By Phil Hecken
If you hadn’t heard, the Chicago White Sox were scheduled to wear their 1976 “Leisure Suit” Throwbacks yesterday evening. Chris Sale had other plans.
In what may be the most bizarre uni-related story
in the history of ever of 2016, according to multiple reports, Chris Sale, starting pitcher for the White Sox, refused to wear the uniforms, and became so upset at being told that he would HAVE to wear them, he cut all the uniforms up with either a knife or scissors. Unbelievable.
Even as I write this (Saturday evening) the details are a bit sketchy, but enough folks have indeed confirmed that Sale took a sharp implement to the jerseys, rendering them unwearable. Now, I normally try to plan my posts ahead of time, and today my plan was to write about the 1976 throwbacks (hence, the tweet from above). I even made a Flickr album so I could compare and contrast. Then, the timeline of events on Twitter became bizarre:
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) July 23, 2016
Wait — they’re wearing the Beach Blanket Bingo uniforms? Did I screw this up? Did I get misinformation?
Nope — the news came pretty fast and furious after that:
Official: Chris Sale has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 23, 2016
Tommy Stokke, the baseball guy from “FanRag Sports” was the first to really break the story:
Not a joke: Source says Sale blowup was because he didn't want to wear throwbacks, so he cut the jerseys up so no one could wear them.
— Tommy Stokke (@StokkeTommy) July 23, 2016
Others quickly confirmed:
Source: "Sale asked that they not wear (throwbacks) on his day because they are uncomfortable. Things escalated when they wouldn't relent."
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2016
Yup, it's true. Chris Sale got sent home by White Sox for cutting up a jersey he didn't want to wear. Source confirms @StokkeTommy report.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 24, 2016
Finally, told Sale used a knife to do whatever cutting he did of uniforms. Which really shouldn't add to the story but somehow does.
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) July 24, 2016
You’ll note the statement from the White Sox makes no mention whatsoever of the uniform incident, and if you read it in its entirety, they say “The White Sox will have no additional comment until the investigation is completed.” How long will this Edward Scissorhands be allowed to roam the hallowed halls of Chicagoland until his deeds are brought to light and an appropriate punishment is meted out?
There’s not much more (so far) to the story — and unfortunately there are no pictures of the destruction. But in the history of uniform watching, I cannot even think of an event that remotely comes close to this. Sure, teams have “lost” uniforms before, fire has destroyed some uniforms, and there have been a few (Mike Keenan nixing what might have been the worst third jersey in hockey) times that uniforms haven’t seen the light of day (or court, or ice or diamond). A while back Paul did a story called “What happens when uniforms are lost, stolen or destroyed?”, but nothing like the Sale incident had ever occurred in the history of uniforms.
Folks, for this deed, we have no choice but to proclaim Chris Sale “Uni Watch Public Enemy #1”.
On Twitter last night I’d asked if anyone wanted to take a crack at designing a “WANTED” poster (and you’ll see the one I chose as today’s splash), but I did receive two other entries that I wanted to share. They are below (and they are also tremendous):
— PJ Clark (@TheRealPJClark) July 24, 2016
— Rob S. (@rds9674) July 24, 2016
I’m not sure what’s going on in Chris Sale’s life and I certainly don’t want to speculate. There have been reports he’s not happy with management, that he’s on the trading block — and you’ll remember Sale was openly critical of White Sox team president Ken Williams when Williams said the son of Adam LaRoche would no longer be allowed in the clubhouse.
Ken Rosenthal (whose tweet is embedded above) had this to say during the Yankees/-Giants telecast on FS1.
The blowup occurred because he didn’t want to wear throwback jerseys, so he cut them up and obviously they could not be worn. I was told Sale felt the jerseys were uncomfortable and he didn’t want to pitch with that kind of feeling. So he was upset. There was a blowup during batting practice when he cut up the jerseys. … Basically his feeling was the White Sox were valuing PR and jersey sales more than his comfort and winning, and that’s why this incident took place.
If true, we have a paradox — he didn’t want to wear them because they were “uncomfortable”? Um, I’m calling “bullshit.” If anything, the pullover they were supposed to wear…
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 23, 2016
…would be as comfortable, if not more so, than the regular uni. Even so, throwbacks (as we all know, and I bemoan every chance I get) are cut to a players’ specs (which is why they so often don’t resemble the uniforms they’re meant to replicate), so the jersey would have fit him exactly (or almost exactly) as his regular one.
Now the second part of Rosenthal’s statement: “…his feeling was the White Sox were valuing PR and jersey sales more than his comfort and winning” (emphasis mine) — doesn’t sound so bad. After all, this might be the first time I’ve heard a player (if it’s true) actually speak out about “valuing PR and jersey sales” (more than his comfort). I’m not buying it though. If after all is said and done, he actually comes out with a statement that says just that, or says it in an interview, I’ll give it more weight. And I’ll give him some kudos. But regardless, throwing a tantrum and destroying the uniforms for which he is paid millions of dollars to wear isn’t going to win him any fans, especially not uniform fans.
I was going to end this by throwing in a bunch of humorous tweets — but it’s already pretty long — so I’ll just add a couple. However, if you read my Twitter timeline, I retweeted a number of funny ones. The “best” are below:
— MLB Jersey Numbers (@NumbersMLB) July 24, 2016
Looks like sleeves are cut already. pic.twitter.com/F9hthECrp8
— CLEVELAND ROCKS (@CLEVELOVE1) July 24, 2016
— Fat Kid Deals (@FatKidDeals) July 24, 2016
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 24, 2016
Sale clearly has some issues to work out (and I wish him well with that, because he’s going to need it). He’s probably pitched his last game in a Sox uniform (provided they even have any of those left in his locker). And maybe he truly felt the throwback uniform wasn’t a fit for him. That will need to be sorted out later. But even if he truly is making a principled stand, that’s no excuse to destroy the uniforms.
I say we officially have Public Enemy Number One.
What say you Uni Watchers?
(Paul has a reaction piece on ESPN as well — Click here).
And there was indeed a throwback game played yesterday…
A Cardinals uniform without the iconic “birds-on-bat” logo/wordmark? Yep. It was a throwback of 60 years to 1956 — a “one year wonder” where the Cardinals actually dropped their iconic logo and simply wore uniforms with a script “Cardinals.” They’d worn a uniform (either home or road, usually both) featuring the birds-on-bat logo in some form since 1922 — and up until present day — except for 1956. While the uniform is indeed beautiful and simple, it was good the powers-that-be came to their senses after the 1956 season and returned the staple to the front of the jersey, where it belongs.
Anyway, the Cardinals threw back to 1956 last evening, and in an odd twist, the Dodgers (their opponents) wore “B” (Brooklyn Dodger) caps, but kept their normal Los Angeles uniforms. So theirs was a hybrid of 1956 and 2016. The Cardinals pulled out all the stops, and the uniforms looked great. I’ll just post game pics below for your enjoyment. My only complaint is the pajamas, but what are you going to do. At least no one cut these to pieces (click photos to enlarge):
The Cards had the period appropriate cap, and check out the beautiful embroidered sleeve patch!
The Cards uniform was very plain — just some thin pants piping and the left sleeve patch. It’s a beautiful uniform…it’s just not what the classic “Cardinals” uni looks like.
Sadly, the Dodgers wore the Brooklyn “B” cap, but kept their normal helmets (those raised LA letters should be easy enough to chip off, no?) and had the “LA” on their sleeves, which kinda ruined the look — although those uniforms were basically what they wore in 1956 (sans the “LA” part). They did have NOBs (something the team did NOT have in 1956).
The Cardinals went NNOB, and their helmets (current road helmets) basically exactly align with the cap worn in 1956:
Still — this was a good looking game and a good looking uniform for the Cardinals. It was nice to see it brought back for one day…but I don’t think we’ll be seeing any uniforms from St. Louis without the iconic b-o-b anytime soon.
More photos can be seen here.
“Leo’s World” is a new, semi-recurring feature here on Uni Watch weekends, featuring some excellent uni-related finds from Leo Strawn, Jr.. Each installment will feature a new, unique or just very cool collection of related uniform observations and research. You can click the images below to enlarge. — PH
1962 Chargers Photo
By Leo Strawn, Jr.
I ran across this San Diego Chargers photo apparently taken sometime after the 1962 draft. Lots of questions about this one:
First, the jerseys are the 1960 Los Angeles Chargers jerseys…
…worn also in preseason 1961 by San Diego.
Why take a photo in these jerseys? Why did the team even still have them?
Second, they aren’t all rookies. Unless I’m mistaken, that’s Jack Kemp on the left of Sid Gillman. 1962 would be his last for the Chargers as he was traded during the season to the Bills. I’m not 100% certain, but #76 should be Henry Schmidt who was with SD beginning in 1961 after playing a few seasons at San Francisco.
The remainder that I can name were rookies from the ’62 Chargers. I can identify Bambi in the jersey number he wore in his rookie season, front and center. I can also ID Frank Buncom, wearing #55.
I see Reggie Carolan, the #89 who is standing in the back row. Which raises another question, why are there two #89s? And who is the other one?
Also, I don’t know who #57 is, but he looks familiar and it’s driving me crazy trying to figure it out.
Anyone out there know anything more about this odd photo?
Till next time…
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it Friday, Paul’s latest Friday Flashback column over on ESPN takes a look at the history of MLB vests (including some discussion of the ultimate sleeveless player, 1950s Reds first baseman Ted Kluszewski, shown here). Paul even wore a vest for the video accompanying the piece.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: “I was watching an HBO doc on Babe Ruth and found this shot” (of a player with a number pinned on his jersey) says Brad Eenhuis. “Thought you might find this interesting. I sure did.” Looks like it was from the 1934 All Star Game (which Paul noted here). … Last evening the Syracuse Chiefs wore these “Salute The Military” jerseys which contain the names of servicemen (from OT Sports). … Here’s a beautiful photo of the 1989 Fiftieth Anniversary portrait of the Baseball Hall of Fame members (from Bruce Menard). … On Friday evening the Bowie Baysox did their David Bowie tribute. Yep. The front and back of the uniform were two different styles, not unlike Bowie. … Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates’ John Jaso went high-cuffed for the first time this season (from John Dankosky). … Just because: here’s Frank Robinson in a Caveman Indians uni (from 216 Sports History). … OK, this is just so wrong (from Josh McDaniel). … Tweeter Sam Middlebrooks asks, “any idea what this ‘divine mercy’ #3 jersey is?” … Johnny Cueto has been getting some good PR for his white shoes (thanks, Brinke). … “Is Ken Griffey Jr. trying to hide his Under Armour logo?” asks Joshua Baker. “Piazza doesn’t seem to care.” … The Reds added and Olde English “C” to their mound yesterday (thanks to Alex Hider). … Uni oddity in this video of the 1980 White Sox: Jim Morrison wearing a “soxless” batting helmet at about the 32:40 mark (from Peter Fredrickson). … Last night Rockies Manager Walt Weiss wore purple sleeves while the rest of the team wore black (from Josh Pate).
NFL/CFL News: “At Old Navy in Rochester, NY,” writes Joseph Bailey, apparently confused about the selection. “I get the Bills, Jets, Giants. The Washington and Steelers as well. But, Vikings?” … “Was watching ‘CFL Traditions’ on youtube (great watch by the way, one on each of the 9 teams… lots of great old uniform footage),” says Gene Sanny. “Anyway, in one of the lead-ins back from commercial, they had this clip that I took a still frame of. A guy pulling on some strings that were attached to something straight on the front of the shoe and tied around the back of his leg, which pulled the toes of the shoe upward. They didn’t go into this AT ALL, just a quick clip. But I’m guessing it was a straight-away kicker, and it helped with kicking. Never seen anything like it.” … “I found the attached screen shot of the logo for Super Bowl LII,” says Wolfie Browender. “I grabbed the image from the Minneapolis-based StarTribune newspaper’s website. The design includes a silhouette of the Minnesota Vikings new stadium (US Bank Stadium) with what I think is the Roman numeral LII inside. I’m not impressed.”
College Football News: Perhaps not surprisingly, Jim Harbaugh is a big fan of the new Michigan uniforms (which will debut at a private event on August 2). Some of his praise includes “They’re A-plus, plus, plus. I’ve seen the jerseys, I’ve seen the shoes. Everything looks great and can’t wait to unveil them and start using them.” Also: Harbaugh said there could “possibly” be something different this year. He also said “we’re great with our uniform.” He also wouldn’t rule out an alternate. … Uniform updates we’ve seen thus far from the University of Cincinnati: White helmets – white facemasks; Red AAC logos; and Satin red helmet in the mix (h/t Nick Colosimo). Also from Nick, a patch update for Cincinnati. … Here’s a better look at the three new Kentucky uniforms with three new helmets with updated UK logo (from Jimmy Smith). … Is this a possible new Oregon uni (and do we even care at this point)? More here. Or are these the new unis? (h/t Aaron Medina & Joey Pants). Because the Ducks need an anthracite uni too, amirite? … MSU is telling fans what to wear to games on the schedule poster (from Chad Fields).
Olympics News: Looks like Argentina has a light brown uniform that they’ll be wearing for the Olympics (via Matt McClain). Our buddy Jimmer Vilk thinks they remind him of the old Washington Wizards unis, sans the black shorts, of course. Probably not the best way to be compared. … Paul Lee notes the Swoosh is on the left side of the USA hoops practice jerseys, but on the left side on the game jerseys.
NBA/WNBA/Basketball News: Whoops, on GMA yesterday, the old WNBA logo was being used (from MIX MASTA B). If, like me, that would have escaped you, this is the new logo. … The WNBA has recinded the fines for teams wearing black warmup jerseys — note — the teams were not fined for wearing “Black Lives Matter” (or similar) shirts — these were plain black tops, but the teams were fined “because WNBA rules stated that uniforms may not be altered in any way.”
Soccer News: The new Manchester United kit was officially unveiled, in line with what had been leaked previously (from Griffin Smith).
Grab Bag: Race car driver Danica Patrick has changed her helmet design for only third time in career, and it’s an, um interesting design to say the least. … So what the hell is this? No, it’s not a hockey player on a bull — but it is a good (or at least intelligent) emerging trend: Cowboys wearing protective gear in rodeo events. Yeah, there’s all that machismo associated with bull riding, but my only question is: “What took them so long?” … The Saracens Rugby Club unveiled not one but two new unis. … Golfer Bubba Watson is ready for the Olympics (from Johnny Okray).
And that’s going to do it for today. And this will be my final weekend post until after Labor Day. I’ll be pinch-hitting for Paul during the entire month of August (as Paul takes his much-deserved uni-sabbatical). He’ll take you through all of this week AND next weekend, and I’ll kick off the weekday run starting Monday, August 1st.
So I’ll catch you guys then. Until then…
follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Being a White Sox fan is why we go bald prematurely. Makes you wanna tear your hair out.”