Exclusive: The Untold Story of the 1969 Black Cat Game

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Monday is the 50th anniversary of the famous Black Cat Incident, when a black kitty jinxed the 1969 Cubs by appearing in front of their dugout during a game against the Mets at Shea Stadium.

Everyone knows that Ron Santo was in the on-deck circle when this happened, as shown in the photo above. He’s the one on the right side of the photo, looking over his shoulder at the cat. But who was that other guy on the left side of the photo? Was it another player?

No — it was the batboy. And his story about the Black Cat Incident has never been told — until today. I have that as an exclusive over on Sports Illustrated, and I think you’re really going to like it. You can check it out here.

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Friday Morning Uni Watch: The NFL season kicked off with last night’s Packers/Bears game, and there were at least three uni-notable developments. First, as you can see above, the Packers finally revealed their Bart Starr memorial decal. They had announced that they’d have this memorial two months ago but hadn’t worn it during the preseason or even shown us what it would look like.

Second, Bears kicker Eddy Piñeiro wore a tilde on his NOB, and they appear to have reduced the size of his nameplate lettering in order to make room for it:

We’ve seen NFL players with umlauts and cedillas before, but I think Piñiero might be the league’s first tilde-clad player, at least in a regular season game. Here are some near-misses:

• Packers defensive tackle Gilbert Peña wore a tilde during training camp in 2013 (and I was told that he also wore one when the Patriots acquired him later that summer, although I don’t have a photo of that), but he never played in a regular season game, and maybe not even in a preseason game.

• Texans linebacker Eduardo Castañeda was given a tilde-clad jersey at a press conference in 2007 but never made it past the taxi squad.

• According to this page, Bengals offensive lineman Anthony Muñoz routinely wore a tilde in the Pro Bowl, but not in the regular season. I haven’t been able to find a good rear-view shot of him from a Pro Bowl, but you can sorta-kinda convince yourself that the tilde is there in this photo from the 1989 game.

But! Did you know Muñoz played for the Buccaneers during the 1993 preseason? “He was one of various ex-Bengals that Sam Wyche tried to import to Tampa,” says Tris Wykes, who worked as a low-level equipment guy for the Bucs at the time. Tris took this preseason shot of Muñoz wearing a tilde (click to enlarge):

Unfortunately, Muñoz injured his shoulder later in that game and never played again, so his tilde, like the others I’ve listed here, never made it into a regular season game.

Does anyone know of any other NFLers who’ve worn a tilde, in any capacity?

Oh, and for the game’s third uni-notable aspect, the NFL’s sideline apparel for this game appeared to be leftover stock from MLB’s Players’ Weekend.

(My thanks to Matt Shevin, @MBDChicago, Donny Moore, and Ted Kerwin for their contributions to this section, and bonus thanks to Tris Wykes for the old Muñoz photo.)

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TV on the radio (or is it radio on TV?): I talked NFL uniforms yesterday morning on The Dan Patrick Show. Sorry I didn’t give you a heads-up in yesterday’s blog post, but they gave me very short notice. The entire segment is shown in the video above — pretty much Uni Watch 101, I’d say, but I thought it went well. Enjoy.

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Let’s try this again: In response to a few customer requests, we have new Naming Wrongs shirts for Syracuse’s Archbold Stadium (spelled correctly this time; available in navy and orange) and Tottenham’s White Hart Lane.

Might I also suggest, in light of the latest nonsense to emerge from Denver, that this is a good time to rediscover our Mile High shirts, available in orange and navy:

You can browse the full Naming Wrongs collection here. As always, card-carrying Uni Watch members qualify for a 15% discount (this also applies to everything in the Uni Watch shop). My thanks, as always, for considering our products, which help keep this site running.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Matthew Emerson

Baseball News: While we occasionally see ballplayers using each other’s bats, it’s highly unusual to see a position player using a pitcher’s bat. But Cubs SS Addison Russell appeared to be using Jon Lester’s bat during last night’s game (from @ceegality). … The White Sox printed up a jersey with the number “100” in honor of the Bears’ 100th anniversary (from Griffin T. Smith). … The Potomac Nationals, who are moving south to Fredericksburg, Va., have posted a logo on their website with an “F” in the same style as their “P” logo. The use of “Fredericksburg Baseball” strongly implies that the team is dropping the “Nationals” nickname as part of their relocation (from R. Scott Rogers). … New jerseys for Appalachian State softball (from Sean Welsch). … Oh my god, check out these awesome Edmonton Oilers softball unis. Gorgeous (from Steven Schapansky).

NFL News: O’Hare Airport was ready for the NFL season opener, with concourse signage in Bears livery. … Cross-posted from the baseball section: The White Sox printed up a jersey with the number “100” for the Bears, in honor of the team’s 100th anniversary (from Griffin T. Smith). … Remember when Brian Urlacher was on the ’85 Bears? No? Well, then, don’t buy this commemorative football (from Jerry Gaul). … A promotional image posted on the Saints’ Twitter account featured RB Alvin Kamara in an outdated jersey and a helmet style he’s never worn (from Cody Junot). … ESPN has an article about why Browns QB Baker Mayfield could be the “most famous no. 6 in NFL history” (from Jason Hillyer). … A Chiefs 60th-anniversary flag appears in this McDonald’s commercial (from BootedNewswomen). … Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has donated 375 helmets to Chico, Ca.-area high schools (from Mike Chamernik).

College Football News: The Gators have added an awesome memorial helmet decal for Mr. Two Bits (from @GatorsUnis). … Air Force has officially released the “Air Power Legacy Series uniform,” inspired by the C-17 (from Ryan Vickers). … Duquesne has new alternate all-red unis (from Ian Kondrat). … Duke is going white-blue-white this weekend (from Michael Manker). … Louisville is going white-red-white (from @ACCTracker). … Also from @ACCTracker, NC State is going white-red-white against WCU. … Another from @ACCTracker: Wake Forest is going black-white-white against Rice. … Old Dominion is going mono-white on Saturday (from @MonarchsUnis and @cusamemes).

Hockey News: Sabres G Andrew Hammond is once again going with a Hamburgler theme on his mask for this season (from Edward Snyder and Jerry Wolper). … Cross-posted from the baseball section: Oh my god, check out these awesome Edmonton Oilers softball unis. Gorgeous (from Steven Schapansky). … The Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL will have purple goalposts next season (from Dustin Perez).

NBA News: This Giannis Antetokounmpo bobblehead has an upside-down Harley Davidson ad patch (from @guyinbrewcity). … The Australian National Basketball League’s Sydney Kings have the dropshadows on their uni numbers and wordmark going in different directions. If you scroll up, you can also get a good look at every NBL team’s jersey for this coming season (from Paul Forrest). … Newest uni number updates from Etienne Catalan feature two Rockets: PG Shamorie Ponds will wear No. 2, and G William McDowell-White will wear No. 5. … A six-acre corn maze in Florenceville-Bristol, N.B., is Raptors-themed (from @ohhhsourry).

College Hoops News: A gold tag has been added to the back collar of Kentucky’s jerseys, like the ones on the back collar of NBA teams with titles. The tag contains the Nike Elite logo, leading Travis Coffey to believe these tags will be on the back of every Nike team in college basketball.

Soccer News: Remember back when English Championship side Huddersfield wore a shirt with a giant Paddy Power ad on it as part of a marketing campaign? The FA has fined the club £50,000 for that stunt. The article also includes a bit about how the club wanted the referee to ban the shirt before the match for extra publicity (from Ed Żelaski and our Jamie Rathjen).

Grab Bag: Unsurprisingly, even Lonzo Ball thought the Big Baller Brand sneaks were low-quality garbage (from Mike Chamernik). … The Arlington Police have new honor guard unis (from Dustin Perez). … Scotland has officially created a tartan to honor its Muslim citizens (from Mark Skog).

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On a serious note: Back in April, I wrote about the Hebrew Nationals, an all-Jewish softball team in Albuquerque, N.M. The person I interviewed for that story was the team’s captain, Scott Fliegel, who was an absolute joy to talk with — a really fun, generous-spirited guy.

Uni Watch reader Richard Hochroth informed me yesterday that Fliegel was killed in a traffic accident on Tuesday. He was 56 years old.

Although I never met Fliegel in person, this news is heartbreaking. He seemed like such a great guy. As soon as I heard what had happened, I contacted Dan Skinner at ConAgra Foods, who had set up the softball team with uniforms, bats, and so on. He hadn’t heard, and he too was shattered by the news.

Please join me in donning a black armband for Fliegel. R.I.P. — Paul

47 comments to Exclusive: The Untold Story of the 1969 Black Cat Game

  • BurghFan | September 6, 2019 at 8:25 am |

    For those of us who aren’t up on our Gators lore, who was Mr. Two Bits?

  • Max in DC | September 6, 2019 at 8:25 am |

    proofreading: “Packers defensive tackle wore a tilde” should be “Packers defensive tackle Gilbert Pena wore a tilde,” I think

    • Paul Lukas | September 6, 2019 at 8:28 am |

      Yup. Already fixed!

  • Memal | September 6, 2019 at 8:33 am |

    Condolences to Scott Fliegel’s family and any Uni-Watchers who knew him. That was a great article and he seemed like a great guy. Rest in peace.

    • John F. | September 6, 2019 at 9:45 am |

      Baruch dayan ha’emet

    • Johnny | September 6, 2019 at 9:37 am |

      Fergie is the best… I miss living where I could have cats. :(

    • TomInNJ | September 6, 2019 at 10:45 am |

      Great story on the black cat incident. Thanks Paul!

  • RS Rogers | September 6, 2019 at 8:44 am |

    “Scotland has created” – two problems. First, Scotland didn’t create the Islamic tartan; individuals or organizations like clan associations, nonprofits, or companies create tartans. Scotland has an official authority for registering privately created tartans, to which the creators of the Islamic tartan (it official name) submitted their design. It works like the U.S. patent system: Submissions are reviewed against existing registrations to ensure that the new ones are sufficiently unique. One would not describe a patent as “The federal government has invented …” A Scottish Muslim worked with tartan experts and religious scholars to design the Islamic tartan and get it registered.

    Secondly, “has” implies that this is new. In fact the Islamic tartan – which is a beautiful design and represents a terrific story of inclusion – was registered in 2012. Here’s the official registration: https://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails?ref=10644

    There’s also an officially recognized Jewish tartan, designed by a rabbi a few years before the Islamic tartan: https://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails?ref=5637

    • Iain | September 6, 2019 at 12:30 pm |

      Good info.
      The 99% Invisible podcast series Articles of Interest has an episode about plaid that is worth a listen if you are interested in tartan

  • ThatRodneyGuy | September 6, 2019 at 8:46 am |

    Fantastic read Paul!

    • DJ | September 6, 2019 at 8:56 am |

      Yes, great story

  • Morgan Doninger | September 6, 2019 at 9:06 am |

    Great SI story Paul!

  • DenverGregg | September 6, 2019 at 9:14 am |

    liked the SI story a whole lot, though i did groan at “catbird seat”

  • Shut Up Lutz! | September 6, 2019 at 9:35 am |

    So one of the newer ‘things’ in the sports world is NBA teams having multiple different courts and court designs that they use throughout the season, which I suppose is the natural next step from having multiple sets of uniforms.

    I do fear that the next step can only be having multiple arenas in every city, paid for of course by the public, for teams to play their home games in on some sort of schedule.

    I do like the idea of changing things up like this, but then there is the thought that the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it costs to design and build each new court as well as paying workers to install and uninstall each court is of course being passed on to the consumer in the form of higher ticket prices.

    But hey, I haven’t been to a live sporting event ever since my uncle and niece were savagely attacked at an Eagles game because my niece wore A Mariners hat so I could care less who is paying for it.

    But I throw it out to the usual suspects are you for or against NBA teams having multiple courts and court designs and which are your most and least favorite?

    • Paul Lukas | September 6, 2019 at 9:39 am |

      Are you asking me? I’m fine with having alternate court designs that match the alternate uniforms.

      • Shut Up Lutz! | September 6, 2019 at 9:51 am |

        Asking you and other posters to the site.

        • Daniel Tarrant | September 6, 2019 at 12:14 pm |

          From a purely aesthetic viewpoint, the idea of having a throwback court to match a team’s throwback uniforms is a good one.

          And while I’m sure it’s not cheap, you have to figure that the cost of a new court being created and installed is a drop in the bucket for NBA teams who are paying over $100 million a year just on player salaries. So I doubt having a secondary courts has any effect on ticket prices.

    • John P | September 6, 2019 at 12:08 pm |

      It doesn’t do a lot for me, but doesn’t bother me either. Which is odd, because on field games I love when the grounds crews play with different designs in the grass.

      As for putting the extra cost into the tickets, meh. I can’t really afford to go to games anymore anyway. Such is the life of living an hour and a half from any pro stadium and having several children. Honestly, its more fun for me to take my entire family to a cheap minor league game, where I can not only afford everything, but explain rules to my kids and not worry about missing an important play that could effect the season or something.

    • Brent | September 6, 2019 at 2:22 pm |

      As far as multiple arenas, I could get behind that. I live west of Fort Worth and to go all the way to Dallas is a pain. Traffic. Driving skills get exponentially worse. If the Mavs or Stars played a few games in the new Fort Worth arena, I’d definitely be down for that. The Rangers are an easy drive and the Cowboys, while also an easy drive, have priced me out of their fandom.

  • St. Augustine | September 6, 2019 at 9:51 am |

    I went to Syracuse and spent many a Saturday afternoon at Archbold Stadium sitting on the cold stone benches in the rain. I don’t miss it. Sorry.

    • Steve | September 6, 2019 at 2:51 pm |

      Yeah, no kidding. A dome is perfect for that city. And it also transformed the basketball team into a national power and helped make The Big East what it was at the same time. I Miss the Old Big East is a shirt I’d buy.

      • Winter | September 6, 2019 at 3:35 pm |

        Just wish a dome with a corporate air conditioner name had a better HVAC system. That place is hot, and not much air flow.

  • Todd Morss | September 6, 2019 at 10:42 am |

    I’m 99.9% sure (pardon the pun) that is Gordie Howe in that Oilers softball pic, next to Gretzky and behind Andy Moog.

    So sorry to hear about Mr. Fliegel. Sounded like a great guy.

    • mike 2 | September 6, 2019 at 11:25 am |

      Yep. I’ve seen that picture before, the only other information I’ve been able to find is that the picture is from 1983 and it was taken at a game at John Ducey Park in Rossdale

    • Wade Heidt | September 6, 2019 at 12:23 pm |

      We’ve seen the photo before on this website. Back in January 2019, I submitted it in the comments and Paul did a write-up about it and a North Stars softball uni the next day.

      Yes, it is Gordie.

      https://uni-watch.com/2019/01/24/theres-gold-in-them-thar-unis-twins-unveil-new-alternates/

  • LT of DC | September 6, 2019 at 10:51 am |

    Condolences to Mr. Filegel. A Uni Watcher who got it right.

    Great article on the Black Cat PL. More please. Great chat with Mr. Patrick splainin’ the Aesthetic expanding the known UNI VERSE to the sporting world.

  • John H. | September 6, 2019 at 10:56 am |

    Great story, Paul. Way to dig in the trenches!

  • Tim | September 6, 2019 at 11:15 am |

    I turned off DPs show early (west coast it’s 6-9). Saw reference to you interview on DP’s show in the DP twitter feed after the fact. Good discussion…

  • StLMarty | September 6, 2019 at 11:16 am |

    You’re staring at the sun
    You’re standing in the sea
    You’re mouth is open wide
    You’re trying hard to breathe

    Also… RIP, kind and jovial Hebrew National softballer.

    • Andrew Sterlachini | September 6, 2019 at 12:25 pm |

      nice…TVOTR

  • Padday | September 6, 2019 at 12:03 pm |

    I may go blue in the face saying I told you so on this issue, but now that we have definitive word that the “Save Our Kits” campaign was being run on the back of a corporation influencing a sporting club not only to deliberately break league rules, but also beg officials to participate in the “advertising campaign” by drumming up “good publicity” with a sham scolding – probably one of the most egregious examples of the corporate tail wagging the sporting dog – can we finally put to bed the idea that this campaign was ever worth anything? That whatever good that one could argue came of it is now pretty thoroughly tainted by this corporate scumbaggery? That no amount of ad free jerseys is worth sports being reduced to such a ridiculous, corporate dictated pantomime?

  • Phil P | September 6, 2019 at 12:21 pm |

    The tilde piece was interesting to me, specifically the player’s name. So the tilde n is a Spanish thing, but the “eir” portion is largely a Portuguese thing (Spanish will do “-ero” rather than “-eiro”) and the tilde n sound is written “nh” in Portuguese. So a quick google search indicates that the name may be Galician, which makes total sense since that region’s language (which is considered its own language) can be best described as a hybridized Portuguese-Castilian language. As someone with “eir” in my own name I can say it’s a pain in the butt to have to spell out to people (case in point, Paul you misspelled the name as Piniero in the text lol)

    Always happy to provide useless language knowledge!

  • ThresherK | September 6, 2019 at 12:51 pm |

    Not gonna lie: When I saw the Cat’s Paw logo I thought “Someone was getting their cleats resoled?”

    • Paul Lukas | September 6, 2019 at 12:55 pm |

      Ha! I’ve always loved that logo and couldn’t resist including it on the page.

  • Mike | September 6, 2019 at 12:59 pm |

    My most sincere apologies being this guy. White Heart Lane was located in the London Borough of Haringey, not the City of London, as the shirt reflects. My understand is the correct street sign would look like one of these https://www.haringey.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-travel/roads-and-streets/street-and-building-naming-and-numbering/street-name-plates

  • Mike | September 6, 2019 at 1:19 pm |

    Interesting. Thanks for a peek behind the curtain.

  • Graf Zeppelin | September 6, 2019 at 2:38 pm |

    Regarding #6, it should be noted that it’s the only number from 1-19 that has never been worn by a starting QB in a Super Bowl.

  • RS Rogers | September 6, 2019 at 3:11 pm |

    Finally got a chance to read the SI piece. What a terrific of reporting and writing!

    • Paul Lukas | September 6, 2019 at 3:13 pm |

      Thank you!!

  • Munch Suchland | September 6, 2019 at 4:08 pm |

    Love the SI piece. And you really did a great job on the Dan Patrick Show (it’s sooo much harder to speak on the spot without a bunch of umm’s and uhh’s than people realize!). Hat’s off, you must have done enough of it by now to really feel comfortable.

    RIP Mr Fliegel. One of my favorite articles on here.

    • Paul Lukas | September 6, 2019 at 4:48 pm |

      Thank you, on all counts! And RIP Scott.

  • John Kenealy | September 6, 2019 at 10:23 pm |

    Interesting that the Jim Flood was wearing a road Chicago bat boy uniform, even though the bat boys didn’t typically travel with the team. It’s surprising that they would even have a road jersey available without the number on the back.