— Finding Nostalgia (@svuocolo31) January 28, 2017
By Phil Hecken
I spent most of the day yesterday at the Queens Baseball Convention (basically another name for “Mets Fest”), held in Astoria. Part of the program included Paul hosting the “Uni Panel” which is always a fun time. Our panel included Paul and me (seen above, obviously), along with Russ Gompers (who among other things sews the numbers and names on the backs of the Mets jerseys, and is a blast), Jon Springer (author of “Mets By The Numbers” — and who runs the mbtn.net blog), uni and logo designer Todd Radom (you may recognize a few of these), and Nick DiSalvo, a serious Mets jersey collector.
I thought the panel did a great job (and yes, I do wear glasses), and the entire segment was taped — either Paul or I will have that once it’s been processed, so any of you who are interested can give a look/listen. I will tell you I came with props. LOL. Anyway.
But one of the highlights, if you happen to be a Mets fan and a uniform fan, as I am, is the “jersey parade” that takes place later in the day. As you might imagine, at a Mets fan fest, there are dozens and dozens (actually, more like hundreds) of fans wearing “standard” jerseys — the number of $200 polyester shirts was staggering — but some of the jerseys are actually pretty cool; either they’re rare, exotic or just plain crazy. There were a few of those yesterday. And since I didn’t have any other lede planned for today, I’ll give you a quick run down of some of the more interesting ones (I apologize that I have no names — with an exception or two — to go with the wearers), but Mets Police Head Honcho Shannon Shark (who helps run the QBC) had a voice recorder and interviewed several of these jersey wearers. If he has the audio at some point, I may throw a link back to it. So…let’s see what some of the better jerseys from yesterday were (click to enlarge):
“Prototype” Original Mets Jersey
(worn by Russ Gompers)
Actually, Russ wasn’t part of the jersey parade, but wore this on the podium. You folks may recall back in 2014, Todd Radom broke the news that the Mets original logo had almost ended up being pink and black. Later that year he found out why. After Todd broke this news at the 2014 QBC, Russ (who obviously has access to all things Mets-uni related) mocked up what the Mets original jersey could have looked like had their colors been pink and black. That’s what he wore yesterday. Pretty cool.
The One Year Wonder: the 1987 script
This jersey — the 1987 road — was only worn one season, and features the distinctive New York script. The kid who wore this probably wasn’t born at the time, and he customized the jersey by getting his OWN NOB. I know how some of you feel about ONOB, but if you’re going to lay down $200 for a #5 (worn by Davey Johnson in 1987), feel free to put your own name on it.
Not a “jersey” per se, this lady wore a t-shirt with the Mets retired numbers (note the addition of “31” on the far left — the Mets retired Mike Piazza’s number this past summer). With the addition of Piazza’s 31, the Mets moved the retired numbers from the outfield wall to the roof above the upper deck (where they’re more easily seen). We chatted briefly, and I mentioned it messes with my OCD that the numbers aren’t in numerical order, but she pointed out that they “kinda” are — the first two are for players (31 & 41 for Seaver) and the second two are for managers (14 for Gil Hodges and 37 for Casey Stengel). 42 of course is retired leaguewide for Jack Roosevelt Robinson
Back in Black
There is nothing particularly notable about either of these jerseys — but it shows you how (still) popular the black alternate jersey, not worn in years, still is. The Mets ditched the home black for the 50th Anniversary Season in 2012, and the black (and completely superfluous) roadie years before that, but fans still love them and wear them. I’d estimate that for every game I go to, of the jersey wearing fans, a good 15-20% of them STILL wear the black. I will say this, it looks far better as a fashion statement (even today) than it ever did on the field. Hmmm.
The Mets have had a few captains over their lifetime, but only two have ever worn the “C” on their jersey. John Franco (whose jersey is pictured) and Keith Hernandez (wearing that one year wonder from 1987). Current captain David Wright eschews the C, as did co-captain (with Hernandez) Gary Carter, whose jersey was C-less while Hernandez boldly wore his.
1940 NY Giants
This was a really nicely done (I think it’s a Cooperstown Collection) 1940 New York Giants jersey. Most of us think of the Giants as wearing orange and black, but there was a period before World War II, including 1940, when the Giants wore red and blue. I love the sleeve patch — texture! You’ll also note that the jersey is a zipper front!
The 10-day Wonder
You’ve really got to know your Mets uni history to appreciate this one: Several players (six, in fact) wore the number 24 on the Mets before it was given to Willie Mays, who wore it for two seasons as a player. While the Mets never retired the number, it was basically “taken out of circulation” after he retired. Somehow, almost inexplicably, journeyman Kelvin Torve received #24 from August 7 through August 17th, 1990, before someone realized #24 had been Willie Mays’ number, and he was then given #39. It would stay out of circulation for a bit longer, but Rickey Henderson who played for the Mets in 1999 and 2000, was given #24. No player (well, Rickey wore it again in 2007) ever received 24 since.
Bobby V’s Chiba Lotte Marines
Most folks remember Bobby Valentine as the colorful manager of the Mets during their 1999 and 2000 playoff seasons and for his sometimes colorful antics in the dugout. He was also Manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. This was a pretty neat replica — and Bobby Valentine was as the QBC yesterday, so the wearer was hoping Valentine would autograph it for him. No, I don’t know why he was wearing ski goggles.
Gotta Love The Minors
Worn by Nick DiSalvo of the Uni Panel, this jersey is from the Mets’ Triple A Affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s, and was one of their many alternates (as MiLB teams are wont to do). Nick’s rationale for wearing this one was that “I always try to wear my loudest jersey to the QBC.” This isn’t Nick (obviously), but here’s what the back looks like.
And there you have it. A Mets fan fashion show. I’m sure many of you fans from other teams go to your own fan fests — and I will make the giant leap that most of the fans in attendance will break out team “gear” — do they largely stick to the current (or classic unis) or do a good number nerd out and break out some truly odd, rare or esoteric jerseys as well? If you guys have any photos of such from any of the various fan fests you’ve attended, please shoot me an email. I’d love to compile a set of some of the more outrageous fan jerseys out there.
Some More Super Trivia
Reader Jacob Ventura had some additional Super Bowl Field observations he wanted to share.
See attached picture of NRG Stadium.
Based on my memory, this will be the second Super Bowl ever played without the AFC and NFC shields in their respective team end zones (the first was Super Bowl 50).
It would be cool to do an analysis on primary end zone colors and how they’re chosen and the records of those Super Bowl teams. (The Falcons elected to go with red against the Broncos while their primary color was black in SB XXXIII; The Patriots elected to use their primary red in SB XX against the Bears; Pat’s elected to use their secondary red in SB XXXI against the Packers; and have used their primary Navy in all six Belechick/Brady-era Super Bowls).
Throughout this time, the NFL used the Super Bowl logo at the 50 and switched back to using the NFL shield on the 50 with the Super Bowl logos on each 30 yard line.
One last interesting note: This will be the second Super Bowl with the Patriots new block letter script. The first SB against the Seahawks featured the script with the Flying Elvis logo underneath the letters, leaving a large blank area of navy in the end zone where the team usually places it’s logo. This year they seemed to have caught on and made the end zone proportional, electing not to use the Flying Elvis under the script.
With all of this white uniform winning 11/12 of the last super bowls, I thought it might be interesting to analyze the endzones and colors picked.
Thanks Jacob — if there is anyone out there (*coughJimVilkcough*) who might be interested in doing an analysis of endzones & colors for the Bowls, give me a shout.
And now, storytime with Jimmy Corcoran
Got an e-mail from my buddy Jimmy Corcoran this week, and even though it’s kinda long, it’s a good one, so I’m going to share it below. Here’s Jimmy:
How are you Phil,
I have a story about the 1974 Shreveport Steamer game, this was the game that had a crowd of only 750 people and the game where Steamer WR Rick Eber got caught with thumb tacks on his fingers. This was a forgettable game, the Bell lost 30-25 my father played ok but did nothing memorable but this was the most drama filled game I ever attended.
We left for the game in my father’s Lincoln, we drove there with Tim Rossovich. On the way to JFK stadium people were honking to my father and screaming it’s the King! I was in the back seat. He turned back to me and said “Are you digging this Jimbo? everybody loves the King” I didn’t want to mention they knew it was him because he had Maryland license plates with KING9 on them, kind of hard for people to miss. I remember Tim Rossovich asking my father if Ron Waller liked him? Then Tim said, “I don’t think he likes me very much”. My father said, “of course he likes you Rosso, everybody loves Rosso!”
When we got to the locker room it was a about half full with players, my father entered the doorway and said his trade mark line “Never fear the King is here!” while we walked to the back where his locker was in the back right corner there were a couple of offensive lineman sitting down against the wall in their football pants. As we walked by one of them said “King, my girlfriend gave me these socks, should I wear them tonight?” He held out the socks, they were a pair of long white tube socks with a big graphic of Mickey Mouse playing tennis with Goofy on them, they went all the way up from the ankle to the top of the sock, they looked like something a little kid would wear. The lineman said he didn’t think he was going to wear them, my father said give them to me, I’ll wear them tonight. I thought my father was joking, I said “Dad, you’re not really going to wear those are you?” he said, why not? it will be a smile Jimbo. I was only 10 years old at the time and I thought they looked ridiculous.
When we got to his locker my father was sitting down putting his uniform on. Tim Rossovich was throwing the ball with me and I was standing right in front of my father’s locker, after a few throws Tim said get ready, this is gonna be a hard one. He lets out this wild scream and throws the ball as hard as he could, I hit the floor and the ball went by me and smashed into a locker and missed my father’s head by a few inches. My father said “What’s wrong with you Rosso? you could have killed him with that pass!” Tim just said, “I told him it was going to be a hard one” then he just walked away.
I went to the bathroom and a few of the players were in there throwing up, they had on their pants and jerseys (no shoulder pads yet). I thought they were sick? I asked my father what was wrong with them? “he said they are nervous Jimbo” I asked him why he never throws up?” He said the King doesn’t get nervous Jimbo, you know that!”
He was now putting on the Mickey Mouse socks, I couldn’t believe it. He walked over to the big mirror to check out how he looked in his uniform, the DB’s had their lockers right by the mirror, my father asked the Soul Patrol how he looked with the socks, they were laughing and told him he was crazy. I know the King was very insecure about his height and weight, so I said “Dad, those socks make you look short, the long white ones make you look much taller, look how short your legs look with those cartoons on the socks” I knew this would bother him. He said” you know you are right Jimbo! I think I better go with my white socks, thanks big guy!”
Since there was no one at this game, they didn’t bother to give me a sideline pass to wear through my belt loop like I usually do, this was going to cause me problems later in the night. As usual I was told to stay behind the bench so I don’t get hurt but I never listened, I would even go on the other teams sideline if I wanted to get a better look at the uniforms, like when the Sun and Fire were in town and would sometimes get a ride in the Bell helmet buggy.
The game started while it was still light outside with a little rain but the weather got much worse. My father started the game off missing some passes to his receivers and as usual someone from the Steamer defensive line thought it would be a good idea to call my father The Queen in the first series. I have been hearing this since the Pottstown days, but my father always would go back at them, even though he was 32 years old now the Jersey City street kid never left him. Most football players talk smack between plays, the King was different, he would talk smack at the line of scrimmage before he would call signals so everyone could hear what he says. When the Steamer player again called him the Queen my father said “I’m a superstar and you’re an absolute fucking nobody in this league! shit the guys who play next to you don’t even know your fucking last name, take the name off your jersey you don’t fucking need one! Everyone could hear this and the Bell players on the sideline were laughing, even I thought it was funny how bad my father dismissed this player, but the guy asked for it by calling him Queen.
My father was missing easy passes early in the game and Ron Waller was getting tired of it. I’m submitting exhibit A, an aerial photo of the game so you can see exactly how this whole thing unfolded, kind of a Philadelphia Bell version of the Zapruder film.
That’s me in the circle, this picture was taken late in the game, when this incident actually happened it was still light out and all the Bell players were all still on the sideline, but I marked where everyone was. I was standing right where I was in the picture, while my father was on the field playing I saw Ron Waller walk to the end of the bench to backup QB Mike Yancheff, I heard Waller say, “I’m giving him one more series, warm up” I didn’t want to see my father get benched and had to warn him. I was always told by him never talk to him during a game but I felt that this was an emergency. When the Bell offense came back to the sidelines I saw my chance, I jumped over the bench and ran towards him fast so in case someone grabbed me to go back I could warn him first.
He had his back to me, I went to grab the left side of his jersey and yank on it, but his jersey was so tight when I grabbed it all I did was yank on some flab that was hanging over his football pants. He turned around quick and was talking so fast I couldn’t understand him. He said “Jimbo, what the fuck are you doing here, what’s the matter, what happened? I said “nothing, I have to tell you something” he said “Are you nuts? I’m playing a ball game here, I’m a little fucking busy!” I said Ronny is going to bench you, I just heard him tell Yancheff to warm up.
He said “What, are you shitting me?” He grabs the collar of my jacket and starts going crazy, Waller is a few yards away and can hear this, my father said “You tell that prick I’m not coming out! No one benches the King!” now some of the players are coming around to see what is going on, while my father is screaming I look to my right and see a bunch of the receivers trying to listen, it wasn’t Vince Papale or Ron Holliday, I was friends with these guys and would have recognized them even with their helmets on, I could see 8’s on the sleeves, I thought it was Willie Franklin or maybe Izzy? My father is still screaming that he is the leading passer in this league and even told me how many touchdowns her threw. He finished the tirade by telling me Waller could go fuck himself! I made eye contact with one of the receivers, he kind of mouthed the words “what’s going on?” I just shrugged my shoulders. After my father had calmed down I was walking back to the bench as the Bell offense was going back on the field. I could hear my father screaming Jimbo, Jimbo! when I turned around he was halfway on the field and said “Thanks Jimbo, I owe you a rare burger big guy!” That’s his way of saying thanks for the warning, in the King’s world if you do him a favor he pays you back by buying you a rare hamburger, he loved hamburgers. He ended up playing better and didn’t get benched.
The weather had gotten real bad and by halftime the stadium was almost empty, it was like a scrimmage. Some of the players were covered in mud and the jerseys were brown. At halftime I helped equipment manager Bob Cologna get the spare white game jerseys out of storage and hang them on a rack. These weren’t duplicate jerseys, they were numbers that weren’t issued. He was asking guys if they wanted a clean jersey for the second half? some guys took him up on it while other players couldn’t be bothered taking the muddy jersey off. Bob told me to go ask my father if he wanted a clean jersey? When I told him Bob had a clean jersey for him he said “Ask him if he has a number 9?” I said I know he doesn’t because I hung the jerseys up and the only low numbers were in the teens. He said “you know I only can wear 9 Jimbo”. For some reason he felt like he couldn’t live without the number 9, he even had it on the sleeve of his bath robe.
The Bell ended up losing this game 30 to 25, after the game I walked with my father to the middle of the field, the mud was so thick my pants and shoes were ruined. My father was in a bad mood because he just lost, a couple of his former Boston Patriot teammates were on the Steamer and came over to talk to him. A lot of the Steamer players walked by and said “good game King” he kept saying good luck to you, I asked him why he didn’t say good game back? He said “I just lost Jimbo, I don’t care if they had a good game” he then said “Fuck this” and ran almost full speed into the locker room leaving me at the 50 yard line with mostly Steamer players on the field. By now most of the Bell had gone inside. The mud was so thick I could barely walk back to the locker room. When I got to the tunnel a guard would not let me in, I said I was King Corcoran’s son, he said “sure you are” I told him I was a ball boy, he asked where my sideline pass was? They never bothered to give me one for this game since no one showed up. I was starting to get worried because almost all the Bell players were now inside and I was stuck out there, I looked behind me and saw a few Bell linemen who I didn’t know talking to Steamer players and wasn’t sure if they even knew who I was?
All of a sudden right past the guard under the tunnel I saw a number 30 with WATTS on the back, I have known him since the Pottstown Firebird days, I was yelling Claude, Claude! he turned around and came and got me, he told the guard I was ok. I said thanks for coming to get me Claude. He said “Jimmy, where’s your father? I said he ran inside and left me out here, Claude said “Well you gotta keep up with him!” I was thinking I can’t catch a break today? This was my toughest game as a ball boy.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: The SWB (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) RailRiders, a triple A affiliate of the New York Yankees, will have very Yankee-esque jerseys this season (from Rell Lauren, who referred to them as the “Baby Bombers”). [Edit: The jerseys aren’t new, however — they were worn as alternates last season — PH] … I’m not sure how many teams will be getting new Spring Training caps (they haven’t all been revealed yet), but it looks like the Chicago Cubs have a new one (from Phillip Santos). … Seems like there are some in San Diego who are sorry to see the Chargers leave. But don’t let the door hit you…: San Diego Padres offer $25 store credit to fans who donate Chargers gear (thanks, Brinke).
NFL News: I’m well aware the following items exist, because, well, I wear shit like this, but Adam Herbst sent an e-mail with the subject line: “NFL Team Logo Suits on Sale on Ebay.” He adds, “Sign of the apocalypse (as if we needed any more this week). And the Lions are sold out? Go figure.” If any of you are interested in purchasing similar gear, just go to Shinesty. … Now THIS is an impressive SUPER BOWL LI soda display (spotted by Kevin Kielczewski). … Tweeter Funhouse thinks this old-school matchup between the Browns (in orange pants) vs. the red-pantsed Patriots is a Top 5 all-time uni matchup. … Tweeter Erik Gamborg says he “thought I had seen every facemask,” but that one is a rare one, for sure. … Funhouse is not the only one who wishes the Cowboys had kept their old number font.
College Football News: Tweeter Chris Thorpe saw the red britches for the Georgia Bulldogs in the video linked here and would “love to see them on the road again.”
Hockey News: Tweeter Thurman Merman asks, “any idea how long they’ve been putting a Skills Competition patch on jerseys for this?” … The Utah Grizzlies wore, um, these jerseys for their annual “guns and hoses night” (from Brian Prutch). … It was Cleveland “Indians” Monsters night and here is a look at some of the gear that was available (from John Sabol). … Those same Monsters used a pretty cool ceremonial puck for their “faceoff” last night (from Kevin J. Chmura). … Tweeter Mark Coale noted the inconsistent patch placement on the NHL skills competition sweaters. … As most of you are likely aware, adidas will be taking over the uni-manufacturing contract in the fall, and will only be producing a home and away sweater. That leaves some teams like the Edmonton Oilers with a dilemma — do they wear their (and popular) orange alt or their “traditional” royal at home? They’re asking their fans to help them decide. … Jaromir Jagr’s number 68 jersey will be retired and hang in the rafters next to Mario Lemieux’s. … Tukkaa Rask wore a helmet cam and used Carey Price’s stick in last evening’s skills competition (from TheGoalNet).
NBA News: A bunch of NBA notes from Friday (all via Zachary Loesl): Sacramento wore white on the road; Cavs wearing Chinese New Year Shirts; Sixers wearing Chinese New Year Shirts; Houston has a special Chinese New Year Backboard Post; and, the Wizards wore Chinese New Year uniforms. … Also from Zachary, for the first time this year, Jabari Parker wore super-long compression shorts. … Here’s a look at the Golden State Warriors’ Chinese New Year unis (from Viral NBA Podcast). … Apparently, according to this article, jersey ads aren’t *just* a money grab. It’s about more than just cash. Uh huh. … More color on color (from Zachary Loesl again) yesterday: The Hornets and Kings; also from Zach: more looks at the Golden State Warriors Chinese New Year unis.
College Hoops News: Looks like there will be special shirts for today’s “Black Out Game” for Virginia Tech vs. Boston College. The Hokies will be wearing special unis for the “Coaches vs. Cancer” game (h/t Alexander Jones). It’s part of a package of events. … ETSU and Chattanooga played a very good looking color vs. color game yesterday (from Brandon Keys). … More color vs. color, this time for the ladies, in a christmassy-type matchup between Tulane and Cincinnati (from Lenny Vangilder). … Also doing the color vs. color yesterday were Marquette vs. Providence in Milwaukee (from Shaun Meulemans). … Pitt hoops has announced a retro game featuring throwback jerseys Feb 18 vs FSU (from Alan Saunders). … More color vs. color — this time Texas A&M and West Virginia (from Zachary Loesl).
Soccer News: As pointed out by many tweeters (including Mark Lockwood, KT, Tyler Smith, and Mike McCorkle), yesterday’s Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton was a very difficult match to watch, color-wise, with the red and orange hues. Reminded me a bit of a game between the Knicks and Hawks a few years back. … The North Carolina Courage, a team in the National Women’s Soccer League, are the first team to release their 2017 kits.
And that’s it for today. Sorry for the Mets (uni and self-) centric post. But I hope you enjoyed the jersey rundown and to the additional contributions from Jimmy and Jacob.
You guys have a great Sunday — enjoy (that is, if you even watch) the Pro Bowl and the NHL All Star Game(s). I’ll be curling, so sadly, I’ll miss all that fun.
Everyone have a great week — and don’t forget to check back in next weekend — it’s gonna be YUGE with all kinds of Super Bowl uni-related stuff, so you won’t want to miss that. I’ll catch you then, but until that time…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I’ll go on record saying that I don’t mind the Yankees spring training cap. Although it seems kind of pointless considering that they customarily only wear the pinstripes for their first home game.”
— Jon Rose