by Phil Hecken
About a week ago I was approached by Uni Watch reader (and friend of Auburn uni-guru Clint Richardson) Thomas Northcutt, who had an idea for a story:
My name is Thomas Northcutt, and I just completed my freshman year at Auburn. I’m also a manager for the Men’s Basketball Team at Auburn, and I work a lot as well with our equipment department. I was the only freshman on staff, and I got the privilege to go on several trips this year, and even more lucky to go to the SEC Tournament in Nashville, TN. I roomed with our equipment guy during the magical run we had, and we had quite the adventures with our uniforms during this trip, including driving to a sketchy laundromat so we could wash our jerseys and have them for the next day and becoming friends with the Nashville Predators among others. After telling this story to my good friend and UniWatch contributor Clint Richardson, he pushed me to email you about it. I would love to do a little story for the website on our adventures with the uniforms, and was curious to see if you would be interested in having this for the site. Let me know about any questions you have or if you would like any more information on the write up.
Intrigued, I told Thomas to pitch me his story. He did. Enjoy:
Adventures of Uniform Manager
By Thomas Northcutt
Tournament time is always an interesting time for college basketball teams, with the travel and back-to-back game days, however it is those exact same reasons that make it even tougher on the managers and equipment staff. I speak on behalf of all managers after going through this myself for the first time this spring. I just completed my freshman year at Auburn while working as a manager for the Men’s Basketball team, doing some extra work with the equipment department for the team. This March, I was tapped to fly up to Nashville with the team for the SEC Basketball Tournament, and it was there that I learned the true chaos that goes into a tournament for equipment managers.
We landed in Nashville on Tuesday afternoon and drove straight to Bridgestone Arena, where the team practiced and we set up our locker room for the next day, laying the jerseys out as we normally do for road trips.
We were scheduled to have a practice at a local high school the next morning, so Andrew, our equipment guy and my roommate for the week, began working on a way to wash our practice gear for the next morning. On a normal road trip, we would just wash it all at the hotel laundry room. However, for this one trip we stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, an amazing hotel that charges insane prices for one piece of clothing to be washed. In a quest to not spend what we calculated to be well over $200 to wash all the team’s gear at the hotel, the two of us began to brainstorm ideas on where we could do laundry. Since I spent the first 12 years of my life living in Nashville and surrounding areas, my first idea was to text my parents and get their opinion on the matter. Within five minutes of sending the first text, I got a call from my mom, who contacted an old family friend and asked her for a favor. This retired teacher agreed to come pick up our laundry from the hotel, wash all of it at her home that night, and get it all back to us before 9 the next morning, the same time we had our team breakfast, all without charging us a dime. It was not at all what we we’re planning on doing, but we had our laundry back in plenty of time for practice the next morning. Thanks Mrs. Tish, Auburn Basketball is forever grateful.
The next morning we had our practice at McGavock High School, where I stumbled across the uniforms in the photo above. Those are red jerseys with blue script outlined in white and white shorts from their 1977 State Championship team – quite the sight to see. Anyways, we got to the high school and never actually used any of the clean practice gear, since we only had a light shoot around and it was cold in that gym. Fast-forward a few hours to after the game (our first conference tournament win in years) as we were on the bus back to the hotel, when I get a text from my friend and fellow UniWatch reader Clint Richardson asking about a small uniform detail. Some quick background information – a few weeks prior, NBA great and father of our Antoine Mason, Anthony Mason had passed away and the Texas A&M equipment staff had applied these patches in his honor to all of the uniforms while our team was in College Station (story here). Actually, it was to all but one uniform: Antoine’s. Antoine missed every game at the end of the regular season starting with A&M, coming back in time for the tournament, so his uniform didn’t leave the equipment room until we left for Nashville. Clint was the only person who noticed, and he texted me about it as soon as the game was over, and I noted it so that it could be fixed, especially since it was in his dad’s honor. More on this in a bit.
Andrew, being the only one on the trip who knew exactly how each piece of equipment needed to be washed, decided it would be best not to call in backup, but instead find a close laundromat to wash them ourselves. The two of us got a ride out to a small, sketchy laundromat a few minutes away from the hotel that night and began to wash after buying $20 in detergent from the detergent vending machine. The few people that came through definitely had some odd looks when they saw Auburn shorts and jerseys spread out across the laundromat and two guys in Under Armour from head to toe discussing Texas A&M basketball. That was definitely one experience that I will not forget.
When we got back to the hotel, the next goal was to fix the patch situation mentioned above. This is where something I learned early in the season on a different trip from our team chaplain came in handy, and is something that everyone should know. Every good hotel keeps a needle and several colors of thread (including gray) at the main desk, and this small tip alone kept us from having to spend even more money elsewhere. Since there was no way to get a patch like the ones on the other uniforms in such a short amount of time, Andrew removed the patch from the uniform of a player who had been redshirted early in the year, but still dressed out, and moved it over to Mason’s. Antoine then got to honor his late father with the patch as well as his play on the court.
After our 66-59 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday morning, we noticed that Tennessee had left one set of their practice gear with the Nashville Predators laundry guy. He was doing the laundry for the Vols with the Predators facilities since the Preds were on a road trip at the time. Since we would need the blue uniforms again for the next day, and nobody wanted to spend another $20 on detergent, my coworker asked if we could leave our stuff with them and come back during the night session to pick it back up. The Preds staff member obliged and gladly washed and folded our uniforms. After asking some of the security guards at the arena and several other members of the Predators staff, we learned that the man behind the washer’s name was Partner. No last name given – everyone just knows him as Partner. Partner has been working with the Predators for some time and spends most of his time at Bridgestone Arena in the laundry room, because it’s all he really knows and he loves doing it. We were able to come in to pick up the laundry that night without worrying about any issues in it. After picking it up, we began a new tradition, laying it out on the bed the night before and tweeting a photo for those loyal Auburn fans.
Friday in Nashville began with a lovely 6 am walk through in the hotel on a manager specialty, the ballroom carpet lane. The day ended with a bang, as K.T. Harrell hit a shot at the buzzer to send us to overtime and eventually beat LSU in what might be the most memorable game of my short career. If anyone would like to laugh at my reaction, I’ve left an arrow in the photo above pointing out where I am. All of the reactions as a whole are hilarious to begin with. But, to quote poet and legend Biz Markie, “Forget about that, let’s go into the story”. With our laundry situation figured out for the night, thanks to our new pal Partner, we did not think we would have any issues preparing for the next day. This would not be the case, as our starting forward Jordon Granger gave us his jersey, showing the medium size tear in the back of it (sorry, no pictures). This was not the first time we had a tear this season in these uniforms, as starting center Cinmeon Bowers had a tear in nearly the exact same spot against Tennessee. After discussing with Andrew, it turns out that this was a common occurrence with this new uniform style from Under Armour. This style of uniform made its debut in around December, and Auburn first unveiled them at beginning of conference play in January, and there had been rips in these uniforms for several teams. The material is very thin, and the style of uniform makes it a tight fit on most players, which allows for it to tear very easily if an opposing player gets a good enough grip on the jersey. South Carolina’s equipment staff has said they have dealt with similar issues. Even though it is a pain, Andrew stitched up the jersey with the needle and thread from behind the front desk (like I said, valuable information) and it was ready to go, even though Jordon had been suspended for fighting with one of LSU’s players and wouldn’t need it. After the repair work, we picked up the rest of the uniforms from Partner, folded them our way, and laid them back out on the bed for the pregame uniform tweet, which had become quite the hit at this point.
This last day in Nashville came to a somber end, as we saw our season end to some team from Lexington. We packed up the uniforms for the last time this season, thanked and paid Partner, and said our goodbyes to Bridgestone Arena. That might have been the hardest day for me though, as I packed up the jerseys of our seniors for the final time. Since arriving back in Auburn, all the jerseys have been washed, put on their hangers, and stored safely in the equipment room, ready for the stories that await them next season.
Thanks Thomas! Fantastic look behind the scenes. Great stuff, and thanks for the write-up.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
First up today is George Ashburn with a Cleveland Browns concept:
A few years ago, I emailed you a History of the Subtle Changes over the years of the Browns Uniform over the years.
When the Rumor was flying around that the Browns were changing uniforms, I designed these* that I attached. (In 2013) and yes, I did try to set up a meeting with the Browns but got a rejection letter from Alec Schriener. I also made a Video with these and other ideas I had that Nick Camino (WTAM-AM) showed on his Twitter page a few days ago.
The new Browns Unis do seem like High School or College, especially the game pants.
I don’t mind the new number font but the Numbers on the Brown Jerseys should at least be White and Brown Numbers on the White Jersey.
This may sound a little arrogant, but I still think mine are better. Mine are more of a Tweak/Update of the Classic Browns Uni. (*and if I remember, I’ll have to look. I think I sent you the drawings to your Facebook Inbox as we’re Facebook Friends.
The thing is, Nike is capable of making uniforms with new materials but with an old school traditional look. The Ohio State Uniforms made for the College Football Playoff are proof of that. Those were popular with the Ohio State Fans.
Thanks for your time. :)
George Ashburn – Reynoldsburg, Ohio
And we close today with Justin Wilkinson who has a rebrand for the Portland Thunder:
I’ve got a submission for the “Uni Concepts” portion of Uni Watch.
I decided to rebrand an AFL team the Portland Thunder. I’m not a fan of their current logo and uniforms so I wanted to take a whack at new designs. My biggest issue with their logo is it wasn’t stylized enough for my liking. Their uniforms also seems to have a disconnect from their logo as well so I wanted to bring the 2 closer together.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Got two this week — one a request for a colorization (unfortunately, the copy I received is not a very high resolution, but perhaps some of the colorizers can work some magic, or locate a higher res copy) and one that’s not *quite* a colorization. Confused? Read on…
First up is Ronnie Poore, with the request.
This shot of Y. A. Tittle playing for the 49ers vs the Rams cries out for colorization.
The next submission comes from Bruce Menard:
Here’s that colorization in full-resolution (plus the original).
I know a little bit about the the team.
They were the 1948 Southern Association champs (AA farm club for the Boston Red Sox). Walt Dropo was on the club, he’s standing in the back row, center.
Thanks guys! Bruce — nice work as always. OK colorizers — maybe we can get that Niners/Rams photo colorized?
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: WOW! Check out this St. Louis Cardinals program from 1953 — can you guess who the pitcher is supposed to be? (from St. Louis Cardinals). … Speaking of cool program/scorecard covers, check out this cool one from the ’73 California Angels (h/t PressRoomGFS). … Although we can confirm Jerry Dior did not use Harmon Killebrew for his MLB Logo, Killer was apparently the model for this one (h/t Ex Twins News). … The Nationals are holding a Ladies Night on June 18th, and some felt the marketing is sexist. … The Orioles are giving away t-shirts designed by players this year. The first player designed shirt was given away yesterday and was designed by closer Zach Britton (from Stephen Murphy). … “The St. Thomas Bobcats are performing in the NAIA world series. One of their more interesting players is the 6’2 300 pound Starting PITCHER,” says Dustin Semore. “Put him in complete baby blue uniforms and it’s amazing.” … The Louisville Cardinals have some new gray uniforms for the tourney (from Raise L Cards). Like their white counterparts, these too have the “L” logo on the hamstring (via Tyler McNally. So, if you look at it right, it says “LoL”. Here’s a closeup (h/t Howie Lindsey). … Oops – Paul Molitor was missing the dot of his “i” yesterday (nice spot by Nate Bitterman). … Double Oops (via Harry M.). … In a cross-sport show of solidarity, yesterday the Cubs wore Blackhawks sweaters to support their Chicago brethern. And apparently, the jerseys are authentic (h/t Iowa Girl). … As for the Cubs game against the Royals, Mother Nature solved that, sending a mix rain, wind, cold and all around miserable weather to Chicago, resulting in the game being postponed and rescheduled for September. All of that is really a shame, because the Cubs were scheduled to wear the throwback 1915 Chicago Whales uniforms against the Royals. … Coleman Mullins notes the UCLA Softball ladies were wearing some seriously high stirrups. … I’m just gonna leave this here (h/t Derek Reynolds).
NFL/Football News: We have seen probably a dozen logo mashups over the years, but have we ever seen what would happen if you mashup the CFL and NHL teams? Well, now we have (h/t Griffin Smith. … Take a look at how Auburn’s football unis have evolved since 1892. … “So it’s Organized Team Activities time in the NFL, I’m not sure if this has been reported to you or if you’ve seen this already, but it seems like some of the teams are adding striping to their practice shorts,” writes Jamie Burdett. “They looks pretty good, kinda like it. Looking through some pictures the other day and I came across this picture. It’s of then 1st round pick, Lawrence Taylor at his first Mini Camp with the Giants with his coach Ray Perkins. Obviously the most notable thing here is that LT is wearing his college number 98 instead of his legendary 56.” … KOZN, 1620 AM in Omaha conducts a weekly “draft” where listeners pick their favorites for the topic of the day. The May 28th draft was “best sports uniforms.” Here are the results. Says submitter John Benal, “Love #2, 11, & 18.” … This year’s crop of NFL Rookies showed off their NFL unis (notice the new Browns uniform). H/T to Custom Covers Universe. That group of guys also provided us with an up close look at the new Browns jersey (via Josh SÃ¡nchez). It also shows us Karlos Williams wearing an old Bills jersey (note the collar horns) — from Bo Childers. … Is Bowling Green getting a new helmet? (via Steve Day). … Looks like the Dolphins have raised nose bumper lettering (via Josh SÃ¡nchez again). … Jay Ajayi was pictured with no NFL shield on his jersey at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere (h/t Nick Colucci). … I’m not sure what the PIFL is, but the Trenton Freedom wore these flag desecration jerseys for Military appreciation night (h/t Nick Cent).
Hockey News: Divy, Chicago’s bike-sharing service, has five bikes painted in Blackhawks colors and numbered by the team’s Stanley Cup-winning years. The bikes are scattered about the city, and apparently finding them, taking photos and posting them to social media can win you some sort of prize (thanks, Mike). … “’79-’80 was a good year for new logos in the NHL if you ask me” says Super 70’s Sports. … The Nashville Predators have released the 2016 NHL All Star Game Logo (from Lee Wilds). Nice! Love that it’s shaped like a guitar pick! … According to Douglas Ford, this is the “Best fan interview this year if not ever.” … NFL Stanley Cup?? asks John Przebieglec. It is a screen grab from AL.com.”
Grab Bag: “What’s with these socks?” asks Chuck Beech. “Looks like strips of fabric attached, has some pretty ragged edges. … “I visited the Pontiac-Oakland car museum in Pontiac, Illinois last weekend,” writes Robert Eden. “Among the display items were baseball uniforms that were worn by locals back in the ’50s. Pontiac was named after an Indian tribe, and the car company featured Indian imagery into the ’60s. The jerseys were beauties.” … Here’s a look at the back of the NBA Draft Caps for the Denver Nuggets and the Atlanta Hawks (both from Conrad Burry), who thinks they could be “showing the uniform wordmarks” (for the as yet-unrevealed new unis).
And that’s going to do it for today — thanks to Thomas for the neat uni manager writeup, plus the concepters, and Bruce for his ‘colorization’ — hopefully you colorizers can take a stab at that Rams/49ers colorization too! Everyone have a great week and I’ll catch you next weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I think it’s testament to the power and ubiquitousness of [Jerry] Dior’s logo that the first thing I noticed in the lede story was the black armband photoshopped in. Looks so wrong, but oh so appropriate.”