Great time last night at the Fourth Ave. Pub here in Brooklyn, as SportsLogos.net poobah Chris Creamer (that’s him above) and I were joined by a bunch of our readers. I also got to meet Chris’s wife, mother, and father — lovely people, one and all.
This was the first time I’d convened a Uni Watch party in Brooklyn on a school night instead of on a Saturday or Sunday. Most attendees were therefore coming straight from work, and many of them were simply dressed in their work attire — a big change from past parties, when most people have worn jerseys. (It was great to see several readers wearing Uni Watch T-Shirt Club tees, however.)
My thanks to everyone who showed up, including Alex, Jay, the other Jay, Marc, Marty, Jeff, Brian, Brian’s friend in the Sonics tee whose name I can’t recall (sorry!), and of course Phil. Doubleplusthanks to Archie for the beer, the designs, and all of the enthusiastic and kind words (please send the photo of you, me, and Chris, which I’m pretty sure turned out a lot better than the one shown above). And my apologies to everyone whose name I didn’t get or retain. If I left you out, feel free to let me know and I’ll add your name.
Uni Watch reaches age of consent, whoop-whoop! It was 17 years ago today — May 26, 1999 — that a column called Uni Watch debuted in the sports section of The Village Voice. I was very happy about the column’s debut but had no idea of the degree to which it would change my life.
I’ve told the story of how the column came about before, but here it is again, for those who don’t know the history (the text that follows originally appeared here on the site two years ago today):
Toward the end of 1998, I got an idea.
I had spent the previous five years writing about detail-obsessive aspects of consumer culture, marketing, advertising, branding, and design, and I had spent most of my life maintaining a detail-obsessive interest in sports uniforms. At some point it began occurring to me that I could ”” that I should ”” combine the two.
The idea took shape in stages. At first I thought I’d write a short piece about baseball stirrup styles. (I think I actually pitched this idea to The New York Times Magazine, where it was quickly declined.) Then I thought, “No, that’s too limited” and decided to write a long, feature-length piece on baseball uniforms. I spent a few weeks tinkering with that.
Then I thought, “Why do just one article? Why not create a column devoted to uniform and logo design?” True, nothing like that had ever been done before, but that made the idea all the more intriguing. It fit squarely into the realm of what I called “inconspicuous consumption” ”” the small details that infiltrate our brains and shape our lives, often without our being aware of them. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that a column about uniforms was the ideal project for me. On Jan. 1, 1999, I made the first (and still only) New Year’s resolution of my life: “I will create and place a column devoted to sports uniforms.”
I had plenty of contacts at design magazines and could have pitched the idea to them. But I didn’t want to create a design column that focused on sports; I wanted to create a sports column that focused on design. I wanted to make the world of uniforms and logos into a legitimate sports beat.
So I began cold-calling sports editors. Some of them dismissed the idea out of hand. A few were interested in the concept, but only as a one-off novelty or as comic relief, which wasn’t what I had in mind. Weeks turned into months, and by the spring of 1999 I was getting a bit frustrated. I still believed in the idea, but I was having trouble finding a sports editor who was willing to take it seriously.
I had been focusing primarily on big, high-profile sports media outlets ”” Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, The Sporting News, The New York Times, and so on. Since those weren’t working out, I reluctantly decided to set my sights a bit lower, which meant it was time to contact Miles Seligman, the sports editor of The Village Voice. The bad news was that the Voice was a local alternative weekly with a teeny sports section that was buried amidst the phone sex ads in the back of the paper; the good news was that its sports section was unusually creative and intelligent. They had a column devoted to hockey fights (that may not sound like a big deal now, in the blog/YouTube era, but in 1999 it was a brilliantly demented idea), they had some of the smartest baseball writers I’d ever read, and they routinely called bullshit as bullshit.
As it turned out, Miles was familiar with my work and loved the idea of a uniform column. He had only one concern.
“We can do this once every four weeks,” he said. “But are you sure there’s actually enough uniform-related material out there to support that?”
“I think so,” I said, trying to sound confident. In fact, I had no idea.
The column needed a name. I don’t remember the specifics of my discussions with Miles, but I do recall that I suggested “Uni Watch” sort of as a fallback ”” something we’d use only if we couldn’t come up with something better. I know we kicked around a few other possibilities (one of them was some sort of riff on “The Emperor’s New Clothes”), but none of them seemed better than Uni Watch, so that’s what we used. I remember feeling a bit disappointed by that at the time because I thought it was a rather boring, cop-out name. (I’ve since come to like the name just fine.)
So that’s how Uni Watch was born. The first installment, published on May 26, 1999, was essentially the first iteration of my annual MLB season “preview,” even though it was published nearly two months after the season had already begun (click to enlarge):
It’s been a fun ride since then. Thanks for listening.
Membership update: Five new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Tristan Andrew’s 1990s Patriots card, shown at right). These cards will be printed, laminated, and shipped when we fill out the current sheet, which as of now has three open slots.
KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a rather ferocious-looking can opener (see above). Check it out here.
I’m very much in the market for additional stories for this project. If you have a special object on your key ring with a good story behind it, send your story (ideally no more than 350 words) and a photo (ideally showing the entire key ring with everything on it, including the special object, like in the photo shown above) here. Thanks.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: White Sox 2B Brett Lawrie changed out of his white/gray Nike high-top spikes during Tuesday night’s game. Charles Noerenberg says that he thinks more players are wearing white spikes now. … The Twins’ team president says that the club will still give away Eddie Rosario kids jerseys in early June, even though the LF was demoted a week ago (from Jimmy Lonetti). … The Brewers, during a current road trip to Atlanta, posted a photo of the team taking BP at Turner Field on Facebook. The fisheye lens made the Braves tomahawk look like a, well, you know (from Jeff Ash). … You might recall that Astros 2B Craig Biggio wore a Sunshine Kids pin on his cap during warm-ups and in spring training during the course of his career. Mike Klug notes that Biggio’s retired number display has the charity’s logo on it, too. Very nice touch. Sunshine Kids provides activities, trips, and events for young cancer patients. … Here are the jerseys for the Triple-A Baseball Home Run Derby hosted by the Charlotte Knights in July (from Carson Dockery). … Alex Rodriguez is playing a rehab stint for the Trenton Thunder, a team that has a golden retriever for a bat boy. … CC Sabathia put on a Tim Couch jersey during an appearance on Intentional Talk yesterday. Some folks on Twitter thought it was a Johnny Manziel jersey because the two QBs share a team and uni number. … You’ve seen plenty of “Sox in shorts” photos, but how often do you get to see video? … With the Mets honoring their 1986 championship team this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the team will wear its ’86 throwbacks for all three games — not just on Sunday, as is the usual protocol.
Pro Football News: Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater switched to a Speed Flex helmet with a visor in practice (from Phil). … The IFL’s Iowa Barnstormers will wear these unis for Military Night tomorrow (from Phil).
College Football News: Ball State has two new helmets: a matte black and a stars-and-stripes design. … Rutgers is planning to hold a game at Yankee Stadium. … Auburn will have team-logoed thigh pads this season (from Preston Hornsby).
Hockey News: Fans in San Jose at Game 6 of the west finals last night received a towel with a shark destroying a saxophone. It reminds me of the dreaded seaweed shark. … This 1999 photo shows Google employees wearing Google-themed hockey sweaters. They look like they’re repurposed Blues jerseys (from Andy Kling). … Refs wore legit sweaters back in the day (from Charles Noerenberg). … With the Sharks advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals last night, Tom Davis offers this observation: “If the Pens manage to beat the Lightning on Thursday, the finals will feature two teams with a distinct triangle in the background of their logo.” … A potential Sharks/Pens match-up also has food chain implications (from @flyersfanindc). … Meanwhile, the Sharks have a crowded jersey, so where will they put the Finals patch? Will they just remove the 25th-anniversary patch?
Basketball News: FIBA unveiled the logo for EuroBasket 2017. … During free throws, players who aren’t lining the key are forced to stand behind the 3-point line. A Redditor asks an excellent question: Where would such players stand before the 3-point line existed? What was the rule? I watched a few NBA clips from the 1960s and ’70s and players could stand just a few feet behind the guys on the key, even closer in from the free throw line. Anyone know more? … New seats will be installed at Virginia Tech’s Cassell Coliseum. Also, Clark Ruhland created a nice Hokies court design (both from Andrew Cosentino).
Soccer News: New kits for Hannover 96. Further info here (from Nick Burczyk and Robert Marshall, respectively). … These maps show which areas are within 45 minutes of an MLS stadium by public transit (from Randy Williams). … “Club de FÃºtbol AmÃ©rica’s centenary kit is a real killer diller,” says Robert Marshall. … New logo Reno 1868 FC (from Phillip Foose).
Grab Bag: With the Indy 500 this weekend, NASCAR driver Kyle Larson will have an IndyCar paint scheme for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. Danica Patrick will have a camo paint scheme (from David Firestone). … Also from David: “The amount of time spent picking a set of tires for a Pro Stock quarter mile run is amazing.” … Fashion designer Jason Wu launched his own grey Pantone color (from James Gilbert). … Office dress codes have relaxed over the years. … Set aside some time and take a deep dive: Recipes based off of food items featured on The Simpsons. … Nike has released Starbucks-themed sneakers (from Pete Clark). … A blogger has a problems with Indian Premier League cricket unis that have multiple sponsors (from Jeremy Brahm).