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The Man(Cave), The Myth, The Legend

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By Phil Hecken

As many of you know, I love colorizations — particularly of old baseball photos — and I’ve run many colorized photos in the past (I’ve also attempted to colorize a few myself, with varying degrees of success, and even had a few colorization tutorials on Uni Watch over the years). Today, you’re about to “meet” another outstanding artist, Chris Whitehouse, who goes by “Man Cave” (Man Cave Photos, Man Cave Productions, ManCave Pictures, etc.) and who is particularly skilled in the art.

You’d be forgiven if you mistook the set of seven photos that appear in today’s splash for actual color photos — they’re not. They’ve all been colorized from old (in some cases, over 100 years old) photographs, and with incredible attention to detail. Before we get into today’s pictures, though, I wanted to introduce today’s featured artist to you.

So without further ado, here’s a brief interview I conducted with Chris (enjoy). Following the interview, you’ll see seven absolutely amazing “before and after” photos:

• • • • • •

Uni Watch: OK, standard question first — how long have you been a Uni Watch follower and what first brought you to the blog?

Chris Whitehouse: I’m pretty sure it was nearly three years ago when I was searching for reference colors for an old knitted baseball warm-up sweater! (I found the reference, thank you)

UW: How old are you?

CW: I’m 57. Born in Elgin, IL about equal distance from Wrigley and Comiskey.

UW: I’ve always loved colorizations, and featured many (including some by you) on the blog. How long have you been doing them?

CW: I think it’s been about five years now, but before colorizing I had been doing photo restoration from around 1980 at university (Northern Illinois). Very primitive stuff at first. India ink on old prints and negatives, trying to get the spots out. Then burning and dodging in the dark room. All of the things that are ridiculously easier these days. I even tried coloring prints once with a set of photo colorizing ink. Results were, “Well that sucked. Don’t do this again.”

My first digital color job was a photo of my dad sitting in his jet in Korea for which I had done the black and white restoration, of a faded and creased print, years before. That came out really well, so I worked on a lot of other images, mostly old family photos and old images of Hong Kong, where I’ve been living since 86, and which I sell in a local museum.

UW: What program do you use? I always thought everyone used photoshop (or GIMP), but some guys use other programs?

CW: Photoshop exclusively. There really isn’t anything that I can’t do with it. My Wacom pen and tablet are also essential. I can’t imagine doing this work with a mouse.

UW: What attracted you to colorizations? Do you do any non-sports ones?

CW: See above

UW: Is this a hobby or do you do any of this professionally?

CW: At first a very serious hobby, but now more and more professionally. I also work with my brother who is a sports photographer, doing digital work on his images.

UW: Where can we see more of your work?

CW: My website (mancavepictures.com). I’m also on Twitter (@ManCavePhotos, on Facebook mancavepictures, and procamsports.com.

UW: How long did it take you to *learn* to colorize? Do you use any ‘tricks’ or special techniques?

CW: Since I had so many years experience with Photoshop (while making video games in Hong Kong) and digital restoration, it took just one image really. I think that my experience in restoration of the base image has given me a real boost because I notice that a lot of colorizers don’t even bother with it. This may limit them to only the better preserved historical images. As you can see from the before and after examples here, some of the pictures that I work on start out in pretty terrible condition. The power that Photoshop has to draw information out of seemingly hopeless areas of the images is really quite astounding.

UW: How long does an “average” colorization take? What picture took you the longest?

CW: A simple portrait with minimal restoration can be done in just a few hours. The longest would be a large team photo that is in bad shape, such as that 1909 Reds or the 1908 Cubs images seen here. Those can take several weeks all told, although I am never working on one image at a time because that would get pretty tedious. I always have many different images going at the same time to keep me fresh.

• • • • • •

Great stuff Chris. OK, I asked Chris to send me seven of what he considers his “best” pictures, and if he’d describe them. They’re all below. You can click on any of the images to enlarge, of course.

• • •

Billy Sullivan 1911

Billy Sullivan, White Sox catcher, in 1911. Confronted with a horrible old ghostly image of a man like this and knowing that you can breathe life into him again is pure Photoshop joy.

• • •

Reds 1909

The Cincinnati Reds in 1909, wearing a motley of home and away uniforms from several years, with a few other team’s warm up sweaters thrown in. This is what the dreams of Uni Watch must be like.

The head of Millard Huggins in the original (second from right top row) was badly cut and pasted from his cut off body on the far left. I replaced that authentic cut and paste with the modern equivalent.

I can imagine when they all dressed up differently and gathered for this photo that they were thinking what a great shot it would make. Not realizing that, like the Cubs, it would be 108 years before their colorful dream could be realized.

• • •

G C Alexander 1917

Grover Cleveland Alexander of the Phillies looking all heroic on the dugout steps in 1914. Coloring the crowds from these days is not as difficult as you imagine since the color pallet was more limited than today. Every man’s straw hat was straw colored…

• • •

DiMaggio McCarthy Gehrig 1937

Proud Manager Joe McCarthy with his two greatest stars, DiMaggio and Gehrig, in the Fenway Park dugout in 1937. Not the most exciting uniforms, but the excitement came from those who were wearing them.

• • •

Robins 1916

My favorite image because of it’s composition. I don’t know if it was staged or a lucky shot. This is Brooklyn Robins’ Hi Myers, Manager Wilbert Robinson (from whom the team got it’s name-later to become the Dodgers), and their “mascot”. Meyers and Robinson are wearing the Robins’ 1916 checkerboard uniforms, while the mascot is stuck with the 1915 stripes. At Braves Field, Boston.

• • •

Cubs 1908

Speaking of the Cubs, I started working on this when this was their last Championship team and finished it when it was their previous. Inset are Evers, Chance, and Tinker. Photo was taken at the West Side Grounds in Chicago after their World Series win.

I sent a huge print of this, with a congratulations note, to Theo Epstein, but got no reply. This is why they are now playing around .500.

• • •

McGraw Evers 1912

Giants manager John McGraw with Cubs star Johnny Evers at the Polo Grounds in 1912. I love how the Cubs away blues of today are so similar to this jersey.

• • • • • •

Yowsa! Just great stuff Chris. Thanks so much for sharing and for giving the readers a look into the inner workings of the Man Cave Mind! I’m confident there will be more Man Cave offerings which shall be shared on here in the future.

Readers, how about a nice “virtual set of applause” for Chris’ talent and effort!

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Vilk Baseball Card front
In Search of…
…the “Perfect” Baseball Card

Earlier this year, I ran a post in which reader Ray Hund described his quest — and “rules” — for a “Perfect” baseball card. I had asked readers to submit their own submissions for what they considered to be their own version of the perfect card. I’ll run these periodically. If you have a submission for your own “Perfect” baseball card, shoot me an email with a short(ish) writeup and of course, an image (or images) of your own perfect card.

• • •

We begin today with Alan Filipczak, who couldn’t decide on just one perfect card:

Phil,

Call it millennial nostalgia if you’d like, but in my mind, the perfect baseball card design template will always be 1993 Topps. Every card in that set is a gem, though it’s tough to top the photos for two iconic sluggers of that era: the Big Hurt grinning and clutching three bats and Junior watching the ball sail upon completion of his perfect swing.

IMG_4337 IMG_4338

Alan Filipczak

• • •

And we conclude today with John Furstenthal:

Dear Phil,

Always was a fan of Wade Boggs as a teenager, and collected baseball cards. This one was creative, and showed movement. One of the few if not only horizontal cards in this set.

boggs 90

John Furstenthal

• • •

I think these are the last two I have in my inbox (and if you sent me one I didn’t run, please resubmit) — but if you guys would like to continue with the this little segment, please send me your “perfect” card, my e-mail address is above.

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Paul On The Air…

PL mic

In case you missed it (I did — I only happened on this via a Google alert), Paul was interviewed on 101.3 FM (ESPN) radio.

”˜The Huddle’ talked with Paul the other day about the infamous “bullpen carts” that Brady had no idea about on Thursday’s show and then talked about some uniform changes in the NFL for 2017. And, could the Boston Bruins be getting new uniforms next year?

It’s only about 11 minutes and it’s worth a listen fer sure!

Check it out here.

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Lukas b&wIn Case You Missed It…Paul’s Latest ESPN Piece

In case you missed it on Thursday, Paul’s latest ESPN column takes a look at all the yellow gold being worn by the four teams in the NBA and NHL finals, and also has his picks for the best “yellow-centric” uniforms ever in each of the major pro leagues.

If you didn’t read Paul’s latest piece, here ya go.

Good stuff there!

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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: Somehow, on Friday night, Dusty Baker’s cap avoided the New Era advert (good spot by Aaron Rupar). … Maybe only 10-15% of players in the bigs wear stirrups/hosiery, but there are still plenty of guys in college still rockin’ the rups (from Greg Atwood). … I’m not sure when these will be worn, but check out these “The Greatest” jerseys for the Louisville Bats (h/t Ethan Moore). … I know this isn’t a big deal anymore, but since Tim Dunn sent in the pic — the Mariners & Rays went color vs color on Friday. … “I was at the Clemson/UNC-Greensboro game (Friday) night, and noticed that the NCAA’s policies now include sterilizing home-field advantage as much as possible,” writes Chip Powell. “All scoreboard graphics are in NCAA colors/designs instead of what Clemson normally uses, they would play the visiting team’s fight song when they scored, none of our usual in-game entertainment was allowed, and even our regular PA announcers were replaced by NCAA-approved announcers.” … N Davidson (NC) won 4A softball title. HC Mike Lambros battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The ladies got unis in his honor (from Patrick Wright). … The Memphis Redbirds wore these superhero costume, er, jerseys last evening (from Minor League Promos). … The one and only Jimmer Vilk was watching some Iron Pigs vs Sox travel baseball at Hudson (OH) High School. The Hudson Explorers’ field has a very Mariner-esque “H” logo. … Yesterday began MLB’s “Play Ball” initiative, and teams wore jersey patches to commemorate the games, but apparently not everyone got the memo (from James Beattie). … Did the St. Louis Cardinals wear spring training jerseys for batting practice yesterday? asks Name Redacted. “You can see the graphics on the numbers.” … It’s one thing to use a teammate’s bat. It’s another thing entirely to well, see for yourself. Submitter George Doig says of Carlos Gomez, “He must be a friend of Freddy Galvis … or a thief.” … With yesterday’s addition of the “Play Ball” patch, the Marlins are LOADED with them (patches include the Jose Fernandez memorial and ASG). From Robert Hayes.

NFL/WFL/USFL/CFL/College/Football News: As reported in yesterday’s ticker, not only will Michigan wear an alternate uni this coming season, it seems as though Jim Harbaugh helped design it (from School). Wonder if the pants will be khaki colored. … The NFL has sacked Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s plans to drive an Eagles paint schemed car honoring teachers (from Michael McLaughlin). … Maybe the pros can learn from the tykes? Check out this texture on the Jaguars helmet on the far right from a peewee team in Mexico (from Cesar). … Texas Tech played their spring game blissfully logo free, and Chance Hester” wants to know why. Anyone? (The only thing I can think of is it’s one of those “you have to earn your logo/stripes” type of things, but isn’t that usually reserved for rookies/underclassmen?)

Hockey News: Couple things from Patrick Thomas: “So apparently Edmonton’s old third almost had a striping similar to the pre edge pens. Here’s a potential prototype.” … Also from Patrick, “This is on eBay…..it claims to be a 1995-1996 prototype for the Nordiques….very interesting.”

Soccer News: Turkish Süper Lig club Trabzonspor yesterday revealed their new home kit for the 2017-18 season. The new Trabzonspor 2017-2018 home kit was debuted in the last league match of the season against Bursaspor yesterday from Ed Å»elaski”). … Middlesbrough of The Championship (England Tier 2) released their 17-18 home kit (from Josh Hinton). … Barcelona have joined an elite group of clubs allowed to wear a ‘badge of honour’ on their shirts (from Derek McCord). … Liverpool have launched their away kit for next season, the second of three strips celebrating the club’s 125th anniversary. … In a move of which Paul would surely approve, Real Madrid played a game in a purple jersey, but then wore their traditional white for trophy presentation (from Griffin Smith). … “For (last) night’s friendly against Venezuela, the US men’s national team wore rainbow jersey numbers, presumably for Pride Month,” says Markus Kamp. “Interested to see whether they’ll wear them for World Cup qualifiers later in June!”

Grab Bag: What happens if you put the Mizuno logo and the Champion logo together? It looks like Batman dabbing (from Shawn). … Kanye West has made a pitch to redesign the Calabasas High School sports uniforms. … Jimmie Johnson will honor driver Cale Yarborough with slick helmet design.

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And that’s it for today. Big thanks to Chris “Man Cave” Whitehouse for the wonderful colorizations. Hope you guys liked the “Perfect Baseball Card” series enough to keep it going — so if you do, send me your ‘perfect’ card with a short writeup.

That will do it for me for this weekend. Everyone have a great week and I’ll catch you next Saturday…but until then…

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.

Peace.

.. … ..

“Pete Rose is a tool. … Hope his ego was juiced enough from big timing a bunch of hard working kids and I hope he blew the whole wad at the dog track.”

— Dave

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24 comments to The Man(Cave), The Myth, The Legend

  • George Chilvers | June 4, 2017 at 8:16 am |

    Nice to see colourisation back on the agenda.
    Nice work Chris (although from elsewhere you already know I like your work).

  • Randy | June 4, 2017 at 8:19 am |

    The ticker item about Carlos Gomez should be Carlos Gonzalez.

  • Mike Engle on iPhone | June 4, 2017 at 8:23 am |

    Has no bearing on its veracity as a prototype, but how jarring to see a Nordiques the name Goulet over JC Tremblay’s #3 and not #16 !

    • Wade Heidt | June 4, 2017 at 11:03 am |

      There is something really unusual about that jersey to make me think it was not a legit prototype. Both Tremblay’s #3 and Goulet’s #16 were retired by the Nordiques when the team was still in existence. That being said, the number and nameplate combination of this jersey is a sign of disrespect to both players that were honoured by the team.

      Besides, we all remember the purple Nordiques uniform that was intended to be used in 1995-96 before the move the Denver. Also not many forwards (if any) wear #3. Only other number that Goulet wore as a pro that I know of was #9 in the WHA with the Birmingham Bulls:

      http://www.gamewornauctions.net/products/1978_79_Michel_Goulet_WHA_Birmingham_Bulls_Game_Worn_Jersey_Rookie-7184-171.html

  • Jordan | June 4, 2017 at 8:58 am |

    Yikes. That Barca article is from August 2015.

    • Brett Pasternack | June 4, 2017 at 2:20 pm |

      Yeah, I was wondering why they would announce that on the day of the Champions League final…of course, they wouldn’t!

      Speaking of which, referring to the Champions League final just as “a game” in the Ticker seems really wrong. Should be changed to “Real Madrid played the Champions League final in purple…”

  • Bruce | June 4, 2017 at 9:12 am |

    Good stuff Chris, especially the ’16 Robins pic – I’ve always really liked that one.

  • Eric | June 4, 2017 at 10:12 am |

    That would be Miller Huggins, not “Millard.”

  • Chris | June 4, 2017 at 12:08 pm |

    Regarding Texas Tech’s spring game, the coaches instituted that the players have to “earn the Double T” through their work. They also have different color jerseys based on how hard the player is working in the eyes of the coaches.

  • Dan T. | June 4, 2017 at 12:09 pm |

    Two thoughts-

    – the colorization work is awesome. Really brings those old photos to life. I do wonder if Chris only does sports photos? Would love to see his work applied to old Civil War or WWII shots.

    – does anybody else find the whole football trend of players having to “earn” their helmet logos kind of childish? Especially in the pro ranks. Would love to hear from players as to whether this actually motivates them or insults them.

  • Chris Whitehouse | June 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm |

    Dan T.

    I focus on sports images because the war photos are so well covered by my friends. And also because somebody needs to do this. These guys don’t deserve to be seen only as ghosts.

    I’ve only done the one colorized military image of my father here:
    http://i.imgur.com/OciNNwV.png

    I have, however, restored a good number of 3D images from the Civil War.

  • mike 2 | June 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm |

    Not everything that looks different was a prototype. eBay sellers’ general over-the-top promotional style applied to a shitty Walmart jersey from 20 years ago doesn’t make something a rare valuable prototype.

    My local Walmart is filled with weird concept shit right now. I should go buy it so that I can resell it as “lost prototypes” 20 years from now.

    https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/038697af-4d59-4efd-a9e8-b7577d117b54_1.c45881ca8d4b32f4c44c9f6715f24970.jpeg?odnHeight=450&odnWidth=450&odnBg=FFFFFF

    https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2926/13582899224_8382c85e9f_z.jpg

  • Memphis Bill | June 4, 2017 at 1:41 pm |

    That is some great colorization, Whitehouse! Reminds me of the first colorize contest i saw at Uniwatch years ago when the subject was this B&W pic if Liz Taylor

    1 here is the thread
    http://www.uni-watch.com/2011/03/27/f1-indy-car-2011-rundown/

    2 here is the orig pic
    http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5091/5562379785_4421b17f73_o.png

    3 here was the winner from Jeremy Kelly
    http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5098/5562995116_95042dc2ae_o.png

    4 and here is why meth should stay outlawed
    http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5063/5562970732_9fe9b7d11e_o.jpg

  • Gary | June 4, 2017 at 4:17 pm |

    Great interview with Chris. I’m pleased that he makes note of the importance of having the best possible base image before starting the colorization process.

  • Ted Mark | June 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm |

    Absolutely wonderful colorizations, Chris. Thank you. And Theo Epstein is a jerk.

  • Jay Winkler | June 5, 2017 at 10:53 am |

    The USMNT will not wear the Pride Month numbers for the qualifiers, at least they aren’t currently planning on it. The USWNT will also wear the numbers for their own June friendlies.

  • Mark in Shiga | June 5, 2017 at 11:29 am |

    Wow, those are some gorgeous colorizations — and of what might be the most beautiful in baseball history, the dark blue Cubs C-with-bear uniform! (The home white uniforms don’t look too bad, either.)

    Theo must be too busy to acknowledge it just now!

  • marc | June 5, 2017 at 12:39 pm |

    I do a little bit of colorizing and have even had a couple or three here on UW – one of which featured an NHL All-Star jersey on which I’d mistakenly flip-flopped the red and blue leading to a great write-up by Paul and others about the use of filters in black and white photography.

    All that aside, I must say Chris Whitehouse (whose work I’ve recently been following on Twitter) absolutely stands head-and-shoulders above that of any sports colorizers I’ve seen. The ones I did were done out of curiosity to see what the subject would look like in color. It’s more than apparent that Chris’ were done to turn one work of art into a whole other work of art. Beautiful work, Chris! Can’t wait to see more.

  • Steve Crouser | June 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm |

    Hi folks,
    Since this post colorization-centric I just want to hip you to the magnificent colorization work of Marina Amaral. She is mostly commissioned for historical/military non-sport stuff but if you are interested in this type of work you will be amazed to check it out if you don’t already know about her.

    http://www.marinamaral.com

  • Steve Crouser | June 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm |

    Hi folks,
    Since this post is colorization-centric I just want to hip you to the magnificent colorization work of Marina Amaral. She is mostly commissioned for historical/military non-sport stuff but if you are interested in this type of work you will be amazed to check it out if you don’t already know about her.

    http://www.marinamaral.com

  • J Exby | June 5, 2017 at 9:52 pm |

    How is there no commentary on a 1911 White Sox (road) cap that has possibly never been mentioned before and (again) isn’t referenced by Onkonnen?