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‘Radom Thoughts’ – Logo Case Study #1 – The Montréal Expos


[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: Montréal 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 Montréal 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.

Montréal 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, Montréal, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Milwaukee, and Buffalo. Montréal was a decided underdog; an Associated Press story published on the morning of the formal vote declared that “Montréal, 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 Montréal 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 Montréal Baseball.”

Additional theories include:

• “MB” for “Montréal 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 Montréal. 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.

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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:

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.

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all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks Concepts

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:

Reign Concept Jersey 2015 - Bill Grafner

Gulls Concept Jersey 2015 - Bill Grafner


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!


Bill Grafner

. . .

And we close today with Michael Kearney who has a Patriots concept (this one is already full-size):

patriots_alt - Michael Kearney

Hey UniTeam.

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.

Mike K

. . .

And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.

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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 Sánchez). … 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 Sánchez). … 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.

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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.


.. … ..

“Trump definitely did not create the NJ Generals. He did own them long enough to ruin the USFL. Trump was bad for football, he is bad for America!”
— Lee

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Comments (62)

    I’m pretty sure Toronto is still outside of the US, and they were playing in the 70’s. Too late for this author?

    The Blue Jays started in 1977. If the bulk of Todd’s childhood was in the early 1970s, then his statement is accurate.

    That’s exactly right. The Blue Jays came along during my middle school years. The baseball map was a firmly established thing in my mind by then, and the exotic nature of the fact that the Expos were a “foreign team”–complete with French language–was constantly being amplified at that time.

    Thanks for the piece on the Expos, as a kid growing up in the 1970’s in Montreal, I wondered why our baseball team could not look more normal.

    Interesting that the Expos had their chief accountant model their uniform for the newspaper picture, yep that would never happen today.

    Interesting thing about the Expos’ hats is that, when they started off their helmets were sold blue with that logo. Years later they switched the helmets to red, white, and blue to match the hats. At the end they went back to the solid blue helmets and switched the hats to match them.

    got to love the fact that the Pats “ultimate dad shirt” used the outline of the stadium instead of the Boston skyline being that the stadium and city are so far apart

    The Titans shirt is bad.

    It’s bad also because I don’t like the way their logo (and the Redskins and some others) looks off-center. To me the circle should be in the center and the flames (or ‘Skins feathers) should fall where they may.

    Same as it should be on the 50-yard line.

    Growing up, I always thought the Expos logo also was a stylized J.B., for Jarry Ballpark, along with the others mentioned. Always has been, and always will be, one of my favorite logos across all sports, along with the Brewers’ ball in mitt, and the Hartford Whalers.

    Early Bills uniforms supposedly hand-me-downs Ralph Wilson took from Detroit, numbers look darker than ‘Honolulu Blue’

    Makes sense to me. That photograph definitely looks like the Lions (or some team other than the Bills) are playing the Texans.

    I don’t think the actual uniforms were hand me downs, but the colors at the time were at least inspired (if not copied) by the Lions.


    Something about those Texas jerseys just seem off. The tag at the bottom looks like half was photo shopped off, there’s no “Texas Fight” in the collar, the longhorn logo on the collar is missing, and the sleeve stripes are missing as well. Maybe they’re just going super simple this year, but I doubt it.

    Love the Utah “throwback” unis. They should change to this as their primary uniform.

    Count me among those who’ve always thought the Expos’ unis, cap included, looked utterly ridiculous, one step short of circus clowndom. They looked like they should’ve been working here:

    We know that the Expo ’67 event inspired the team’s name…I wonder if it also influenced the team’s cap design:


    Putting the cap aside, what was clownish about the Expos uniforms? White button-downs? The thin red, white, and blue piping around the sleeves and down the pants? A distinctive, elegant number font? Or the “racing stripe” adopted when they moved to the Stade Olympique?

    No, they weren’t clownish. Now, if you were to say that the cap “ruined” an otherwise good uniform…I might not quite agree, but I would consider it a valid argument.

    Sorry, but I have to disagree; the original unis, complete with the thin piping and unique number font was a classic uniform, and the best that Nos Amours ever fielded. The beanie cap took a little getting used to, but it worked.

    Latin countries such as France (and by extension, Quebec) often have highly stylized letters and acronyms. Look at the Nordiques’ logo, as well as almost half of the Quebec league logos.

    Re: yesterday’s item about a supposed new U.S. Soccer crest:

    I imagine this isn’t really a new U.S. Soccer crest, just a logo for the Olympic jerseys. My recollection is that the Olympics only allows country names and flags (and swooshes!) on uniforms, not federation logos/names.

    But that purported new crest is not the national flag (Japan, for example, typically puts its national flag on the left breast in place of the federation crest) and it contains more than just the country name. It therefore would not be permitted in the Olympics.

    Two hypotheses: 1) It’s meant to be a unifying logo; the full crest for FIFA events, and just the USA text for the Olympics; or 2) Since the federation doesn’t get its crest on the Olympic jersey, they designed the new federation crest without thought to whether it would work for the Olympics.

    The only text is the country name, and there’s no requirement for a flag, so I don’t see why the stripes below “USA” would be considered differently than any other design element. link apparently did something similar in 2012 (sans country name), as did link in 2014. Then again, I’m not familiar with the actual policy.

    I’d buy the idea of a unifying logo for uniforms, but once it becomes the federation logo, I’d think it would be out the window for the Olympic uniform. And if you can’t wear it in the Olympics, what’s the point of making a logo without your federation name, the name of the sport or any other imagery to differentiate it from other sports/national organizations/patriotic T-shirt designs?

    Never saw an “M” in the Expos logo until sometime in the last couple years. Always read it as “elb,” which I assumed was something in French that everyone in Montreal understood. Not unlike the Habs’ “CH” logo.

    Well I always knew it was, on the whole, an “M”. But I also see a very distinct “b”, which I could never figure out. I too assumed the whole thing was more French than English.

    Anyways, I always liked the logo, and as I grew older, always appreciated just how it was different enough from other MLB logos to seem appropriate for a team that itself was a little different than the rest of the NL teams.


    As a kid, I always thought the Expos home uniforms were a bit whiter and brighter than any other home team. Maybe their color combo. Could be just me.

    I remember when Ken Singleton joined the Expos, and there were stories how they had to make him a custom double-knit uniform, because he was allergic to the wool flannel the rest of the team wore. His uniform really stood out as a “whiter” white; the rest of the Expos went double-knit along with the rest of baseball in due course.

    When I saw the Expos logo for the first time, all I saw was “e.b.”. And I wonder why “E.B.’s” never caught on as a pet name for the Expos, like ” ‘spos” did.

    I will never understand why the Expos logo isn’t mocked more and seen as one of the all-time bad sports logos.

    Because it’s not one of the all-time bad sports logos. You don’t see people wearing the Buffaslug, or the Islanders fisherman logo. And when Montreal gets a baseball team again — and they will eventually — they’ll readopt that logo and name.

    I really don’t think the Buffaslug is that bad of a logo… for a team called the Bison or Buffalo. For a team named for a type of sword, it’s kinda dumb. But their other logos have also been kinda dumb. Look, just because you play in Buffalo, it doesn’t mean that your logo needs to have a buffalo on it.

    Re Bill Grafner’s jersey concepts, both the Reign and Gulls jerseys are markedly better than the real thing. Who knew reinventing the Burger King jerseys could turn out so well. Those are so much better than the Kings Chevy/Gretzy-era ripoffs the Reign are currently marketing. Nice work.

    I agree completely. Probably my all time favorite baseball uni – even to the extent that my Uniwatch membership card is an Expos jersey. The logo is a classic as well. And this is coming from a Cubs fan.

    Those are really nice!

    My early memories of the Expos were from a later era and I always thought they looked clownish – even by the standards of the late 70’s-early 80’s.

    I’ll accept that answer.

    Just goes to show even it was ONE color it still doesn’t look like anything.

    Ah, so there IS a reason for your screen name… sorry, but in a solid color or black, it’s even easier to see the M.

    Rand Paul wearing the uni of the Quad City River Bandits wasn’t missed….It was in the ticker 2 days ago!


    There’s one team mysteriously missing from the amazon page for the skyline shirts, and one team is shown twice.

    I like the red Pats concept. I’ve wondered, for quite a while, why the team hasn’t done something like this as alternate.

    I like it also. Although I’ve never been keen on the flying Elvis or the team’s use of silver, I’ve always thought their primary jersey should be red vs. blue.

    For the Chicago Bears skyline shirt on Amazon, there is clearly the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower on the far left. After that, the buildings are fairly non-descript. Is the shorter building with two spires supposed to be the John Hancock Center or the AT&T Corporate Center? The other boxes could be anything (or nothing). Typically, when people want to evoke the Chicago skyline, they include buildings like Willis, Hancock, Aon, Prudential 2, and Smurfit-Stone. Sometimes the Navy Pier ferris wheel, too. But what do I know?

    The French-Canadian “M” is a short loop, two tall loops and a short loop — a little like the word “elle” in cursive. You also see it in the 1976 Olympic logo — the sides of the top three rings go short, long, long, short.

    Expos should have traded for Rollie Fingers. He’d have a double moustache when wearing his cap.

    Regarding the blacked-out “M” logos on the back of the Michigan jerseys – Doesn’t Michigan have a new contract with Nike this year? If so, those are Adidas jerseys the players are wearing in those pictures. Could there be a restriction in the contract on the Michigan logo appearing on on-field uniforms from a manufacturer other than Nike (in this case, Adidas?)

    Michigan will be wearing Adidas through the 15/16 academic year. The switch to Nike takes place next August.

    It was very late last Saturday and Sunday also. August is going to be a long month.

    How funny is this, I was going to come over here and post this link to pictures from the first Expos game that I just happened to stumble upon today, and low and behold the main article is about the Expos.


    As for the Miami Hurricanes new adidas jerseys and practice uniforms. With the release of the A&M black uniform, the probability of black uniform is more likely possible. However, the school has used black practice jerseys since Al Golden took over as head coach.

Comments are closed.