During the reporting for my follow-up piece on the origins of the Vikings’ uniforms, I interviewed the two surviving sons of Bert Rose, the Vikes’ original general manager (that’s him shown at right). One the sons, Scott Rose, told me a story about the team’s name that I hadn’t heard before. Here’s a transcript:
Coming up with the idea of calling them the Vikings was easy, with all of the Scandinavian background up there. So they were gonna be the Minneapolis-St. Paul Vikings.
And then somebody says to my dad — and you know, our family is not familiar with the Midwest at this point [the Roses had been living in L.A., where Bert Rose had worked for the Rams — PL] — they say, “Bert, I don’t know if you know this, but Minneapolis and St. Paul don’t really like each other. And the first time that the announcer says, ‘It’s Minneapolis’s ball on the 20,’ the people of St. Paul are gonna be on the telephone, and they’re gonna be saying, ‘You mean it’s St. Paul’s ball.'”
So my dad is sitting there thinking, “You know, I’m gonna do something that’s never been done before. I’m gonna name the team after the entire state.” He says not only will it put that to rest [regarding the rivalry between the two cities], but from a season ticket standpoint, maybe it’ll bring in people from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa — not Wisconsin, because they’re Packers fans and they’re gonna hate us anyway. Maybe I can get people to identify with the team, even though they don’t live anywhere near the Twin Cities, as long as they’re close to Minnesota.
And lo and behold, it worked like you wouldn’t believe. He got unbelievable amounts of season ticketholders from those three states. Of course, the Boston Patriots took it to the next level when they renamed themselves the New England Patriots.
This appears to check out. According to this Wikipedia page, Rose was hired on Aug. 5, 1960. The Wiki entry then says, “In an article on August 6, 1960, in The Minneapolis Tribune, it was reported that the team would use the name ‘Minnesota’ instead of ‘Minneapolis–St. Paul.’ The article also stated that several nicknames were suggested for the team, including ‘Chippewas,’ ‘Miners,’ ‘Vikings,’ and ‘Voyageurs.'”
I went to the Star-Tribune’s archives and found that article:
But had this really “never been done before”? After all, MLB’s Minnesota Twins, who had been the Washington Senators until relocating to Minnesota for the 1961 season, made their Minnesota debut about half a year before the Vikings did in ’61.
Ah, but did the Twins come up with their name before the Vikings did? According to this Wiki page, the Twins made the decision to go with the state name on Nov. 26, 1960 (no citation, unfortunately, and I’ve so far been unable to verify the date) — nearly four months after the Vikings had settled on the state name. So while the Twins were the first to play under the state banner, the Vikings were apparently the first ones to come up with the idea.
Ever since then, of course, all of the state’s Big Four pro teams — the North Stars, Wild, and Timberwolves — have likewise been named for the state, not for the Twin Cities.
A few other items of note:
• I also interviewed Scott Rose’s brother, Stephen Rose. He had this to say about the Vikings’ purple pants:
[My father] wanted purple pants on the road in 1961. He said that to [Vikings coach Norm] Van Brocklin, and Van Brocklin said, “For Christ’s sake, they’d look like Dreamsicles!” That’s a quote. So they wore white pants on the road. But Bert kept after him, and they eventually did wear the purple road pants the next year, and for the next few years after that. He got that idea from the Cardinals, who in the late ’40s and ’50s had worn red pants. Nobody else in the league was doing it. I thought it looked great!
• Remember how Karl Hubenthal’s uniform renderings included V-shaped sleeve striping? Stephen Rose said it was his father, Bert Rose, who nixed that. So instead the Vikes went with Northwestern striping — which is exactly what the Rams were wearing at the time. Bert Rose, of course, had worked for the Rams prior to joining the Vikings.
Stephen Rose also said his father loved the “leggings” on Hubenthal’s original sock design, but he confirmed that Van Brocklin had put the kibosh on that, as I had reported in my original ESPN piece.
• Meanwhile, if you’re interested in Hubenthal, here’s a good feature on him from the December 1976 issue of Cartoonist PROfiles.
Okay, I think I’ve now emptied the notebook on the Vikings stories. And all without once saying anything nasty about a certain color!
Membership update: Several new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Matt Nachamkin’s excellent Manitoba Moose treatment, shown at right). The printed and laminated versions of these cards should ship out this weekend.
If you want a membership card in time for Christmas, I strongly urge you to sign up now. Remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me.) As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here. Thanks.
By Alex Hider
Baseball News: No photos yet, but it looks like the Brewers will be giving away a mini bullpen cart at some pont this season (from John Okray). … Just in time for Hanukkah: a baseball-themed menorah (from BSmile).
NFL/CFL News: Last Sunday’s blizzard in Buffalo combined with the Colts’ all-white unis is giving coaches problems when watching film (from Phil). … Lots of uni oddities on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, including some Eagles players in throwback unis (from Ignacio). … The Broncos will be wearing their Color Rash uniforms and throwback helmet logos tomorrow night, but players on the practice squad are wearing the standard helmet logos (from Michael Starbuck). … The Colts now have a uniform history page on their website (from Phil). … Which Cowboys uniform combination is your favorite? Vote here (also from Phil). … There are some uni-related tidbits in this listicle on 150 reasons to love the CFL (from Miles Filbert). … A fan is suing the Saints over the team’s national anthem protests.
College Football News: Iowa State has added the Liberty Bowl patch to its uniforms (from Sean Jankowski). … Reader and Florida State fan Dave Show is not a fan of the Seminoles’ new logo and uniforms, so much so that he made a whole video about it.
Hockey News: Monday was the 35th anniversary of the first all-Cooperalls game between the Flyers and Whalers (from Benjamin Hochman). … Fox Sports Ohio used an old photo of Blue Jackets C Alexander Wennberg yesterday (from Anthony Yutzy). … Russ Levine spotted a center ice hexagon, instead of the standard circle, in a Champions Hockey League game between HC Kometa Brno and JYP Jyväskylä. … The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs of the Southern Professional Hockey League will wear Christmas sweater uniforms for their teddy bear toss game on Saturday (from Al Jones). … This is a good uni history of the various minor league teams from Indianapolis (from Mark Grainda). … The club team at the University of Vermont wants to use the athletic department’s logo but is prevented from doing so because that logo can only be used by varsity sports (from @VulpineVanguard).
NBA News: Not only are NBA teams selling ads on their jerseys, but some teams are now selling new ads on their virtual jerseys in NBA 2K18. Per ESPN’s Darren Rovell, the Cavs unis in the game will now feature a Hot Pockets ad (from Jim Brunetti). … The Cavs have posted a uni schedule on their website (from Tom Valentino). … According to the Hornets’ equipment managers, the team will wear the white version of their pinstriped throwbacks for some games during the 2018-2019 season (from Phil). … The Lakers wore gold at Madison Square Garden for perhaps the first time ever last night (from Kenny Kaplan). … 17 NBA organizations will be fielding affiliated eSports teams, and they all unveiled team names and logos yesterday (from Jason Hillyer). … Here’s a good Q&A with Steph Curry about his polarizing shoe line (from Brinke). … The Hawks still haven’t unveiled their throwback for this season, but it’s apparently available for sale in Europe.
Soccer News: It appears the Philadelphia Union will be using a lighter shade of gold in its crest moving forward (from Ian D.). … Louisville City FC of the USL has unveiled a new third kit (from Josh Hinton). … A number of soccer clubs from around the world have stolen — or at least were inspired by — crests from other teams (also from Josh Hinton).
By the time most of you read this, I’ll be in the car and heading up to Connecticut for some ESPN meetings. Back late. Play nice while I’m away, yes? Yes!