Skip to content

When the Penguins Wore Earmuffs

There are certain uni-related storylines that have sort of become Uni Watch 101 — stories that have become famous enough, at least for Uni Watch readers, that we’re all familiar with them.

Every now and then, though, I come across a story that seems like it should fall in that category but is totally new to me. We’re going to talk about one of those today. (And hell, maybe all of you know about this story already and I’m the only one who missed the boat. If that’s the case, then I apologize in advance for telling you something you already knew about.)

The year was 1970, and the Penguins were playing the Blues in St. Louis, where the fans had a reputation for being rowdy and loud — so loud, apparently, that Pens coach Red Kelly determined that some sort of pre-emptive action was necessary. He had his players wear … earmuffs. And just to show that he could practice what he preached, Kelly wore the muffs as well.

Yes, really (click to enlarge):

Pretty wild, right? How is it possible that I’d never heard about this until reader Bob Gassel brought it to my attention the other day?

Bob also provided this short AP piece, which indicates that the earmuffs didn’t work out too well:

There’s some additional info here, indicating that the muffs were not mandatory and that only about half of the players wore them. But that page and the AP item both fail to address a key question: Were the muffs worn on the ice, or only on the bench? I found the answer in the book Tales from the Pittsburgh Penguins Locker Room, which includes the following account (click to enlarge);

A few additional thoughts:

•  Obviously, this all took place well before the days of mandatory helmets in the NHL. It’s not clear if the Pens had any helmet-clad players back in 1970, or if any such players wore the muffs over their helmets. A subject for further research!

•  If you go back up to the third photo I posted in this entry, you’ll see that the photo had a little headline: “Attention Dick Gamble.” I didn’t understand what that meant, so I googled Dick Gamble and learned that he’s a former NHL player. It’s not clear what he has to do with earmuffs, though. Anyone..?

•  When I hear about athletes trying to block out boos or heckling, I immediately think of how Rafael Palmeiro of the Orioles wore earplugs in 2005 — a move that pretty much blew up in his face. Six years later, Milton Bradley of the Mariners also wore earplugs. And NFL players have sometimes worn earplugs when playing on the road at particularly loud stadiums, like in Seattle. I’m sure there are other examples — anyone..?

•  If you want to learn more about the Penguins incident, you’ll need a more targeted Google search term than “Pittsburgh Penguins earmuffs.” If you search on that, you end up with a lot of stuff like this. And let’s face it, it would’ve been awesome if that’s what the Pens had been wearing on the bench back in 1970.

(Big thanks to Bob Gassel for bringing this one to my attention, and to Mike Chamernik for research assistance.)

•  •  •  •  •

Click to enlarge

Screen shot 2009-10-04 at 10.07.15 PM.png

Culinary Corner: Picture-perfect weather in my backyard yesterday, as a bunch of friends gathered for an Independence Day cookout. As you can see above, there was a bit of an art-imitates-life moment (or was it the other way around?) as I carved a boneless sirloin steak while wearing just the right T-shirt for the occasion.

There was, of course, quite a bit of meat, including steak, spare ribs, chicken thighs, and many kinds of sausages:

But there were also more unusual offerings. Most notably: I grilled an octopus! Never done that before. Turned out pretty well. In the first shot below, it’s accompanied on the grill by some cactus, which my friends Jon and Karen brought for making tacos de nopal. Not really my thing, to be honest, but they sure look pretty on the grill:

And my friend Sujan, who’s Korean, made bulgogi sliders:

And we even had some clams, which turned out really well:

For dessert, I had purchased about three pounds of sour cherries at our local farmers market a few days earlier. The night before the party, the Tugboat Captain and I pitted all of them, and then I used them to make a sour cherry crisp. Used my mom’s recipe for the topping — brown sugar, butter, oats, walnuts, and a bit of flour. So good!

Finally, let the record show that I wore the proper holiday hosiery:

All in all, a swell time. However you spent your Independence Day, I hope it was a good one.

•  •  •  •  •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: The Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers became the Hoppin’ Hound Dogs for a day on Sunday. … Anyone know why the Dodgers’ 1977 NL championship ring design has an airplane on the side? (From David Firestone.) … Nats INF Adrian Sanchez appears to have had his helmet logo taped onto his helmet on Monday night. … The Rangers’ batboy has his first name and “BB” on the back of his jersey (from Stephen Hayes). … A Chicago Tribune columnist thinks MLB’s plethora of “special” uniforms is wearing thin (from Mark Ament and Jerry Kulig). … Umpire Ryan Blakney, who worked the plate in yesterday’s Pirates/Phils game, had a stars/stripes mask (from John M.). … The Yankees’ 40-man roster currently includes four different players designated as No. 30: Giovanny Gallegos, Ronald Herrera, Kyle Higashioka, and Clint Frazier. Only Frazier is on the active 25-man roster (good observation by David Feigenbaum). … Latest food-based minor league makeover: The Rochester Red Wings will become the Rochester Plates for one day in August. That’s a reference to garbage plates, a local specialty (from @BSoup42). … Fun fact: MLB clubhouses typically include a “lost and found” locker, and players will sometimes use the old clothing that accumulates there (from David Cline). … Here’s a weird one: Why would Teddy Ballgame be making a catch up against the Green Monster while wearing a Red Sox road uniform? Anyone..? (From David Finer.)

NFL News: Longtime Uni Watch contributor/pal Michael Princip, who’s been designing helmets for Schutt, recently checked in with the following: “My latest project has been a redesign of the classic Adams chinstrap cups. Schutt purchased Adams a while back, so they own all of the patents for the Adams helmet, shoulder pads, and chinstraps.” … The Eagles might be getting new Thursday-night uniforms (thanks, Brinke). … Pretty cool Steelers helmet-themed VW Bug in an Independence Day parade yesterday. … Good view clip showing former Cardinals CB Norm Thompson’s unusual facemask. … And here’s another good video clip, this time focusing on Greg Pruitt’s tearaway jerseys.

College Football News: Interesting story about a Maryland high school’s use of Georgia Tech’s logo. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Poaching someone else’s logo instead of coming up with your own is (a) lazy, (b) a terrible lesson to impart to your students, and (c) so much less satisfying than coming up with your own logo design. But Georgia Tech alum Michael Rich says, “I completely agree that there’s really no good excuse for high schools to poach pro and major college logos, but to me this feels like a big bully picking on a smaller, weaker kid. It also feels like Georgia Tech is expending resources, which as a state university includes taxpayer funds, to pursue these lawsuits instead of using those funds to the greater mission of the Institute. To me, this is one of those instances in which no one comes out a winner.”

Hockey News: Check out this rare shot of the Maple Leafs using NOBs in the early ’70s. Here’s another view. Obviously, this was well prior to the famous ghosted NOBs in 1978. Who knew? (Steve May, that’s who.)

Basketball News: The Timberwolves used to play this annoying wolf hound sound when the opposing team was shooting free throws. Red Kerr and Phil Jackson were not fans of that tactic (thanks, Mike). … A 75-year-old Pennsylvania man has been reunited with his high school basketball jersey, which was found in a suitcase in the basement of a sporting goods store (from Doug Keklak).

Grab Bag: Soda case artwork has gotten a bit out of control (from David Firestone). … New city flag for Montpelier, Vt. (from John Pritchard).

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

What Paul did last night on Friday: When I was about five or six, my older brother Henry (who at that time would have been a junior or senior in high school) went through a mobile-making phase. He used wire and cardstock to make mobiles that he hung in various rooms of our house.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but Henry was clearly inspired by the mobiles of the great Alexander Calder (like the one shown above). This isn’t so surprising ”” while I don’t think we had any Calder artwork in the house, our parents were very into Modernism,  and the whole aesthetic of our home was, in retrospect, rather Calder-esque. Years later, Henry and his wife bought a beautiful Calder print. After they died, it was one of the few possessions of theirs that I wanted, and I still have it today.

All of which is a long way of saying that I’ve been very excited about the new Calder exhibit that recently opened at the Whitney, which  my friend Carrie and I went to see on Friday. The point of the exhibit is that they’ve put a lot of his mobiles and other sculptures “in motion,” which is nice. But really, so many of the pieces look Just Right even when they’re static. I loved seeing them, in part because they’re so beautiful and in part because they remind me of those mobiles my brother used to make, which I hadn’t thought about in a while. He would have loved this exhibit. You can see some photos I took in the slideshow below (or by clicking here):

Comments (82)

    Wild story about the Penguins wearing earmuffs; the title made me think this would be about one of the outdoor games the Penguins played.

    My guess about the Ted Williams photo is that it was staged for an advertisement where he could not wear a uniform with RED SOX on it.

    The earmuffs were a bad idea. It was a visible sign of weakness, that the opposition fans were in their heads. It would just prompt the fans to get wilder, especially considering how ridiculous it looked.

    Red Kelly was a crazy man. When he coached the Leafs in the mid-Seventies, he had the players sitting under pyramid shaped contraptions in the locker room, so that they could “unlock the powers of Ancient Egypt.” Darryl Sittler stuck his sticks under a pyramid, scored 5 goals that night, and all of Toronto went mad for pyramids.

    Why is Rochester just going to call themselves the Plates? After all, GARBAGE Plate is the name of the dish.

    The Plates uniform appears to have a Red Wings logo on the left sleeve. Is the bird making a face?

    Don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect it’s because “garbage plate” is trademarked by one restaurant (Nick Tahou’s). The more generic term is simply “plate.”

    Nick’s is very protective (as they should be) of their term/trademark ‘garbage plate’, so that HAS to be it.

    Thanks for including the pics – I know there was a twitter question on the year of the photo – the second one includes Guy Trottier whose last season with Toronto was 71-72 link – so going by that – it couldn’t have been any later than that for the pic. My guess (and I have no proof) was this was a NBC televised game which mandated the NOBs – but Calfornia and Toronto would have been odd choices for a game – as California was near the bottom of the league and Toronto was decidedly mediocre (and Canadian)

    Gilles Meloche didn’t join the Seals until 1971-1972 so it must be that season (e.g. not earlier)

    You’re right that NBC encouraged the names on jerseys but that came later, NBC didn’t have the rights then. CBS had the rights in 1971-1972.

    (you’re probably right about TV wanting names but it wasn’t NBC)

    Guy Trottier was one of my favorite players, mainly because after his two seasons with the Leafs, he eventually became player-coach of the Buffalo Norsemen, a minor league outfit that helped inspire the movie Slapshot. I went to a bunch of Norsemen games: they played about a mile and a half from my house. Trottier scored 36 goals that season.

    This has to have been for a CBC televised game.

    I don’t think it was a CBC game. In that era, Hockey Night in Canada in general only broadcasted home games, with very few exceptions. A California Golden Seals game in all probability wouldn’t have been one of those exceptions.

    Agreed – the game was in Oakland – which means it was either November 7, 1971 (an 8-1 Seals win! link) or January 28, 1972 (a 3-0 Seals win) – there’s one other Toronto at California game from October 1971 but that had Gary Kurt in net for the Seals.

    November 7, 1971 was a Sunday.
    January 28, 1972 was a Friday.
    However, CBS tended to show games from January to April, because of their NFL coverage. So unless they taped the Friday game to show on tape delay the next afternoon – I’m not sure it was for CBS. I’m sure there’s an interesting story there – but we may never know.

    Why do the special uniforms for the Atlanta Braves not have the tomahawk on them?

    The reason I am asking about the Braves jersey is because unless I am mistaken the braves are the only team to have an altered version for special uniforms. The tomahawk has been on previous special uniforms hasn’t it?

    The Braves’ cream-colored weekend home unis don’t have the tomahawk, either–they have a player number in its place. So I’m guessing they used that jersey as the template. (The result is certainly easier & cheaper than recoloring and sewing on the tomahawks would be.)

    I’m pretty much the last guy who would criticize the use of indigenous imagery in sports, but, jeez, slapping a star spangled motif over such imagery would be too much, even for me.

    The plane pictured on the Dodgers ring is the one they flew that year (and other years around that time). I still don’t know why it would be memorialized on their championship ring though. ???


    Maybe it symbolized the “coast-to-coast” nature of that World Series as opposed to a Subway Series or an I-70 Series?

    What’s the question? Do you not know who Johnny “Red” Kerr was? If not, you could do a simple internet search to find out. If you have a different question, maybe you could be more specific.

    Re: Leafs NOB’s..Owner Harold Ballard was upset that the Seals came to Toronto in 1971 wearing NOB’s, thereby hurting his sale of gameday programs/lineups. In turn, the next time the Leafs went to Oakland, he did the same – to hurt Charlie Finley’s program sales. A little tit-for-tat.
    BTW, CBS still had the NHL rights in 71-72. They went over to NBC in 72-73. CBS never mandated NOB’s for their televised games.

    Ballard must have been a huge dickhead. Wouldn’t going to the expense of putting NOBs for just one game also have cut into his profit margin?

    Ballard was an enormous dickhead. But putting names on jerseys was about 800th on the list, behind things like tax evasion, fraud, and child sexual assault.

    GREAT socks Paul. #pandering
    I miss the offerings of stirrups from the site

    Is it possible the Dodgers ring has a plane because the NLCS was against the Phillies and the World Series was against the Yankees and it symbolizes all the cross country flying?

    The Dodgers boasted their own private, branded airplane for decades, of which they were very proud (it was always featured in the Dodgers yearbook and media guide, as I remember it). I wonder if it was the combination of this and the coast-to-coast nature of the NLCS that led to it appearing on their NL champs ring.

    Judging by the two yellow jacket logos side-by-side, Georgia Tech should pick their battles more carefully. I’ve seen straight up copies, but this one looks like someone recreated it with markers and crayons.

    They may feel they have no choice but to pick this battle. Fail to protect your trademark, and you risk losing it.

    I’m amazed they’ve held on to the Tech account for this long. Not being a shoe manufacturer kills them. It’s what cost Champion the Notre Dame account all those years ago (although they retain a license with Notre Dame, it isn’t for what the athletic teams wear).

    That could have been accomplished by “licensing” the logo to the high school for the nominal fee of one dollar.

    Paul, two questions…

    How refreshing was the Ballantine? (or is that not beer?)

    What’s the story on the whale?

    For cops and firemen of a certain generation, Ballantine was the beverage of choice. My father never drank anything else.

    lajoie 3:16…
    For paul so loved the uni-verse on independence day that he wore the one and only hosiery choice, an amerks stirrup with taylor’s of chuck. an whilst grilling right proper meats he proveth the now obvious theorem that whoever believes in stirrups shall not perish but have eternal awesome fashion sense.

    so let it be written, so let it be done.

    Those were made/sold by Comrade Robert Marshall years ago as part of the Uni Watch Stirrups Club. No longer available, alas.

    RE: Georgia Tech/Maryland high school

    Sad that it seems like everyone loses in these situations, as stated. Why doesn’t anyone involved see the seemingly obvious way that everyone could WIN? Turn some graphic design students at the university loose on a project to design a new set of logos for the high school. Teach several teams of students about the process of building their proposals (all the research that goes into it, etc.), have them do the work, submit proposals, and let the school choose one. This way, the university students get real-world experience, the university’s desire to not have its logo plundered is appeased, the high school gets a unique set of logos with a great story behind it at no cost, and not one lawyer gets a dime.

    Kevin B – It is a strong idea, and I know where you are going with you thought. There are two issues with that specifically with Georgia Tech.

    1) You are talking about an Engineering School (62% of students working on a Bachelors are Engineering Programs) where graphic design is not a major course of study. Over the past 10 years there have been about 100 students working on degrees in Computational Media (closest program to graphic design).

    2) For all degree programs, Georgia Tech’s senior design classes are all real world proposal projects. In the College of Engineering you research, submit proposals, and execute on new and innovative designs. I believe computational media normally involves one of the major corporations in Atlanta (Coke, Home Depot, etc).

    The better idea may be to open the high school’s graphics classes to the design, and find alumni or a local design firm to clean up those classroom designs.

    That’s a fair point about it being an engineering school. And your idea about the high school classes or local businesses is a great idea as well. UGA has an “art – graphic design” program, and while it’s not the same school, it’s the same source of funds… the state of Georgia. Also, I’m guessing the University of Maryland offers something related to graphic design, and since the state of Maryland funds both the U of Md. and the high school, they have a financial interest in the matter. It just seems like there are a thousand easy answers here, but instead these folks chose the difficult, litigious route. It’s shameful.

    Let Uni Watch readers design it! We’ll have plenty of contest material with all the schools who are currently poaching logos.

    Hey, Paul.

    What if the Uni Watch community took a proactive approach to the problem? Is there a way that a “Redesign the Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets” contest could be run? If they choose not to utilize one of the designs, that’s their decision. It’s still going to be several days’ worth of content for the site and enjoyable for all of us.

    One of the primary people pushing for the high school was noted in the article as working for a national marketing firm! No telling if he’s a graphics guy but I would assume he’s got easy access to someone who is.

    The link about the Maple Leafs having ghosted NOBs goes to a September 8th, 2011 edition of Uni Watch. Included in the comments that day was this entry from mmwatkin:

    “(Denard) Robinson spats his cleats when Big Ten season rolls around. He gets hard so many times it prevents his shoes from flying off”

    Holy shit, I laughed so hard after reading that, there were tears running down my face. Has to be one of the best cases of accidental humor I’ve ever read.

    It reminds me of the cow from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe that’s been genetically engineered to enjoy being eaten.

    The 1977 ring isn’t the only Dodgers NL championship ring with an odd graphic choice. The link featured the Dodgers’ scoreboard, with the total home attendance figure of 3.347.845 displayed on it.

    How many other teams, if any, have ever put attendance figures on a ring?

    1978 was the year the Dodgers became the first team in MLB history to draw 3 million fans in a season, so while it seems somewhat odd, the attendance figure was very notable.

    Alexander Calder is my favorite artist, bar none. You have good taste! It’s as though he peered into my subconscious and depicted what he found.

    Regarding the Georgia Tech issue:

    I’m not a lawyer, but my layman’s understanding is that in Federal trademark law, the owner of a trademark HAS to protect it or else he risks losing it.

    In other words, once Georgia Tech became aware of the high school using their trademarked image, if they had said, “oh, go ahead, we don’t mind”, then they are basically saying that anybody could start printing up t-shirts, etc. with that logo on it.

    This always ends up looking like the big mean guys stomping out the little guy’s fun, but there is a legal basis for it.

    Interesting thought, and I think I’ve heard something like that as well. Would my above suggestion be considered “protecting” the trademark, or is the legal route the only way?

    I think basically the image itself is what’s in question.

    Basically, the high school needs to alter the logo to the point where it is clearly different from the GT logo, I don’t guess it matters who does the new design.

    Proofreading: Kyle Higashioka is misspelled as “Higoshioka” in the baseball ticker.

    Interesting article about how goalposts at 1978 World Cup that Argentina hosted were adorned with black “armbands” to covertly commemorate, in plain sight, victims of the military junta there:


    As usual, your food pics make me really hungry. I’ve had octopus before but never cactus–is the texture/flavor/consistency similar to anything else more common (peppers?), and what about it didn’t appeal to you?

    RE: Pruitt tearaway jersey…

    Horrible! (or should I say “Tearable”!)

    His must’ve been *extree* delicate.

    The last clip looks like a fist-sized chunk is taken out of the side by a would-be tackler.

    I’m an attorney, but I’m not well versed in IP, as I’ve never worked in that area. But I believe that if Georgia Tech doesn’t go after trademark violations when they find out about them, they risk the trademark going into the public domain, where anybody, including clothing companies, could profit off the logo.

    Comments like the one in the ticker bug me. It has nothing to do with a big organization going after the little guy, and people need to stop viewing it through that lens. And what difference would it make if it was? Organizations have a right to protect their trademarks. Not everything has to be a “big guy vs little guy” class struggle. Grow up.

    Sounds like a better worded version of my understanding.

    A similar story: Chapel Hill, NC, used to have a book store/coffee shop called the “Hardback Cafe” that was forced to change their name after Hard Rock got wind of it.

    Grilling question…it looks like your grill doesn’t have a lid. Do you cover the meats that you cook or cook completely open?

    Open season, baby.

    A lid comes in handy, but this grill was already built into the backyard when I moved here in 2000, so I’ve learned how to deal with it.

    I do have a smoker, which of course has a lid. Didn’t use it yesterday, though.

    The newspaper clipping is from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (link) in January 1970. Dick Gamble was the coach of the Rochester Americans at that time, according to his Wikipedia page, so the caption might have been jokingly suggesting to Gamble that he should also try Kelly’s idea of wearing earmuffs.

    Back in the old days, baseball teams practiced in their road uniforms to keep the home whites clean. Ted probably made the catch (staged or not) during a practice session.

    It does look like a practice or staged photo…. the inning-by-inning score and pitcher’s numbers are blank

    So is the visiting team, which they normally hang at the start of the series and leave hanging. Since the entire scoreboard is blank except for the word Boston which is painted directly on the wall and not on a hanging plate I would agree with the earlier post that it was probably a staged photo for an advertisement where only the city name could be present.

Comments are closed.