[Editor’s note: You guys may recall that in previous summers I had Morris Levin pen some guest columns for Uni Watch, but unfortunately, he won’t be able to do so this year; I asked uniform and logo designer Todd Radom if he’d share some of his logo case studies during Paul’s vacation, and he happily obliged. This is the first in a series, and I’m sure you guys will enjoy it. — Phil]
Sports Logo Case Study #1: MontrÃ©al Expos
By Todd Radom
The first in an ongoing series of entries about vintage sports identities. Sports fans, as I have often said, are the most ardent brand loyalists on the face of the earth. There are stories to be told here at the intersection of art, commerce, history, and fandom.
Major League Baseball’s MontrÃ©al Expos were born in 1968. They played their final season in Canada in 2004 before shifting to Washington the following season and becoming the Nationals.
MontrÃ©al was granted an expansion franchise by the National League on May 27, 1968. Five cities were in the running for two new NL franchises: San Diego, MontrÃ©al, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Milwaukee, and Buffalo. MontrÃ©al was a decided underdog; an Associated Press story published on the morning of the formal vote declared that “MontrÃ©al, at present, simply doesn’t figure.”
The franchise was officially announced as having been named “Expos” on September 5, 1968 and their logo and caps were unveiled at a press conference on January 15, 1969.
What exactly does the logo represent? This question has been asked many times over the years. Contemporary reports take note of the “forward movement” of the emblem and the fact that it “incorporates M for MontrÃ©al and E for Expos.”
A January 15, 1969 Calgary Herald article about the logo unveiling describes the emblem as “a mod-like shape of an “M” encompassing a small “e.”
Other interpretations surmise that it’s a French thing, an “eMb,” which represents “Expos de MontrÃ©al Baseball.”
Additional theories include:
• “MB” for “MontrÃ©al baseball.”
• “CB” for team owner Charles Bronfman.
• “EB” for Ellen Bronfman, daughter of team owner Charles Bronfman, and
• “ELB” for “Expos League Baseball.”
The club seemingly gave a definitive explanation starting in the late 80s and early 90s”””The Expos logo is composed of three letters, the largest of which is the overall stylized “M” for MontrÃ©al. Represented in the lower left of the logo is a lower case “e” for expos and on the right hand side of the logo, in blue, is the letter “b” for baseball.” While this may stand as the final word, it seems unusual that this explanation came some two decades after the logo’s debut.
Whatever the real symbolism, the Expos’ identity represented a true departure from traditional MLB branding when it was launched in 1969. I’ve often said that these looked “foreign” to me as a kid growing up in the 70s; an appropriately different look for the only MLB team located outside of the United States. The club’s “pinwheel” paneled hats were noted for their unique qualities right from the outset of their inaugural season.
The core part of the identity was enclosed in a circle prior to the 1992 season and it remained in use up until the club’s move to DC in 2004. The logo remains popular in its afterlife, a nostalgic nod to a departed franchise and a colorful, stylish””and mysterious””piece of design.
Thanks Todd! Great stuff. Here’s a couple more clippings on those original Expos:
And as a side note, especially for our NYC-area readers: Todd is curating a show in Chelsea (the show itself runs from August 22nd thru September 19th), with a reception on Thursday, September 10th. It will definitely be worth checking out (hopefully Paul and I will both be there on the 10th) if you’re in and around the City towards the end of August/beginning of September. Hope to see some of you there.
Utah Unveils ‘Throwback’ Unis
Through a series of tweets, the Utah Utes unveiled a “throwback” uniform that actually combines elements of several uniforms from their past into one tidy package. Here’s a look at those tweets:
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) August 6, 2015
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) August 6, 2015
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) August 6, 2015
As you’ll note, the uniforms are more harkback than a specific throwback, since they’re borrowing from a few eras. But the result is pretty impressive. The athletic department called them “New Classic” and announced they’ll be wearing the uniforms on October 10th, which is their homecoming game against Cal.
Specifically the uniform elements are:
• Interlocking UU logo on the helmet from the 1960s
• Font for the numbers from the 1970s
• Stripes on the jerseys from the 1970s-1990s.
Here’s a couple more looks at the uniforms (click to enlarge):
I like them, although I’m not sure that a ‘composite’ throwback uniform would work well for everyone — but it works here (I’m also not a big fan of the angled stripes on the knee/thigh). For a one-off, it’s a fine looking uniform.
I usually run reader concepts (or tweaks) on the weekends, but since I won’t be doing weekends until September, I’m going to periodically run them during the weekdays.
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.
Unless otherwise noted, click on any image to enlarge:
First up today is Bill Grafner who some hockey concepts:
The Ontario Reign logo is not so great and so I figured the old Kings Burger King logo could make a could fit up the road in Ontario. It would look awesome! I hope you agree. Also, I have included a San Diego Gulls with a more traditional Gulls look and a third with a shout out to the Ducks. I know all the AHL seem to lose the originality but hopefully Gulls won’t just copy the Ducks. Thanks for looking and hopefully you will post!
And we close today with Michael Kearney who has a Patriots concept (this one is already full-size):
Cleaning out the old hard drive and came across this. I did this a couple of seasons ago when the NFL passed down the rule stating players couldn’t swap out helmets during the regular season which eliminated a lot of throwback uni’s, including the Patriots awesome “Pat Patriot” uniforms. My solution to the problem was to give the Patriots an alternate uniform that fit with their current helmet but also paid tribute to the Pat Patriot uniforms. The jersey would be red with white numerals bordered in silver and blue. I left the silver shoulder stripes because the throwbacks also had similar shoulder stripes and felt these still worked with the red. The Flying Elvis patch on the sleeves would be replaced with good ol’ Pat and I removed the goofy side panels from the jersey as well.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Not sure how we missed this one: here’s a shot of Prexy candidate Rand Paul taking batting practice with the Quad-City River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa, last Saturday. His father, of course, is uni-famous for rocking the Tequila Sunrise uni years ago. … Some MLB shirts being sold on Amazon. Apparent new logos for DET, LAD, MIL and TEX (via Christopher Colvin). … “Always nice to see uniform guidelines posted,” says Eddie Brewer. “English & Spanish in Dodgers clubhouse.” … Douglas Brei asks, “Am I the only one who sees the similarity between the Columbia Fireflies new cap logo and the crest of the Ottawa Fury?” … Here’s a look at this year’s Little League World Series caps (from Josh SÃ¡nchez). … The Lowell Spinners did Parrothead night last evening (via MiLB Promos). … “The Mets are finally winning, but what’s up with their belts?” asks Tyler Armstrong. “It looks like there are different guys wearing black, royal, and navy.” … There’s a Name that team contest/poll going on in Utica, MI, for a USBPL franchise yet to be named (from Matthew Talbot). … The Hiroshima Carp honored the 70th anniversary of the nuclear attack on their city Wednesday night, wearing commemorative jerseys. … Here are a couple of shots of the Carp in Peace (from Jeremy Brahm). … Looks like Ben Zobrist’s name and lettering are off-center (screen grab by Ben Dougson). … Holy crap — look at the set of stirrups Cameron Maybin wore last night (grab by Allen Willis). Many of you sent in pics, but Allen was the first. Here’s a closeup. I’ll never begrudge players who wear hosiery, especially stirrups, but these are pulled way. too. high. … The Fresno Grizzlies became the Fresno Tacos last night, a move I think they should make permanent. The team thinks it was a good idea.
NFL News: Awesome old shot of the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Texans during an AFL game from the early 60s (from Press Room GFS). … “Ugly Titans polo shirt with what looks like the Memphis skyline instead of Nashville” says Chris Howell). … According to this article, those NFL polos are “the ultimate dad shirts. … Here’s a look at the Colts field, which (like all NFL fields this year) has gold “50” yard numbers, which are to celebrate the 50th Super Bowl this winter (from Dylan Couch).
College Football News: Here’s a sneak peek at what Texas A&M is releasing this morning (thanks to Michael Ehrlich). Looks like they’ll have a black uni they’ll wear on Hallowe’en. … Kansas State has opened a new training facility — the Vanier Family Football Complex — and the kids seem to love it (h/t Eric Wright). … The University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s football team will be wearing “Lafayette Strong” decals on their helmets in honor of the victims of a movie theater shooting in July (from Josh SÃ¡nchez). … The University of Texas is using the newest Nike template (from Crew Kinser). … The Colorado-Mesa Mavericks have a new home uni (h/t Dom Lewis). … This may not have been the most carefully thought out tweet ever from Vandy football (especially in light of the rape allegations leveled against two former football players; the guilty verdict was later overturned in a mistrial). The tweet was subsequently removed and the team tweeted this apology. … “Don’t want to think to much into this because it was wasn’t announced,” writes Joe Wingard. “But Miami is practicing in orange jerseys and black jerseys while QBs are in the traditional red jersey. Not sure if a black jersey will appear or not this season.” … Someone with a rather dirty screen name writes, “notice anything weird above the last names? Seem to have the block M blacked out or something.” Here’s a better look. I’m just speculating, but I wonder if Harbaugh is making the players “earn” the “M” the way other schools make players earn their helmet stripes. … Looks like a new Hawai’i uniform (thanks to Jeff Osbun). … Riddell is having a “Guess The Helmet” thingy — I’m thinking that’s gotta be Navy’s special “Don’t Tread On Me” helmet from last season, no? … Like many schools (due to an ongoing federal court case), THE Ohio State University will only sell jerseys with the numbers ‘1’ and ’15’ this year.
Basketball News: Not super uniform-related, but here are some laughably incorrect NBA magazine cover predictions (thanks, Mike). … Remember those “Hickory” unis the Pacers will wear as a throwback this season? Well, you can you can buy both a both a jersey and a t-shirt.
Soccer News: Not only are both Wright-Phillips brothers playing for the New York Red Bulls, but they both selected unusual numbers (good spot by Tim Cross). … The Miami ladies soccer team has new kits (via Hurricane Keys). … Butler men’s soccer has new jerseys (via D Brown).
Grab Bag: Nice piece in the Sporting News from Todd Radom on what happened to sports logos in the 90s. … There is a new logo for Pennsylvania State University (from Andrew Rader). … Tremendous photo of the 1961 UNC Lacrosse team (h/t James Gilbert). … Under Armour is making a filing to trademark Jordan Spieth’s logo (from Brian Graham). … Whoa! Check out some of Todd Radom’s original, retro-inspired USA travel art.
And that’s going to do it for today, and for me, the week. Big thanks to Todd for the look at the Expos Logo Case Study, the concepters, and those of you who tweeted or e-mailed for the ticker. Johnny Ek will take you thru the weekend, and I’ll be back Monday. Everyone have a great weekend.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
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