In yesterday’s installment of Collector’s Corner, Brinke Guthrie showcased a few items featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ original mascot character, Bucco Bruce.
I was 12 years old when Bucco Bruce and the rest of the Bucs’ inaugural creamsicle design scheme were introduced in 1976. Bruce was an object of scorn for years — in part, no doubt, because the early Bucs were a historically bad team, although I’m pretty sure people also disliked the logo on its own terms. When the Bucs jettisoned the creamsicles and went pewter in 1997, most people said, “Good riddance.”
In recent years, though, Bruce has had a bit of a renaissance. What once seemed embarrassing now seems nostalgically quaint. Disdain and contempt have given way to a sentimental embrace. (Lots of other old logos and uniform designs have traveled that same route, of course.)
All of which raises two questions that I don’t think we’ve ever addressed here:
1. Who came up with the nickname “Bucco Bruce”? It was never an official mascot name bestowed by the team; it was just a nickname that gained traction. So who came up with it — a local reporter? A fan? A player? Someone else? When was the nickname first used? I’ve never seen a good attribution for it.
2. Whoever came up with it, was the name “Bucco Bruce” really just a backhanded way of denigrating the character by saying he looked gay?
Some quick background: Younger readers may not realize this, but back in the 1970s it was commonly understood that Bruce was a “fag name.” I have no idea where that came from, but it was definitely a thing. If you wanted to tease a male kid, you’d call him “Bruth-ee,” with an exaggerated effeminate lisp. (I did this myself to some kids. Not something I’m proud of.) If you wanted to joke about homoerotic overtones between Batman and Robin, all you had to say was, “Well, his name is Bruce Wayne, after all,” and everyone understood what you meant. When The Incredible Hulk TV show debuted in 1978, the producers changed the main character’s name from Bruce Banner, which is what he’d been called in the comic book, to David Banner because they thought Bruce sounded too gay. And so on.
If those references are too ancient for you, the name Bruce has also been gay-associated on The Simpsons and on Family Guy, among other places.
There’s no question that Bucco Bruce has become gay-associated over the years. Just last year, in fact, the gay sports site Outsports named him the gayest logo in NFL history (whatever that means). But was the sobriquet “Bucco Bruce” intended as a way to define the character as being gay? Whoever came up with the name, did they intentionally choose Bruce (instead of Bob, or Bill, or other alliterative options) as a commentary on the mascot’s supposed gayness? Do contemporary fans who currently enjoy Bucco Bruce because he seems retro or kitschy also think of him as gay? Is his gayness part of why he seems kitschy?
It would be great to be able to ask Bucco Bruce’s creator about all of this. But the guy who designed the logo, Tampa Tribune artist Lamar Sparkman, died in 2010. Interestingly, that obituary seemed to acknowledge Bucco Bruce’s perceived gayness, noting that Sparkman viewed his creation as “an Errol Flynn kind of thing, not a gay pirate.” Errol Flynn, of course, was the 1930s and ’40s star of Hollywood swashbuckling movies — who has long been rumored to have been bi.
With all of that in mind, here’s a simple poll:
In addition, I have some questions for readers who fit into certain categories:
• For those of you who are younger than I am, are you even aware that the name Bruce was once considered stereotypically gay?
• For those of you named Bruce, have you ever had to grapple with this issue regarding your name? If so, how do you feel about Bucco Bruce and his name?
• For those of you who are gay, how do you feel about Bucco Bruce, his name, and this whole issue?
To be clear: I’m not suggesting that we need to come up with a new name for Bucco Bruce, and I’m certainly not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with being gay. I’m just interested in how this character got its nickname, and what the intended message or subtext might have been at the time.
Raffle reminder: I’m currently raffling off a pair of green Adidas baseball cleats. Details here.
Baseball News: The Rays’ fauxbacks have yellow numbers and NOBs. But when the band the Fray recently played a postgame set at the Trop, the team gave them fauxback jerseys with navy numbers and white NOBs (from Joe Delach, who also points out that the Rays recently completed a four-game stretch wearing four different caps). … It’s a little hard to see, but Delino DeShields Jr. of the Round Rock Express has “JA” written on his cap. Not sure why (from Preston Penn). … Cardinals and Mariners will wear throwbacks this Saturday. … The Orioles will mark the 50th anniversary of their 1966 championship with these giveaway shirts (from Andrew Cosentino). … Holy moly, love this 1975 Pirates shot. That’s Larry Demery in the jacket. “Sapo” was apparently his nickname, although I don’t know what it referred to. You can see another jacket with a nickname here. Jared Wheeler, who supplied both of these photos, says he doesn’t think the “Sangy Jr.” refers to Manny Sanguillen — the hair doesn’t look right, for one thing. I consulted Pirates expert Jerry Wolper, who said, “It’s not hard to imagine an up-and-coming Latino would have become ‘Sangy Jr.’ in the clubhouse. There was no other Hispanic catcher who played in ’75, though.” … The College World Series has featured lots of color-vs.-color action. … Check it out: Dodgers great Don Newcombe in a Chunichi Dragons uniform (from BSmile). … Just what the world has been waiting for: MLB underwear (from Mark Lackinger). … Whoa, check out this great shot of Reggie Jackson wearing Oakland’s solid-gold road uni in front of lots of empty seats. Marc Viquez says that’s County Stadium in Milwaukee, but Steve Rausch says it’s Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota. Either way, good seats still available! … Remember those axe-handled bats that were popular a few years ago? Hadn’t heard anything about them in a while, and had frankly forgotten all about them, but Twins C Kurt Suzuki used one last night (from Shane Drahota). … Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira, currently rehabbing with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, had one of the front numerals on his jersey come loose during pregame warm-ups yesterday. “He ducked into the dugout and came back in time to start the game with the issue resolved,” says Mike Slesinski. … The Mets are one of only six MLB teams not to have player statues outside their ballpark, and Tom Seaver’s wife thinks a statue for her husband is way overdue. … Speaking of the Mets, three of their players — Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Yoenis Cespedes — have had racehorses named after them.
Pro and College Football News: Unusual footwear for former Oilers DB Zeke Moore. Anyone know more? (From Pro Football Journal.) … Here’s an article on whether Clemson should join the trend toward chrome helmets and lots of mix/match alternate elements. … New turf for Bowling Green (from Tom Konecny). … Here’s more on the restoration of UCLA’s UCLA stripes. “It’s interesting to note that Jim Mora was personally involved in the changes, going so far as to bypass Adidas by retaining an independent manufacturer and allowing players to customize the fit,” says Matt Henderson. … A team-autographed LSU helmet is being auctioned off to raise funds for a local couple that wants to adopt a child. … Gorgeous old color-vs.-color shot from a Georgia/Florida game.
Hockey News: New 50th-anniversary center ice logo for Bowling Green’s arena (from Tom Konecny). … Tom Reamer notes that the NHL Draft logo appears to have been poached by the WWE. … Check out this great shot of a softball team comprised of big-name hockey players! That’s Gordie Howe in the back row, second from right (from BQG). … Throwback rumblings: The Dallas Stars have trademarked the logo of the 1940s Dallas Texans (from Cory Hoad).
NBA News: I’ve often said that the Bulls’ logo looks like it should be the logo for a middlebrow steakhouse, and now it is — in Croatia! “Our waitress said it’s most likely because the owner is a fan of Toni Kucoc,” says Miles Crowther.
College Hoops News: One observer thinks Nebraska should retire Tyronn Lue’s number. … Here’s a look at NC State’s arena renovation (from J. Huckel).
Soccer News: The Columbus Crew is supporting the USA’s Copa America squad with flag-desecrated uni numbers (from Jay Mazzone). … Croatian player Verdan Corluka has been wearing a Croatian flag-themed water polo cap. … U.S. Soccer forward Chris Wondolowski has a unique jersey modification (from Matt Solly).
Grab Bag: Here’s another very distressing article about the increasing corporate presence at National Parks. Key quote: “That backlog [of overdue maintenance project] has grown during Obama’s presidency as Congress has refused to increase funding for the nation’s parks. The park service increasingly looks to corporate sponsorships and licensing deals with companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, American Express Co., and Subaru of America Inc. to help defray its costs.” Gross (from David Sonny). … New
brand refreshing logo for Pittsburgh’s electricity utility (from Carmen Marchionda). … The Cavs’ title has unleashed a flood of Cleveland-related content around the internet, including this awesome Cleveland Arena Sports Magazine program cover (from @SportsPaperInfo). … Sneaker companies are doing big business by reissuing older retro designs. … The Israeli military is investigating an incident in which Google executives were visiting one of the country’s air force bases and soldiers were ordered to stand in formation to spell out the Google logo. Well, it’s nice to know that the relentless encroachment of corporate culture into every available nook and cranny isn’t limited to America. … New logo for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (from Gavin Lane). … Mozilla — the company behind the Firefox browser — is open-sourcing the design of its new logo. … DIY genius Wafflebored has written a public-service primer on how to make your own jerseys. Highly recommended for all current or prospective DIYers. … The University of North Dakota will unveil its new Fighting Hawks logo today. … New logo for Universal Studios Hollywood. … The first casualty of the Rio Olympics had nothing to do with Zika: A jaguar that was involved in a torch ceremony (now there’s a brilliant move) was shot and killed after it escaped from its handlers. No word on whether the animal had been doping.
Larry Demery was nicknamed “Sapo” by – I believe – Manny Sanguillen, which is Spanish for frog or toad (not sure which), due to his facial appearance.
I thought “Sapo” was Spanish for “Bruce”.
Came to the comments to see if this was answered, which it was. Sapo is “toad” in Portuguese and Spanish. The Spanish word for “frog” is “rana”.
FWTW, Toward the end of this article it gives some insight into Lamar Sparkman’s motivation for “Bucco Bruce”. He was thinking Errol Flynn, not gayness…
Personally, I always thought it was either Tampa Trib writers Steve Otto or the late Tom McEwen who “named” Bucco Bruce. I may actually try to get a hold of Steve Otto to see if he has some insight.
I linked to that article and quoted the bit you’re referring to.
Do people even bother to read the entry before commenting?
I read through Todd Radom’s Case Study on Bucco Bruce…
In it, he quotes the team publication as saying, “Artist Sparkman admitted that he sought a corsair of the cut of Errol Flynn, Jean LaFitte, or Musketeer D’Artagnon.”
See also: link
I am 46, so I’m more in line with Paul’s generation, and certainly recall “Bruce” as a gay insinuation. I’m curious if someone simply paired up the affectionate name for the Pittsburgh Pirates with Bruce. (The Pirates were a popular team in the mid- to late 70’s and were often called the Bucs or Buccos in articles and on broadcasts.)
The Errol Flynn connection is mentioned in a lot of places (including the obituary I linked to and quoted). If it hadn’t been mentioned in any of those places, I would have brought it up on my own, because it’s fairly obvious to anyone familiar with Hollywood films of that era that the logo owed a huge visual debt to Flynn.
Yep — read through all the Errol Flynn references. I just thought it might add to the dialogue by bringing up the additions of Jean LaFitte and Musketeer D’Artagnan.
Jean LaFitte was obviously a historical figure — portrayed during the Errol Flynn era by Fredric March in the original screen adaptation of The Buccaneer in 1938… and again in the remake by Yul Brynner in the 1955 film, (also starring Charlton Heston).
Given the term “corsair” was used in the Sparkman description, one could also surmise he took inspiration from Lord Byron’s poem, “The Corsair,” who many believe was inspired to write the poem after the life of LaFitte.
The Three Musketeers movie was revisited in 1973, with Michael York playing D’Artagnan, among a star-filled cast that included Richard Chamberlain, Charleton Heston, Oliver Reed, Christopher Lee, Raquel Welch, and Fay Dunaway. That was followed up with The Four Musketeers movie in 1974. Am wondering if the popularity of those movies also influenced Sparkman.
Since the logo was introduced to the public on June 14, 1975, it could be surmised that the famous poem, those films and portrayals, in addition to Errol Flynn, contributed significantly to Sparkman’s inspiration.
Also found this write-up — link — with a nice couple of links to Sparkman’s original prints.
Apologies, I have a bunch of others to link to if you’re interested. It’s early yet and it’s a subject close to my heart…
Roast me again, but here’s another link with basically the same information link
Can I roast you for the link coming up 404?
I hope you can find out the answer.
The name “Bruce” has gone in and out of style in terms of what we view as masculine macho manliness. The name was the embodiment of masculinity in the 20’s-30’s and totally reversed in the 50’s-60’s, and is swinging back again.
Same thing goes for clothing fashion only much, much more severe. In in 1970’s men wore platform shoes and bell bottomed polyester pants – did you wear this ensemble. Hands? Or as Redd Foxx used to say back then “Golf Courses were invented so that white people could dress like pimps”.
What I would like to point out here is that graphically speaking, the old Bucco Bruce logo is actually a pretty good one. It has held up well over time – a measure of greatness or a Uni-versal truth?). How the hell can you go wrong trying to make Captain Blood (not Captain Morgan) your logo?
In the American conscience how we view pirates graphically speaking goes back to the beginnings of the 20th century. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to a couple of illustrators in particular, NC Wyeth, and the great Howard Pyle, the master of Buccaneer imagery. His work is simply marvelous. We have been inspired (copied) and continue to see his Pirate-y imagery today in movies, comics and on football helmets.
If you are gonna steal pirate imagery, steal from the best – Hollywood has gone to this well over and over again. Need proof?
Here is NC Wyeth’s spin on a pirate-y meetup. Looks very much like a Uni-watch gathering.
This is a Howard Pyle Pirate
and finally, Howard Pyle’s take on the Pittsburgh Pirate
The influence of Wyeth’s visual depiction of pirates is appropriate, since his most famous work on that theme comes from his illustrations for “Treasure Island.” And the modern pop-culture image of pirates springs almost fully formed from Stevenson’s pen. Stevenson’s pirates have antecedents, but they are to be found in courtly romances and outlaw tales from the English Midlands and Scottish Borders and Highlands, not the Spanish Main. Without Stevenson, we might very well still have Captain Jack Sparrow on our movie screens, but he would be a cattle rustler on a donkey, not a pirate on a ship.
Toni Kukoc, not “Tony”.
You misspelled his last name, too.
Proofreading: “but Steve Rausch it’s Metropolitan Stadium”
Met Stadium. Looked it up on the fantastic site ballparks.phanfare.com
I’m 24 (probably one of your youngest readers) and from Michigan and I’ve never associated certain names with the LGBT community.
We definitely have a lot of readers younger than you, Alex! Lots of college and high school students.
To be fair I found this four years ago, so I was one of the “cool kids” at one point.
For what it’s worth I’m 19 and I’ve never heard of Bruce being a gay name
Universal’s new logo story……
Have I told you how musch I hate when a story about a new logo doesn’t show the old logo?
Yes. Yes, I have.
That’s nothin’. You’d be surprised by how many news stories about new logos don’t even show the NEW logo — they just provide a description!
I don’t bother putting those in the Ticker.
Infuriatin’ ain’t it?
The Duquesne Light logo story is the same way, just showing the new logo. Speaking of which, “DLC” just makes me think of “downloadable content” for video games (which is commonly referred to as “DLC”).
What is the BS about going after “younger customers”? There’s only one electric utility in town, so where else are they gonna go?
The University of North Dakota releases its new Fighting Hawks logo and wordmark later this morning.
Sigh. Didn’t I just say something about commenting before reading the entry?
Sigh. I won’t be reading this site anymore, your comments have gotten more and more dickish, recently, and the content you actually provide more and more tiresome. Try not insulting people who just want to engage with the community. Is ESPN requiring you to be a dick?
One would think that this is the Errol Flynn Mr. Sparkman was hoping to allude to. This is from “Captain Blood”.
Also, I am one of those folks that didn’t realize how much I liked the CreamsicleÂ® uniforms until they changed to the horrific (imho) pewter unis. More like P.U.ter.
I loved the creamsicle Bucs unis at the time. I also really liked their pewter unis. My dad was an old-school uniform guy, and even he liked the pewter unis when they were introduced. The current uniforms? Ugh. Although they’re only the second-ugliest NFL uniforms in Flroida.
I was too young in the 70’s to get the gay association of Bucco Bruce, but I was allowed to watch Monty Python growing up so I had this odd connection of Bucco Bruce to the Bruces sketch from MPFC. Maybe Bucco Bruce is an Australian Philosophy Professor? The gay connotation registered with me in the 80’s. I don’t recall feeling like it was a slight then, but I do remember rolling my eyes when the Bucs redid their colors, thinking “Well, somebody had a problem with the logo and colors to go so “manly” in tone with the Pewter and skull and crossbones logo.”
This is precisely my experience. I’m almost exactly 10 years younger than Paul, and never experienced Bruce as a schoolyard taunt. Maybe kids had grown crude in the intervening years, or maybe the Midwest is less subtle than the coasts; we just called kids “faggot” or “gaylord.” Bruce for me was either about Batman or Monty Python’s Bruces sketch, and a big part of that sketch comes from the overtly anti-gay stance of the Australian Bruces.
Fourth Bruce: Rule Six, there is NO … Rule Six!… Rule Seven,
Everybruce: No Pooftas!!
That Bloomberg article on the National Parks implicitly expresses, but does not name, the real underlying problem driving private and corporate influence on public institutions. It’s just assumed that, if the legislature does not appropriate as much funding as the administrative service seeks, the administrative service needs to make up the money somehow. It never seems to occur to anybody that the executive agencies might simply obey the will of the legislature and do what they are funded to do, nothing more. If a legislature – city council, county board, state legislature, Congress, whatever – appropriates less money than an agency seeks, the agency could simply do only what its funding permits. If that’s the local fire department, that means the people will get less fire protection. If that’s the National Park Service, that means the people will have less access to the National Parks.
For me, the corporate-branded private “partnerships” the National Park Service is engaging in is troubling for two reasons unrelated to the issue of corporate advertising in the public sphere. First, that funding represents disrespect by the executive branch for the power and will of the legislative branch. For any public agency, the money the legislature grants you is the money you get, full stop. And second, at a deeper level, these kinds of private funding schemes let the legislature off the hook with voters. Representative democracy is about accountability – at election time, we hold our representatives accountable for their actions. The National Parks are in effect hiding the consequences of Congress’ decisions from the voters. If the National Park Service really does not have enough money to keep the parks fully open, then the voting public needs to be confronted with that fact in the form of parks closing, or limiting public access to facilities and areas that cannot be maintained sufficiently for safe human use.
The “Bruce Banner sounded too gay” theory is actually a popular urban myth.
The reason the show’s creator changed the character’s first name to David was to make the character sound less comic booky (alliterative first and last names are common for superheroes…Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Lois Lane, etc.).
Back in the 70s, comic books were considered just for kids, and the show was trying to attract a broader adult audience.
Here’s a great explanation from Brian Cronin’s weekly blog:
Bruce Jenner. That is all.
Do you mean “Olympic Decathlon Winning/World’s Greatest Athlete” Bruce Jenner?
Do you mean “vehicular manslaughter suspect” Bruce Jenner? Haven’t forgotten. Haven’t forgiven.
Actually, I’m curious as to how Jenner was perceived back in that 1972-76 period, during the height of Bruce’s athletic career.
I don’t recall having been aware of Jenner until a month or two before the ’76 Olympics, when a big promo blitz for him began. I can actually remember going to the mailbox, picking up the latest issue of Sport magazine (which I subscribed to at the time), seeing Jenner on the cover, and thinking, “Ugh — track and field. Come on, give me a baseball cover story!” That was the first I’d heard of him.
I remember Jenner being presented and packaged as absolutely 100% the all-American hero. When he won the decathalon, it seemed like the obvious conclusion of an established narrative arc.
I don’t remember thinking anything about his first name. And I should note that while “Bruce” was commonly used as code for gay at the time, that didn’t mean that everyone named Bruce was automatically assumed to be gay, or that the name was 100% gay-freighted. Case in point: Bruce Springsteen.
What’s your point?
Trans does not equal gay. That is all.
In the Mad Magazine parody of that version of The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Banner explains that his name was Bruce in the comics, but the TV producers thought it wasn’t manly enough, while behind him, a TV has an announcer saying “…and Jenner wins the decathlon! Bruce is the world’s greatest athlete!”
IIRC, the use of Bruce as a stereotypical name for gay men started in the 50s.
Broadway Open House, a late night show that was a forerunner to The Tonight Show, regularly had sketches which referred to gay men as Bruces.It stopped when the staff received a letter from a guy who had a son named Bruce.
He wrote that while he thought the sketches were very funny, he worried about how he would explain to his son that his name was being used to make fun of gay men. The producers agreed and apologized to the letter writer.
I also do remember in the 60s that Archie comic books had a occasional character in some stories named Bruce Baby. He was the assistant to a Hollywood director named O.O. Wellenmellen, himself a stereotypical character of movie directors of the era.
Sorry that it’s a bit long, but wanted to include as much detail as possible. Hope that it helps–thanks!
Awesome info. Thanks!
One of the big radio shows in Philadelphia when I was growing up had a jock with a bevy of stock characters. The over-the-top effeminate gay man was Bruce from Spruce (Spruce Street is a Main Street in the area of Philadelphia now affectionately known as the Gayborhood), but this was the ’80s and it was more of a wink and a nod with far less public acknowledgment or acceptance. But I more or less figured it out by that point, even though I really didn’t get the idea of sexual orientation on an adult level.
I dont think its 00 on Parkers helmet . I believe its “3” and “9” white numbers on a black background . The black around the number makes it look like 2 black “0”
Ah, I see now. Right you are!
Yeah, I agree. It’s a bit fuzzy, but they kind of look like mailbox address number stickers.
28 years old. Not a clue at all that Bruce was a “gay” name. Didn’t think anything of the choice of Bruce for Bucco Bruce over any other alliterative name, nor did I really think of him as potentially gay until someone pointed it out to me in like college due to his wink, and even then I didn’t really put much stock in it.
I honestly didn’t even think it was that weird of a logo. There are lots of different interpretations of how to portray human logos, and Bucco Bruce never really stuck out to me amongst them. The wink hardly ever stood out to me, it kinda just looked like poor quality control on the artwork whenever it was obvious, and he otherwise kind of looked somewhat menacing or scheming to me. Like a pirate should.
Also, there’s an old Monty Python skit where all the characters in a specific club or membership are named Bruce. Again, didn’t think anything of it, especially since one of the recurring gags in the dialogue is that they continue to add “no poofters” to their list of club rules, which would kind of go against the stereotype, no?
You mean link?
That was a faculty meeting of the philosophy department of an Australian university. The point was to play up, and also make fun of, English stereotypes of Australians. That they’re all named Bruce – and insist on calling their new English colleague Bruce “to keep it clear” – is part of the joke about Australian stereotypes.
No I mean I get the point of the sketch and why it’s funny, I’m just a little confused as to why they picked Bruce instead of any other name to give all the characters if Bruce had this sort of pejorative connotation at the time. Especially if one of the gags in the sketch is to specifically mention that no gays are allowed in the club. Unless that was the point all along, but I’m guessing that particular reverse psychology would’ve just confused most audiences vs had them understand the satire behind it.
Monty Python was written for the British audience, not for Americans. On the same subject, for example, “fag” is a term of anti-gay abuse in America, but slang for “cigarette” in Britain. And the Pythons used “fag” to mean cigarette in several sketches. So there’s no reason to assume that a British comedy sketch written in 1970 would have anything to do with mid-1970s American slang. Eric Idle later said that the name “Bruce” in the sketch came from his own experience of having several Australian friends named Bruce.
I sort of figured “Bruce” was akin to “Joe” for Americans, “Fritz” for Germans, and “Tommy” for Brits in terms of being a name of stereotypical use for a particular nationality.
I am a 32 year old Australian and I immediately thought of the same sketch (that i remember from my youth).
pretty cringeworthy looking back on it now.
Every time I see Bruce I think of DeWayne. And Rerun’s brother.
Rerun’s brother? You mean Linus? ;)
That Waffleboard primer on making jerseys is great. He is one of my favorite DIYers.
I was born in the late ’70s and have never heard of the name Bruce being used in that way until today. Also, my father has been a Bucs fan for as long as I can remember and I always associated that logo with the swashbuckling type of pirate. As a child, the Bucs were the misunderstood “good guy” pirates, like in the movies, in direct comparison to the always “bad guy” Raiders mascot. As we know, the good guys rarely win in the NFL.
29 years old. Have never connected Bucco Bruce with homosexuality. Never really connected the name Bruce with it either. I remember the Simpsons episode with Bruce referenced in the entry, but for all the reasons and hints that he was gay in the episode, the name Bruce never mattered to me. Bucco Bruce could very well have been a nickname given to make fun of or deride the logo or the team, but it’s never registered that way for me personally.
Are you sure that Pirates pic is from 75? I’m pretty sure their jersey numbers by then were more, for lack of a better term, “blockier”.
Well, the photo is from the ’76 yearbook, and the scoreboard is congratulating them for winning the NL East (which they did indeed win in ’75), so….
They won in ’74 also.
I’m pretty sure the yellow Reggie photo isn’t at Met Stadium. While the Met had a similar design with the grandstand ending just past third base and scaffolding-supported seats beginning shortly after that as you move down the foul line, at the Met the third-base dugout was right at the end of the grandstand section; in this photo you can’t see the third-base dugout. Also, the grandstand seats were blue, not white or grey as appears here. That might have been taken in Milwaukee, or maybe even in Sicks Stadium in Seattle during the Pilots’ lone season (the catcher’s gear is blue, which the Pilots wore, and the few photos of Sicks Stadium I could find didn’t rule it out).
On top of all that, if you enlarge the photo and look closely at the catcher, you can see a yellow logo on his royal blue hat/helmet. The photo is from Milwaukee.
That’s definitely not county stadium
That might be correct, the sleeves on the catcher matches what the Brewers wore in the early 1970s and the third base grandstand was not extended to the foul line until 1976. Also present is the trademark red fence and row barriers.
I thought it was Sicks Stadium also, but it’s definitely not. I swear I see the scrambled eggs that the Pilots had on the bill of their caps on the catcher’s cap but in 1969, all teams wore the MLB 100th anniversary patch on their sleeves, except for the A’s and Indians, who wore it on their chest when wearing the vest style jerseys. The third base coach Bobby Hofman doesn’t have the patch so this was taken in 1970 or 1971.
That Reggie Jackson photo…could it be Sick’s Stadium in Seattle? It was certainly known for low attendance.
Also: Delino DeShields (i before e) plays for the Round (not Red) Rock Express.
Regarding Suzuki’s bat – a number of the Red Sox players have been using the axe handle bats this year as well. NESN broadcasts have discussed them.
In looking at Bucco Bruce closely for the first time, there are some interesting things that may have influenced how he has been perceived, particular when you compare Bucco Bruce to other Pirate-themed sports team logos such as the Oakland Raiders logo:
and the Pittsburgh Pirates logo depicting a pirate with a hat:
to the “cavalier-themed” sports logos of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1970-83
and the Virginia Cavaliers from 1978-93
The first thing I now notice is that Bucco Bruce is not wearing a traditional “pirate hat”. He’s actually wearing a traditional “cavalier hat” with the turned up side and the plume, see the Virginia Cavalier logo. In fact, except for the ear ring and the knife in his teeth, you would assume that Bucco Bruce is supposed to be a cavalier, not a pirate.
It’s also interesting how the contemporary Virginia Cavalier logo differs from Bucco Bruce: no wink, frowning or angry face, plume is relatively constant width and appears to outline the brim of the hat as opposed to appearing to flounce in the wind, hair doesn’t blow in the wind, includes a beard.
“Unusual footwear for former Dolphins DB Zeke Moore. Anyone know more?”
The player in the picture actually is wearing a Houston Oilers uniform.
Ugh — major brain cramp. Now fixed.
The Zeke Moore photo is from the mid 70s after the switched to white helmets. Zeke played through 1977. According to pro-football reference, they played at Cleveland on 12-5-76 and it was 18 degrees and on 12-11-77 and it was 5 degrees. Looking at their schedule, I’m sure it was one of these games. The field would have been frozen and my guess is he resorted to basketball shoes for traction. Back then you had to improvise for traction.
Looks like that was the 1983 Oilers Softball game – and for what it’s worth I’m pretty sure that’s Mark Messier (with sunglasses and croakies) and Wayne Gretzky (with the hat) next to Gordie Howe in the Edmonton Oilers softball photo as well.
One thing I noticed in that Oilers softball pic is that Gretzky and 3 other players do not have Nike logos on their jerseys. Wondering if there were any corporate hijinks going on in the early 80’s, or just a case of a different set of jerseys that were made. The “Oilers” logo is also lower on the torso than on the Nike jerseys.
In my early 40’s and never was aware of the Bruce connotation.
When I think of Bruce, I think of:
Buffalo Bills HOF’er Bruce Smith
And Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots back in the 14th Century.
Robert the Bruce is also a delicious Scottish ale!
And for what it’s worth, I’m 32 and had never heard of a gay-Bruce link prior to today’s entry.
Re: the unusual footwear worn by former Oiler Zeke Moore. They are broomball shoes. The broomball shoes are good for traction on icy field conditions. Have seen them worn in photos from the 1970s and 1980s, notably players wearing them on icy fields here north of the border. Broomball is played on ice so the sole design is perfect.
That there is some tremendous info. Thank you!
No problem. Glad to help.
I was born in 1979 and I definitely remember growing up that certain names were sort of labeled as “gay names”. (I think Lance fell into that category, too.) That said, I don’t remember kids ever using that as any sort of schoolyard taunt. It also never occurred to me that Bucco Bruce “looks gay”. (In fact, even now, I’m not sure what about him evokes that response.)
I also wonder if there could be a regional component to any of this…
I’m almost 31. When I was a kid, I never assumed or had any knowledge that others thought Bruce was gay. I only found out that others evidently perceived him as such in the last decade or so.
Even now, I don’t know that I’d say he looks gay. Feminine or romantic, maybe, but in more of a Fabio novel cover or Jack Sparrow kind of way. He seems classic to me.
Like Zorro or Inigo Montoya, even. I definitely see him as a stereotypically romantic Spanish/Portuguese/Latin character.
I’m not sure if this is old news or not, but last night against the Braves, Giancarlo Stanton was wearing his face shield against right handed pitchers, but not lefties. (Specifically, I saw him go shield-free vs. lefty Hunter Cervenka in the 8th, then wear the shield in the 10th vs. righty Arodys Vizcaino.)
The Braves announcers made reference to it as if this was the first time he was doing this.
He’s been doing it that way — faceguard vs. rights, no faceguard vs. lefties — since the start of last season.
Wow, shame on me for not noticing that sooner! I sear the announcers said it was something new, but maybe I misheard.
Thanks for clarifying!
I’m 38 and I’ve never once heard of Bruce being a “gay” name until reading this entry. It’s a fascinating tidbit.
I think Bucco Bruce more to do with the fact that the team was historically bad and they wore bright colors than anything else. That connotes that they must have been “effiminate” or “gay” and that is unfortunate because it’s an excellent logo and color scheme. Very unique. The Bucs should bring them back in an updated version, ala the Golden State Warriors. Also, I think it’s interesting that the old Pirates logo of the ’70s, which depicts a handsome, smiling Pirate with all his teeth never met the same fate.
I agree the fact the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were historically bad with a strange color scheme didn’t help matters. But the fact remains “Bucco Bruce” wasn’t the masculine type of pirate we’ve seen in other logos, hence the derision. It’s fine to occasionally bring back, but there’s a reason why that logo won’t be returning anywhere on a full time basis.
Even cartoon sports logos pack more punch than a winking pirate.
Re: the Axe bat, I can’t find anything on it at the moment, but both my son and I remember seeing Kris Bryant using one at some point this season. It may have been in BP or on-deck, but I’m 99.9% sure it was him.
I believe Dustin Pedroia uses Axe exclusively.
I wasn’t aware of that. Very interesting.
And I got confirmation from a friend who covers the Cubs that it was Bryant we saw with one and it was in BP/warming up on deck.
I’m not sure if he’s used one in-game, though. Off to search for pictures.
43 here & never knew that Bruce had that connotation.
At the risk of drawing the ire of Paul for not adding any new information, I think he has already uncovered the answer to his question.
Obviously the 1970s were a turbulent time in American culture in which young people challenged the norms of society.
During this time the was a sector of society who viewed anything new or different as abnormal or gay. So a team wearing light orange instead of Navy would be a bunch of fags (as Archie Bunker would say). So it’s certainly likely that a curmudgeonly reporter in conservative Tampa would view the team’s logo and color scheme as gay and refer to its mascot as Bucco Bruce.
At the same time, there other sector accepted these new things and didn’t see subversion everywhere. For example, many people living outside of the northeast didn’t get what songs like “YMCA” or “Its Raining Men” we’re talking about.
So, in this climate, it’s possible the team and/or its directors didn’t realize the Bucco Bruce nickname was intended to be a slur and used it going forward.
No ire here. Perfectly good post!
Yesterday while reading uniwatch and seeing the old Buccaneers logo I got excited thinking there may be breaking news that this logo is making a comeback..nope and then seeing it again this morning thinking “yes today is the day!” Nopers.
We need the Tampa Tribune to take a poll of pirates/cavaliers/swashbucklers from around the world to see if they were offended by being reduced to a stereotypical helmet logo, and a possibly effeminate one at that. If they could find one named Bruce then we would really be on to something.
How about Pastafarians? Their faith calls for them to wear pirate garb for religious ceremonies. Also, the Raiders’ logo is insensitive to those with eye injuries.
A federal court recently ruled that Pastafarianism is satire, not a religion:
Yes. I was being facetious. Mostly.
Yes, Jon, I know exactly what you were trying to do.
And I was just pointing out the latest developments on that front, which happen to have taken place in a court of law. That’s all.
and what about those youthful entitled snobbish types who fritter away their youth counting the days till their trust fund kicks in…Trustafarians.
My dad, born in the late 1940s, is named Bruce. He wasn’t ever teased about the name, at least that I know of. I did learn about the “wimpy” connotations to the name by the time I got to elementary school, but paid them no mind since they didn’t square with the only Bruce I knew personally (and if Bruces like Springsteen and Lee aren’t enough to give the name some cachet, I don’t know who could).
At any rate, there can’t be too many people under 40 (or maybe 50) named Bruce these days.
Regarding the Orioles 50th anniversary of their 1966 championship, the team will wear 1966 replica throwback uniforms on Friday, July 8, featuring a patch with the logo pictured on the giveaway tee shirt.
I’m forty and I do have some vague cultural association with Bruce being a “gay” name. I am probably more attuned to the culture of the past than most, though. My girlfriend, who is roughly the same age as me (and similarly attuned), says “of course everyone knows that Bruce is the gayest name.” I’m from Chicago and she’s from upstate New York.
Proofreading: Here’s more on the restoratio of UCLA’s UCLA stripes.
Missing an “n” in restoration
A possible location for the Reggie Jackson photo is Kansas City Municipal Stadium. Don’t believe it could be Minneapolis: the Twins wore pinstripes at home during that period. As for Milwaukee, the lower box seats were red and County Stadium and the Brewers wore a blue/gold trim on their sleeves. The Royals sleeve braid matches that on the catcher’s sleeve and in color photos I’ve found of the KC stadium, the lower box seat colors were yellow-ish.
I agree with you Don.
The other guesses were good but that large gap between the stands along the third base/left field line seems to indicate Municipal Stadium; not County, Metropolitan or Sicks Stadium.
I’m with you, Don. Those unis look like the Royals more than any others at the time.
32 years old. “Bruce” was definitely a “gay” name when I grew up. Even into my teens. No idea why or where it came from, though.
I grew up on Long Island, which is basically next door to Paul, so it might have just been a regional thing based on what some other people are saying.
Long Island isn’t next door to where I grew up — it *is* where I grew up!
But I don’t think this was just a regional thing, not judging from from all the other cultural references (Simpsons, etc.).
25 years old. Had no idea about the “Bruce” name/stigma. Started following football when I was 7-8 years old, so post Bucco Bruce era. Always thought the older logo was a pretty cool design though. It felt much more like a Buccaneer to me than the new version. (When you’re that young, you think Disney pirates, etc. Not really skull and crossbones)
You’ve previously written about capers, correct? I recently impulse-purchased a larger jar of capers, so I’m looking for a variety of ways to utilize them? What are some of your favorite applications?
1) Very good on hot dogs!
2) Very good in salads.
3) Very good wherever you’d normally use olives.
Even better if you lightly fry them in olive oil for 45 seconds or so.
Chicken or veal Piccata!
I have a question about the UCLA stripe issue (it probably has already been discussed here), I’m wondering why those stripes on the shoulder don’t seem to have the length that they had on the uniforms that were made years ago. I grew up in the 60’s in Baltimore as a Colts fan and I remember the shoulder stripes on their uniforms went all the way down to the underarm. For some reason this type of stripe on today’s uniforms stop abruptly and don’t tuck under the arm. I think the old look was much better.
Different jersey tailoring/construction — seams are in different places.
Growing up in MD in the 1970s, “Bruce” was most definitely considered a “gay” name. Which is probably why its popularity as a baby name nosedived in that era:
The Reggie pic is DEFINITELY Milwaukee, probably 1970 or 71. I just noticed this in a team photo hanging on my wall… see the link below… County Stadium indeed had cream-colored lower box seats with pale green upper box seats in ’71. Unis match. Also matches the third-base grandstand at the stadium, which was not extended to the foul pole until 1976.
An actual ‘Bruce’ here responding.
You know, being born in 1964 and growing up with the name, I never had a problem with it in that regard. The name ‘Bruce’ at the time was rather unusual but kind of cool; once other kids found out my name the usual connection they made was Bruce Wayne, Bruce Lee or Bruce Banner. I never knew it might have some type of gay connotation. That was, until I was about 10 or 11 and checked out from the library the compendium book “Batman: from the 30s to the 70s” wherein comic book writer E. Nelson Bridwell had this line relating to his commentary on the whole Batman/Robin gay thing:
“Today, when a comedian calls someone Bruce, you can almost bet he means the guy is a swishy character”
The book was published in 1971, and I read it around 1974 / 1975. That was the first I’d heard of such a connotation, and it kind of pissed me off. But I never caught anything from any other kids, and after reading that only rarely saw any obvious reference to it in pop culture. Maybe by then it was more or less running its course…
Re: Bucco Bruce, I’m in agreement with the others– I’m sure that some (older) sportswriter thought that between the long hair, the feathered cap, the knife in the mouth, and the use of creamsicle orange, that was a rather gay-looking logo. So he combined ‘Bucco’ – NOT ‘Buccaneer’, but ‘Bucco’ (“Buck” having some pesudo-homosexual connotations; think Midnight Cowboy just a few years earlier with the character Joe Buck; etc.) and “Bruce” for the same reasons Bridwell used.
Ladies and gents, that’s from the great Bruce Richards, subject of an ESPN column that I wrote back in 2009:
Good to hear from you, Bruce!
Sad that the link shows up as a 404. I was looking forward to refreshing my memory of your column, Paul.
Dammit — I got the URL but didn’t actually click thru to make sure it was still active. Sorry about that, Matt (and anyone else who clicked).
Too bad — it was a good story!
I see the story…weird.
Link works fine for me.
November 12, 2009 article “Grilling up the competition”
I was born the same year. I begged my mother for a year to buy me that book for $10…I still have it and read the stories to my daughter.
As for the lede article, I immediately thought of this
I am about 10 years younger than you Paul. And the only inkling I’ve ever heard about the connotation with Bruce as a “gay” name is that Simpsons reference you made. So I guess I am a bit to young to remember it.
Regarding Bucco, I’ve seen people online suggest he looks gay. I’d never have thought of it on my own. I highly doubt there was intent to make him look gay but I’d really love to know where the nickname came from. But since it seems to have come about organically, I doubt we’ll ever know.
I was born in 1980 and grew up in Oregon, and the first I ever heard of Bruce being a “gay” name was on that Simpsons episode. Until today I had thought that the writers probably just made it up as something dumb for Homer Simpson to say, since it didn’t make sense to me otherwise.
I am around 5 or 6 years younger than Paul, and grew up on the west coast. When I was a young teen, I remember a friend of my dad’s referring to a gay guy, “Oh, he’s a Bruce?” with the fake lisp that Paul mentioned. I was overhearing the conversation, not part of it, and I remember thinking I had stumbled onto something…oh, so Bruce is a gay name? I feel like I may have heard people reference Bruce like that later but that’s the only specific instance I remember. While people my age certainly used “homo” and “fag” way too regularly back then, when we wanted to give someone a name that referenced a perceived lack of masculinity, I remember Percy and Eugene being a couple of names used for such purpose.
Interesting that the report on the new UCLA uniforms mentions Coach Jim Mora “engaged an independent manufacturer to design the jersey”. I didn’t realize this kinda thing could still happen in this day and age.
Good on the coach for pushing these changes through. Not sure why he didn’t go all the way and change the numbers back to Clarendon though, that number typeface sucks.
I am in my early 30’s and as a child I remember taunts just as Paul describes. The Homer Simpson quote is the first thing I think of when I hear the names Bruce and Lance. I have a friend named Lane who is still taunted as Lance by his closest friends.
There is no doubt in my mind that the nickname Bucco Bruce is a gay innuendo. The guy is winking for pete’s sake! And who is looking at that logo the most – dudes. So that buccaneer is winking at dudes. I am not against it, I am quite flattered, he’s a pretty cute dude, if he was real I’d wink back.
As far as Errol Flynn goes, it is not a stretch to consider fluid concepts of sexuality and attraction among the theater scene.
43 years old, and I definitely remember the connotations for Bruce that Paul describes. And I also have this memory stuck in my head of the issue of MAD MAGAZINE wherein they parodied the Incredible Hulk TV show. They had a gag referencing the change from Bruce to David, based on the perceived lack of masculinity, in which they juxtaposed that “creative decision” with some contemporaneous footage of Bruce Jenner in the Olympics. It was some pretty nifty satirical commentary for me to see as a kid.
Born in 1968, just turned 48, and was about to post when I saw yours Dave. I was aware of the ‘Bruce’ connotation mainly because I was a regular reader of Mad Magazine as a kid and they would periodically assign the name to an effeminate or gay character in different spoofs/cartoons. In fact, I remember one issue where they ran a letter to the editor from a guy named Bruce, asking them to stop using the name in that fashion.
I will say that if I ever met a guy named Bruce in person, I wouldn’t transfer that connotation on to him. I guess I figured if I got that idea from a humor magazine, it must have been something not to be taken all that seriously.
HA! Yes, I remember that as well. There was a TV in the same panel with the conversation about the creative decision. The TV’s word balloon was a broadcaster calling Bruce Jenner’s winning of the decathlon in the Olympics.
I was born in 1983 and I never remember Bruce being considered a “gay name”.
I was born in 1964 and never heard of this either.
Was born in 1968, and while living in a smaller city that was (and is to some extent) behind the times in the cultural loop, in my youth I don’t believe Bruce was considered a “gay name” then. Knew one Bruce then and am almost certain he wasn’t teased at all about his name.
Bruce was a bit outside the usual traditional masculine names of the era (William, Richard, John, Michael, David etc.) but that’s about it.
Kinda funny about the Columbus Crew & patriotic numbers. Nevermind that roughly half their current roster is from a country other than the US (including four players from other countries also participating in the Centenario). The team’s only Designated Player (if you’re not familiar with this, it basically allows MLS teams to exceed the salary cap and pursue expensive international stars) is Federico Higuain. Federico’s younger brother, Gonzalo, scored 2 2nd-half goals for Argentina in last night’s domination of the US.
I was born in 81, so by the mid to late 80’s I had never heard of the Bruce thing.
But as someone who lived in Tampa during a short period of my mid teens years, I’ve always loved the Bucco Bruce uni’s.
45 years old, grew up in Michigan.
I never knew Bruce was a gay name. Never heard of the logo being called Bucco Bruce either until I started reading this blog.
We all did think the logo looked very gay, though. When they were in the NFC North, and rivals with our loser Lions, a few of us called them the Tampa Gay Buccaneers.
*ahem* NFC Central
Bucs were never in the NFC North.
Quite common reference is for a “Bruce” to be a male who hails from Australia
Delino DeShields Jr. has “JA” on his cap to honor Jana Almendarez. She is wife of the president of the RR Express Chris Almendarez. Sadly, she passed away after battling brain cancer. The team and the community really rallied around the family and I believe all the players had “JA” on their caps right after she passed.
Born in 1964, grew up in Maryland and definitely remember Bruce being a “gay” name. I was also hoping for a response to your survey that was more along the lines of “Duh, of course Bucco Bruce was intended to be anti-gay code. Interesting that you would mention it.” I doubt the character would’ve been referred to as Bucco Bruce if the team’s colors had been red and pewter at the time.
I’m not a die-hard O’s fan – I hated them when I went to college in Baltimore, and now I’m a Nats fan – but I’d love to get my hands on one of those anniversary t-shirts.
Truncated UCLA stripes are better than no UCLA stripes, I guess.
Re: yesterday’s excellent early 80’s MLB style guide. The striped socks shown on the White Sox page are pictured in action here link
Bruce/gay thing was certainly given a push by Dr. Demento in the mid-70’s by his playlist including “Big Bruce”, a Steve Greenberg reworking of the “Big John” hero song that appears to date to 1969 or so. It was in the Dr.’s rotation for a while, and though I don’t know just how much play it got, I’m old enough to remember it. You can hear it at: link
Keep Weird Al in (hopefully open) mind.
Born in 1965 and never heard the Bruce/gay thing. I could understand the association if it had come out after Zorro the Gay Blade… maybe. But that didn’t come out until 1981.
Born in ’70, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and definitely remember the connotation. I seem to recall hearing of some celebrity spouting anti-gay rhetoric along the lines of “God created Adam & Eve, not Adam & Bruce” and thought that’s where the association originated.
For the record, I picked the second choice in today’s poll.
48 and my memory is exactly the same as Paul’s.
I don’t remember the exact reason that The Hulk tv show went with David instead of Bruce, but I remember the Mad Magazine parody of Hulk making fun of the show for changing the name for that reason (at the same time as the most popular US athlete was Bruce Jenner).
You really can find everything on the internet
Mad Magazine, January 1979
The new UND Fighting Hawks logo….
I drive with a Bucco Bruce helmet logo on my van. I’ve never heard anyone bring up the gay issue about it. Or wink at me in traffic that I’m aware of.
The fascination with figuring out what’s gay and who is gay in our country is amusing, if not stupid. I was a Tampa season ticket holder from 1981-1983. Never crossed my mind to even think about it.
The picture of Reggie is absolutely from 1971. The helmet has the yellow visor. The A’s went from a solid yellow batting helmet and solid green cap in 1970 to a green helmet/cap with yellow visor in 1971 (although Reggie himself wore a yellow helmet with green visor in the 1971 All-Star Game in Detroit when he hit the mammoth homer.
As for the ballpark, it looks like the few fans in the stands are either wearing something over their heads or have umbrellas, leading me to think that most of the other fans took cover in the concourse. The catcher is the key. You can rule Metropolitan Stadium out because the Twins still wore pinstripes at home in ’71. The only other places it could be are Municipal Stadium on Kansas City or County Stadium in Milwaukee. It is hard to see if there is yellow piping on the catcher. If so, it’s Milwaukee. If not, it’s likely KC.
Hope this helps.
I am 25, and I have never heard this take on the name Bruce before. It always sounded like a tough name to me. I had a close friend growing up whose name happened to be Bruce, and I never witnessed him being picked on for it and showing any shame for his name.