[Editor’s Note: Got home last night from Wisconsin and am still getting recombobulated, so today we have a guest entry by Brinke Guthrie, who you know from his weekly “Collector’s Corner” column. Today he’s going to tell us about one of his holy grails. Enjoy. ”” PL]
By Brinke Guthrie
Today’s entry is about tennis socks. That may not sound so exciting, but hear me out — this has been a 35-year quest.
Now, in the 1970s and early ’80s, Bjorn Borg wore Fila tennis wear, personalized with his own “Bj” logo (which also appeared on his Bancroft rackets):
Borg was the first player to maximize his earning potential with gear. He wore Fila worldwide except for Scandinavia, where it was Jockey, of all brands. Rackets? Bancroft in North America, Donnay elsewhere. Shoes? Bancroft affiliate Tretorn in North America, Diadora elsewhere. Very few pros have ever had arrangements like that.
And then … there were the socks.
First, I need to explain that I played a lot of tennis in those days. I was a Fila guy, like Borg, and socks were a big thing for me on court. I remember seeing Vitas Gerulaitis wear Nike socks at the U.S. Open in 1979, but they weren’t sold in stores. So I wrote to Nike and got this reply: “No plans to get into clothing at this time.” Honest. They did, however, send me three pairs of plain socks with some green and blue striping in a Nike package.
Anyway: Up until 1979-ish or so, Borg wore whatever Fila socks matched his shirt/shorts. Then he signed with a company called “DuParc.” I can’t find a single thing on them, but they made socks with Borg’s “Bj” logo. You can see him wearing them in the photo at the top of this page. Here’s a closer look:
I always wanted those socks, but you could not find them anywhere. And this was, um, very pre-eBay. So I have wanted a pair of these since then — 35 years! I even included them on my Christmas wish list that I wrote last year for the website Tennis Identity.
Enter a company called Vollaix (voll-LAY — “volley,” get it?), which specializes in retro tennis wear. I’ve written about them on the Tennis Identity website. Vollaix is run by a fellow named Brian Purdie, and he has decided to make reproductions of those old “Bj” logo socks. He told me he saw that wish list of mine, so maybe I even helped inspire him.
Two pairs of the socks arrived in the mail the other day:
The pair with the larger logo was a test run; the pair on the left is the style they’re selling. You can buy your own pair here.
Year-end raffle reminder: Paul here. In case you missed it yesterday, I’m giving away lots of very cool stuff in my annual year-end reader-appreciation raffle. Check it out here.
Leafs-redesign contest reminder: Also from yesterday, my latest ESPN design contest is a challenge to redesign the Maple Leafs. Full details here.
Another day, another grommet: I did this one last Friday, before heading Wisconsin-ward, but didn’t get around to posting the photos until now (click pics to enlarge):
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: Great item from Dustin Semore: Serial killer Ted Bundy wore a Mariners T-shirt underneath his sport coat during his 1979 trial in Miami. … Pete Rose has a dress shirt with “Hit King” stitched onto the collar and his number, 14, on the cuffs. … The Mets posted a gallery of their road jerseys from over the years. ”¦ Speaking of the Mets, newly acquired 2B Neil Walker will wear No. 20, which is the same number his father, Tom Walker, wore while playing for the Expos in the 1970s. He’d been unable to wear that number while playing for the Pirates because it had been retired for Pie Traynor. … Funny bit about the Expos’ logo in this sequence from an old episode of Newhart (from Ferdinand Cesarano).
NFL News: A Change.org petition proposes that the Dolphins make their throwbacks permanent (from Phil). … As postgame jersey swapping is becoming more common, equipment managers are struggling keep up, as they have to replace the jerseys and make custom alterations to them every week (from Brinke). … NFL QB Mike Kafka, currently a free agent, has designed a slimmer hand-warmer pouch (from Mike Engle). … Here’s a 1969 newspaper ad for an NFL 50th-anniversary LP set (from Jerry Wolper). … Also from Jerry: Fourth paragraph of the article at far-left has this to say about the AFL/NFL merger: “During merger negotiations, the 49ers were so uptight over Oakland’s success across the bay that they had a myriad of details written into the NFL-AFL shotgun wedding: picky little things lke the Raiders couldn’t change their colors (to 49er red?) and the Raiders couldn’t play the Rams more than once every four years, so as not to usurp the Ram-49er rivalry.”
College Football News: Here’s a look at Arkansas’s Liberty Bowl patch. … “UCLA posted its 2016 football schedule poster with a player wearing a 2014 jersey,” says Jared Buccola. “Notice the Clarendon font, shorter shoulder ‘stripes’ and no perforated stripes or numbers.” The Bruins wore this blue uniform in 2015.
Hockey News: Buzzfeed subtly altered all 30 NHL logos and made a quiz where you have to choose which one is the correct version (from Brent Bollmeier). … The AHL’s Binghamton Senators will wear Christmas sweater jerseys on Saturday (from Nathan Tweedie). … Sportsnet named the 10 best jerseys worn in outdoor games (from Phil). … This week, the Makers of Sport podcast had an interview with Eric Bodamer, a uniform designer for the NHL (from Brooks Simpson).
NBA News: The Nuggets and Wolves went blue-vs.-black last night (from @HitTheGlass). … We missed this: Last week, the Celtics wore LOSCY shirts in warm-ups in honor of Jim Loscutoff, who recently died. The image on the shirt matches his spot on the retired numbers banner. The Cs also wore black memorial bands on their jerseys (from Mario Cuttone). … The Rockets’ Trevor Ariza lost his shoe the other night, so Nuggets G Will Barton craftily tossed it away from him. Barton got a technical foul for a delay of game. … Pelicans players explained the significance behind their uni numbers (from Phil). … The Nets will give away Christmas sweater T-shirts at tonight’s game against the Heat.
College Hoops News: Ohio State added a “GH” memorial patch to honor the associate coach’s sister (from Phil). … UMass will wear these ’90s-style uniforms when John Calipari visits the team tonight against New Orleans. Currently at Kentucky, Coach Cal led the Minutemen to the Final Four in 1996, but the appearance was later vacated (from Phil). … Missouri-KC will wear Darth Vader uniforms on Jan. 9.