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Red Wings Add Mike Ilitch Memorial Patch

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The Red Wings added a “Mr.I” memorial patch yesterday for former owner Mike Ilitch, who passed away last Friday. There’s a white version of the patch for the team’s road jersey, and they’ve also added the patch lettering to the ice.

The Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, are also memorializing Ilitch, with a “Mr.I” decal. Ilitch also owned the Detroit Tigers, who’ll have their own patch for him this season, although we don’t yet know what that will look like.

The “Mr. I” format reminds me of how the 1993 Tampa Bay Bucs memorialized their late owner, Hugh Culverhouse, with a “Mr.C” sleeve script (in both cases, it looks like they intentionally opted not to have a space after the period):

Are there other owners — or players, or anyone else — who’ve been uni-memorialized with the “Mr. [Letter]” format? I can’t think of any. Am I overlooking anyone?

Update: Our own Mike Chamernik points out that the Pistons had a “Mr. D” memorial for Bill Davidson. So there you go.

(My thanks to John Chapman and Justin H. for their contributions to this post.)

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Tales from the dark side: With the Detroit Lions recently announcing that they’ll be eliminating black from their color scheme, I’ve taken a look at other teams that went BFBS and then thought better of it (including the Royals, as shown above). Check it out here.

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Party reminder: Uni Watch party this Sunday, Feb. 19, 3pm, in the back room of the Douglass (which is the same place we used to meet at, Sheep Station, but with a new name). Phil will be there, I’ll be there, you should be there. Come join us!

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Family affair: Yesterday I visited my mom, who will be 93 in April. She lives in a retirement community where dinner is served at a communal dining hall, which is a bit of a shame, because she’s a really good cook. But she continues to make her own lunch each day. Yesterday: hard-boiled eggs and red peppers on toast. She drinks her coffee out of a pitcher “because it’s a little bigger than a mug and it’s exactly the amount of coffee I want to drink.”

The rock in the background may look like a paperweight, but it’s actually for physical therapy. She has a bad shoulder and was told to get one of those mini-barbell/weight thingies to do lifting repetitions, but she said, “Why should I spend money on that when there are rocks on the patio outside my apartment?” That’s my mom. And as she also noted, “It’s a really nice rock, don’t you think?”

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Zach’s NBA Report
By Zach Loesl

Although more NBA games have been color-on-color lately, the reality is that most games are still white-on-color (or, in the case of the Lakers, yellow-on-color). There were 14 games yesterday, for example, and only one of them — Indiana at Cleveland — was color-on-color. I typically enjoy color-on-color games, but they seem less special when there are too many of them. I think the NBA should limit the number of such games.

In other news from yesterday, the Raptors wore throwback uniforms and played on a throwback court as well. Alternate courts are the next frontier in NBA design. I am willing to bet that within the next three to five years, the number of teams with alternate or throwback courts will outnumber those with only one court.

In that Raptors game, Jonas Valanciunas appeared to be wearing the wrong warm-up shirt.

Last, check out the top of the backboard in this Hawks/Clippers photo. The design incorporates the team logo and slogan — so much better than the boring default of putting the team’s website address or Twitter handle in that spot.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News:  Paul had previously reported that MLB’s new BP tops were designed to be worn untucked, but players are tucking them in. Also, note the slashed zero on Noah Syndegaard’s T-shirt. You don’t usually see that on MLB gear. … Inaugural uni set for the Class A Florida Fire Frogs (from Nick Jones). … Dee Gordon of the Marlins wore NBA socks during a recent workout (from Stormsy). …  Speaking of the Marlins, it looks like they’re the latest team to go with matte helmets (from @damedonaldson). … South Carolina is jumping on the 3D helmet logo train (from Ryan Fischer). …  Awesome find by  Ray Hund: A classic custom baseball uniform order form, found in the  The Great American Baseball Scrapbook by A. D. Suehsdorf.

Pro and College Football News: Here’s an odd one: In Super Bowl XXVII (Cowboys/Bills, 1993), the officiating crew wore short sleeves in the first half and long sleeves in the second half. “The game was at the Rose Bowl and started at 3:30pm local time, so maybe it got colder after the sun went down,” says David Westfall. … Colts lineman Robert Pratt had some serious NOB issues during a 1977 playoff game against the Raiders (from Bill Kellick). … Eric Wright  found some TV number inconsistencies on the unis of the old Houston Gamblers of the USFL. … Western Michigan has agreed to hand over the trademark to the “Row The Boat” slogan to former football coach P.J. Fleck for $50,000 (from  Andrew Cosentino).

Hockey News:  Looks like the Penguins are the inspiration behind this Detroit company’s logo (from  Eric). … The Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL unveiled  cheese-themed unis yesterday (from  Ryan Wozniak).

NBA News:  Serge Ibaka will wear No. 9 with the Raptors, after wearing No. 7 with the Magic (thanks,  Mike). …The Cavs and Pacers went black sleeves on gold last night. On Tuesday, the Cavs wore gold against the black-sleeved Timberwolves (from  K Dawg). …  Does this Timberwolves Valentine’s Day shirt offer clues to their upcoming new uni set? (From  Reno Gruber.) …  A Milwaukee culture site has some nickname suggestions for the Bucks’ new D-Leauge G ®-League team in Oshkosh (from Aaron Szopinski). …  Aaron  also sends along a interesting piece on how the Bucks got their own nickname. … The BIG3 is a new professional 3-on-3 league featuring a number of former NBA players. One of the teams, the Killer 3s, unveiled a new logo yesterday (from  Nina Kiersted).

College Hoops News:  Here’s the logo for the 2018 Women’s Final Four in Columbus (from  Jesse Ghiorzi). …  Keith Clowers’ coworker has a Kansas Jayhawks tissue box cover that makes the box look like a couch. Never seen that before. … Northern Iowa (go UNI!) wore some pretty brutal BFBS unis last night. You can’t even make out the purple NOBs against the black background (from  Joe Ringham).

Soccer News:  New yellow second kit for the Colorado Rapids (from  B. Darby). … FC Dallas teased their new secondary kit yesterday (from Phillip Foose). …  D.C. United hasn’t even begun building its new stadium, but they have already sold the naming rights (from  John Muir). … Good to see there’s creativity in soccer kit design (from ACC Tracker).  … Speaking of, here’s a closer look at the USWNT red kit (from Mark Johnson).  … Belarusian team FC BATE Borisov is teasing their kits for the 2017-18 season (from  Ed Zelaski).

Grab Bag: True Irishmen and Irishwomen will tell you that a shamrock ”” not a four-leaf clover ”” is the official symbol of St. Patrick’s Day (more on that distinction here). But  Jeff Pollock points out that many teams make the mistake of using a four-leaf clover in lieu of a shamrock on St. Paddy’s Day jerseys and merch. … After Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s praise of President Trump blew up in his face, Plank
responded by trying to explain himself in a full-page ad in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun (from  Tommy Turner). … This is great: The University of Houston golf team used to have numbered polo shirts ”” with SNOB! (From  Robert Andrews.) … The U. of Mississippi’s campus   bike shop has an interesting logo that incorporates the school’s nickname (from  Jason). …  J. Huck  shared this tweet from the Duke Archives with this awesome letterhead.

Comments (68)

    The last sentence of the third paragraph of Zach’s NBA Report is “(Reader Mark in Victoria spo”

    Holy cow, Paul…your Mom is awesome. I love that she has the NY Times out. Keeping her mind sharp. God bless her.

    If you want to see number inconsistencies with the Houston Gamblers, take a look at some of the guys who wore an 8 on their jersey… the center “holes” of the number 8 were sometimes often comically out of place, of center, etc.

    Re: Tigers Mr. I memorial patch….

    Detroit Tigers spokesman says team will wear a patch to honor owner Mike Ilitch, who died Friday. Not details yet on patch design.— Bill Shea (@Bill_Shea19) link

    Great column, per usual.

    Although it’s true that the BFBS trend really took off in the mid-late ’90s, as we all know it started a lot earlier than that. I’ve always attributed it to Jerry Glanville when he was coach of the Houston Oilers; as I recall he had black jackets and other sideline gear made for himself and the coaches, which clashed mightily with the team’s Columbia blue, scarlet and white uniforms. Of course, when Jerry left Houston for Atlanta in 1990, the Falcons immediately switched to black jerseys and helmets, reversing their primary and trim colors.

    The Jets were also ahead of that curve, adding black trim to their unis in 1990, although this almost never gets mentioned in the BFBS context. Maybe that’s because the use of black on that uniform was so subtle — just thin outlines and facemasks, no black alternate jersey or black pants or anything like that — but the team’s merch featured a lot of black t-shirts and hats and jackets. Interestingly enough, the Jets ditched the black the same year the Mets adopted it (1998).

    I still think the Lions’ initial use of black — like the Jets’, limited to facemasks and thin outlines — worked really well, barring the BFBS alternate jerseys.

    Of course, when Jerry left Houston for Atlanta in 1990, the Falcons immediately switched to black jerseys and helmets, reversing their primary and trim colors.

    But black was the Falcons’ original jersey color (but not their original helmet color), so that could arguably have been viewed as a throwback-ish move.

    Sure, although I wonder how many people knew or remembered that at the time. Heck, I didn’t even know that then, but my uni-geekery was still in its infant stage. :)

    I think when I first discovered that my first thought was, “They should have kept the red helmets.” The original Falcons look is still probably their best.

    Gotta disagree regarding the Falcons reverting to Back jerseys being a “throwback” thing. While the 1966 Falcons started out with Black jerseys, they were long into the rear view mirror when Glanville showed up and implemented the Black stripeless helmet and Black jersey look. Glanville openly SOLD IT as a the new dark, bad assed wannabee identity of HIS Falcons. And he made a pretty big deal about it. Going back to the 1966 look was never mentioned – though the jerseys were pretty close. The Falcon logo on the sleeves of the 1966+ jersey was very unique and pretty far ahead of it’s time (I can not think of any other PRO team with a sleeve logo in that era), given that it is almost standard in today’s vanishing sleeve stripe NFL ….

    Here’s my question that just now occurred to me – did Glanville coach the Falcons that first year wearing Red helmets and jerseys, or, did he switch immediately upon taking over as HC of the Falcons. Because if it was HIS decision, how did he implement the change immediately. -when NFL rules do not allow immediate next season uniform changes

    I remember Glanville posing with the new Black uniforms in sort of a mini-advertisement campaign, but I do not remember if it occurred AFTER he had already coached the Falcons for one year wearing Red jerseys.

    Anyone have an answer?

    I didn’t say “throwback”; I went out of my way to say “throwback-ish,” my point being that the team had a history of wearing black, black was an established team color, etc. In other words, even if it wasn’t *intended* as a throwback(ish) thing, it had that effect. There were longtime fans who said, “Hey, we’re wearing black again!” (I know, because some of them said that to me. I wasn’t writing about uniforms yet, but I had friends from Atlanta.)

    IIRC, the change was made immediately; Glanville never coached the Falcons with red helmets/jerseys. I expect the NFL was not so strict back then about the timing of uniform changes.

    The Falcon logo on the sleeves of the 1966+ jersey was very unique and pretty far ahead of it’s time (I can not think of any other PRO team with a sleeve logo in that era), given that it is almost standard in today’s vanishing sleeve stripe NFL ….

    Though it took a while for the NFL to adopt insignias on the jersey sleeves, the CFL went all in as early as the 1970s.

    “Though it took a while for the NFL to adopt insignias on the jersey sleeves, the CFL went all in as early as the 1970s.”

    CFL teams did start to add logos to sleeves in the 1970s. 2 of 9 teams had this in 1979. However, the teams truly did go “all in” by the 1985 season. That season, all of the 9 teams had logos on the sleeves (well, shoulders for the Toronto Argonauts). The last holdout was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Though today, not every CFL team has logos on the sleeves or shoulders.

    A truly odd sleeve logo used in that 1985 season belonged to the Ottawa Rough Riders. Considering they only had a capital “R” for a logo, the Eastern Riders had a depiction of their helmet as the sleeve logo as seen below:


    “I’ve always attributed it to Jerry Glanville when he was coach of the Houston Oilers; as I recall he had black jackets and other sideline gear made for himself and the coaches, which clashed mightily with the team’s Columbia blue, scarlet and white uniforms.”

    I am not sure Glanville cared about the color of the Oiler uniforms. I remember reading that he wore all black so that the players on the field could easily spot him on the sideline.

    Of course, Glanville was a little peculiar, often leaving a “Will Call” ticket for Elvis wherever his teams played.

    Don’t forget their throwbacks with the black dropshadow that they wore in 94, and in SB XXIX. I’d say the popularity of that uniform and its success is arguably why the Niners decided to add more black in more places.

    The Niners did have a history of black trim in their early days, though it was phased out in 1956. Though the helmet logo has always had black in it…

    I just remembered something that was overlooked about the Lions. 2003 wasn’t the first time they’d had black in their color scheme – 1948 was. Their new head coach, Bo McMillin, who’d previously coached the Hoosiers, thought it would be a good idea to bring Indiana’s colors to the Lions, which resulted in red and black uniforms (including a black jersey-black pants combination, worn with red helmets and socks). After a dismal season, the Honolulu blue jerseys returned, but the black pants stuck around until the 1950 preseason.

    And how weird is it, the similarity between the names McMillin and Millen, the two guys who brought black to the Lions?

    I would take those cardinal red-centric uniforms with the black trim on them over that black mess the Niners wear for some games these days and twice on Sunday.

    First and foremost, BFBS was a cash grab; how the team looks in black is moot, the fans will eat it up! Black souvenirs and accessories reflect rebel pride and besides, when you spill beer and barbecue sauce on them, it doesn’t show up. That being said, I like the way some team colors look with the backdrop of black fabric. It’s evocative of pop art. And as fads go, it’s a whole lot better than camouflage, flag desecration and GFGS.

    That being said, I like the way some team colors look with the backdrop of black fabric.

    Which is why I could probably have dealt with the Mets’ black alternate jerseys if they hadn’t let black seep into the other three (!) uniforms. The “Mets” script in blue outlined in white with orange drop-shadow actually does look good against the black background, and also has the benefit of incorporating all three actual Mets colors.

    It was the blending of black with the blue and orange graphics on the other uniforms (and the use of black caps, socks and undersleeves therewith) that ruined the whole thing. On the BFBS jerseys the black was just the canvas; on the others, it sullied the wordmarks.

    The Cardinals at least had a history of black trim appearing on their uniforms from 1964-1995 (they even experimented with black outlines on the numbers on the otherwise plain red jersey in the early 1970s), and their logo has had black in it for as long as they’ve used the Northern cardinal as a logo. Oddly enough, they dropped black from everything but their logo in 1996, only to bring it back as a trim color with their garbage 2005 redesign.

    And while they fall well out of the 1990s-present scope of the article, it could be argued that the Bruins and Penguins went BFBS long before it was “cool”. The Bruins were brown and gold for their first decade, matching the colors used by team founder and owner Charles Adams’ First National Stores chain, only replacing brown with black in 1934. The Penguins famously switched to black and gold from navy and Columbia blue in 1980 to align with the Pirates and Steelers, but at least they had always had black and gold in their logo.

    It still kills me that the Bruins objected to the Penguins’ change, and the NHL had used the case of the hockey Pirates from 1925 as precedent to override the Bruins’ objection, when you consider how many teams had the same color schemes in 1979-80. Two WHA teams came in with the same colors as the two New York teams, and John Ferguson even recycled his 1976-78 Rangers uniform design for the Jets! Then there are the close similarities between the Capitals’ and Canadiens’ white uniforms, the blue-and-gold Blues and Sabres… that whole thing seems silly, but I’m getting way off-track here.

    There is that… and they actually ditched the black-based scheme in 1997, right when the BFBS trend was taking off!

    When the Cardinals dropped the black trim in 1996, didn’t the go to some blue trim? I believe this was the same time they changed their name from Phoenix to Arizona, and put an Arizona state flag on a shoulder.

    They went from Phoenix to Arizona in 1994, but added the state flag to the white jersey’s sleeve stripes when the team first moved down there in 1988. When they tweaked the uniform in 1996, the stripes were greatly reduced to give more prominence to the flag (also eliminating the team logo from the sleeves in the process), and the thin black stripes were replaced with thin blue stripes.

    The California Seals adopting green and gold when those colors were already held by the Minnesota North Stars as well. But as a Bruins fan, I do like that they objected to the Penguins switch to black and gold. I wish the Bruins could have a brown and gold home and away uniform set for playing the Penguins.

    I disagree with calling the Blackhawks jersey BFBS. Already having white and red jerseys, black made the most sense for a third jersey. I think the issue you have is with having a third jersey at all, which is a different conversation.

    I was always of the mind the New Jersey Devils changed from red+green to red+black in 1992 to make themselves look more like the Chicago Bulls. The Blackhawks were pretty good that year, but not yet the powerhouse of recent times. The Bulls, though, were inescapable.

    That is my mistake. When I suggested the shamrock-four-leaf clover issue to Paul, I was trying to show that some teams (e.g. Blackhawks & Redskins) use both. I forgot to include the photos.

    Re: the Penguins logo being appropriated… Howell isn’t a suburb of Detroit, and most locals don’t consider it part of what we consider Metro Detroit (which is primarily the Wayne-Oakland-Macomb Tri-County Area). It’s more of a satellite town of both Detroit and Lansing, and actually sits a couple of miles closer to the city of Lansing than the city of Detroit.

    Thumbs up for the throwback basketball court. Hope to see more of them and maybe some teams will make them their regular courts.

    I believe the Browns had the A L on their jerseys for former owner Al Lerner until the uniform change….

    good lord I typed upgrade first….. which would be a mistake

    Again, I didn’t ask if other owners had been memorialized.

    I asked if owners had been memorialized with the “Mr. [letter]” format.

    None of my ‘Big Three’ teams have gone BFBS (the Orioles always have had it obviously) but each did Grey/Silver gratuitously.

    The most egregious was when my Baltimore Colts link in 1981. It may as well of been the Pope wearing Bermuda shorts as far as I was concerned. They kept that look through their defection but at that point they became dead to me so they could have gone to pink for all I cared.

    The Orioles once thought a gray cap was a good idea. link

    And the Rangers’ Lady Liberty sweaters that popped up in the early 2000s link For no good reason.

    The Liberty jerseys date back to the 1996-97 season… and you didn’t mention that the silver was also rather prominent in the logo, which is why there was silver trim on the numbers, collar, and sleeve stripes as well.

    And I’ll take the Liberty jerseys over their current dingy fauxbacks every single day of the week. I loved the Liberty jerseys! Of course, I’d also take their 80s-90s V-necked, wider-striped jerseys over their current ones as well. Y’know, the ones they actually won the Cup in.

    The stadium-promotions-driven resurgence of Starting Lineup sports action figures has been discussed here, so relevant news: The Nats are giving away a Bryce Harper Starting Lineup figure this summer.

    There’s a lot of things I love about this blog, but today I love the update on your mom. And yes, that looks like a very nice rock.

    Glad your mom’s doing well. Also that Kansas Jayhawks couch tissue cover thing is super cute.

    I wish the Flyers and Blackhawks didn’t ditch their black jerseys because I loved them so much. I wouldn’t call that BFBS because black was already a huge part of their visual programs anyway. I have no problem with the Arizona Cardinals’ black jersey for the same reasons (cardinal and white aren’t their only official colors), but I don’t really like the uniform template.

    The problem with the Blackhawks’ black uniform was that it rendered the red trim and striping all but invisible. Also, the usual black trim around the crest and shoulder patches remained black, causing further problems.

    I thought the black fauxback with the red and cream (should have been tan) center stripe worked a little better.

    I’ve noticed this too in the NBA. Boston, Orlando, Detoit,Chicago, Houston, and Brooklyn are the teams that come to mind. I think gray is best left on the baseball diamond.

    The Magic has always had silver in its color scheme and the Rockets have had it for the last 13 years, so I don’t see that as GFGS. The Pistons, Celtics and Bulls, on the other hand, are using gray/silver for the hell of it.

    RE: UNI’s black basketball uniform

    I hate BFBS, but UNI has been steadily adding black to their look for a while now, ever since they switched from white to black football pants a couple years back. (I was hoping that when they got new FB uni’s this year, they’d switch back, alas no.) I’m not a fan of the fact that they’re using more black, I’m not a fan of a black and purple color combination. Their current football uniforms look terrible.

    However, in saying all that, disregarding the BFBS, I quite like UNI’s alternate basketball uniform. The black-to-purple gradient is one of the prettiest and most creative uses of BFBS that I’ve seen, and they look pretty sharp on the court, IMO.

    They pale in comparison to their gold alts from last year, though.

    While it is correct that the Cavs wore their gold against the T-wolves’ black, that picture is not from the other night. LeBron had a black sleeve on his right arm and did not wear a headband. Also, WIggins hair is much longer currently.

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