montreal, while Pierre wore his usual 77, and splitting the difference of those numbers would get you 48.5, which could be rounded up to 49. But, that just seems like a bit of a stretch, and it may just be a case of a personalized jersey.

    Well I can’t seem to direct reply on my phone, so if any of you guys who replied to me happen to make it down here….. there are figures out there now that are molded with much more muscle and detail and some of the painters out there do lots of highlighting of the muscles and uniforms, so those get pretty intense looking….. no I haven’t done war gaming figures, I use Testor brand paint, and I made that field myself to the generally accepted scale of the figures- 1/2″ = 1 yard and made the vinyl print field cover in photoshop. … just had to put a baseball field on with it because it promotes dirty uniforms :)
    Thanks to all you guys for the compliments…. I feel slightly less nerdy now and am happy I could share some of my work with those who appreciate it :)

    I think the icing on the cake with these WFL electric football teams is the WFL decal on the back of the helmet, it really makes the helmet pop!
    I always wanted one of those WFL decals to put on my notebook when I was a kid. I asked equipment manager Bob Cologna for one but he told me he didn’t even have enough for the helmets. I asked the King if I could have his and he said no he needs it. So you can see no one on the Philadelphia Bell was to concerned if a 10 year old kid had a WFL decal, looking back I can’t blame them.
    Anyone looking to see the history of WFL uniforms should take a look at Gene’s electric football men, it really is a great display to show how those uniforms looked. The whole football field display has a fun vibe to it, I feel like I’m back in 1971 and I’m taking my electric football men to my friends house to play him on his home field!

    If you can get past that it’s, ya know, Hitler ice cream, that swastika top had is an excellent bit of design work.

    The scariest part of the whole thing are the responses, one guy said basically that Hitler helped liberate India…someone get these people some history books.

    Well, one of the main reasons that Britain gave India independence was that they couldn’t afford to govern it anymore due to the high cost of fighting in WWII, so in a roundabout way, Hitler did help liberate India.

    I’d be a bit worried about seeing “for industrial use only” printed on the box of ice cream cones.


    That doesn’t sound too appetizing.

    The second box also says “ice-creem.”



    Early leak of the 2016 NBA All Star Logo.

    I like it. The words All Star in white on the black background kind of remind me of the white on black lettering on the original Jurassic Park purple / white jerseys.

    Overall a nice logo not generic at all and very Toronto!

    Charles Pierce wrote a great piece for Grantland today. Not specifically uni-related, but obviously a topic that is discussed here frequently.


    Charlie is a national treasure. It’s nice to read him even in a non-election year.

    Sort of unrelated, but more relevant than one would think: link, i.e.the way we romanticize and canonize police officers is out of line with the actual dangers of the job, and the result of a concerted effort by FOPs to place themselves above the law and justify their means.

    Now, the people giving soldiers the hero treatment aren’t the soldiers themselves, but the branches of the military. But the tactic is the same – create an aura of heroism to (1) advance an agenda and (2) silence critics (and the militarization of the police is now coincidence).

    Maybe I’m just missing something on the funny car “quirk”, but aren’t those decals just following the body line of the car?

    I suppose it could be on purpose that when the body is lifted, the stickers become parallel, but, it kind of seems to me like if they were parallel to the ground when the body was seated, it would look kind of funny with the slanted rear quarter panel…

    I would think that the aesthetic placement of the stickers when the car is in its “normal” racing stance is probably more important than when the body is lifted – which really only takes place when the vehicle is being reversed back to the starting line after the burnout…

    I’m with you. I just didn’t want to say it for fear of being called daft, loony, or le imbecile.

    Don’t know. I ain’t French, and I don’t know know about that fancy fontinization you’re doing there.

    I get that, I was just writing it from the perspective that I never noticed that placement before, and now it makes sense once I noticed that.

    In thinking about this, it does make sense. When the body is raised, it is often shown on television with close-ups on the car. As such, it is a good idea for sponsor exposure.

    A uniform quirk that has puzzled me for decades: Soutache trim, especially the one-color kind, fell into disuse during the pullover era. Only a few teams in the 1970s had a placket to speak of, and even fewer bothered to trim it, namely the Tigers (home) and Mets (road). Neither team bothered to trim the ends of their sleeves. Teams with trim used the fat, multicolored striping. The Expos, Angels and Giants of the early ’70s used skinny multi-colored soutache at their sleeve ends. Did manufacturers offer simple soutache sleeve trim during that period between 1962-ish and 1990, or was it unavailable? The thing that brought this detail to my attention was the new Seattle Sunday alternate, which has the trim, while the day-in-day-out uniform lacks it.

    P.S. The Mets, who went back to their original graphic package in 1995, added the trim to their sleeve ends.

    On the South Bend Cubs Team Store, I looked on Google Maps for the location and found the building looks A LOT more like a classic synagogue now than it did prior to the renovations. Before the renovations, it looked a lot like a nondescript store, a few markings aside.


    I’m shocked, shocked! There is corruption going on.

    Looks like the swooshkateers getting in bed with the FIFAns might just have been a marriage made in hell.


    Adidas has the sponsorship deal with FIFA. Nike’s problems stem from their association with the notoriously corrupt Brazillian Federation.

    That reuse of the synagogue as a team store is fantastic, they hit everything on the head… Except that incredibly cheesy parody of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Unbelievably poor taste, not to mention that cheesy font.

    Did anyone notice Joe Haden wearing Browns shorts yesterday, but the logo on the lower left leg was the old Browns logo? The only reason I saw it was because of the grey face mask.

    Lynchburg frequently wears those uniforms. Part of it could be the heat, but my understanding is it’s more of an anti-flash statement. In a modern world (and in a modern lacrosse world in particular) that is so often dominated by the thought that newest & fanciest & most expensive = best, Coach Koudelka is making a statement that it’s all about the game. You can see it reflected in their helmets, too: as many programs have moved to spiffy detailed oversized decals, Lynchburg keeps it simple with plain white numbers a la Alabama football.

    On the Tufts side, it should be noted…

    Tufts, nominally brown and baby blue, wore gray helmets with American flags on top as well as gray shorts. The gray/red/white/blue helmets are a nod to Memorial Day, when the NCAA lacrosse championships are always held, and Tufts has been a regular participant of late. They do usually wear brown helmets (with oversized elephant decals on the sides, I should note). I’m not sure what was up with the complete lack of brown in the shorts or jerseys, though. The Jumbos should own their unique color heritage, you know?

    Tufts also wears–and has wore for some years now–lime green shoelaces as part of the HEADstrong movement. HEADstrong honors Nick Colleluori, a Hofstra player who died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006, and is pretty popular within the lacrosse community.

    Yeah, the Tufts helmets were noted a day or two prior in the ticker. They only wear those helmets, together with the grey-for-grey’s-sake unis, if they’re playing in the NCAA championship game, a *tradition* they started last year. That said, as the parent of a Jumbo student-athlete I too wish they’d stick to the blue & brown, but a few of their teams have allowed black & grey to creep into the color scheme. Regrettably.

    FWIW, kudos to the Lynchburg contingent for the support they showed their team in Philly. A large, festive, and classy bunch.

    Going to go out on limb here but I think the main reason why there aren’t more pics of the Braves in ’76 is that people forget how bad the franchise was at the time. Their last place 70-92 record doesn’t fully record the lack of attendance in Atlanta. Though I don’t have access currently I am betting that it was well under a million paid. I remember listening to them on the radio (WTBS was just starting to show Braves games on cable here in St Pete) and how the announcers went on & on about how few people were in the stands @ Atlanta-Fulton. Who could fault anyone for not thinking that nickNOB would be something verified, referenced and catalogued in 2015? Not to belittle but the minutiae is mind numbing sometimes.. Hell, you couldn’t even buy a team hat outside of the team store at the stadium for a long time after 1976…. Forget pennants, jerseys, etc – they were very rare indeed unless you bought them at the stadium.

    And the Braves wasn’t the only team with attendance woes. The Padres were just 2 yrs post the failed attempt to jump to DC. And the O’s & Indians were drawing flies in their respective home towns.

    Don’t forget that this 24/7/365 news cycle is a relatively new phenomenon where everything in detail is available in an instant via the internet. Doesn’t surprise me a bit that more info isn’t available. I’ll bet that there are many more mysteries pre-1980 MLB.

    Great WFL electric football set! Sorta on topic, could someone post a link to a picture of the Chicago Winds squiggly W helmet in game action? The link that was posted in the comments section from last November is dead….

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