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Tennessee School Turns Back the Clock to Segregated Era

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Obviously, school integration is a good thing. But as many segregated school systems integrated in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, it was usually the black schools that were shut down, and their history — including their sports history — was often lost or forgotten.

At least one town has decided to do something about that. When Tennessee integrated its schools in 1965 (there, as in much of the South, it took an unconscionably long time before officials complied with Brown), the town of Greeneville’s black high school, George Clem School, was shut down. But for the past several years, Greeneville High School has celebrated George Clem Night to coincide with Martin Luther King Day. They invite George Clem alums to attend, and — here’s the best part — the Greeneville boys’ and girls’ basketball teams wear Clem throwbacks.

The photo at the top of this entry is an old team portrait of the George Clem girls’ squad (sorry, not sure of the date). Here’s how the current team looked in their Clem throwbacks on Monday (all game photos by Tate Russell of the Greeneville Sun):

Turning our attention to the boys, here’s a vintage Clem team photo (again, I’m unsure of the year, sorry):

And here’s how the Greeneville High team looked in their Clem throwbacks on Monday (I’m impressed that they included the numbers on the shorts; again, game photos by Tate Russell of the Greeneville Sun):

In a nice touch, even the cheerleaders wore Clem throwbacks:

As I’ve always said, throwback uniforms are history lessons, and this lesson is a particularly good one. Kudos to all involved. (Still, there’s some history that can’t be undone. According to a friend of reader Miles Cowther, who brought all of this to my attention, the Clem boys’ team was supposedly one of the best in East Tennessee but never won any state titles because black schools didn’t have a postseason. Sigh.)

As you’ve no doubt noticed, the Greeneville High teams are overwhelmingly white. That’s not surprising — according to Wikipedia, the last census indicated that the town’s population of 15,062 people was 89.1% white and only 5.6% black, so the teams’ demographics reflect those of the town. I think it’s all the more impressive that Greeneville acknowledges and honors George Clem School’s legacy given how small the town’s black population is. Again, kudos.

You can learn a bit more about all of this, and see the throwback uniforms in action, in this local TV news report:

(Super-duper thanks to reader Miles Crowther for telling me about this, and to his friends Josh Ealy and Rustin Jones, both of whom are Greeneville natives and told Miles about the throwbacks because they know he’s into uniforms.)

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Super Bowl update: The Chiefs yesterday released short video clips showing two of their captains — quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu — wearing jerseys that included the Super Bowl patch but did not include their captaincy patches (Mahomes shown above; Mathieu is here). This seemed to indicate that the “C” patches — which the Chiefs did not wear during the regular season but added for their two playoff games — would not be worn in the big game.

But promo/hype teasers don’t always match what’s worn on-field. So just to be safe, I checked with a Chiefs spokesman. And sure enough, he confirmed that the Chiefs will wear the “C” patches in the Supe. Since KC already wears the Lamar Hunt perma-memorial patch, that’s going to make for a seriously crowded jersey, at least for the handful of captains.

I asked the spokesman if he could show or at least tell me how the “C” patches will be positioned. He said he couldn’t do that yet but indicated that we might get to see by Monday. Stay tuned.

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Too good for the Ticker: Well, at least someone is wearing a throwback for the big game. Longtime Chiefs groundskeeper George Toma was checking out the Super Bowl field in Miami yesterday — and wore a 35-year-old uniform for the occasion! How awesome is that?

Meanwhile, the midfield logo that they were applying in that photo is now complete:

(Super-duper thanks to Matt Newbery for this one.)

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Pin Club reminder: We’ve now sold over 150 of the January design for the Uni Watch Pin Club. This is a limited, numbered edition of 350 pins, designed by Todd Radom.

This pin is available here, and additional info on the Pin Club is here. I’ll unveil next month’s pin design on Feb. 4.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Blue Jays’ spring training caps have leaked (from Matt Gower). … The Phillies’ cream alternates will have a blue maker’s mark. The mark on their other jerseys is red (from @FSBabyHuey). … First reported a year ago and now official: After this season, the name of the Brewers’ ballpark will become an ad for an insurance company instead of an ad for a brewery. Paul wrote about the issues surrounding this ballpark’s name last year. … The Cubs and White Sox just announced they’re letting fans vote on the design of the new Crosstown Cup, which goes to the winner of the Cubs/Sox rivalry series (from Michael Mrozinsi). … The Florence Freedom of the Frontier League have renamed themselves the ““Y’alls.” The name is based on this local water tower and the interesting story behind it (from our own Alex Hider and multiple other readers). … Phillies RF Bryce Harper bats left-handed, but for some reason a new set of socks depicts him as a righty (from Caleb Mezzy). … New Hall of Fame inductee Larry Walker wore a Spongebob-themed shirt as he was announced part of this year’s HoF class (from James Beattie). … Speaking of Walker, here’s a weird coincidence: He now becomes the fourth hall of famer from a Colorado-based Big Four team to have worn No. 33 (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Here’s a summary of all the logo and branding changes for minor league teams in the upcoming season. … A fan has DIY’d himself a Mets-style jersey that says, “Meh” (from @HitTheGlass). … New uniforms for Oklahoma softball (from Sam McKinley).

Pro Football News: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Following up on yesterday’s lede about 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman wearing his towel on a little loop added to his pants, reader/commenter Chris Hickey notes that former Packers LB Brandon Chillar appears to have had a similar towel loop added to his pants in 2009. … The NFL Draft is set for April in Las Vegas. The event’s red carpet will literally be on top of the Bellagio’s famed fountains, and picks will be ferried in (from multiple readers). … Looks like the XFL wide receivers can wear single-digit numbers, just like in college football. Based on the online rosters, the rest of the positions follow the NFL guidelines for now (from Alex Barth). … Paul reported yesterday about two XFL teams’ secondary logos showing up on a scoreboard. Here are a few more (from @xfl_updates). … Mini-helmet maven Blaise D’Sylva is shifting gears to a new project: throwback prototype NFL helmets. Here’s a collection of then-new 1927-29 NFL teams From left to right, starting with the top row: 1927 New York Yankees; 1928 Detroit Wolverines; and 1929 Boston Bulldogs, Minneapolis Red Jackets, Orange Tornadoes, and Staten Island Stapletons.

College Football News: Florida State is set to add a “Seminole Scholar” patch for players who maintain a high GPA (from @TaReefKnockOut). … Remember yesterday’s item about QB Jalen Hurts’s Franken-helmet? Turns out he won’t wear that in the Senior Bowl (from Sam McKinley).

Hockey News: Blackhawks G Robin Lehner wore standard red/white/red striped black pants last night instead of the Winter Classic version (from Tom O’Grady). … The AHL has released the sweaters for its upcoming All-Star Game (from Jakob Fox). … Here are the sweaters for the upcoming NWHL All-Star Game in Boston (from @rindle247). … It was 40 years ago today that the Penguins pissed off the Bruins by changing their colors to black and gold. “As I recall, the Penguins actually ordered those uniforms through the Bruins’ pro shop,” says Jerry Wolper.

Basketball News: New alternates for the Syracuse Stallions of the ABA (from Shane Bua). … Color vs. color for TCU and Texas Tech last night (from Lance Escude). … Texas A&M G Jay Jay Chandler III has his NOB radially arched, while the rest of the Aggies’ NOBs are straight (from Timmy Donahue). … Color vs. color for Illinois and Purdue last night. Illinois wore throwbacks while Purdue wore GFGS (also from Timmy). … Iowa State’s coaches wore white sneakers with suits and head coach Steve Prohm wore a cancer awareness tie last night to support Coaches vs. Cancer (from Kary Klismet).

Soccer News: F Javier Hernandez, better known by many as Chicharito, just signed with the LA Galaxy. His press photo shows off the club’s new shirt. Here’s an alternate look, and the look of the back of the uniform, with Chicharito wearing his nickNOB (from multiple readers). … From Josh Hinton: Here’s a look at the Premier League uni matchups for this week. … Here’s why most of Paris Saint-Germain wore different numbers this week. … Inter Miami has struck an ad deal with the Qatari government to advertise the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Josh says, “Soccer leagues’ hypocrisy amazes me. Nobody wants to hear about how bigoted we are when you turn around and take $$$ from a nation with major human rights violations.” … The new Copa Del Rey Winners Badge has been revealed, and it will debut on kits when holders Valencia play Logroñés. … As always, you can keep up with the latest kit news from around the world by following Josh‘s Twitter feed. … NWSL Champions North Carolina Courage are letting their fans choose how their championship rings will look (from James Gilbert). … Here’s a look inside of — according to the store’s owners — the world’s largest collection of throwback shirts in Manchester (from Jeremy Brahm).

Grab Bag: The Michigan State Alumni Association released a cute Sparty style guide “written” by Sparty himself (from Don Martinez). … The latest version of a rugby video game comes with a jersey creation mode (from Andrew M.). … A Wisconsin farmer has created custom ear muffs to protect her cows from the cold (from Jason Collins). … Megxiteer Prince Harry will now be barred from wearing his military uniform (from Timmy Donahue).

Comments (39)

    Love today’s lede! Is it just me, or are the girls team shoes designed to look like saddle shoes?

    Indeed. Paul hit the nail on the head saying that throwbacks are a history lesson, and this was a great one. I love that the cheerleaders are singing “We Shall Not Be Moved”, a very important song in the civil rights and union movements, and one adapted from an African-American spiritual. What a great use of a school sports program to educate in a broader way.

    I believe the black & gold Penguins uniforms did not make their on-ice debut until January 30, 1980 at a home game vs. the St. Louis Blues. But this may be the anniversary of the Bruins protesting the color switch.


    You’re right, and the white versions debuted against Philadelphia the following Saturday.

    I dont have a picture of it right now, but I’m glad to see the midfield logo for the Super Bowl wont match the Miami-fied version of the NFL 100 logo that appears in Madden 20’s Super Bowl.

    Love the story behind the Florence KY water tower. I’ve driven past it a handful of times on I 75 south and it always gives me a little chuckle.

    Chiefs should really just move the permanent Lamar Hunt memorial patch to the sleeve like the Bears’ Halas memorial.

    To be honest, I had not heard anything about it until I read this (I do not watch local news much, even though I used to work for one of them)

    I have a cousin that played on the boys team there last year, but I do not remember them doing this.

    The headline worried me that it would be celebrating the wrong side of segregated schools…glad to see that wasn’t the case. Great piece on that today.

    Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia also threw back to the segregation era last season, playing one game as the “Lemon Street Hornets.” It was a pretty cool event. link

    I found a photo of the uniforms MHS wore that night. Nothing particularly “throwbacky,” but still a cool event.

    I know it’s a minor detail relative to the very cool (yet also bittersweet) tradition in the main story, but I totally dig that Greeneville’s teams are called the Greene Devils, complete with the extra e.

    Also, I’m still calling it New County Stadium.

    Fun fact, we are the only Greeneville with the extra E in the middle.. Named after Nathanial Greene. A few more fun facts, we are the home of Andrew Johnson and The Band Perry. Fun little town with a lot of history!

    I like that Blue Jays cap. The Phillies cap we saw earlier had a similar design, with part of the wordmark within the shape of the Liberty Bell. Curious to see how the others look!

    Festus/Crystal City MO schools wore Douglass High uniforms for MLK day. Sorry no pics.

    Arsenal wore red socks to avoid a clash w/ Chelsea yesterday. Looks like they are just an inverse of their regular white socks.


    Did Brandon Chillar wear one of those Reebok tech fit (I forget the name of the jerseys but it’s the same style the NY Giants wore from ’09-’12? that were super tight and stretchy) jerseys with the Packers for a period of time? The warped look on the sleeve stripes in the embedded picture reminds me of those Giants jerseys.

    Proofreading: The ‘i’ and ‘l’ are transposed in military in the last ticker entry.

    So excited for this game to be played on natural turf! Also, turf looks nice and short. Game play is going to be as fast as advertised!

    Also, contrast between the red/yellow/gold of the teams and the primary SB color, Dolphins teal, will be exceptional!

    EDIT (missing word in text):

    “there, as in much of the South, it took an unconscionably time before officials complied with Brown”

    Should include “LONG” in between “unconscionably” and “time.”

    I don’t normally care about batting practice caps, clubhouse caps, whatever. But those Blue Jays caps are really well done. I can imagine seeing them in game play a bunch of times.

    Yeah, I don’t think Denver gets to claim Tony Dorsett as one of their hall of famers. Sorry.

    Agreed. By that logic Seattle should claim that two of the best WRs in NFL history wore #80 for the Seahawks – Largent and Rice.

    I don’t think the article was “claiming” Dorsett as a Denver-centric athlete. They just said he wore No. 33 for a Denver team and then went to his sport’s hall of fame, all of which is true.

    Video Game Leaks!


    Swooshes are extremely inconsistent, but there’s a couple of jerseys that do display the mark of the beast:

    Nats Home
    Mariners Teal Alt
    Brewers Navy Alt
    Rays Home
    Yankee Home
    Phillies Baby Blue Alt
    Angels Red Alt
    Giants Road
    Padres Home
    Braves Blue Alt
    Cubs Home

    Those original Clem uniforms appeared to be very satin-y and I very much like it. It looks like the current team tried to pull that off but it just doesn’t have the same effect. Great story and photos.

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