[Editor’s Note: Today I’m running a post that originally ran on Nov. 18, 2015 — not because I’ve run out of new content (I haven’t!) but because this is a really good entry that many of you may have missed and others will enjoy rediscovering. A fun blast from the past. — PL]
At some point six to eight years ago — I no longer recall the exact date but I’m pretty sure it was in 2008 or ’09 — a handful of Uni Watch readers began telling me that they called the little button on top of a baseball cap a squatchee. They said they’d picked it up from former player/manager Bob Brenly, who was working as a color analyst for Cubs games at the time.
I’d never heard of a squatchee before. I knew it wasn’t an “official” term because I had once asked New Era if they had a special name for the cap button, and they said they just called it a button. But I liked the sound of “squatchee,” and multiple readers said the term originated with Brenly, so that was good enough for me. I started using it myself in my writings and even added it to the Uni Watch Glossary, where I attributed it to Brenly.
Readers seemed to like the term, and its use began to spread within the Uni Watch community. At one point our own Robert Marshall took “squatchee” to another level by creating a really clever design showing Sasquatch with a little red button on his head:
More recently, the DIY genius who calls himself Wafflebored created these squatchee lapel pins:
In short: “Squatchee” appeared to have secured a foothold in the uni-verse — maybe not with everyone, but with a decent number of people.
And that might have been that. But at the recent Uni Watch party here in Brooklyn, reader Brad Eckensberger showed me something that rocked my world. It was a copy of the 1984 humor book Sniglets:
For those who are too young or just don’t recall, Sniglets was a series of books by the comedian Rich Hall that emerged from his HBO series, Not Necessarily the News. The idea is that a sniglet is a word that doesn’t exist but should exist, and that “sniglet” itself is an example of such a word. This concept spawned several popular books back in the 1980s and early ’90s. I was never much of a sniglets fan myself, but I recall the books being something of a phenomenon at the time.
Anyway: Eckensberger brought the book to the Uni Watch party because he wanted to show me an entry on page 77. Check it out, at the bottom (click to enlarge):
Eckensberger tells me he remembered having seen that entry in the book when he was a kid. He recently went hunting for a used copy of the book to confirm his recollection and then brought it along to the Uni Watch party, where it blew my mind.
This raised several questions:
1. All these people who told me they heard Bob Brenly saying, “squatchee” — was he actually saying, “squatcho,” and something got lost in the translation?
2. Assuming Brenly did say either “squatchee” or “squatcho,” where did he learn the term? Did he get it from the sniglets book?
3. Over the years I’ve seen a few people refer to a “squatcho,” but I always figured those people were just getting Brenly’s term wrong. In some cases I even corrected them (which I now feel badly about). Did those people actually learn the term from the sniglets book?
With all these questions racing through my mind, I realized it was high time to do something I should have done years ago: I needed to talk to Bob Brenly.
Brenly is currently employed as a color analyst for Diamondbacks games, so I began by contacting the D-backs. Now, I’ve done some pretty geeky things over the course of my life, but let me tell you, if you ever want to feel like the biggest dweeb ever, call up an MLB team publicist and tell him you want to discuss sniglets, squatchees, and squatchos (or would that be squatchoes?) with one of his broadcasters.
Anyway: I spoke with Brenly (shown at right) a few days ago. Very nice guy, and he was extremely patient with all my questions. Here’s how our chat went:
Uni Watch: Do you in fact have a term that you use for the little button on top of a baseball cap, and if so, what is it?
Bob Brenly [chuckling]: I personally prefer “squatcho.” The first time I heard it was from Mike Krukow, a teammate of mine from the Giants.
UW: Do you recall when that might have been?
BB: Ah, jeez, I’d say around 1983-ish, maybe. [Brenly and Krukow both played for the Giants from 1983 through ’89. — PL] And he did call it a squatchee, but I think it kinda rolls of your tongue better as squatcho. So I kind of modified it a little bit. I think either term is appropriate for the button on top of the hat. This actually came about because back in those days, catchers were not required to wear a helmet underneath their masks…
UW: Right, you could just wear your soft cap.
BB: Yes. But that button on top of the cap was a brain tumor waiting to happen, if you happened to get hit by a backswing or foul tip. [Brenly was a catcher in his playing days. — PL] So I just started taking the button off.
UW: So you would personally modify the cap? You would remove the button?
BB: Yeah, yeah. They’re very easy to take off. For any youth out there who want to follow my lead, if you open a door, any door, there’s a little slot there in the doorway, and if you just stick the squatchee in there — or squatcho — and then if you pull, the button will come off. And then you have to reach inside the hat and take out the little metal piece that held the button in place. Once you got that out of the way, foul tips off the squatcho were no longer a problem. I mean, they still hit you on the head, but they didn’t drive that button down into your skull.
UW: Okay, so you picked up the term from Krukow, and you modified it from squatchee to squatcho. And have you used it on the air in your broadcasting work?
BB: I think I’ve used both terms. You know, they’re interchangeable. Either one is correct, in my view. I don’t think you can go wrong identifying an obscure piece of equipment. My recollection is that Krukow was the first one to use it. I’m not sure where he got it, but knowing him, he probably made it up. He was very good at starting urban legends, starting myths and rumors and stories.
UW: Does the term “sniglet” mean anything to you? It was this series of old books about words that don’t exist but ought to exist. And it turns out that in one of these books, from 1984, there’s an entry for “squatcho,” which it identifies as the button on top of a baseball cap. I’m wondering if maybe Krukow got it from there. I guess he should be the next person I call.
BB [laughing]: Anything that has to do with obscure, ridiculous baseball terminology, Krukow’s a great resource.
UW: If you were discussing all of this with someone today, which term would you use — squatchee or squatcho?
BB: I still prefer squatcho. I think there’s a certain panache to adding the “o” rather than the “ee” at the end.
UW: But just to confirm, you think you have probably used both terms somewhat interchangeably on the air?
BB: Yeah, somewhat interchangeably. I’ve been asked about squatchee before by various broadcast partners, and I told them basically what I told you, that squatchee is the way I first heard it but squatcho is how I refer to it. I think some other catchers from back in the day, I think they all called it squatcho too.
UW: Interesting. For what it’s worth, here’s a little tidbit for the next time you’re working a game where David Price is pitching: Price always removes the button from his cap. Or maybe he has them made without the button, I’m not sure. He refers to it as “the ouch button.” So his cap doesn’t have a squatchee, or a squatcho, or whatever you want to call it.
BB: That’s good background — I’ll make a note of it!
What a fun interview! You should have seen me when I hung up the phone — I was all smiles.
Still, the chat with Brenly raised as many questions as it answered. My next step, clearly, was to contact Mike Krukow (shown at left), who currently works as a Giants broadcaster. So I went through the same embarrassing routine with the Giants’ PR people, who obligingly set me up with Krukow. We spoke yesterday. Here’s how it went:
Uni Watch: Bob Brenly says he picked up the word “squatchee” from you, when the two of you were teammates with the Giants in the 1980s. Did you come up with the term?
Mike Krukow: No. I was standing in a line at a bookstore in Pittsburgh, probably around 1984. I was waitin’ to pay, and they had a book there on the counter, and it was called Sniglets. So I’m kinda goin’ through the book, and one thing that immediately caught my eye was “expresshole,” which is what you call someone who brings 15 items in the “10 Items or Less” express checkout line. I thought that was pretty funny, so I flipped through the book some more and then I saw the entry for “squatcho.” And that was it!
UW: So you adopted the term at that point?
MK: Yes. Nobody had ever heard it before. And the reason it was relevant to us was… [at this point Krukow basically repeats the story about how Brenly would remove the button from his cap because he was a catcher — PL]. So that was it. It was a squatcho. I don’t know if any other clubhouse, or any other person on the planet, used that term except for us.
UW: When you say, “us,” do you mean just you and Brenly? Or did your other teammates use it as well?
MK: All the Giants, pretty much. In our clubhouse, it was a squatcho.
UW: Brenly remembers you saying squatchee, not squatcho, but you’re saying he’s wrong about that..?
MK: I may have, I don’t know. But it was squatcho in the book, so I think that’s what I used.
UW: Has it remained in your lexicon? Do you use it on the air?
MK: Absolutely — that’s what it’s called. As far as I’m concerned, that’s Bible!
UW: And you always use squatcho, not squatchee?
MK: Yes, squatcho.
UW: And when you’ve brought it up, have your play-by-play partners asked you about it?
MK: Well, no, because Duane Kuiper’s been with me since we were sitting together on the bench as players. So we called it squatcho back then.
UW: [At this point I tell Krukow the same thing about David Price and “the ouch button” that I had previously told Brenly. — PL]
MK: You know, here’s the thing: If you’re sitting in the dugout, your initial reaction when someone hits a long ball or makes a great play is to stand up. And if you’re tall, at some of the older ballparks, like Wrigley Field, you’ll hit your head on the top of that god-danged dugout. And if you’ve got that button there, see ya later. So for someone like David Price, who’s what, 6’6″? [Price is indeed 6’6″. — PL] Yeah, I can see why he’d be pulling his squatcho.
So there we have it. Krukow saw “squatcho” in the Sniglets book, it somehow evolved into “squatchee” in Brenly’s memory, and the two terms have established a certain legitimacy among some members of the uni-scenti.
I’d say we have two remaining orders of business:
1. It would be good to check in with Rich Hall and get his take on all this. He spends most of his time these days in London, so I’ve asked his UK-based booking agency to put me in touch with him — no response yet. Frankly, I’m not optimistic on this front. Sniglets was a long time ago, and I imagine he’d rather discuss his current projects that re-hash something from 1984. But we’ll see.
2. Which term should we use? Personally, I much prefer squatchee over squatcho. Maybe it’s because I heard it first, or maybe I’m just more accustomed to words that end in an “ee” sound (rookie, yuppie, junkie, etc.). But squatcho is clearly the original term, so that should count for something. What do you think? Feel free to vote here:
Finally, on a personal note, I really should have contacted Brenly years ago, when this topic first came to my attention. It was lazy of me to accept the term’s origin story (and, for that matter, to spread that story) without confirming it first. Mea culpa.
Okay, now we’re back in the here and now. In the end, I couldn’t convince Rich Hall’s publicist to put me in touch with Hall. And I have continued to use squatchee.
(Mega-thanks to Brad Eckensberger, who got this whole ball rolling by bringing the sniglets book to a 2015 Uni Watch party.)
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More Brady-ology: For those who want to see what Tom Brady will really look like in the Bucs’ new uniforms, reader/designer Joe Haas did this very nice Photoshop job, complete with Brady’s annoyingly bulky knee brace.
And for good measure, Joe also did a Creamsicle version:
It’s not clear why Brady would need a hand-warmer pouch while playing in Tampa (a tribute to Frank Pupello, perhaps?), but I suppose we can allow that bit of creative license. Nice work, Joe!
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Around the Horn did a segment yesterday on which athlete looked the weirdest in his final “wrong” uniform:
(My thanks to Austin Ledley for letting me know about that video.)
ITEM! Hoodie raffle: For reasons not worth explaining, reader Brandon Lenk has a few extra items of Uni Watch merchandise that he’s generously offered to let me give away, including a tequila sunrise hoodie, size XL. We’re going to raffle that off today.
As you can see in the photo above, this hoodie has the stripes on the outside of the hood (rather than on the inside, which is how it’s supposed to be — Teespring has frequently made this mistake), but it still looks sharp.
This will be a one-day raffle. To enter, send an email with your shipping address to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern today. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Big thanks to Brandon for doing this!
ITEM! A good time for Question Time: This seems like a good time for another round of Question Time, where you get to ask me anything and I do my best to answer.
So if you have a question for me about uniforms, sports, design, or literally anything else, send it to the Question Time address (please note that this is not the usual Uni Watch email address). One question per person, please. No topic is out of bounds, but I reserve the right to not answer questions that are too personal.
I’ll post the questions and answers to the site sometime soon.
Membership update: People have no idea how much attention to detail can go into even the simplest-seeming Uni Watch membership card. Case in point: Reader Dave Cataldi recently ordered a card based on the Indiana Pacers’ 1980s road jerseys. When card designer Scott M.X. Turner showed me his mock-up, my initial thought was that the NOB lettering was a bit too close to the uni number. But I know Scott wouldn’t design the card that way unless he had a good reason, so I did some quick photo research and, sure enough, discovered that the Pacers’ 1980s NOBs were indeed positioned very close to the uni numbers. I hadn’t been aware of that, but Scott knew — and he captured that detail. That’s one small example of why Scott has been so awesome to work with on this project over the past 13 years.
Dave’s card is one of six new designs that have been added to the membership card gallery. If you’ve recently ordered a card and don’t see it in the gallery, don’t worry — we’re getting to it.
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days) — and our usual $25 price has been cut to a pandemic-friendly $20. 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.
Discount/solidarity reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week: I’m honored and humbled that so many people are choosing to keep Uni Watch as part of their daily routine during this stressful time, and I’m doing my best to be here for you and to make Uni Watch a positive factor in your lives (and in mine!). But the reality is being a freelance journalist is even more difficult than usual right about now, so Uni Watch could really use your support. If you value the site’s presence and you have the means, please consider making a donation or a purchase. As a gesture of solidarity, I’ve lowered a lot of our prices until further notice, as follows:
• Membership cards, which usually sell for $25, are now $20 — a 20% cut.
• Seam rippers, which normally cost $6, are now $4 — a 33% cut.
The Uni Watch Classic Cap, which usually sells for $39.99, is now $35.99 — a 10% cut. Our cap is temporarily unavailable because shipping/fulfillment manager Mark LaFountain is currently indisposed. We hope to have it available again in about a week.
My thanks, as always, for your consideration.
’Skins Watch: Former Cleveland ballplayer Eddie Murray’s Chief Wahoo cap logo appears to have been scrubbed from the latest edition of the video game MLB The Show (from Curtis Rogers).
Working Class Wannabes™: Miami Dolphins beat reporter Joe Schad described the team’s new starting center, Ted Karras, as “gritty, tough, blue-collar” — as opposed to, you know, all those soft, wussy, yuppie offensive linemen so commonly seen around the NFL (from Drew Winthrop).
Baseball News: Great news from Bill Henderson, who announced yesterday that his essential MLB jersey reference guide will be updated with a new ninth edition this summer. Something to look forward to! … The new edition of the MLB The Show video game features a hybrid Brewers batting helmet logo. … In a related item, MLB The Show now features real stadium ads, like the Citgo sign over Fenway’s Green Monster and the Coca-Cola bottle behind the left field wall in San Francisco. “In previous versions of the game, these features existed but in genericized ways,” says our own Anthony Emerson. “For example, the Citgo sign was just a red triangle, and the Coke bottle just said ‘Cola’ or ‘Enjoy Cola.'” … Here’s the Copa de la Diversión uni for the South Bend Cubs (from @vancealot29). … UConn was set to debut its new ballpark this year, but with the shutdown of the college baseball season, the opening has been postponed until next year (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: “This story about the history of professional baseball in Colorado Springs includes some great old photos of the Sky Sox (the city’s longtime Triple-A team) as well as a shot of Boulevard Park, the Springs’ first dedicated professional baseball stadium.” … Topps has a fun new retro/heritage baseball card set that seems like a good distraction in these troubled times. … Pandemic permitting, the Double-A Mississippi Braves will become the Mississippi Sweat for one game this season (from David Kerr).
NFL News: If you look closely at this photo of Bucs QB Jameis Winston, it appears that his jersey had another TV number that was removed before they applied his No. 3. Not sure which season that shot is from, except that we know it’s not from 2019 because the jersey doesn’t have the NFL 100 logo at the base of the collar (great spot by Josh Eernisse).
Hockey News: The Penguins are auctioning off their unused St. Paddy’s pregame jerseys. … The Red Wings offered to make personalized jersey-style digital wallpapers for their fans, but with radially arched NOBs instead of the team’s signature vertical arching (from Marc-Louis Paprzyca). … Classy move by the Maple Leafs, who are donating the green St. Patrick’s throwback jerseys that they would have worn for two games this month to healthcare workers and first responders (thanks, Phil).
College Hoops News: Here’s what the men’s Final Four court design would have looked like (from Brian Weingartz).
Soccer News: From our own Jamie Rathjen: “A Netflix series premiering this week called The English Game, about the development of soccer in England, has some great re-enactments of 19th-century games (the one shown in that article is the 1883 FA Cup Final). The show even made up a fictional team called Blackburn — a combination of the real Blackburn Olympic, who played in that final, and Blackburn Rovers — and dressed them in claret shirts and black pants.” … “Manchester United MF Paul Pogba has come under fire for training in a Juventus kit, since that is his former club and he has been heavily linked to a summer move to Turin,” says Josh Hinton. “However, he was wearing it to support Blaise Matuidi, a Juve player who has Covid-19.” … Agentina’s 2020-21 home shirt has leaked.
Grab Bag: Throughout the pandemic, the International Olympic Committee has kept insisting that the summer games would take place in July as planned, but now there’s reportedly a growing acceptance among Olympic insiders that it’s not going to happen. … Here’s an interesting thread in which a Twitter-er asked which team first comes to mind when you see certain specific colors (from Chris Grosse). … Here’s another look at great athletes in the “wrong” uniform (thanks, Phil). … New logo for Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus. … New logo forthcoming for Rite Aid. … Here’s a bracket to choose the best logo in Arizona sports history.
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What Paul did last night : Yesterday’s porch cocktail (oatmeal stout for me, seltzer for the Tugboat Captain, who decided to take a day off from alcohol) was a bit quieter than the previous day’s — not as many people walking by, not as many dogs. But each day the trees and shrubs bloom, bud, and sprout a bit more. Nature — what a trip.
Meanwhile: In yesterday’s comments, a reader asked to see how Uni Watch girl mascot President Caitlin is doing. As you can (very briefly) see in this video, she’s fine — and then some:
Daily cat break pic.twitter.com/PIvQ0B87v1
— Mary Bakija (@mabatron) March 18, 2020
Almost 15 years old and still plenty frisky!
Everyone stay healthy, safe, and sane. Peace. — Paul