[Editor’s Note: Paul is on vacation and will return to the site on March 9. Today’s content is by assistant editor Mike Chamernik.]
By Mike Chamernik
The NBA was very standardized with its uniforms for many years. Aside from a few teams in gold, everyone wore colors on the road and white at home. Color-color matchups were unheard of.
There was an aberration, though. The Baltimore Bullets wore orange uniforms at home during the late 1960s, particularly in the 1968-69 season.
Kenny Kaplan tipped me off to this and helped me find as many photos I could. I also found this video that shows clips of the Bullets in orange against the Sonics. Kenny remembers the 1968-69 season pretty well.
“The Bullets got new uniforms that year which consisted of blue on the road and orange at home,” Kenny says. “Since many of us back then still had black and white TVs, it was an unusual choice as it was hard to tell the difference between the teams. In fact, I specifically remember watching a Knicks-Bullets game on Channel 9 when the Knicks announcer commented how the Bullets got new uniforms and while they look really nice, it’s really hard to tell the difference between the Knicks and Bullets on the TV monitor.”
Wanting to know more, I reached out to a few guys that played for the Bullets. I got in touch with Jack Marin, a forward that season.
“I loved that uniform,” Marin said. “It was the first one I wore in the NBA. It was highlighted with blue, the complementary color, and looked terrific. Its successor was bizarre, to say the least.”
Marin didn’t specify any color-vs.-color memories, though. I also called Kevin Lougherty, a Bullets guard, and while he remembers the orange unis (he liked to pair orange sneakers with them), he didn’t recall the color-color matchups. Dang.
Pylons Displaced Red Flags: Metaphorically speaking, the end zone is the safest place on the football field, maybe in all of sports. The moment that the ball carrier crosses the plane, all violence and chaos stop. The drive is over, and points are put on the board. The job is done. Really, it wouldn’t be a stretch to put barcaloungers and coffee tables back there.
The end zone was quite different a half century ago. Goalposts were directly on the goal line, which often times was problematic. Instead of using padded rectangular pylons to mark the end zone, the NFL used flags with pointed tops.
I wince every time I see an old clip. I could only imagine a running back sprinting toward the corner, extending the ball out as he’s being tackled… and landing eyeball-first on the flag stick. Ow!
Gola-tending: Wearing personal accessories during a game would seem like a relatively new thing, but it’s not.
From what I’ve found, Hall of Fame guard Tom Gola was one of the first players to regularly wear a necklace during games. He wore one in college at La Salle in the early 1950s. Then, he had one in the pros with the Warriors, including in the 1956 NBA Finals, and with the Knicks. He wore several types of necklaces, including one that looks to be a dog tag (he was a US Army specialist).
Gola was predated by Vince Boryla, though. I didn’t find any game photos, but Boryla had on a necklace during a photo shoot with the Knicks in the early 1950s. He also wore one when he played for Notre Dame in the mid-1940s.
Mike’s Question of the Week
As a player or coach, have you ever chosen your team’s uniforms, colors, or logos? Did you design the uniforms yourself? What went into your choice? How were the uniforms received by players and fans?
Back when I was 14, my youth baseball team needed a name. Teams in our league took their names and logos from the MLB. We were in suburban Chicago, and the Cubs and White Sox were already taken. A few of us older players wanted our team to be different, so we ended up choosing the Blue Jays (the Expos were our other choice). We wore Blue Jays jerseys and caps, which we thought were pretty neat.
Share your answers in the comment section.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: The Yankees and Pirates wore dark jerseys yesterday. The Yankees were in their road “New York” jerseys, but OF Aaron Hicks had on the home “NY” top (from Mark Grainda and Robert Brashear). … Some Indians players in Spring Training wore jerseys with red numbers, instead of the white ones with the sublimated designs on them (from Ben Dodds). … Team USA shortstop Brandon Crawford has an American flag-themed glove (from Brandon Arnold). … Team Israel is rallying around its mascot, “Mensch on a Bench” (from Phil). … A news station in Cincinnati used an old Reds logo during a report on Spring Training weather in Arizona (from Mike Neuhaus). … A Rockies beat reporter discussed the team’s new shade of purple with a baseball fan at Spring Training (from Perry Sailor). … The Salt Lake Bees and the Albuquerque Isotopes will play a throwback game in June (from Phil). … New uniforms for Endicott, a Division-III school (from Liam Burke).
NFL News: Baltimore Colts quarterback Bert Jones wore an Orioles cap while tossing the football around before a game in 1975 (from Ferdinand Cesarano). … A Reddit user created a redesign concept for every team in the league.
Hockey News: New mask for Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (from Marc-Louis Paprzyca). … Black Hawks goaltender Denis DeJordy wore Rangers pants during a game against the Canadiens during the 1964-65 season. “I don’t know the explanation for this wardrobe malfunction except that during the 1964-65 season, DeJordy played 30 games for Chicago and seven games for the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons,” says Kevin Vautour. “I believe the Bisons had players from both the Rangers and Chicago on their rosters and had uniforms similar to New York.”
NBA News: Chicago wore Los Bulls jerseys last night. … The Hawks wore their blue Pistol Pete throwbacks at home against the Warriors, who were in white. … LeBron James wears No. 23 during games but No. 6 in practice. That forced new Cavalier Andrew Bogut to wear No. 6.5 during shootaround yesterday (from Phil). … A pair of socks in the Celtics online shop show Al Horford in a No. 24 jersey. He actually wears 42, and previously wore No. 15 with the Hawks (from Colin Tierney).
College & High School Hoops News: New postseason uniforms for nine Adidas schools. … A player on Northern Kentucky has some very short shorts (from Robert Hayes, via Phil). … A high school team in Michigan wears pants as part of its uniform (from Jordan Elwart). … Bill Kellick says that a few teams wore garish camo unis at his son’s recent basketball tournament. … A high school basketball player in Utah is named Stockton Malone Shorts.
Soccer News: During yesterday’s match against West Ham, Chelsea’s Gary Cahill’s shirt was stepped on and torn. The ref had him tuck it in and play continued, during the next stoppage he was given a replacement shirt with his name on the back (from reader Vivek).