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It Was 18 Years Ago Today

May 17, nine days ago, was the 11th anniversary of the first entry on this website. But today is another important day on the Uni Watch calendar: It was 18 years ago today — May 26, 1999 — that the very first Uni Watch column appeared in the now-defunct sports section of The Village Voice. Here’s how it looked (click to enlarge):

It was essentially the first installment of what we now think of as my annual MLB season-preview column, except it wasn’t really a preview because it appeared in late May. But there had never been anything like Uni Watch up until that time, so the whole idea of chronicling the season’s uniform changes seemed novel and interesting, even if the season was nearly two months old.

I wrote another column four weeks later, and another one four weeks after that, and that’s how Uni Watch got started. The Voice killed their sports section in the fall of 2003 (my editor left the news for me on my home voicemail, which I heard while calling in from a payphone at the Lightning Field — I’ll always remember that), so I briefly moved the column to Slate. Then I convinced ESPN to give me a shot in the summer of 2004, and I’ve been with them since then. This website, which was designed to supplement the ESPN column, launched in May of 2006.

If I had been smart, I would have waited nine days to launch this site, so the site’s anniversary and the larger Uni Watch anniversary would sync up. I’ve sometimes wondered if we should just split the difference between May 17 and May 26 — either May 21 or 22 would work — and call it Uni Watch Day, sort of like the way Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays have been merged into Presidents Day. But then I think, “Nah, I like getting to celebrate two anniversaries,” so there you go.

Anyway: Uni Watch has now turned 18! That means Uni Watch can now:

•  Buy cigarettes
•  Vote (thanks, 26th Amendment!)
•  Enlist in the military
•  Serve on a jury
•  Get a credit card
•  Get a tattoo, in most states
•  Be held in an adult jail
•  Donate blood
•  Go skydiving
• Buy a lottery ticket
•  Buy a car

And so on. Pretty amazing that this media project has lasted this long. A lot of the credit for that goes to you folks. Thanks for all your contributions, for all your ideas and suggestions, for all your support and encouragement, and just for showing up here each day. And that goes quintuple for those of you who’ve been Uni Watch readers all the way back to the Village Voice days. You’re the best.

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Click to enlarge

Friday Flashback: Last week I did a blog entry on MLB players who’ve worn the captain’s C. Today I have a new ESPN column that expands upon that piece, with new players added to the mix (turns out that the first C-clad captain was Dave Concepcion in 1983, shown above) and more historical context (can you guess who is the only player to have worn the C in a World Series?). Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: If you go to this page and search on “Now the 57’s,” you’ll get a story on how the Swift Current team in the Western Major Baseball League — a Canadian collegiate summer league — has changed its name from the Indians to the 57’s. If you scroll down one item below that, you can see how the club was soliciting new team names from the public (from Ron Yaworski).

Baseball News: I know it’s pretty common now to see all sorts of teams wearing tequila sunrise jerseys, but the ones being worn by Chatsworth High School in California look particularly sharp. … Most facemask attachments on batting helmets these days are the solid plastic extension, but LSU’s Greg Deichmann wears a series of molded bars (from Alex Allen). … I don’t drink wine or root for the Orioles. But if I did, I’d totally be into these awesome Orioles bottle stoppers, which the O’s will be giving away on July 22 (from Andrew Cosentino). … Adidas has produced a new Memorial Day cleat, which over 100 MLB players will be wearing this weekend. Interestingly, the design does not feature any camouflage. Instead it features a red poppy — an interesting choice, since poppies are used by UK commonwealth countries for Armistice Day, which takes place on Nov. 11 and is their version of Memorial Day. So for once, we have a design that’s actually about memorializing the dead, not rah-rah-ing the living — nicely done. I do think it’s a bit odd to employ a symbol associated with other countries for a holiday that takes place in November, but whatever — any non-camo approach is an improvement (thanks, Phil). … The Corpus Christi Hooks are in the midst of a three-game run wearing Dia de los Hooks uniforms (from Edward Lopez). … Great cross-sport promotion by the Hartford Yard Goats, who have Whalers Alumni Weekend jerseys (from @MiLBPromos). … Check out that mask that Japanese player Takashi Toritani is wearing after suffering a broken nose. Never seen anything like that on a baseball diamond before. … Astros SS Carlos Correa is the latest MLB player to wear a faceguard attachment on his batting helmet (from @mws621). … I assume this is a standard Nike template, but the U. of Iowa has an odd jersey format that results in a truncated headspoon (from Kary Klismet). … The visitors’ dugout in Toronto — and, I’m assuming, every other MLB dugout — has signs listing the guidelines for cell phone use and permissable personnel. Interesting that there’s a ceiling on the number of coaches — I hadn’t been aware of that (from Marc Bauche).

Pro and College Football News: Here’s the story behind why 49ers rookie Solomon Thomas wears No. 94 (thanks, Brinke). … Interesting move by the Saints, who memorialized Cortez Kennedy on their helmets during OTAs yesterday. Kennedy played his entire career with the Seahawks, so this is a pretty big gesture of respect by another team (thanks, Phil). … Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill was practicing this week in shorts with the team’s throwback logo. “Makes me hope they’ll get rid of the current unis and go with the sweet throwbacks full-time,” says Coach Ed. … With the NFL loosening the rules for touchdown celebrations, here’s one observer’s picks for the 30 greatest celebrations of all time (blame Kary Klismet). … New uniforms for New Mexico Military Institute (from Rob Montoya). … The latest baseball luminary to be stuck wearing the Hall of Fame’s lame-o induction jersey is none other than Homer Simpson. That’s a promo towel from this weekend’s “induction” event (from Tyler Kepner).

Hockey News: As a few jillion people have pointed out, it’s going to be a very yellow Stanley Cup Final. … Speaking of which, the Final logo has been added to the Predators’ ice surface (thanks, Alex). … Meanwhile, where will the Penguins be wearing the Final patch, since they already have a 50th-anniversary patch? When asked about that back in January, Pens equipment manager Dana Heinze said the anniversary patch would move to the shoulder in order to make room for the Final patch (from Jared Grubbs). … is reporting that 12 NHL teams will have some sort of uniform change as part of the Reebok/Adidas changeover, although the article says, “these changes could be very minor, even as minor as just an already existing alternate uniform being ‘promoted’ to a full-time home uniform.” In other words, let’s not go too crazy until we see what’s what. … I had this in the baseball section, but it works here as well: Great cross-sport promotion by minor league baseball’s Hartford Yard Goats, who have Whalers Alumni Weekend jerseys (from @MiLBPromos).

NBA News: Looks like the Hornets have throwbacks in the works. That would presumably be their original design, created by menswear mogul Alexander Julian (from Craig Kirkpatrick).

Soccer News: New third jerseys for Chelsea and Manchester City. … New kit for Hoffenheim. … New home kits for West Bromwich and Melbourne City (from Josh Hinton).

Grab Bag: Over 100 athletes, including over 80 Americans, were given defective medals at the Rio Olympics. … Best click you’ll have all day is this absolutely heroic article on a regionalism I hadn’t been aware of: In L.A., donut boxes are always pink. Tremendous piece of work — highly recommended (big thanks, Brinke). … Two breweries have new logo and packaging designs: Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee and Cape May Brewing in New Jersey (from @gimarmet). … Copperplate Gothic is a badly overused and dated typeface, but there’s one place where it’s very appropriate: outside a historic copper mine (from Andy Garms). … The U.S. Navy will soon start selling a new “fitness suit.” Key quote: “All the other military services have had fitness suits for years. Issuing a Navy version is a milestone sailors have long wanted. The Navy approved the official fitness uniform in 2007 and officials started development multiple times, only to scrap the efforts and start over. This time, officials say, they’ve got it right.” Or as reader Chris Bisbee puts it, “It took the world’s largest nuclear navy 10 years to design and field a fucking track suit.” … This week’s New Yorker has a faaaaascinating feature article about sand. Yes, sand! You might not find sand as interesting as I do, but the first few hundred words of the article are about the very exacting specs for the sand used in beach volleyball courts, so it’s right in the Uni Watch wheelhouse. … “Kicking people in the shins is an actual organized sport in Great Britain,” says Kary Klismet. “The uni-related tie-in is that the only protective equipment allowed is straw tucked into the competitors’ trouser legs.”

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If you’re traveling for the holiday weekend, travel safe. If you’re working, thanks for keeping the world spinning while the rest of us enjoy some time off. And if you’re mourning a fallen service member for Memorial Day, please accept my condolences for your loss.

Comments (64)

    Congratulations on the anniversary. Uni Watch can now also buy alcohol when you visit Quebec.

    And everyone knows that in rural Quebec the drinking age is merely a suggestion anyway, pas encore!

    As the joke goes… Quebec, where the legal drinking age is just a suggestion.

    Cortez Kennedy and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis were close friends, and Kennedy was an unofficial consultant to the team, thus the tribute.

    Re: The yellow-rama Stanley Cup Finals, I was trying to think of the closest equivalent in regard to championship match-ups (big 4), the closest I came up with was Rams/Steelers Super Bowl. The games in Nashville will be particularly tough if you don’t like yellow.

    Packers v Steelers Super Bowl a few years ago, too. Yellow helmet for Pack and yellow pants for both teams.

    Iowa football has long copied, or nodded to the uniform style of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Until now, I didn’t know that Iowa baseball copies the Pittsburgh Pirates, including their number font.

    A side effect of the interrupted headspoon is a smile over the player number on the back.

    At least in Denver VFW is enlisting other organizations to participate in “buddy poppy” so I’ve heard of it a few times.

    The local VFW’s were handing out poppies around town the last couple weekends.
    From the VFW website
    “Buddy Poppy. Before Memorial Day in 1922, we conducted our first poppy distribution, becoming the first veterans’ organization to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, as it remains today.”

    The American Legion lobbied Congress to designate the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day, starting in 2017. See link

    Uni-watch cannot buy cigarettes or vaping products in California. Unless it’s in the military 1st.

    That truncated headspoon showed up on the Houston Cougars last Saturday. This gallery has the pics. Jump to the middle of the gallery for the best pictures of it.


    Happy 18th! Also enjoyed watching the touchdown celebration video. How quaint and original the Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson dance appears when compared to some of today’s celebrations. Even His seems to be more celebration than the self promotion. However that could simply be my looking at it through the prism of time.

    Congratulations on the anniversary and thank you for creating this great community. I still look forward to reading Uni Watch each and every day.

    BBQ meats are on me the next time you are in Atlanta.

    “….49ers rookie Solomon Thomas wears No. 94…”

    Umm, does he know nothing about THIS guy?


    Congrats on the continued success! I can honestly say that of all the blogs I started reading in the late 90s during my college years, this is the only one to last the test of time.

    This fan made poster for the Nashville Preds is pretty interesting


    I knew the Iowa football uniforms mimick the Steelers, but I didn’t know their baseball uniforms also use the same font as the pirates. Interesting. I guess the black and gold connection goes pretty deep!

    New nickname for Swift Current baseball team: “The name “57’s” was chosen to honor the legacy of the 57 seasons that Swift Current has used the mascot name the “Indians” while competing all over Western Canada, dating as far back as the 1940’s.”

    So, a new nickname honoring the years a team used its previous nickname?!

    Congratulations on the anniversary of the day “that the very first Uni Wach column appeared in the now-defunct sports section of The Village Voice.”

    Frankly, Swift Current’s new identity I find brilliant. It in no way whitewashes the team’s history, and is meant to start a conversation about the old nickname. Owning up to the old identity is an element I find sorely lacking with various colleges retagging themselves “the Redhawks”.

    I remember buying the Village Voice like I always did. I went outside to my favorite lunch spot and when I saw your piece on the Mets I was stunned. I mean I could not believe somebody was writing about that. Congrats on your anniversary!

    I first read Uni Watch when it was on on Slate. I didn’t think I was still reading Slate that recently, but there you go.

    Frustrating that it is near impossible to find Dolphins merchandise (hats, shirts, etc) with this particular throwback logo., which is my favorite. The throwback stuff available uses other past logos, but not this one.

    “but the U. of Iowa has an odd jersey that format that results in a truncated headspoon”
    – Drop the first “that”

    Often, teams get it generally right with uniform design or color scheme, and make mistakes later. The Nashville Predators had that sharp mustard jersey which set them apart from other clubs, but discarded it. The LA Kings had the right color scheme and uniforms before the Gretzky era, and the Washington Capitals 1980s uniforms are superior to anything they’ve produced since.

    In the dugout cell phone rules picture, any idea what “tablets running uniform programs” means? Sounds like it’s up this site’s alley…

    Apparently they, and the optional bullpen-dugout cell phone (do any stadiums do this? I remember somewhere trying and it going terribly), are the only electronic devices allowed in a dugout during a game

    As a Sabres fan, the Adidas takeover of the NHL’s uniforms worries me. By most accounts, most teams will really only be making minor, if any, changes to their uniform sets. But the Sabres seem to make the wrong decisions with alarming regularity, particularly when it comes to uniforms. I want to be optimistic. I’ll try to be. But I have a nagging feeling that they’ll find a way to screw it up. Prove me wrong, Sabres!

    Re: Hartford Yard Goats: does it count as cross sport promotion if the team you’re “promoting” hasn’t existed for two decades? Count me as a lifelong Connecticut resident who doesn’t get the dewy eyed longing for the Whalers.

    As someone who grew up in CT, I think part of it is that it was the only major professional team CT. For every other sport, you were looking at either the NY teams or Boston teams. The unis and logo are also very cool in my book. Yes, the team pretty much sucked their whole existence in the NHL, but why let that get in the way? Or time for that matter?

    If you look at the width of the green and blue stripes, it looks more like a Canucks jersey to me rather than the old Whalers jersey.

    They could have tailored the stripes to be more like the Whalers jersey was or could have gone with a green jersey to avoid this problem and look more like a Whalers jersey.

    I didn’t even know donut boxes came in different colors. In LA it’s literally pink boxes or Krispy Kreme boxes, I’ve never seem anything else in my 35 years of life. Interesting stuff, never thought about it for a second before.

    But then I think, “Nah, I like getting to celebrate two anniversaries,” so there you go.

    That means two Purple Amnesty Days, then. ;)

    Today is also the birthday of the late Hollywood actor Paul Lukas. That’s a nifty coincidence.

    You must have already known that, right Paul? You’ve mentioned him before, so I would assume you knew of such a coincidence.

    Question about the dugout rules. Since there is a one interpreter limit, what do teams do in cases where they would need multiple? There are currently 7 teams with Japanese born players and I assume all of them have Spanish speaking players as well.

    I know the Yankees have their Japanese interpreter on the bench for Tanaka, and he even goes out to the mound with the pitching coach. It seems that they have enough bilingual Spanish speakers on the team that other players and coaches can translate without the need for an interpreter on the bench (though they have one for post-game interviews).

    Paul, congrats on Uni Watch’s nearly two decades of success. You and I butt heads on a number of issues, but I have no problem saying that yours is one of the best sites on the internet, one that I check daily and recommend to friends.

    I just launched my own blog and hope I can reach your level of accomplishment at some point in the future.

    Congratulations on Uni Watch’s 18th anniversary! It seem like only yesterday you were a precocious kid showing up all the big boys. Great to see you all still doing marvelous work. Here’s to 18 more years!

    Here in Wisconsin the American Legion hands out poppies at the annual Memorial Day Parade.

    Congrats on 18 years!

    Also — thank you so much for running this site. With the help of the knowledge that I’ve gained from reading Uni Watch every day, I was able to earn an internship in the marketing department of a AA minor league baseball team for next summer. Thank You!

    May 17 is also a good Uni-Watch anniversary date for another reason. As I remenber the great Ernie Harwell announcing more than once, former major league baseball player Lee May was the only player to have his name and birthday on the back of his uniform – May 17.

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