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A Brief History of Pants-Splitting

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Phil had a one-sentence item in yesterday’s Ticker that I want to expand upon today, namely the news that Providence coach Ed Cooley split his pants during Saturday night’s Big East championship game against Villanova and had to use a Gatorade towel as a makeshift fig leaf. Naturally, the game went into overtime, extending his predicament.

After the game, which Providence lost, Cooley wore sweatpants for the postgame press conference, where he was asked about his torn pants and gave a quote for the ages: “When I sat down I felt the great breeze in the crack.”

Torn jerseys are fairly common, but torn pants are a bit more unusual. Over on Twitter, I asked people if they could think of other instances of coaches, players, or officials who dealt with torn pants, plus I came up with a few of my own. Here’s what we came up with:

• In 2015, Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola split his trousers during a Champions League game against Porto (click to enlarge):

• Heavyweight boxer Riddick Bowe split his trunks but kept on fighting, even with his left buttock exposed, during a 1992 bout against Pierre Coetzer. Here’s some good footage of that:

• Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw tore his pants during a 2010 game against the Bears, so equipment director Joe Skiba used a hole punch and some string to sew up the gash:

Obviously, that isn’t really an example of “splitting” one’s pants, but it still seemed relevant.

• American swimmer Ricky Berens split his suit up the back just before diving into the pool during the 2009 world championships in Rome (further info here):

• British bobsledder Gillian Cooke split her suit while preparing for a run in the 2010 World Championships in Switzerland (additional info here and here):

• There’s no photo, but this article tells the story of Bears running back Walter Payton splitting his pants during a 1979 Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions. Key passage:

“He always wore the same pair of pants, and they kept getting thinner and thinner,” said Bears equipment manager Gary Haeger. “We kept asking him if he wanted a new pair, and he’d say no. Finally, in that Thanksgiving game, his pants split during a play. They had to send a ballboy out there with a towel so he could wrap himself up and come to the sideline.”

• There are numerous published references to Knicks coach Pat Riley tearing his pants during a 1993 brawl between the Knicks and Suns, although I couldn’t find any photos.

• Back in the late 1990s, I attended a Mets game at Shea Stadium during which home plate ump Bruce Froemming split his pants. For the rest of the game, he stopped bending over to brush off home plate and instead just kicked it clean with his feet (prompting someone in the crowd who sounded very much like me to yell, “Bend over and do it right, Froemming, you fat fuck!”). Later in the game — I swear I’m not making this up — he had a member of the grounds crew put some baseline chalk on the plate so it would appear more white without him having to clean it off.

• Dan Feeney, the boys’ basketball coach at Chaminade High School on Long Island, sent me this photo of himself with a tear in his pants during a game last year:

• And then there were these additional notes:

As for Providence, it’s too bad the Friars lost. If they had won, Cooley would surely have been encouraged to keep wearing the torn pants and the towel for good luck, which would have been hilarious. Instead, this will just go down as a fun footnote in Big East history.

(My thanks to Donald Eng, Robert Southon, @SOskland, @vossbrink for their contributions to this section.)

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NBA Uni Tracking
By Collin Wright

Games with the home team wearing a colored uniform and the road team wearing white were the most frequent type of matchup this past week — the fourth time this season that that’s happened. Here’s our updated chart:

Some other observations from the past week:

• The Thunder wore white leggings with their lighter blue uniforms for the first time all season. They had used the full unitard look with that uniform the first 27 times they wore it.

• The Hornets wore white socks with their throwback design for the first time. They had worn teal socks the first four times they wore the throwback uni.

• Also from the Hornets, Jeremy Lamb wore a white leg sleeve in that same game. This is mostly notable because his sleeve actually matched his teammates. Throughout the season he has worn a black sleeve even when the rest of the team wore a different color. I’m not sure why he’s been allowed to do so unless it’s covering a knee brace.

• The Mavericks won for the first time while wearing black, which means the Grizzlies are now owners of the worst-performing uniform in the league. They’re 0-11 while wearing light blue.

• The Hawks now have the longest streak without wearing a white uniform. They’ve worn a colored set in their past 20 games.

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If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletics aesthetics supporter: Last Friday’s entry about how I won’t be imposing a paywall on the site after all prompted a huge outpouring of love and support from you folks. Seriously, I was blown away by all the kind and thoughtful emails I received (including some from people who’ve butted heads with me in the past on various issues). It really reinforced how we’ve all built something very special here over the past dozen years. Thank you!

Here are some new developments on the “Please help support Uni Watch” front:

1. As I mentioned on Friday, although the site will remain freely available to everyone, later this spring we will set up some sort of system — probably via Patreon, but maybe through some other platform — that allows for voluntary donations to the site, with different levels of support unlocking different benefits. That might look something like this (I stress that none of this is final and that I’m just thinking out loud here):

Level One ($20): An ad-free site experience for one year, a 15% discount in the Uni Watch Teespring shop, and maybe a no-frills Uni Watch membership card (not laminated, blank on the back, and with your name on the front written in by hand, not printed).

Level Two ($50): All of the benefits listed above, plus access to a new message board section of the site. Also, you know how we sometimes do Question Time entries, where you folks can ask me anything? Supporters at this level will be able to submit one question per week to me, with the answers going out to supporters in a weekly-ish Question Time newsletter.

Level Three ($100): All the benefits listed above, plus either a T-shirt or mug of your choice from the Uni Watch online shop or your choice of three uniform style guides from my digital style guide library. (I may be adding some old NHL style guides to this library shortly.)

Level Four ($250): All the benefits listed above, plus you get to have a 30-minute phone call or Skype session with me, during which we can talk about uniforms, sports, or whatever else you’d like.

Level Five ($500): All the benefits listed above, plus Scott M.X. Turner will design a custom logo for your fantasy team, your rec league, your civic organization, or just for you. (Non-commercial use only, and we reserve the right to decline to design logos for objectionable groups.)

Level Six ($1,000): All the benefits listed above, plus I’ll devote a Uni Watch entry to you and your jersey collection, or cap collection, or cat, or whatever, celebrating you as a “Uni Watch SuperStar Supporter.”

Level Seven ($2,000): All the benefits listed above, plus I will fly to your town (or to the nearest place with an airport) and host a Uni Watch party at the local venue of your choosing. Lower 48 states only (although I’d consider other locations for a higher donation). If you live within a 100-mile radius of New York City, I will take you and a guest out to dinner either before or after the party, my treat (since I’ll be able to drive and won’t have to spring for airfare).

Level Eight ($5,000): All the benefits listed above, plus I will wear purple clothing for a day and document the experience (assuming I don’t expire from abject horror).

Again, none of this is finalized yet — it’s all very much a work in progress. But this should give you a general sense of how I’m thinking about it.

2. Last year we had a guest entry from Jeff Callahan, who had designed and made his own tabletop baseball game. He got in touch after Friday’s entry and offered to make a new custom-designed game that could then be auctioned off to help support the site — an incredibly generous gesture. So that’s something to look forward to down the line. Meanwhile, if anyone else has any special product, service, or skill that they’d like to auction off for the site’s benefit, feel free to be in touch.

3. I heard from a number of people who are excited about the Patreon development but said that they don’t want to wait and don’t want anything in return — they just want to donate. While I’m certainly not looking for free handouts, I won’t turn them down either. If you’d like to donate, there are several ways you can do that:

• The best ways to send cash are via Venmo or Zelle, because they don’t impose any fees. (If you’re not familiar with Zelle, ask your bank — most banks now offer it.) For both of these, use as the payee.

• You can also use Square Cash, although they skim a bit off the top. Again, use as the payee.

• You can also donate via your Amazon account. I’ve set up two payment buttons — one for $10 and one for $25. Here’s the $10 button:

And here’s the $25 button:

If you want to donate a different amount via Amazon (no amount is too large or too small), let me know and I’ll make the proper arrangements.

• If you don’t like electronic payments, you can send checks (payable to Paul Lukas, not to Uni Watch) or well-concealed cash to Paul Lukas, 671 DeGraw St., Brooklyn, NY 11217.

• Unfortunately, I can’t accept PayPal (a long, extremely frustrating story). But if you live overseas and PayPal is the only feasible option for you, get in touch and I’ll explain how we can devise a workaround.

4. Finally, please consider ordering a custom-designed membership card, or buying a T-shirt or mug — the site could use your support. Thanks.

• • • • •

Red sauce and red silks: A gaggle of friends and I went out to a highly touted Italian restaurant in Queens on Saturday. The place is located near Aqueduct racetrack, so the decor leans heavily toward jockeys’ silks, many of which are mounted on the walls. I took a bunch of photos (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):

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A great mascot waiting to happen: The Tugboat Captain saw this book that someone left out on the curb and thought (correctly!) that I’d like the cheery little anthropomorphized light bulb character who’s shown on the cover. He’s so busy and helpful! A team could do a lot worse than to have him as their mascot, no?

The book is from 1952. Unfortunately, there’s no credit to the illustrator/designer. Even worse, the light bulb character doesn’t appear in the book’s interior — only on the cover. Still, a really fun little guy.

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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a beautiful plankowner medallion. Don’t know what a plankowner medallion is? Get the full story here.

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T-shirt reminder: Just a few days left to get our latest limited-edition Uni Watch T-shirt, designed by the great Todd Radom. It comes in a wide range of colors (including deep royal, as shown at right; click to enlarge) and is available from now through this Thursday, March 15. You can order it here. If you want a color or style that isn’t shown, get in touch and I can take care of you. My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Indiana has a new scoreboard and, it would seem, new mono-red uniforms (from Marco Viquez). … New white uniform for Western Illinois (from Tyler Crum). … Alternate uniforms for Wayne State (from Cameron Weidenthaler). … The Red Sox have been wearing shirts in support of pitcher Craig Kimbrel’s daughter, who is in the hospital (from Ilana Hardesty). … The 1879 Washington team in the minor league 1879-80 incarnation of the National Association had more than half its players wearing a backwards “N” on their jerseys in their team photo (from Craig Brown).

Hockey News: The ice crew at the Big Ten men’s tournament have their own conference-themed No. 10 jerseys, at least in Columbus (from Tyler Johnson). Each round of the tournament is now hosted by the higher seed instead of at a neutral site. … Among the teams wearing St. Patrick’s Day jerseys next week are the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs (from Larry Brunt). … The Penguins wore St. Patrick’s warm-ups last night, because they’ll be on the road next week (from Jerry Wolper). … The ECHL has a “fantasy team” idea where the winner of a fan vote between three players on each team wears a special jersey, which is then auctioned off. Here it is modeled by South Carolina Stingrays center Kelly Zajac (from @low843).

Basketball News: Reader Lincoln Arneal asks a simple but intriguing question: If NBA players have team-colored tights and team-colored compression sleeves, why do the base-layer T-shirts that many players wear only seem to come in black or white? … New Mexico State C Zach Lofton had a small tear in his jersey on Saturday (from Jeremy Baker). … New Bucks G Brandon Jennings will wear No. 11, because the No. 3 he wore in his first spell with the team is currently occupied (from Mike Chamernik). … Also from Mike: The Lakers had a jersey giveaway last night. … Here’s a breakdown of who made the uniforms for the teams in the NCAA tourney (from Peter Romano).

Soccer News: In Italy, there were a number of tributes as Fiorentina played its first game since center-back and captain Davide Astori passed away last week (from Bryan Justman). … New first-choice kit for the NWSL’s Utah Royals. Uni Watch bylaws require me to state that it’s yellow, not gold. … Staying in the NWSL, at Saturday’s Washington Spirit/UNC preseason game, the Carolina goalie initially emerged wearing all red, the same as the Spirit, but switched to green before the game started. … Scottish Premiership team St. Johnstone’s two current kits are blue/white and white/blue when four of the league’s 11 other teams also wear blue, which has resulted in the Saints wearing a slightly updated version of last season’s yellow second kit more often than this season’s white effort, including twice this week. There was a blue-on-blue matchup between two of the other blue-clad teams, Kilmarnock and Ross County, as well as Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion in England.

Grab Bag: The logo of the Gotham City Police in the Batman TV show looks suspiciously like the Packers’ logo (from Alan Kreit). … The Stoneman Douglas High School boys’ lacrosse team wore helmets with the names and photos of the shooting victims on Friday, which was their first game since the massacre (from Aaron Hill). … An Australian Football League item from @TheBigJamesG: Carlton have a new grey clash (i.e., third choice) guernsey. The kit has some dark panels on the back of the shorts, which may be for players to wipe their hands.

49 comments to A Brief History of Pants-Splitting

  • Tony Miller | March 12, 2018 at 8:43 am |

    According to Retrosheet, home plate umpire George Moriarty tore his pants while dusting off the plate in the second inning of a game in Cleveland on Aug. 19, 1936. He left the field for about two innings.

    Their play-by-play entry in the middle of the second reads “Ump Moriarty left the field after ripping his pants dusting off the plate. While repairs made [Bill] McGowan manned the plate and [Lou] Kolls 1B.”

    Then, from the bottom of the fourth, “Moriarty returned and
    umped 1B.”

    The paid attendance was 2,500, but the same log notes that Ladies Day brought an extra 8,000 to the park. Which in turn makes me wonder if Moriarty had … an extra concern for the appearance of propriety?

  • Don | March 12, 2018 at 8:43 am |

    Re the pants splitting. I believe Chuck Daly split his trousers when he was coach of the Pistons. Chuck was a pretty natty dresser so this was kind of a big deal. Sorry, I don’t have any documentation on this.

  • RS Rogers | March 12, 2018 at 9:06 am |

    Good to know that uni lettering snafus are nothing new for teams named the Nationals in Washington. Maybe instead of “est. 1905,” they should have gone with 1879.

    • Dumb Guy | March 12, 2018 at 10:09 am |

      You would think that if one was backwards, they’d BOTH be backwards on the same jersey!


  • Ben Isaacs | March 12, 2018 at 9:25 am |

    I really like Patreon. Yes, there will be some who get a free ride but hopefully there are enough people out there who want to show their support and be part of a community.
    Plus, Paul, you bought me lunch in 2010 so I owe you.

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 9:31 am |

      Ha! It was great meeting you for that quick little stop in London, Ben. Good to know that you’re still a reader. Hope our paths cross again!

  • ThePonchat | March 12, 2018 at 9:31 am |

    I help run an amateur soccer team. Last summer as I was preparing for our home (and season) opener, I split my pants first thing in our stadium. Man, that was awful.

    Fortunately, I was wearing black underwear to match my black dress pants. So, it went off just fine. Not a single person noticed.

  • Greg | March 12, 2018 at 9:33 am |

    Love the donation rewards. If I had a spare $5k I’d do that in a heartbeat. I’ll certainly be donating on some level, and would do so without the rewards. Kudos for all the work you put in and your thoughtfulness in scrapping the paywall, trusting the community to make this work for you.

    • Jim Vilk | March 12, 2018 at 9:55 am |

      It’s almost worth $2K to say, “Breakfast at Taco Bell, everyone!” But instead I think it’s time to finally get those second and third membership cards.

  • Brian Weingartz | March 12, 2018 at 9:42 am |

    I remember a high school JV game in Michigan in the early 80s when one of the JV officials split his black pants. He simply left the court for a minute or two, went in to his dressing room, and donned a pair of brown dress pants that I assume he had worn to the game. As a long time high school football and basketball official I have never split a pair of pants but as a backup plan I make sure that I have black undies on every time I walk on to the field/court.

    • Greg | March 12, 2018 at 10:10 am |

      As a former umpire for high school baseball and softball I’d just confirm the absurdity of wearing dress pants during an athletic event.
      While I understand the tradition of it in baseball (and really appreciate how baseball holds on to so many traditions) it is so impractical, surely they can come up with a comfortable and practical athletic pant that maintains the traditional look of umpires’ pants.

  • Jake | March 12, 2018 at 9:45 am |

    I know pro wrestling isn’t always a popular topic among sports fans, but WWE champion AJ Styles ripped his tights during the main event of the 2016 TLC pay-per-view. Many fans made remarks about it on Twitter prompting AJ to Instagram a picture of the split tights the next day with the caption “As you can see by the seam, you all were in no danger of seeing my butthole.”

  • Lindsay Resnick | March 12, 2018 at 9:51 am |

    Thank you for offering the quick donation info! I just donated a small amount and will be sure to do so again in the future (hopefully I’ll be able to afford a larger donation next time). Thank you for everything!

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 9:51 am |

      Thanks so much, Lindsay — greatly appreciated.

  • Adam JK | March 12, 2018 at 10:00 am |

    Hi Paul – any chance of waiving the Purple Rule for a new membership card?

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 10:04 am |

      We waive it every year for 24 hours on May 17 — Purple Amnesty Day.

      • Adam JK | March 12, 2018 at 11:07 am |

        I know- but I’d love to purchase my membership before that, and have an awesome purple card in mind. (Even though I imagine you’d hate it!)

    • Greg | March 12, 2018 at 10:05 am |

      There is purple amnesty day (I forget when), but perhaps one of the perks of being a donor is waving the purple rule.

      • SWC Susan | March 12, 2018 at 12:33 pm |

        I think it’s clearly stated the waving of any purple rules would require a $5000 donation. Which totally generated an audible reaction of laughter from me!

        • Phil Hecken | March 12, 2018 at 1:01 pm |

          Think it would take more than $5K to waive the purple rule ;)

  • Ken | March 12, 2018 at 10:14 am |

    Enough teasers — we want the PayPal story pronto.
    ….or how about a $5 donation for the PayPal story??

    The PayPal story can run on a day when you and/or Phil have a commitment and have little or nothing to post. It can be a Paul Harvey’esque, “… and that’s the rest of the uni-story.”

    • Block "O Canada" | March 12, 2018 at 12:23 pm |

      I agree, let’s hear the PayPal story.

      • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 12:29 pm |

        Short-ish version: Back around 2008-ish, Bryan Redemske, who at the time handled weekend entries here on the site (this was pre-Phil), had a terrible bike accident and had serious medical bills. I asked people to chip in via PayPal to help cover his expenses, and I said anyone who donated would get an extra entry in our next raffle. PayPal interpreted that as using their service to facilitate gambling, which is a no-no. So they barred me for life.

        It’s a little more involved than that, but that’s the gist.

        No good deed, etc., etc.

  • Teezog | March 12, 2018 at 10:19 am |
    • Eric | March 12, 2018 at 11:26 am |

      I came here to mention Speedy as well. There’s a story about it (complete with video clip showing the split!) that runs from about the 14 to 15 minute mark of this old video:

  • Perry | March 12, 2018 at 10:33 am |
  • Perry | March 12, 2018 at 10:37 am |

    When I trained as an umpire one of the things they taught us was always brush home plate with your butt facing the field, not the stands, just in case your pants split when you bend over.

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 10:39 am |

      I thought the idea was to orient yourself that way just as a matter of etiquette, because it would be rude to have your butt pointing at the fans.

      • Greg | March 12, 2018 at 10:47 am |

        Not so much etiquette, but if you are cleaning the plate, you are supposed to be stopping play also. So by walking out in front of the plate you are clearly interrupting play. That was the reasoning behind it when I was trained.

  • Wafflebored | March 12, 2018 at 11:23 am |

    A feature on Uni Watch readers’ cats is a solid idea.

  • jacket18 | March 12, 2018 at 11:42 am |

    “Games with the home team wearing a colored uniform and the road team wearing white were the most frequent type of matchup. That hadn’t happened in any other single week during the season.”

    Maybe I’m reading the chart wrong, but it looks like that happened weeks 12, 16, & 17. Am I missing something here?

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 11:54 am |

      You’re right — that’s what the chart indicates.

      I’ll check with Collin and update either the text or the chart, as need be. Thanks for the catch!

      • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 12:05 pm |

        Update: Collin confirms that the chart is right and he just messed up the text. I’ll revise it now.

  • Mark in Shiga | March 12, 2018 at 11:58 am |

    Back in 2005, the Braves still knew how to do NOBs, as Todd Hollandsworth got the only good NOB rendition of any of the teams he played with (except for when he got to go NNOB at home with the Cubs in 2005).

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 12:08 pm |


  • Scott Criscuolo | March 12, 2018 at 1:03 pm |

    Paul…how was Don Pepe’s??? My goddaughter went there and said the food is killer….

    There’s a great restaurant in Brooklyn called La Palina that has a “Sunday Supper” menu option…Sundays only…perhaps my donation will lead to that :)

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm |

      We had a great time at Don Peppe — but honestly, we thought the food was just OK. Like, nothing was *bad,* but nothing was particularly special either. Didn’t live up to some of the hype I’ve heard. And that was our unanimous opinion in a group of eight people.

      Also: Absurdly overpriced, and some odd service demands (like, you can’t order the appetizers first and then order the entrees later — have to order everything all at once and can’t add anything to your order later on), and a few other dings. Which would be fine if the food was extraordinary, but it wasn’t. No regrets about having gone, but I can’t imagine going back.

  • Gary-O | March 12, 2018 at 1:26 pm |

    Heh-heh. A “Brief” History of Pants-Splitting

  • Marc P | March 12, 2018 at 1:44 pm |

    Small recommendation from my perspective (n of 1 here) but for the pay model, it builds up to items that may or may not be of interest to folks.
    May I suggest an itemized menu of things perhaps? ie…
    $xx for non-ad access
    $xxx for special entries
    $xxxx membership card
    $xxxxx Q/A session

    • Marc P | March 12, 2018 at 1:47 pm |

      to add further, even:

      $20/month for a t-shirt each month
      $200/month for a purple t-shirt each month


  • Joe Werner | March 12, 2018 at 1:54 pm |

    I know everything is still preliminary, but are these contribution levels based on single donations, or would they be cumulative over a certain period of time, such as 1 year? I could see myself maybe reaching level 3 or 4, but it would be an accumulation of smaller donations, definitely not a one-shot donation though. Thank you!

    • Paul Lukas | March 12, 2018 at 1:57 pm |

      I’m thinking single donations. If multiple people wanted to pool their resources to get me to fly out and host a party, that’s fine, but all of the accrued benefits (message board access, free shirt, etc) would only go to one person, not all of the people.

      • Steve | March 12, 2018 at 3:40 pm |

        I assume what he means is personally he can’t donate, for example, $250 right now. But over time (a year or whatever) he might be able to chip in money here and there to get to that $250/Skype session.

        This might give people more incentive to re-up on payments instead of a one-and-done scenario. I know it would be more of an administrative headache, but giving people an option to work up towards a reward might be more palatable.

  • steven | March 12, 2018 at 2:04 pm |

    I usually don’t comment but I read most of the conversations that go on here I just wanted to say I really like this structure of support you’re going to be setting up and either the 50 or 100 dollar level sounds like is for me. I really like the idea of a pay walled message board for “us”.

  • Tim | March 12, 2018 at 2:41 pm |

    Color v. Color in Rugby over the past weekend. Irish in Green/White/Green versus the Scots in a Blue/Blue/White.×370/IrevsSco12.jpg

  • Mike | March 12, 2018 at 3:05 pm |

    I’ve been to two pants split games in my life, believe it or not. I was at an NCAA Tournament game at the Metrodome in 1986 when Jim Valvano tore his pants (apparently it happened fairly often to Coach V) and I was at a college hockey game in the mid-90s when then Minnesota-Duluth coach Mike Sertich tore his pants.

  • Mark in Shiga | March 12, 2018 at 4:41 pm |

    I noticed (it actually distracted me from the pants-split) in that photo of Jerome Boateng that he seems to have team-color tights with team-color socks under them. Maybe we might as well bring back full Renaissance-era men’s tights instead of having them be three separate pieces.

  • Bob Andrews | March 12, 2018 at 5:23 pm |

    Tex Winter, longtime NBA and college coach slip this pants one night due a game in Houston. Can’t find pic now although I’ve seen it before. Any combo of the logical search terms in Google brings up page after page of ski pants.