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Sleeping Through Uni Watch 101: The Browns’ Orange Shoes

There are lots of stories out there that have essentially become Uni Watch 101. The Nats’ “Natinals” typo in 2009, the Vikings wearing mono-purple due to a jersey mix-up with the Lions in 1964, Lou Whitaker wearing a replica jersey with a Magic Markered number at the 1985 MLB All-Star Game — we all know these stories inside and out by now. And even if you don’t, I do. Hell, it’s my job to know them.

Every now and then, however, there’s a story that everyone else seems to know about, but for whatever reason it has somehow not been on my radar. It’s like I was sleeping through my own class! That’s the case with the story I’m going to write about today. There’s a good chance you already know about it, but I only learned about it last month. The topic: Webster Slaughter and orange shoes of 1989.

The book Tales from the Cleveland Browns Sideline has a good rundown:

No receiver in Browns history had quite the colorful year that Webster Slaughter enjoyed in 1989.

Besides his record 1,236 receiving yards, Slaughter took on the rule of team stylist. He wore specialized orange wristbands and then spiced up his game-day outfit by spray-painting his football shoes orange [instead of the team’s usual white].

Teammate Eric Metcalf asked him to paint his shoes for a nationally televised Monday night game against the Chicago bears.

The orange shoes worked like magic.

Slaughter hooked up with [quarterback] Bernie Kosar for a Monday Night Football-record 97-yard touchdown play and 186 receiving yards. [I have tried to find video of the touchdown play but have been unsuccessful. ”” PL] And Metcalf ran for a touchdown and caught one. The 27-7 Browns win broke a two-game losing streak.

“Then everybody on offense wanted their shoes painted orange,” Slaughter said.

As the playoffs approached, the NFL office notified the Browns that either everybody wore orange shoes or nobody wore them. So the team voted to wear orange shoes for the AFC championship game in Denver.

Slaughter was elected to paint them all. After practice the day before the game, Slaughter spent hours spray-painting his teammates’ shoes in the visitor’s locker room of Mile High Stadium.

“That gave me a big headache,” Slaughter said 14 years later. “The fumes really bothered me. In fact, I have a big picture at my mom’s house with me with a towel over my face, painting the shoes.”

The photo Slaughter’s referring to is presumably this one:

The AP’s caption for the photo matches the story from the book.

The Browns lost that AFC championship game against Denver. The funny thing is, if you look at the photos from that game, you don’t actually see much orange, because the Browns were all wearing white spatting tape, so it’s almost like Slaughter huffed all those fumes for nothing (as an aside, this photo also shows Browns cornerback Frank Minnifield wearing his sock stripes down around his ankles, a style that was unheard of at the time, although it’s fairly common nowadays):

In fact, it’s difficult to find pics of any Browns players, including Slaughter, wearing full-orange shoes from that season. Here’s a rare exception:

”¨That tweet and some of the responses to it are what sent me down this rabbit hole. I don’t know how I missed the boat on this story (or on that photo of Slaughter with the spray paint, which I gather has become somewhat legendary), but this chapter in Browns history is apparently a big deal in Cleveland, where it has even given rise to this T-shirt.

So tell me: Did everyone know about this story except me?

Update: You can see video of the long Slaughter touchdown play here. The image quality isn’t great, but he appears to have been wearing a lot of spatting tape, so the orange paint job is barely visible.

(My thanks to Craig Ackers and Nick Shook for their research contributions.)

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Matt Grace of the Nationals had some trouble with his 3D helmet logo last night. We’ve seen chips and cracks, but I think this is our first hanger. … New Yankee P Dave Robertson still had a White Sox logo on his glove when he took the mound yesterday. He also appeared to be wearing an old jersey, with a wide gap between “New” and “York.” This is what the typical Yankee road jersey has looked like since last season (from Blake Rios). … Indians P Trevor Bauer dressed a baseball up like teammate Jason Kipnis, and even took note to give it a jersey number (from Robert Hayes). … WWE wrestler AJ Styles was at the Phillies game yesterday, and wore a jersey with the number “P1” ”” a reference to one of his nicknames, The Phenomenal One (from Tommy Colosi). … The New York Post Photoshopped Mets 1B Lucas Duda into Yankees pinstripes for in a recent article (from Eric). … In the movie Mr. 3000, during a scene set in 1995, one Brewers bat boy is shown wearing the team’s current uniform set (from Jonny). … It looks like a barber shop in Chicago poached the Sox classic “batterman” logo (from Pure West). … New unis in the works for Winthrop? (From Matt Levenson.) … Fuzzy the Bear — a character in a series of kids’ books — gets it (from Chris Flinn).

NFL News: Check out this Carolina Panthers/Superman hybrid helmet, signed by former Panther Rod “He Hate Me” Smart, found at a flea market (from James Gilbert). … Looks like there’s some NOB font inconsistencies in this shot of a 1989 49ers game. Could be that Bill Romanowski’s last name was too long to fit on the nameplate (from Johnny Garfield). … Take a load off in this awesome 1970s Miami Dolphins helmet chair (from J. Williams). … We may have seen this before, but just in case: For the final game of the 1972 season, the Rams previewed their upcoming change in their color scheme by putting a yellow-horned helmet logo at midfield, even though the team was still wearing white horns at the time (from Bob Gassel). … A Raiders player showed up for training camp wearing a T-shirt showing a mash-up of Pittsburgh sports logos — including the Steelers! (From @NY_Raider.)

College Football News: UCLA went to the trouble of Photoshopping out the Adidas logo on every player’s jersey in this photo (from Jonathon Craig Hays). … Reader Glenn Riley sent along a photo of a custom 1968-1970 fauxback Ohio State varsity jacket he put together. “Jacket made in Oregon, varsity patches in New Jersey, stitching and application Ohio, and custom buttons by yours truly,” Glenn said. … Did you know Auburn almost changed logos in 1995? It’s true. … BYU has released a chart showing fans which color to wear for each game this season. Weird that they’re even giving color guidance — or maybe T-shirt buying guidance — for road games. … Georgia and Florida went color vs. color in 1966.

Hockey News: It’s amazing that there was a time when it was a debate as to whether goalies should wear masks (from Jerry Wolper). … Has anyone noticed that Queen bassist John Deacon’s Blackhawks jacket in the “We Will Rock You” video? (From Austin Gillis.)

NBA News: Warriors rookie and former Oregon Duck Jordan Bell caught Fanatics selling a fake version of one his college “game-worn” jerseys ”” with the wrong number (from Michael McLaughlin). … UFC fighter Conor McGregor trolled his next opponent, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., by wearing a C.J. Watson Warriors jersey. Watson allegedly had an affair with Mayweather’s wife (from Football Guy).

Grab Bag: The vintage snapback craze has made it to Iceland. Mike Wissman found these caps on sale for $50 bucks a pop. … Spanish soccer club Real Bettis is in the process of renovating its stadium. Included in the renovation is this mural, only visible when the stands are empty (from James Gilbert). … Hmmm, why would the final lap bell at this year’s Tour de France have “2016” printed on it? The answer comes from Twitterer @redsoxfan426, who writes, “It’s tradition to use the previous year’s bell until the race is over. Then, a new bell is made to honor the competitive spirit.”

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What Paul did last night over the weekend: I had a really fun weekend upstate and would love to tell you all the details. But I got home late-ish, watched Twin Peaks (yet another fairly unsatisfying episode), and then it was time for bed, and I have a busy morning planned to boot, so I’m gonna cheat and just show you some Facebook embeds. Facebook photo/video quality isn’t as good as Flickr and YouTube, but it’ll have to do — sorry about that.

Comments (43)

    That Duda picture has him wearing a RH Yankees helmet. It looks like they just photoshopped his face on Aaron Judge’s body. I guess they found it better to use a guy that’s bigger for Duda then say Gardner or Headley.

    Of note in the Duda photo illustration shown in the ticker – the left-handed hitting Duda is portrayed in a right-handed batters’ helmet (ear flap over the left ear).

    (And yes That was my submission) :-)

    Typo in the excerpt: Teammate Eric Metcalf asked him to pain his shoes for a nationally televised Monday night game against the Chicago bears.

    “Teammate Eric Metcalf asked him to PAIN his shoes”: that had to hurt. But how?? Obviously, a correction to be made.

    “So the team voted to wear orange shoes for the AFC championship game in Denver. Slaughter was elected to paint them all.” Shades of Fred Gehrke painting all those helmets for the Rams.

    . . . even more nifty in that Fred Gehrke had been the GM of the Broncos (roughly 1977-1981)

    “No automatic scoring (in fact, no scoring of any kind anymore, as they’ve run out of score sheets)”. No more of those big scoresheets, with almost as much space for advertising as for keeping score?

    They apparently ran out, and haven’t bothered to order any replacements.

    Their “upkeep” of the lanes is minimal at best. Every time we go up that-a-way (been going since 2010), I worry that the lanes will be shut down, or damaged, or whatever. Each visit feels like a gift.

    Thanks for including the ball return in the video. So many different types. I hadn’t seen that one before.

    Has anyone noticed that Queen bassist John Deacon’s Blackhawks jacket in the “We Will Rock You” video?

    Oh yes. That jacket was made by Gunzo’s, the longtime equipment supplier for the Hawks.

    If it makes you feel any better, Paul, I hadn’t known about (or remembered — if I did know at all) the Browns orange shoes. Prolly one reason is most of the spatting tape and the fact that announcers rarely noticed (or made mention) of such things back then (perhaps it’s just that I’m more attuned to it now, but it seems PBP and color guys now seem to take greater note of uni affects these days…but then, there also seem to be more guys styling or having the ability to do so).

    Lots more camera angles and replays, better video quality and nearly no time without announcer jabber, so everything on and around the field gets the treatment these days.

    Phil and Paul – I’ll tweet a photo if I can find it but as a kid I had my brother spray-paint Hanford Dixon’s shoes on my Starting Line-Up for me.

    Some Ticker observations:

    Re: the 3D logo malfunction – I’d think we’d call that a dangler.

    Re: the A.J. Styles jersey – If they have to go to the trouble to make a custom letter, why’d they take the lazy way out and just resize the NOB font? The P and the 1 ought to have the same stroke weight.

    Re: the Lucas Duda pic – Good job shopping in the raglan pinstripes. They could’ve taken the lazy way out and left the pins unmodified from the Mets’ jersey.

    Re: the poached Sox logo – Yeah, because when I think of going for a haircut, I think of a stylized batter with a weird skull thing going on! What the hell.

    Re: the Queen video – That would be “Black Hawks”, since Chicago didn’t officially make the team name one word until c.1986.

    Re: the snapbacks – Wow, there’s something you don’t see every day – a Muskegon/Cleveland Lumberjacks hat from the old IHL!

    And, finally… that is one impressive ice cream cone, Paul!

    Re Queen- You’re right about the Black Hawk/Blackhawk matter, but it looks like the team name is styled as one word on the jacket. You get a good look at the 1:07 mark.

    Yep, you’re right. For some reason, I saw that as a capital H earlier, and forgot about the k! The Hawks were really inconsistent on that until they standardized the name.

    As I noted in a reply to the first comment today (which I missed earlier), if that is simply pasting Duda’s face on a Yankee’s body, then I retract my kudos.

    I mean, it’s a black and white image. You’ve got a little more leeway to get it right!

    RE: Kipnis baseball

    the indians have been doing that all year, they started with doing the pitchers then moved on to the position players..

    they even have a shirt for it on the site you linked the Webster Slaughter tee


    You do know that Wild Hair ball is a rip of the “Major League” movie logo right?

    The movie with Ricky “Wild *Thing*” Vaughn.


    The vintage snapback craze has made it to Iceland.

    Not surprised, as snapbacks are awesome. What did surprise me was seeing a Richfield Cleveland Lumberjacks cap in that bunch. They used to be the Penguins’ minor league club in the early 90s.

    The logo dates back to their years in Muskegon (when they wore the Pens’ classic gold and black design). They did keep it in Cleveland for a couple of years (while switching to the base design of the Robopen jerseys), until adopting the beaver/rotary blade logo.

    I didn’t pay much attention to the IHL, though, until the Detroit Vipers came to town. They had a nice little in-state rivalry with the Kalamazoo Wings (who attempted to expand their market exposure by renaming themselves the Michigan K-Wings) and, to a lesser extent, the Grand Rapids Griffins once they started up.

    One irritating uni note regarding the K-Wings in the late 1990s. While they were still the Kalamazoo Wings, wearing the original version of the (North) Stars’ black jerseys, link. However, when they became the Michigan K-Wings, and updated to the Stars’ wider-striped design, link, making them look stupid.

    The Jordan Bell ticker item reminded me of the Eli Manning game used memorabilia scandal.

    Curious. Was this covered by Uni Watch given the close relationship with Joe Skiba?

    I’ve linked to many stories regarding the Eli scandal, including this recent one, which paints a devastating portrait of the game-used memorabilia industry:

    I haven’t had any contact with Skeebs in a few years now.

    I may be the only one, but I kind of dig that Auburn logo that the school “almost” went to. I understand that sometimes you don’t mess with tradition but there isn’t much special about the current AU design.

    Understandable how you saw it that way. I just went with one of them at semi-random for the main image. All the logos were photoshopped on to the helmet and featured in a slideshow embedded in the post.

    Hey Paul what did you think about Twin Peaks Part 8 “Gotta Light?” with all the crazy stuff?

    Hey Paul… From the obscure reference department…that pic of Niners/Patriots is, if I’m not mistaken from the “home” game of the Niners when they had to play at Stanford stadium because of the quake in 89…Have a good one.

    Ironic that the ’72 Rams were promoting their horn change from white to yellow the season before it happened, because the 2016 team did the same thing in promoting the switch back to white.

    Paul glad you returned to the Shohola PA area. I traveled there frequently to visit my grandparents and saw many of the places you visited. Thanks for rekindling fond memories.

    I was in middle school in Ohio back in 1989 and I took a pair of beat up Nikes and spray painted them bright orange. I also had the Sports Illustrated poster of Eric Metcalf, which showed his orange shoes.

    RE: BYU football shirts- Due to their religious affiliation, BYU travels exceptionally well. LDS (Mormon) fans from whatever area they are traveling to for a game typically show up to support them. It’s not too surprising that they would have shirts for those games too.

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