By Phil Hecken
About a month ago, for a “Sunday Request” segment, I was interviewed by Paul Francis “Sully” Sullivan, who produces the “Sully Baseball” podcast — I’ve been on there several times, but the focus of this particular podcast was request from a listener known as ‘@heavy_sid’ who requested that Sully interview me on Indians, and in particular — what would be the Cleveland Indians “best” look. While that’s somewhat in the eye of the beholder, we ended up discussing more what would be the quintessential or “signature” look for the team.
@sullybaseball Sully please do the 'Phil Hecken discussion on what the best Indians uniform would be' podcast. Can't wait for that!
— Heavy Sid (@heavy_sid) February 4, 2016
It’s a question that’s been asked before. In fact both on Uni Watch and elsewhere, the Indians uniforms have been discussed and the only thing we seem to agree on is that there isn’t really a classic look for the team. But if we had to pick one…
Sully got in touch, and I was happy to discuss this subject — and I thought it might be cool to have the one and only Jim Vilk on the ‘cast with us, as he’s an Akron/Clevelander and certainly has lived through decades of Indians uniforms. What transpired was all captured below and features our discussion of several of the Indians “looks” throughout their history, and what Jim and I both agreed was — if a team ever had a signature look — the “Caveman” uniforms (1973-1977). Although the Indians only wore this particular uniform style for five years, it stood out as their most distinctive look, and featured what may indeed have been the best “so bad it’s good” uniform of all time — the infamous “bloodclot” all-red getup.
First — here’s Sully’s podcast — if you have a few minutes before reading today’s entry, give it a listen. Much of what is below visually is discussed (but in much greater detail). The problem with a podcast, of course, is that it’s all audio. And when discussing uniforms, obviously, photos are not only helpful, they’re imperative. Once you listen to our discussion, and see the photos below…it will all (hopefully) come together. OK — give this a listen now (if it doesn’t play here is a direct link to the episode):
All finished? Good. Let’s begin with the Caveman look. Why do we call it “Caveman”? Well, basically, it’s a lazy way (although probably a very descriptive one) to describe the font used during the 1973-77 period. Obviously, cavemen didn’t write in a language (and certainly didn’t write using a version of the Roman alphabet), but it’s a good name for the simple font used during those years. While they weren’t quite as “mix and match” with these uniforms as the “We Are Family” Pirates, the team had an all white look, the all red look, a blue jersey over white pants, and there were at least a few select games where the team wore white jerseys over red pants, and at least they once wore blue tops over red pants. Sadly, the team never introduced a set of navy blue pants to complete the mono and mix/match set. As loud and garish as the red and blue set were (especially the “blood clot” look), it was still a relatively simple uniform set (and classic ’70’s sansabelt & pullovers). The team had no gray pants after 1974 (and those were only worn with the gray tops), so white pants (or red) were worn on the road. It was a look they surely owned:
Love it or hate it, you have to admit — when you think of the Cleveland Indians, this is definitely a uniform set that comes to mind immediately. Yes, it was pure ’70s, and yes it was a product of its time. But it, probably moreso than anything they’ve worn before or since screams “Indians” (and in a good way). We didn’t really talk about it on the podcast, but one of the questions I always ask, especially when we’re talking about a signature look is: “does this uniform stand the test of time” or “would it look as good today as it did then”? The answer to both of these questions, unfortunately, is “no.” And that is too bad, as there are some looks from the past that I think could come back as modern classics…but this ain’t one of them. On at least two occasions, the team has brought back these uniforms as throwbacks. With today’s styles and cuts, they just don’t look anywhere near as good as they did in the 70s. One of the times this style was brought back, the team actually wore gray pants (which they NEVER wore in the 1970s with the colored tops). It just doesn’t translate well (especially when long loose fitting pants are worn, but even when players tried to replicate the look — the two-in-ones and oversized shirts don’t help either):
I’d love for the Indians to try to bring back the caveman look, but based on the above, it probably wouldn’t look good at all. It’s a look that demands sansabelts and pullovers, and that style needs to be worn in tight-fitting fashion. With several teams wearing “Sunday Throwbacks” (White Sox, Pirates, Mets), maybe this is something the team could try for 13 games a year. It would be fun to see it return. But I’m not holding my breath. As bad as the new Diamondbacks uniforms are, I’ll give them credit for at least trying to inject some new styles into the game. I certainly wouldn’t want more than one (or maybe two) team/s to wear a dark monochrome uniform, but I think it’s time at least one did. And I’d love to see one or two teams return to the 70s/80s look where a dark top with white pants was worn as the road uniform. If you’re not going to wear all gray, the only worse look is a dark top with gray pants.
Getting back to the podcast, we also discussed a couple of other looks that Cleveland wore that were semi-signature looks — the “Major League” look (worn 1986-93), the zipper-front vest look (1963-69), and the current set, which is based upon the one they wore from 1946-49 (and in which they won the 1948 World Series):
Other than the Chicago White Sox, there has probably been no team who have changed their look more times over the years than the Indians. So it’s hard to even really even call the caveman period a signature look — but if not then what? It wasn’t the most beautiful uni set of all time (nor is it the worst, though the blood clot would certainly be a nominee). But for a very brief period in the 1970s, the Indians wore a look that they owned — and what will always remain for me (and many others) as their signature look.
What do you think? Is this THE look you think of if you were asked to pick a quintessential, no-doubt-about-it uniform for the squad? I have a few other teams in mind to explore for the next “What’s Your Sign(ature)?” — but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well. What would you consider a “signature” look for the other 29 teams? It doesn’t need to be a set that was worn the longest, in which the team had the most success, or even one that was their most beautiful/ugliest — but one that made the team stand out in a unique way. One that you could spot from a distance and instantly say “THAT’S THE _____”. What say you?
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards
I’m pleased to continue with a favorite weekend feature here at Uni Watch, “Classic Ballpark Scoreboards,” — now in Series III — which are created by Gary Chanko. This segment will appear every Saturday on Uni Watch.
Here’s Gary (click on image to enlarge):
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards – Series III
by Gary Chanko
In this edition of Classic Ballpark Scoreboards we travel to the West Coast for a retro look at the first Wrigley Field.
Wrigley Field – Los Angeles
Home of: Los Angeles Angels (PCL) (1925”“1957); Hollywood Stars (PCL) (1926”“1935, 1938); Los Angeles Angels (MLB) (1961)
Pepperdine Waves (College Football) (1948)
Opened: September 29, 1925; Closed: 1965
Demolished:1969. Today the ballpark site is the location of the Gilbert W. Lindsay Community Center, which includes health facilities and a park with baseball fields still in use today.
Many fans will remember Wrigley Field-Los Angeles as the venue for the 1960 TV classic, Home Run Derby. If you lived away from the West Coast, you likely didn’t know or hear much about Wrigley Field even after the new AL franchise Angels played their inaugural (and only) season in the ballpark.
After William Wrigley, Jr. (of chewing gum fame) purchased the minor league LA Angels in 1921, he hired the architect of Cubs Park in Chicago (later to be named Wrigley Field) to design a similar ballpark. When Wrigley Field opened late in the 1925 season, it was advertised as “Baseball’s Finest Home,” even though it was a minor league park. For a complete history of Wrigley Field, LA Edition you may want to read this SABR article and also this brief history.
The outfield dimensions were a little funky. Fitting the ballpark within the confines of a residential neighborhood caused the outfield to actually angle in toward home plate rather than away. So the power alleys were nearly the same distance as down the line.
A 2000-seat bleacher section was shoe-horned into right field and served as the location for the scoreboard. The original location and layout of the manual scoreboard remained basically unchanged throughout Wrigley Field’s three decades of use. Electronics were added (probably in the late thirties) to display BALLS, STRIKES, OUTS, the BATTER, and the NUMBER OF HITS for each team.
The scoreboard illustration recreates Gene Autry’s AL expansion Los Angeles Angels first game at Wrigley Field on April 27, 1961. Autry’s KMPC radio station was prominently advertised at the top of the scoreboard.
A Few Things to Know
• Zachary Taylor Davis, known as the “Frank Lloyd Wright of baseball,” designed the Los Angeles Wrigley Field. He was also the architect for both Comiskey Park and the Chicago Wrigley Field. Davis was also involved with the design of the original Yankee Stadium
• When Walter O’Malley bought Wrigley Field, including the Angels minor league team, in 1957 the future of Wrigley Field appeared bright. There were even plans for a major expansion to accommodate the hoped Dodgers move to LA.
• The NFL champion New York Giants beat the All-American Stars in the first Pro Bowl played at Wrigley Field in January, 1939.
• Wrigley Field “appeared” in 14 motion pictures between 1927 to 1958.
If anyone is interested in purchasing a digital copy of these posters, Gary is working on an online purchase option. In the interim you can contact him directly at Classicscoreboards@gmail.com.
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it, Paul’s Friday Flashback on ESPN took a look at some of the St. Paddy’s Day uni-gimmicks worn by three of the four major sports (football is not one of them…for obvious reasons), including a section of the FIRST ever documented St. Paddy’s Day uni-modification (hint: there was no green, and it was for a league that no longer exists). Pretty cool stuff.
Great read, so be sure to check it out if you missed it!
Tonight at 2:00 am (unless you happen to live in Arizona or Hawai’i, or perhaps another country), don’t forget to “Spring Forward” by moving your clocks (if you have any that don’t automatically do so) ahead one hour. Yay, “more” daylight (Yes, there is technically only a minute or so more daylight than the day before, but by moving our clocks ahead, the sun will now rise and set “later” in terms of sunrise/sunset). Also the “days” are not getting “longer” (in fact, this is the one day of the year that’s only 23 hours long) — days are still 24 hours long the other 365 days of this year. What we are getting, until the summer solstice, is more hours of daylight.
Also, please remember this is referred to as DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, not “savings” time, which is incorrect. Leave off the last “S” for saving.
And, because I feel strongly that we should be on Daylight Saving Time year round, here’s a good WaPo article on “Why daylight saving time isn’t as terrible as people think.” Of course, I live in pretty much the easternmost portion of my time zone and I’m not an early riser (not by choice, anyway). So I’d much rather have the clocks permanently set to “DT” than “standard” time. But I’m sure that is due in no small part to what part of the country in which I reside.
TJ’s Special Day
Please join me in wishing Terry Duroncelet, my right hand man for the entire NCAA Football Season for the past several years, a very happy 25th anniversary of his birth.
TJ’s been an awesome asset and great contributor (not just with the “Sunday Morning Uni Watch” during college football season) and a good friend. And now he’s a quarter century old.
Happy Birthday, Terry — thanks for keeping us entertained every Sunday from September through January!
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: “We have some awesome alternate uniforms that we just released for this upcoming season ”“ a Game Boy, a Ghostbusters, and a Top Gun themed jersey,” says Scott Beckendorf (Social Media and Database Coordinator of the Frisco Rough Riders). “It’s all part of our Riders-Con 2016 season-long theme.” More information available here. … The Philadelphia Phillies’ Cameron Perkins is another player who bats without gloves (from Kurt Esposito). … Here’s an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the Cardinals having four Garcias, but no FIOB of their jerseys (from Jeff Scott). … Old UW friend and one-time stalwart Rick “Ricko” Pearson writes, “How about a real-live figur(in)e featuring Detroit’s 1960 one-off home whites with “Tigers” in script?” Good to hear from ya, Rick! … Christopher Overholt tweeted, “best shot I could get. Looks like Brad Miller of the Rays in AJ 11’s” but I’m more concerned with the nice hosiery. … Braves SS Dansby Swanson is using the Jason Heyward jaw protector (h/t Glen Macklin). … Tequila Sunrise as a jersey style is sure enjoying a revival recently: Here’s Action Beaulieu with some slo-pitch tops; here’s Texas City HS Stingarees (near Houston) with their version of the tequila sunrise unis (from Tim McKay; and Beaver Creek High School outside of Dayton, OH did something similar (from Meags). And then there is this part Astros rainbow part Blue Jays jersey for a team called the Raptors. OK then (from Braves Craig). … Yesterday we saw the new blue umpire shirts have awful contrasting side panels, and now we see the black ones do as well (from Tom Denne). … OOOoooohhh — check out this beautiful 1956 Chicago Cubs home sked by the incredible Otis Shepard (from Bruce Menard). … The Hume-Fogg Blue Knights hae new caps (from TrÃ©s Lawless). … Check out the shoulder designs on Alabama A&M softball — and here is a closeup (from Andy Ross). … These Baltimore Orioles St. Paddy’s Day themed caps & jerseys for “Go Green” Day on 3/17 will be auctioned to benefit Selby Gardens. More info here (from Nick Viennas). … Yesterday, Notre Dame baseball wore grey unis with green cleats with gold soles at Louisville (via Wilson Ashby). … On March 11, 1953, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their first game at Holman Stadium, part of the Dodgertown Spring Training complex (from Bruce Menard). … Pretty cool (and appropriate)
Blue Brew Jays beer league softball shirt (from Matt Tepper). … Speaking of beer league, have you ever wanted to see an “A’s” jersey with camo sleeves? Didn’t think so (from Tyson Cardell). … How about an A’s jersey tequila sunrise striping or a faux tuxedo front? (from Glen Scherholz). … The best non-Athletics shirt is clearly this one (from Camargo). … Check out this 1951 World Series program cover complete with AL Golden Anniversary and NL 75th Anniversary logos (from Leo Strawn, Jr.). … The Oklahoma Softball team was wearing this interesting white on white stirrup combination in yesterday’s game (thanks to Jim Howicz).
NFL News: In what is starting to become a time honored tradition, scorned fans in Cleveland burn the jerseys of a departed athlete they once believed would bring them a major sports championship. Now it’s Johnny Football’s time.
College Football News: It’s not just the Super Bowl that brings out stories of crackdowns on counterfeit sports merchandise. Authorities in Pasadena confiscated more than 1,144 knock-off Rose Bowl items on January 1st (thanks to Kary Klismet. … There was an additional Ohio State logo and “Pro Day” added to Cardale Jones’ shorts (from Heath Newman).
Hockey News: Like many teams this year, the Columbus Blue Jackets will wear green jerseys during warmups on St. Paddy’s day, and then auction them off to benefit the “Blue Jackets Foundation.” … The Huntsville Havoc will wear these flag desecration jerseys today (h/t OT Sports). Also from OT, the Knoxville Ice Bears will wear these um flannel & suspenders type thingys this evening for “Country Night.” Still more from OT: Last night, the Missouri Mavericks went for the double-whammy, sporting both camopander and flag desecration jerseys in one! Well played. … The Rapid City Rush will wear these Batman-esque jerseys for Super Hero night tonight (OT again). … Alaska and Michigan Tech went color v color in the WCHA Playoffs (from Patrick Thomas).
College/High School Hoops News: FGCU’s basketball sneakers a top seed in the NCAA tourney (credit to Michael Harris). … Some great warmup pants for AuSable Valley HS at the NY state basketball tourney (from Collin Wright). … Purdue has some nice throwbacks for the B1G tournament (from Purdue Boilermakers). Here’s a side-by-side. … Yesterday’s CMU/EMU MAC semis were color on color (via Sloane Martin). … Bowling Green hoops is honoring their fallen friend & supporter, Les Disher, by wearing his initials on their uniforms (h/t Joe McQuarrie).
Soccer News: Here are some up close photos of the new leaked USNT white shirts, including an up close look at the new crest (thanks to Conrad Burry). … Here’s a pretty good look at the evolution of the soccer balls used in the Euro tourney, going back to 1960. … Here’s a look at the River Plate away jersey (from Patrick Thomas). … Very cool “paper soccer” figures (from Yellow Away Kit).
Grab Bag: At the bottom of this piece “there’s a ton of Olympic Under Armour gear for several countries” (from Rick Friedel). … Racing suits now include NOBs (from Victory Cheeseballs, who notes, “Not sure I’ve seen that before, F1 or otherwise”). However, Dave mentions STR did first names last year. And Andy Dandytale notes NASCAR pit crews have been doing it for awhile. … Here’s an article on Under Armour’s senior creative director of team sports, Adam Clement.
And that’s all for today folks. Thanks to Gary for the scoreboards and everyone who e-mailed or tweeted for the ticker. Back with more tomorrow, but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Texas is a country ”“ you didn’t know?”
— Susan Freeman