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[Editor’s Note: As reported in yesterday’s Ticker, the Canucks will wear “flying V” throwback jerseys for tomorrow night’s pregame skate. With that in mind, we have a guest entry on that topic by the pseudonymous Wafflebored. Enjoy. — PL]
The Vancouver Canucks caused a bit of a stir on on Oct. 9, when they featured former player Stan Smyl — second from left in the photo shown above — wearing the outrageous 1978 “V” jersey as part of the team’s 50th-anniversary celebration. But the elation I felt over the team formally acknowledging this groundbreaking and wonderful design gave way to disappointment as I realized there was something not quite right about the way the jersey looked. In short: I think they messed it up.
A bit of background: I was born in Vancouver and still live there today. I was nine years old when the cool blue and green gave way to the retina-searing V jerseys. At the time, no one could believe the Canucks would really be wearing that design. But over time, the look has become legendary, both with Canucks fans and with uniform fans in general. As a member of both camps, it would be fair to say I’m somewhat obsessed with the design.
More recently, and with the support and encouragement of Paul here on Uni Watch, I have become a hobbyist jersey maker. I’ve dabbled in lots of designs, and some time ago I decided I would try to unlock the secrets of the V by creating a pattern for the design. I didn’t know what I was in for. There is nothing about this design that bears any resemblance to traditional jersey making.
But back to the Canucks’ recent ceremony for a second. As soon as I saw the jersey, my initial thought is the orange V was positioned too low within the black triangle section. Also, it looked to me like the black V section was too large compared to the originals. Here’s a comparison — original version on the left, Smyl’s throwback on the right:
Surely they would have noticed this? But then I realized that trying to make throwbacks work within modern jersey templates can’t be easy. The older jerseys were much smaller and cut differently. Maybe I was being too hard on them.
My own foray into patterning this design was much more difficult than I imagined. It’s all about the geometry of the V shape, and how it fits onto the jersey. It’s all about angles and scale, and if you mess anything up it affects everything else. It’s a very unforgiving design.
At first, I suspected the issue might be with what I found most surprising about this jersey: the two small Vs on top of the shoulders are not symmetrical. I found this out, of course, by first making them symmetrical. I thought a V was, well, a V — I assumed symmetry, balance, and a harmony of design. What I actually found, at least I think, is that the designers had to fudge the angles on these for everything to come together.
The photo above shows my first attempt. The orange sections don’t come together at the back, which would form the 10th V on the entire uniform (two on the socks, two on the pants, one on the front of the jersey, two on the sleeves, two at the top of the shoulders, and this one on the back of the shoulders).
I know what you’re thinking: 10 Vs was probably overkill anyway. But if you look at this photo of Thomas Gradin [see above], you might agree with me that having the orange sections come together at a V at the back is much more attractive than my attempt where they don’t meet. To use symmetrical Vs at the top would require the meeting point to occur too far down the back.
Here’s a look at how the angles on the shoulder Vs need to be offset to meet at the back. The lines on the left side show the angles for a symmetrical V, while the right side shows how the angle needs to be adjusted so both sides meet in the middle.
At this point, I had only seen front photos of Smyl, so I didn’t know if the designers had made the same mistake I had. There were no rear-view photos of Smyl that I could find on the internet. I wondered why they didn’t just move the orange section up higher so it was more centered on the black field?
Finally, I watched the Canucks’ video of the event, which finally allowed me to see what was happening on the back. Here’s a screen capture:
It finally dawned on me: The V did not come together at the back, likely to accommodate the Adidas logo, which appears at exactly the point where the Vs should meet. Was the design compromised to accommodate the maker’s mark?
At this point, knowing there are a lot of moving parts to the design, I couldn’t say for sure what happened. And to be fair, my own measurements might not be accurate. And this photo makes it look like maybe the shoulder V’s actually are the offset style with more angle at the back as per the originals. But the overall large size of the black V on the jersey, plus the lower orange V, makes me think maybe everything was made wider than the original so the orange lines didn’t meet at the back to allow for logo placement.
My solution: If logo placement was the issue, they could have gone with a smaller black V, raised the orange V higher in the black, and relaxed the angle of the shoulder V so they didn’t meet at the back as per my first attempt. This may have provided a closer look to the original, while accommodating the logo placement.
My understanding is the Canucks will be wearing these as a pregame jersey later in the year. The pregame jerseys usually wind up for sale in the Canucks arena store, if they are not first bought by collectors. If they do wind up at the store, I will definitely do my best to check them out to see how close my best guesses were.
Meanwhile, here are two V-style hybrid jerseys I recently made — very on-topic!
Been a long time since I finished a DIY jersey. Canucks navy orca/V hybrid with Anson Carter cresting. Silver dazzle cloth per the original. Logos were removed from a thrift store junior size jersey that had full size patches.@UniWatch @PhilHecken pic.twitter.com/UXJZKfVtQa
— Wafflebored (@wafflebored) October 23, 2019
Just finished this hybrid Flying V/WHA Vancouver Blazers jersey. Lace-up collar as used by the Blazers in both years of their existence. This style is a nice way to use smaller vintage patches which are still available.@UniWatch @PhilHecken pic.twitter.com/1ujr27zIbD
— Wafflebored (@wafflebored) November 4, 2019
ICYMI: earlier in the week I posted this jersey I recently finished, which is a hybrid Flying V/WHA Blazers jersey. Some different pics outside on a nice sunny fall day. Former Blazer Claude St. Sauveur. Lace up collar as the Blazers wore for their two seasons in Vancouver. pic.twitter.com/alLPQrScSG
— Wafflebored (@wafflebored) November 9, 2019
Paul here. Great stuff from Wafflebored, who I know will be watching closely when the throwbacks take the ice again tomorrow night!
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Gift Guide reminder: In case you missed it on Wednesday, the annual Uni Watch Holiday Gift Guide, featuring all sorts of cool stuff (including artist Pop Chart’s scratch-off stadium posters, shown above), is now available for your enjoyment over at InsideHook. My thanks to everyone who suggested items for inclusion!
Also: The good people at Tokens & Icons have two worthwhile items that, for reasons not worth explaining here, didn’t make it into the Gift Guide, both of which are being sold exclusively at UncommonGoods (the same people who made and sold our Uni Watch 20th-anniversary plate):
• First, they have some very nice friendship bracelets made from unwound yarn from game-used baseballs (shown at right).
• And they also have money clips made from game-used NFL jerseys.
Teen drama: My former ESPN colleague Kevin Seifert has written a tremendous piece about NFL wide receivers choosing uni numbers in the 10-19 range instead of in the 80s — including how the trend started with Jets wideout Keyshawn Johnson and how there may actually be some science backing up the preference for the lower numbers. Great reporting, great info, and well worth your time. Check it out here.
Mets musings: As you may have heard, the Mets will apparently have a new owner within five years, and possibly sooner. There’s been a lot of chatter about what this may mean for the team’s payroll, for the team’s rivalry with the Yankees, for the lame-duck period until the new owner takes over (Mets Police blogger Shannon Shark had a particularly good take on that topic), and more.
But as a lifelong Mets fan who thinks the team looks pretty good right now from an aesthetic standpoint, I’m more interested in a question that nobody seems to have addressed so far: What might new ownership mean for the Mets’ uniforms?
Some quick background: In the Mets’ nearly 60-year history, there have been only two ownership eras, although the second era has actually been several mini-eras folded into one. The first era was from 1962 through 1980, when the team was owned by Joan Payson and her heirs. The second era has been from 1980 to the present, with majority ownership first held by the publishing firm Doubleday & Co. (1980-86), then jointly by Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon (1986-2002), and then solely by Wilpon (2002-present). So for better or worse, the team has had, for the most part, ownership stability.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Mets have also had aesthetic stability. Throughout those two ownership eras, the team’s uniforms and related graphics have largely remained stable. Sure, they’ve tinkered at the margins, often due to prevailing fashion trends (pullovers, racing stripes, BFBS, etc.), but the team’s primary colors, primary logo, cap logo, script, and mascot have remained mostly intact. As I like to frame it, they’ve been more of a Coke team than a Pepsi team. In fact, if you compare the Mets to MLB’s other expansion franchises (the Angels, Senators/Rangers, Astros, Royals, Expos/Nats, Padres, Pilots/Brewers, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rockies, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Rays), they’ve had more aesthetic stability than any of those teams except for the Rockies. Indeed, it appears that Wilpon’s chief aesthetic legacy, aside from the BFBS hiccup, will probably be the team’s new ballpark.
But now it looks like a third ownership era is approaching. What might that mean? Here are some thoughts:
• On the one hand, the new owner-to-be reportedly grew up as a Mets fan on Long Island, so maybe he cherishes the team’s aesthetic heritage as much as I do and will leave it alone.
• On the other hand, when fabulously wealthy people purchase a vanity trinket (which is essentially what the Mets would be for the new owner), they often like to put their own stamp on it as a way of saying, “This belongs to me now, and we’re starting a new chapter.” One way to do that is by introducing new uniforms. We’ve seen lots of new team owners do that in various sports, so it’s certainly possible that the Mets’ new owner would do it as well. Interestingly, he is a serious appreciator of the arts — his art collection alone reportedly has a higher value than Fred Wilpon’s entire net worth — so aesthetics clearly matter to him. And like many fabulously wealthy people, he may have a high regard for his own tastes. Maybe he’s been spending much of his life thinking, “If I ever get to own this team, first thing I’m gonna do is fix those fucking uniforms.” (It’s worth noting that the logo of his former company featured brown, orange, and yellow, while his current company’s logo has multiple shades of blue. Hmmmm.)
• On the other-er hand, lately we’ve seen several owners giving the fans what they want when it comes to uniforms — think Padres and Brewers. The Padres’ case is particularly interesting because owner Ron Fowler was on record as not liking brown, but he eventually approved the team’s move back to brown anyway because the fan base wanted it. In the case of the Mets, I’m fairly certain the fan base would not be in favor of a uniform overhaul, so maybe the new owner would listen to that sentiment.
Do I really think the new owner will change the Mets’ look? Frankly, I doubt it. But it’s definitely a possibility, and that scares me. You know, it’s funny: Like so many Mets fans, I’ve been hoping for many years now that the Wilpons would sell the team. Now that it’s finally happening, I’m reminded that we should always be careful what we wish for.
Too good for the Ticker: Reader Mark Chiarucci recently tipped me off to a site called Good Old Sandlot Days, which features tons of team portraits from Bay Area sandlot baseball teams of the early and mid-1900s (including the Schlitz-sponsored team shown above). There are soooo many great uniforms waiting to be discovered here — definitely worth it to spend some time poking around. Big thanks to Mark for letting me know about this one!
Membership update: Eight new cards have been added to the membership card gallery, including reader Chad Menefee’s Babe Ruth-style treatment. Obviously, it’s a simple design, but card designer Scott M.X. Turner really nailed the old Yankees pinstripe style, with the pins much lighter-colored than the numeral. Slightly off-white background tone, too. Looks perfect! These cards should mail out by next Thursday-ish.
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop and our Naming Wrongs shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.) 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 (now more than 2,400 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.
By Anthony Emerson
Baseball News: We got our first look at the Nike logo on the Reds’ primary home unis yesterday. … MLB’s Cut4 blog says about 20% of MLB players are going high-cuffed these days. That’s roughly the same figure we came up with back in 2016 (thanks, Brinke). … Some Royals fans want the team to bring back their powder blues — pants as well as jerseys (thanks, Phil). … The Rangers’ FanSided blog ranked the team’s new unis (thanks again, Phil). … The Braves announced the signing of P Cole Hamels on Twitter with an image of Hamels in a Rangers uni, even though Hamels had been with the Cubs for the last season and a half (from Wesley Muniz). … “Yes, the Yankees should have alternate uniforms” argues someone who is wrong (thanks, Phil). … MiLB’s Florida State League has introduced a new league logo. Here’s the old one for reference (from Wayne Koehler). … The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Triple-A affiliates of the Phillies, have launched new “Gold Standard” uniforms, to be worn for Friday home games (thanks, Phil). … The Connecticut Tigers, Single-A Short Season affiliates of the Tigers, have completely rebranded as the Norwich Sea Unicorns. I’m not usually a huge fan of minor league teams carrying basically the same identity as their major league affiliate, but the Connecticut Tigers had some of the very best uniforms in MiLB, and the new identity feels so totally generic, just the same as every other MiLB rebrand from the past ten or so years. A shame, in my opinion. Also, why “Norwich Sea Unicorns” instead of the obviously superior “Norwich Narwhals”? (From multiple readers.)
NFL/XFL News: The Bears wore their gorgeous 1936 throwbacks last night. … In that game, Bears DB HaHa Clinton-Dix was spotted on the sideline with a Sean Taylor-style tape job on his facemask, although he doesn’t seem to have worn it in the game. … Eagles DE Vinny Curry has a lot of Jordans. Like, a lot (from Sam McKinley). … The Los Angeles Times ranked every XFL uniform and
UAB Seattle came out on top (thanks, Phil).
College Football News: Navy and Army revealed their uniforms for their annual rivalry game. As usual, Phil will have a detailed assessment of these uniforms on the day of the game, which is next Saturday. … Speaking of Army, they’ve stopped using a team motto after it turned out to be tied to white supremacists. … Virginia is going mono-white for the ACC Championship. Here’s a look at the patch (thanks and congrats, Jamie). … Oregon will wear their “nightmare green” unis for the Pac-12 Championship (thanks, Phil).
Hockey News: Habs rookie G Cayden Primeau wore No. 30 in his NHL debut (from James Beattie). … Jerry Wolper sends along a great story about how a sports decal retailer refused to charge for memorial decals for a beer league.
Hoops News: The G-League’s Maine Red Claws had these insane/awesome jerseys for Aerospace Night last night. … Wyoming men have teased a new GFGS uni coming out sometime today (from Sean Stevens). … The Athletic has a good piece (paywalled) about Cincinnati’s tenure as one of the first three teams wearing Jordan unis (thanks, Alex). … It appears that the SEC Network’s score bug for basketball is designed to look like a free throw line circle, complete with the dotted lower line. Cool design — except, of course, that college basketball doesn’t have the dotted line. … Good-looking color vs. color game last night, as the Louisiana Tech and McNeese State women’s teams went blue vs. red (from Chris Mycoskie).
Soccer News: MLS unveiled its 25th-season logo yesterday. Not confirmed yet, but it will likely be worn as a patch on every MLS team’s sleeve (from @FTCUTD). … New kits for El Paso Locomotive FC (from Chris Avila). … Polish side Ruch Chorzów has introduced a centennial logo (from Ed Żelaski).
Grab Bag: Yesterday, NASCAR unveiled their Premier Partner model for their top-tier series, complete with a new logo featuring four corporate logos. Yuck. … Fresno State athletics is switching from Nike to Adidas. … Was UNC’s famous blue almost orange? James Gilbert dug up some old newspaper clippings describing orange football and basketball jerseys. … New Zealand’s Olympic uniforms have been released (thanks, Phil). … Shutterstock has released their “2020 Color Trends“. Unsurprising that we’re getting a bright red and a dark blue going into an election year (from Tim Dunn). … DCist has a good piece on an art exhibit exploring the history of black film through posters (from John Muir). … The typography trend in the food world is away from sans serif fonts.
Our latest raffle winner is Tyler Haney, who’s won a free Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and my continued thanks to David Cline for sponsoring this latest round of membership raffles.