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Spring Training Resumes ... In Days of Yore

By Phil Hecken, with Ronnie Bolton

Well, the coronavirus pandemic has arrived here in the United States, and for sports (and uniform) fans, that means we’re going to probably be faced with the very real prospect of no live events for quite some time. Obviously, in the larger scheme of things, this sucks, but clearly there are more important things than observing sports and watching uniforms. The safety and health of the populace at large, at least until things get under better control, are paramount.

So, while there probably won’t be much new uniform news for the foreseeable future, we can still enjoy uniform watching here on the You-Dub. I’m pleased once again to bring back my buddy, Ronnie Bolton (who posts on the Twitter as @OTBaseballPhoto, and who you should follow if you don’t already), who has gone through his vaults to give us some glimpses of Spring Training from way back. We’d actually planned this post for a couple weeks, back before COVID-19 had really struck the United States, but it seems like today is certainly a good day to take a break, however brief, from our new normal.

Enjoy — and click on any photo below to enlarge, k? Thanks.

• • • • • •

Hi Corbett Field, Tucson, AZ

Seen here above in this aerial photo, it was opened in 1937 and in 1946 became the spring training home to the Cleveland Indians up till 1992, the next year the expansion Colorado Rockies moved in. Capacity is 9,500 and today is home to the University of Arizona baseball team. The four ball fields to Hi Corbett Field’s right is part of Reid Park.

• • • • • •

Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, FL, ca 1955

Was built in 1953, five years after Brooklyn Dodgers made this Florida city their spring training home in 1948 and stayed until 2008 when the Dodgers moved their operations to Glendale, Arizona.

The ballpark held 6,500 and is now part of what is know as Historic Dodgertown.

At least eight NFL teams used Holman Stadium for training sessions as well as multiple college football programs and today is home to the Minor League Baseball’s Umpire Training Academy.

Seen above is a 1994 Spring Training game between the Dodgers and Orioles

• • • • • •

Plant Field, Tampa, Florida, 1923

Spring training home to Washington Senators at time of this photo, but also to many other teams over the years including the Chicago Cubs (1913-1916), the Cincinnati Reds (1930-1954).

However, it was the Boston Red Sox who only spent one year training at Plant Field but left the biggest mark, or Babe Ruth did when he hit a gigantic blast that traveled an astonishing 587 feet, there is a marker there today that commemorates the historic slam.

• • • • • •

Ban Johnson Park, Hot Springs, AR

Built in 1894, this modest ballpark (that also went by the names Whittington Park and McKee Park) never sat more than 2,000 rooters but its history is rich and strong with over a 100 Hall of Famers said to have played here. Over its lifespan It was the spring training home to the Cubs, Pirates, Red Sox, Dodgers and Tigers. By the time it took its last name in 1935, it was years past being spring training home to MLB clubs and was closed and demolished in 1947.

• • • • • •

City Island Ball Park, Daytona, FL, 1946

One of Florida’s most historic ballparks that is still standing and is now known as Jackie Robinson Ballpark, minus a corporate name. Named after Jackie when it became first Florida ballpark to let him play on March 17, 1946 when he was with Montreal Royals.

Opened in 1914 it was the spring home of four MLB clubs — St. Louis Cardinals (1925–37), Brooklyn Dodgers (1946), Baltimore Orioles (1955) and Montreal Expos (1973–80). Capacity today — 4,200

Modern day look at the ballpark. Note the development and landfill around the park

• • • • • •

Payne Park, Sarasota, Florida

Opened in 1924 at the cost of 18,000, this southwestern Florida ballpark was spring training home to three MLB teams – New York Giants (1924–1927), Boston Red Sox (1933–1942, 1946–1958) and Chicago White Sox (1960-1988). It had a capacity of just over 4,000 and the outfield dimensions were impressive, 375 feet down the lines and 500 to dead center.

• • • • • •

Wrigley Field, Santa Catalina, California, ca 1940

Another ballpark that went by the name of “Wrigley Field” was on Santa Catalina Island, which is located in the Pacific Ocean, 25 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, and it made for one of the most beautiful training camps. Starting in 1921, the Cubs visited the island every spring and continued to train there until 1951, except during World War II.

In 1919, Cubs owner William Wrigley bought controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island and soon his team every February made the trek out west. In 1951 the Cubs would move their spring training to Mesa, AZ.

• • • • • •

Chicago Cubs vs Baltimore Orioles, Scottsdale Stadium, March 1956

With Camelback Mountain looming in the distance, the Baltimore Oriole and Chicago Cub square off in a spring training game at the newly built Scottsdale Stadium as both teams, like most, have high hopes for the new season. Just the year before ground was broken for this 3,000-seat ballpark in June of 1955 and was built at the cost of $72,000. It was completed in October 1955.

The two Cub players in the photo in the bullpen area are 6′ 4″ Bob Anderson on the left and Dick Drott on the right. And check out the photographers in front of first base working hard for that money shot!

• • • • • •

Thanks Ronnie!


Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017, and more recently, in August of 2018.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

• • •

Title: “Barney”
Subject: Walter Johnson, 1907
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 16″ x 22″

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve always been fascinated with the T-206 baseball cards. For those of you new to the game, it’s a card set that was dispersed by means of cigarette and loose tobacco packs, circulating between 1909 and 1911. Consisting of 524 cards through 16 different brands that were owned by the American Tobacco Company, the set is best known for including a card of Honus Wagner, which to this day is widely considered the Holy Grail of the card collecting industry. Yes, that one. The rarity (and story behind that rarity) of the card accounts for its desirability, which was a hot item among early collectors of the set merely a decade or two after its release. The most expensive example to ever sell fetched almost three million dollars, still the most ever paid for a baseball card.

So, the hope was always that someday I’d be able to have some sort of gallery show depicting the paintings I had done that were inspired by the lithographs on the card set (which came from the lens of the Swedish-born Carl Horner, a photographer who was based out of Boston, MA). Though still not anywhere near achieving that goal, I still try to paint at least one or two of these portraits a year.

This past one allowed me the opportunity to paint the great Walter Johnson. The biggest challenge in the creation of the painting came from his jersey, which in the card, is very different from what appears in the original photo – which required a good amount of research to get historically accurate. And as I was going for with the other paintings in this set, I went after a more true realism than what was seen on those cards. It was my goal to try and mimic what Horner probably saw in his viewfinder when he himself took these portraits: polished faces of tough men in their clean uniforms, lit by a northern skylight and backed by a simple muslin curtain, seemingly gazing into the ether.

In this case, we have a 19-year-old kid at the beginning of a career that would see him become perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time.

• • •

Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

How Low Can You(r Logo) Go?

With Paul’s breaking news earlier this week on the Buccaneers — and the speculation that their helmet will probably remain unchanged — we’re reminded how awful a big huge giant logo looks on a helmet. But it didn’t always use to be this way: not only were logos smaller back in the day, some teams seemed to place those logos lower down on the helmet than they do today. There are probably a number of factors for this, due to the “higher” location double chin strap snaps (they previously snapped lower down on the helmet, which can “interfere” with a logo. Obviously, with the single-point chin strap logo position was usually not a problem.

Coincidentally, earlier this week, UW stalwart Gene Sanny contacted me with the following:

There were a few teams back in the late 70’s and early 80’s that positioned their logos pretty low, like just above the ear hole, or sometimes even going on to the flare of the earhole. I always liked that look, especially compared to now as the logos seem to have gotten smaller in some cases, and traveled up higher on the helmets… Especially on some of the newer ones with all the nooks and crannies they have to avoid to find a decent place to put the decal. It was also different than it had been for some of these teams earlier in their histories. It was almost like all these equipment managers from these particular clubs got together and made a concerted effort to put these logos closer to the earholes :)

Here are six Gene selected:

New York Giants:

San Francisco 49ers:

Green Bay Packers:

Seattle Seahawks

Chicago Bears

Minnesota Vikings

Thanks, Gene! I much prefer the lower position (or at least the smaller logo). Let’s hope the Buccaneers come to their senses with their unveiling. Because, seriously, isn’t this a lot better than this?

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Sugaree.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

NFL/CFL News: The Lions’ SB Nation blog has published a “fix” of the Lions’ home uniform. Is it an upgrade? Tell me in the comments! (from Jeffrey Sak). … With rumors swirling about new uniforms for the Patriots, WR Julian Edelman seemed to throw kerosene on the fire by posting an image of himself in the Pats’ ’95-’99 set across his social media accounts. Hmmm (from Tyler Mason, Moe Khan and Zachary Adam Gray). … Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, is only three years old and is already in need of repairs (from Wade Heidt).

Hockey News: Kyle Tarbet notes that the logo for the Washington State Hospital Association has a Whalers-esque logo.
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NBA News: Sara Klein sends along these awesome 1947 Toronto Huskies posters. … The G-League’s Texas Legends posted a cool video at the process behind the production of their uniforms (from Chris Mycoskie).

Soccer News: Belarusian side FC Gorodeya is financed by Gorodeya’s sugar factory, so the factory put out boxes of sugar in the club’s colors, with images of the players.
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Grab Bag: Here are the St. Paddy’s Day unis the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks were supposed to wear yesterday (from Wade Heidt). … What does the symmetry of your logo say about your brand? (from W. Gray McDowell). … Brokerage Brewing Company has changed its “handshake” logo to an “elbow bump.” Clever (from @BLMRKRdave). … Timmy Donahue “Saw this anthropomorphized pickle logo for Mr. Pickle in Brooklyn, NY while driving to work today.”

And Finally…

With all that’s going on with COVID-19, I hope and pray everyone stays healthy and safe.

Looks like this is our new normal for at least a month, and likely more.

Enjoy Pi Day, any way you can…

26 comments to Spring Training Resumes … In Days of Yore

  • Jesse | March 14, 2020 at 7:49 am |

    Camden Yards 4/29/15 BAL 8 CWS 2

    • Ryan M | March 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm |

      I think, since the scoreboard message alludes to a postponement, it’s technically from one of the two days prior–the first two games of the series (27th & 28th) were postponed (made up in a double-header on May 28), then the one you noted was played behind closed doors.

  • Charlie | March 14, 2020 at 7:52 am |

    may wanna check the location of ban johnson park. pretty sure alaska is(or at least was with climate change) not a suitable spring baseball location

    • Phil Hecken | March 14, 2020 at 8:55 am |

      Thanks, fixed.

  • MJ | March 14, 2020 at 7:52 am |

    1. The scoreboard is from 27 April 2015, the White Sox/Orioles Game postponed following the civil unrest in Baltimore over the death of Freddy Gray.
    2. Hot Springs is in Arkansas (AR), not Alaska (AK).
    3. With the exception of the generic Impact font, the Lions concept is a huge upgrade over the Lions’ current set.

  • Uni J | March 14, 2020 at 8:19 am |

    The Lions concept is an improvement, for sure. I always felt the current uni set needed white trim. They should just go ahead and fix it. As the Dolphins taught us, small adjustments can make a HUGE difference.

    • Austin Ledley | March 14, 2020 at 8:49 am |

      The real question is, would they be allowed to make minor changes like the Dolphins did before 2022? I think the Dolphins had reached at least five years when they did that. I mean, consider the Rams. They would have just removed the gold trim from their unis three years ago if it didn’t lock them into that look for another 5 years. Instead they’ve been a clown show. But I would love the NFL to make an exception in this case. A touch of white and block numbers could make the Lions uniforms one of the best instead of one of the worst.

    • walter | March 14, 2020 at 11:20 am |

      I was all set to hate on the Detroit concepts, but I find myself liking the second rendering A LOT. The striping pattern would be unique in the NFL without resorting to the angles that are so prevalent now. I despair of any new uniforms using the generic (but effective) block numbering; bespoke fonts are the new scourge of football. And I’ve always loved the silver numerals trimmed in white. Like a lot of fans I love the old uniforms, but I try to encourage a new twist on an old favorite.

      • Brandon Olson | March 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm |

        I was in the same boat as you, walter. The second Lions design concept strikes me as an overall improvement from the current home set. A classic look with some clean and unique updates is a great look for me.

        The only significant criticism from me is that the rendered helmet striping does not match the pants. I really think the balance of a football uniform comes together when you can align the striping across multiple jersey elements. Otherwise, the updated jersey and pant striping and the new silver in white numerals are solid improvements.

  • Wade Heidt | March 14, 2020 at 8:30 am |

    Lower placed logo on the helmet a thing in the CFL back then too. The leaping tiger barely clearing the ear hole in this early 1980s look from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Back when the Tiger-Cats wore the yellow helmets.

    https://ssl.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000dQtIJqQUCS8/s/860/860/Gerald-Bess-Felix-Wright-Hamilton-Tiger-Cats-1984.jpg

    Man, I wish the Tiger-Cats would go back to the yellow helmet.

    • walter | March 14, 2020 at 11:29 am |

      I remember thinking the Ti-cats placement of their insignia as god-awful and strange. But different. But still unattractive. It’s a complex picture (like Pat Patriot) and it needs breathing room. The old helmets with their lack of ventilation openings provided a huge canvas for the team logo; new helmets require their users to be craftier.

    • Jim Vilk | March 14, 2020 at 4:14 pm |

      I wish they’d go back to that helmet, too. But center the logo. It didn’t/doesn’t look right that low.

  • Patrick in MI | March 14, 2020 at 9:01 am |

    Yes, the white trim would vastly improve the Lions unis. Also getting rid of the WCF wordmark would help.

    I much prefer the 95-99 Patriots unis to their current set… except for the giant flying Elvi on the shoulders. Maybe replace it with a much smaller NE wordmark?

  • Brandon Weir | March 14, 2020 at 10:23 am |

    As a fellow Mitten state Michigander: Amen Patrick, preach brother!

  • RICKAZ | March 14, 2020 at 10:37 am |

    I looked up the history of Scottsdale Stadium. The new stadium built in 1992. The stadium was built on the site of the old Scottsdale Stadium, which opened in 1956. The Baltimore Orioles (1956-58), Boston Red Sox (1959-65), Chicago Cubs (1967-78) and Oakland Athletics (1979-83) used old Scottsdale Stadium as their spring training base before the Giants moved here in 1984.

  • Chris Cruz | March 14, 2020 at 11:19 am |

    Thanks for the great lede. I was supposed to be watching the Dodgers-Sox today in Cactus League action so this at least gave me a bit of a Spring Training fix. Thanks!

  • Nate | March 14, 2020 at 11:46 am |

    On the Uni-Watch mobile site, how in the world do I get to yesterday’s post? There seems to be no option to get to previous posts, and the “Archive” link on the sidebar leads to an empty page.

    • Brent | March 14, 2020 at 12:12 pm |

      Click the Uniwatch word mark at the top middle of the screen.

      I don’t like the new set up. The desktop version on mobile is irritating to read because it won’t all fit on the screen and the new mobile version won’t allow me to reply to comments and it won’t refresh them. If I look at uniwatch at 8am,it just shows 7 comments all day or whatever the count was at the time I first opened it.

      • Tom | March 15, 2020 at 12:37 am |

        1. You may need to click on the “LEAVE A COMMENT” button, let the page refresh, scroll back down to the “LEAVE A COMMENT” button again, then click it again to obtain the usual comment page that enables you to reply to a specific comment.

        2. Just refresh the page when you go back to the site later in the day. All the comments to that point will load.

        At least, both of those sets of steps work for me, every time.

  • dave t robb | March 14, 2020 at 12:29 pm |

    Maybe a series of NFL iconic team helmets w/the matching facebar(s) is in order. For example for the Dolphins, Bob Griese’s skinny bars helmet. For the Jets, Namath’s helmet w/the linebacker bars. Chargers, I go w/Lance Alworth’s single bar …

  • Ryan M | March 14, 2020 at 12:33 pm |

    Fifteen years ago, my family took a trip with camper in tow down Florida’s east coast from Amelia Island to Key West, alternately using I-95, US-1 & A1A as needed. One day we stopped at a park in Daytona to have a picnic lunch. It wasn’t until just a few years ago I realized we’d eaten a short distance from the first ballpark in the US where Jackie Robinson was permitted to play as a member of the Dodgers’ organization.

  • Jim Vilk | March 14, 2020 at 4:25 pm |

    Take a bow, fellas. Great stuff all around today.

    Brokerage Brewing Company has changed its “handshake” logo to an “elbow bump.”

    To quote someone whose post I shared with the Twitterverse, “Elbow bumping is dumb. Don’t bump my elbow.” Just wave. Or do the Issac from the Love Boat double pistol fingers. Oooh, I’ve got one…shake your own hands while looking at the other person. But get the elbow bumping off my lawn.

  • Tim Parry | March 14, 2020 at 7:47 pm |

    I was credentialed by the Cleveland Indians for Spring Training in 1991 and 1992. I have a lot of great memories of Hi Crobett. As a kid in my early 20s, I was excited to be in a place where Major League was filmed, too.

    Anyway I was both photo and press. There was no photo dugout – I was told to sit on the field, against the fence, on the first of third baseline and could shoot behind the plate between innings. Get out of the way of live balls, I was told.

    One game, a could ball was dribbled to me. I didn’t know what to do: put it in my camera bag, pocket, or what. So Indians third base coach Rich Dauer turned and looked my way, and I tossed him the ball. Then I heard a chorus of boos. And they were aimed at me because I didn’t throw the ball into the stands! After the next pitch, Dauer tossed the ball into the stands and I was off the hook.

  • ChrisH | March 14, 2020 at 9:58 pm |

    “…we’re reminded how awful a big huge giant logo looks on a helmet.”

    I’m going to remind us how great a big huge logo can look on a helmet:

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/original-michigan-panthers-football-76949180