By Phil Hecken
Uni Watch readers will recall that a couple of years ago, on Father’s Day, a new UW *tradition* was born — a column dedicated to our fathers (and in some cases, grandfathers) in uniform. Whether it was a picture of a dad in a sports uniform or military uniform, I had asked readers to send in photos and stories of their pops. If you missed either of these, here is the 2013 column and here is the one that ran last year.
I’ll be running another such piece next Sunday (which is Father’s Day) — so I am again putting out the call for readers to submit photos of their dads (or grandfathers) in uniform, with a short (hopefully ~50-100 words) writeup, which I’ll run that day. The past columns have been very well received, and I think it’s a great tradition. So (and take a look at the past two years if you need a guide), if you have a photo of your dad/granddad in any kind of uniform (it doesn’t have to be sports or military), I’d love for you to send it in and have it run next weekend. You can e-mail me with your submissions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (and if you could send them in by THURSDAY JUNE 18 that would be greatly appreciated).
You may recognize the photo at the top of the column — it’s UW favorite “King” Corcoran (wearing a Philadelphia Bell uniform). Weekend readers know that the King’s son, Jimmy Corcoran, has been a terrific contributor over the years, and his stories are wonderful. We’d been speaking about the upcoming “Fathers in Uniform” column and I had asked Jimmy if he’d like to write something to set up the whole Father’s Day piece. He didn’t disappoint. So today, as part of the lede, we’ll have a longform from Jimmy. Enjoy!
Comeback for The King
By Jimmy Corcoran
How are you Phil?
In less than two weeks you will be doing your “Dad’s in Uniforms” piece, this will be my third year making a contribution. When I first saw it several years ago I liked it so much that I thought, my father wore a uniform for 10 years, next year I’m going to send something in. I read every story that the Uni Watch readers send in for your Father’s Day piece and love the recollections they have of their Dad’s. One time Steve Sabol told me that I am now part of the NFL Films family, I said thanks, but I never played in the NFL so I didn’t see myself that way? And he said, tell me a good story and it will live in my heart forever and now you are part of the Lost Treasure series forever. I still wear the NFL Films shirts he gave me and am glad I was able to do my part when I was asked to tell my stories for them. Like everyone else I love to read a good story too that’s why I like the Dad’s in Uniforms piece every year.
I mentioned in your message section that I would tell the story of when the King wanted to make a comeback so here it is. In 1982 someone called my father from the Denver Gold, the USFL would be playing in 1983. When he told me this I said wow, that’s great do they want you as the quarterbacks coach? And he said “Coach? they want the King to play Jimbo!”
I thought he was kidding? He had been out of football for seven years and was not in very good shape, his diet consisted of Yohoo, chocolate donuts and rare hamburgers, even with the Bell he never ran so what was he talking about? But I said Dad, you are 40 years old now. And the King said “yea, but they only think the King is 38, I got held back in high school one year and they threw me out of Maryland one year so after college I deducted those two years off my life and lied about my age by two years since I was with the Broncos, so see, I am really only 38!” He looked 40 to me but I just agreed that he took two years off his actual age.
He wanted me to watch him set up and throw, I had been watching him drop back since I could talk and knew his mechanics very well. He went upstairs and put on his gear, adidas shirt, gold Philadelphia Bell team issued shorts, two pairs of long white tube socks and his white Pumas that he wore in the preseason with the Bell. While he was putting his gear on he told me to pump some air into his WFL Football, I couldn’t believe I was doing this?
We went into the backyard and the King started off with some five step drop backs at about half speed, I was surprised he still had so much zip on the ball? He then told me to go back another ten yards and he was going to go full speed. When he took his second step with his right leg I could see him wince, it was either his knee of his hamstring or maybe both? It didn’t look like his 1974-75 drop back with the Bell and looked nothing like the very fast drop back he had with the Pottstown Firebirds when he was 28 years old and in his athletic prime.
Every drop back was the same, he did not look smooth going back there and I could see something was hurting in his leg. After about ten of these drop backs he called me in and I said, what’s the matter? and he said “The King is done, I can’t play anymore my legs are gone and I can’t get back there fast enough, I would get killed out there now.” We went back in the house and he was slouched in the kitchen chair still wearing his cleats, he had this defeated look on his face like he just lost a football game. If I didn’t know better I would have thought it was 1974 again and he had just thrown six interceptions against the New York Stars. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to drop back before we went in the back yard but he wanted to be the King again, maybe for only those ten passes?
We were drinking a coke and he said “I tell ya Jimbo, it wasn’t fair, the King never got a fair shot in the NFL, I never got a chance to show what I could really do.” My mother heard this and had been with him through every team he played for as well as all the drama he caused at the University of Maryland and said “what are you talking about? you had six chances and you blew it every time!” he said “Six, how do you figure?” (The King had only been cut by four NFL teams) She said “Denver twice, the Jets, The Patriots and the Eagles twice, that makes six chances, but you could have had another ten and you would have found a way to piss all those people off too!” He said, “The only reason I didn’t make it was the coaches didn’t dig my act!” My mother didn’t want to listen to him anymore and said, “but you never wanted to change your act! You never tried to go along”
My mother tried to help him but he was so self destructive he wouldn’t listen to anything, she knew his last shot to make it in the NFL was when he left for Eagles camp in 1971. She begged him, don’t wear your white platform shoes, leave all your bell bottoms and loud suits at home (who needs a wide lapel polyester suite in training camp?) and say we instead of I when you talk to the reporters. She said, dress like the other players in camp, bermuda shorts and a short sleeve shirt and loafers or wear the Eagles stuff they gave you. She even went out and bought him some shorts and golf style shirts to wear to camp. The King put them on the barbecue and burned them, he said those were the ugliest clothes he had ever seen and wouldn’t be caught dead in that garb. He was cut by the Eagles in August of 1971.
I enclosed couple photos of the King from the mid 1980’s right around when he was thinking about that comeback. Uni Watch is a uniform site and I never met anyone who loved wearing uniforms as much as the King. He loved wearing his football uniform and took a lot of pride in it and he also loved wearing his polo uniforms when he took up the sport in the early 80’s.
You will notice that the King is wearing a tennis outfit in the picture I enclosed, the King was not great, but a very good athlete, he could really play basketball and could also hit a baseball out of the park. In the early 70’s he played on a couple of celebrity baseball teams and even major league players were impressed with his hitting power, he had excellent hand to eye coordination, but the King never picked up a tennis racket in his life — that’s right he did not play tennis. We were watching a tennis match one day and the King said “Jimbo, I really dig those Fila outfits that Bjorn Borg wears, how do you think the King would look in those outfits?” The next thing I knew the King had a complete Fila wardrobe, he had to special order the jackets because his upper body was so thick, but he literally had the same outfits that Borg wore, people around town just assumed he took up tennis since he was such a good athlete but he could have cared less about the sport, he just liked that uniform.
The other picture is one I took right before my parents went to a Polo Ball, the King has a smug look on his face, because he couldn’t believe how well his hair turned out. He woke up that morning with bleached white blonde hair, the same color that Billy Idol had. He had been wearing the white blonde hair for a couple of weeks but my mother told him unless he fixed his hair she would not go to the Polo Ball that night. The King and I went to Peoples Drug Store and he picked out a hair dye kit and did his own dye job, he was really impressed with his work and told us his hair came out so good that he looked like Warren Beatty. He said “Jimbo, grab the camera and get a few shots of the King!” He also loved to wear a tuxedo, sometimes my mother would call him for dinner and he would come downstairs to eat in a tuxedo. My sister asked him why was he wearing his tuxedo and he said “The King has his tux on because it’s a smile! You know the King will do anything for a smile, right Jimbo?” right Dad.
Thanks, Jimmy! As always, a fantastic story, and a great set up for next weekend!
OK readers — you know what to do — send me your photos and stories of your pops’ in uniforms for our third annual “Dads in Uniforms” Father’s Day special!
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 Eric Wahlquist with the first of four MLB concepts:
Long-time reader, first-time writer. I’ve been working on a project to re-design all 30 MLB uniforms, starting with the most egregious offenders. Here are my first four tweaks, for the Rockies, Nationals, Padres, and Angels. I would love to get your feedback. Thanks!
And we close today with Philip Wandscher who is not a fan of the new Clippers logo:
I was so appalled at the whole uniform unveiling, that I took it upon myself to not only learn how to use Adobe Illustrator in a matter of days, but also redesigned their logo FOR FREE ! There are a couple of more details I could focus on, but hey – SCREW “EM ! I could also give a running story line behind the design, which centers around the rich cinematic history of LA, but I will spare you the time !!! I sent this design to the Clippers and they responded by saying they are “more focused on winning the prize” at the moment. Oh well, I already have thoughts on the Hawks and Nets as well !
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: MLB and the Reds are putting up 20, 8 foot mustache statues throughout Cincinnati in anticipation of this year’s All-Star Game (from Patrick O’Neill). … Here are “7 Lights-Out Facts About Baseball’s First Perfect Game” (from Matthew Moss). … The Pirates and Phillies both use the letter “P” for their logos. So, when a game is tied 0-0, it turns some folks into 10 year olds again. … The Hagerstown Suns had a Mike Mussina bobblehead night last night (h/t MiLB Promos). Also from MiLB, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders gave out Derek Jeter bobbleheads last night. … What’s better than a photo of Jose Cardenal’s fro flying free? Nothing, that’s what (h/t Dan Epstein). … “The Nationals’ mascot, Screech, has the team’s 10th anniversary patch on its cap,” says R. Scott Rogers. “Surprised me – the mascots generally look ragged, like they don’t get repaired in the offseason.” … Virginia (in camo) and Arkansas played a CWS game yesterday (via Doak Hensley. What’s even worse for Virginia is that the camo didn’t match (via JJ Sledge).
NFL/Football News: Check out this beautiful 1958 Stanford vs. California college football program (from PressRoomGFS). … Football (not futbol) in Brasil? “My name is Rafael Nakamura. I’m president of the Tubaroes do Cerrado (which means Savannah Sharks in portuguese), a football team from Brazil. That’s right. Football. Not soccer.” Rafael continues, “Today we just unveiled our team’s uniforms for the 2015 ‘Torneio Touchdown’ season, the brazilian National Football League. If you guys wanna talk about it, I’d cry tears of pride to see our team in Uni-Watch. If you want any further info, please take a look at facebook.com/tubaroesdocerrado. … “There’s a new documentary on Netflix called “Happy Valley” concerning the Jerry Sandusky story. It has some really vintage shots of the 50’s era uniforms,” says Dustin Semore. “They, naturally, had a lot on there about Joe Paterno and featured a shot of him motivating his players in a classroom wearing a 1967 Gator Bowl sweater. A quick check shows that Penn State tied Florida State 17-17 at the ’67 Gator Bowl.”
Basketball News: Muslim girls playing basketball for Cedar Riverside. in Minnesota, designed their own uniforms that would allow them to play basketball and still wear something that satisfies their religious and cultural values as well as comfort. … Focus on the Warriors: “I saw this image a few times over the last couple of days,” says Alan Duke “and was struck by the difference in the golds depending on whether the jersey was in or out of focus.” … “I stumbled upon a photoshopped image of Ersan Ilyasova joining Detroit in a Pistons uni with a curious logo in the back,” says Dan Michalek. “New roundel? It looks like the logo they had right before the teal horse, but with updated font – similar to what the Grand Rapids Drive just released. Your Thoughts?”
Soccer News: WTF? The Croatian football association has apologized to players and fans after the appearance of a Nazi swastika on a pitch in Split. The swastika became noticeable in the first half of Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualifying game with Italy on Friday (h/t Mark Coale).
Grab Bag: Is there such a thing as BFBS in rugby? Well, Wales is set to unveil a black kit to be worn at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
OK folks, that’s it for today. Big thanks to Jimmy Corcoran for that fantastic set of stories about the King and his attempted comeback. We’re looking good for Father’s Day. And you readers — don’t forget to send my your photos or your dads (or granddads) in any kind of uniform, and a brief write-up and I’ll be happy to include them in the 2015 Uni Watch Father’s Day special. OK? OK! Everyone have a great week and I’ll catch you next weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I, for one, am quite grateful. Without Uni Watch, I’d have no venue for my gloating, smugness or self-righteousness. Well, besides maybe SportsLogos.net.”
— Uni Troll