As writers and editors scramble to come up with sports content at a time when no sports are taking place, they’re running stories that sometimes have unexpected uni-related revelations.
Case in point: The New York Times yesterday ran an article about a woman named Denise Rife. Back in the late 1960s, when her name was Denise Long and she played for the girls’ basketball team at Union-Whitten High School in Iowa, she once scored 112 points in a game (!) and was even drafted by the Warriors as a publicity stunt. (The pick was later voided by NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy.)
The only reason I even clicked on the article was because of its thumbnail teaser image — the photo shown at top of today’s entry. I was intrigued by the striped trim on the white uniforms and the hemline striping on the dark uni. So I checked out the article, which ended up sending me down an excellent uni-related rabbit hole.
The player in the dark uniform is Denise Long, playing in Iowa’s 1968 state tournament. The Times article also includes a portrait of her entire team wearing white uniforms. That’s Long in the center, holding the ABA-style striped basketball (click to enlarge):
Look at that collar style! Not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like that on a basketball uni. At first I thought these might be warm-up tops, especially because of the ribbed trim at the hemline, but then I found a game photo of Long wearing that jersey — against a team that had sailor-style jersey collars! It’s not a great photo, but it’s enough for you to get the idea for both jerseys (click to enlarge):
Those photos are from 1968. Here’s one from 1969. That season, Union-Whitten — Long’s school — had changed to block-shadowed jersey numbers and had added their mascot, a cobra, to the other side of the jersey (Long is once again No. 54; click to enlarge):
Here’s another photo of Long in a completely different uniform. Like many schools of this era, Union-Whitten wore even numbers at home and odd numbers on the road, to eliminate any potential confusion at the scorer’s table, so Long is No. 55 in this shot (click to enlarge):
See the small backboard in the background? That was one of many unusual aspects of Iowa girls’ basketball at the time. Each offensive possession started at half-court, for example. The Times article describes some of the other rules like so:
Girls’ basketball was played six-on-six in those days. Three guards played defense on one side of the court, and three forwards played offense on the other side. Players were permitted two dribbles before shooting at baskets attached to half-moon backboards, which prompted a style of uncluttered movement, crisp passing, and ravenous scoring.
Here’s maybe my favorite photo that I found while exploring this topic. Check this out:
That photo is from the 1968 Iowa state championship game. That’s Long again in the dark uniform. The opposing team — wearing skirts and cap sleeves! — is Everly High School. Their boys’ sports teams were called the Cattlemen, and the girls were called … the Cattlefeeders.
Here’s another look at the Cattlefeeders’ uniforms. This team portrait is from 1966, not ’68, but it appears to be the same design (and likely the same physical garments). In addition to the skirts and sleeves, look at the collars:
The dark version of this uniform looked like this (click to enlarge):
So it was the Cobras vs. the Cattlefeeders for the 1968 Iowa girls’ basketball title. Somewhat improbably, the entire game is available on YouTube:
The video quality is grainy, but you can still get the feel of the six-on-six half-court format — it’s interesting! And while watching it, I noticed something that hadn’t shown up in any of the game photos. Remember how we’ve been looking a lot at free-throw circles in the past few months? Check out this one (click to enlarge):
Now that’s a lot of dashes! It’s a little hard to see because the image quality isn’t sharp (plus it kinda looks like one dash might be missing right near the bottom of the semicircle), but I think it’s 30 dashes. Holy moly!
Union-Whitten won that game. But the Everly uniforms — the ones with the skirts — are immortalized on a sign that welcomes people to town (click to enlarge):
And there’s still more: While I was going down the rabbit hole in search of more photos, I stumbled upon another 1960s Iowa girls’ team with great uniforms: the Mediapolis Bullettes (now there’s a team name!). Dig:
Yowza! You can see video of the dark version of that uniform here:
Getting back to Denise Long — remember her? — after she was “drafted” by the Warriors, she got to spend some time working out with the team. One time she wore her high school uniform (click to enlarge):
Another time the Warriors gave her a T-shirt with a variation of the “The City” logo that I don’t think I’ve seen before (click to enlarge):
She also wore that T-shirt — and a polka-dot skirt — while doing a jump ball with a San Francisco cable car operator (click to enlarge):
I could go on (seriously, there’s more!), but I’m gonna stop here, at least for today. That is one serious rabbit hole — all because of a thumbnail teaser photo that the Times used for an article that was basically pandemic filler.
Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it on Wednesday, the Uni Watch Pin Club’s April design is now available. As you can see, it’s based on an official Rawlings/MLB baseball, complete with my signature as the “Commissioner.” Numbered edition of 250.
We sold 113 of these pins yesterday — our biggest launch-day number so far, and more nearly half of the entire production run! I also heard from lots of people who said this is their favorite Pin Club design so far. Glad you folks like it!
If you need to get caught up, here are the January, February, and March designs, all of which will remain available until they sell out (no reprints!). You can get a 15% on all of these pins, and on everything in the Uni Watch Shop and the Naming Wrongs Shop, by using the checkout code COMMUNITY.
And while we’re at it, several other discounts are in effect until further notice:
• The Uni Watch Classic Cap, usually priced at $39.99, is now $35.99.
• Uni Watch seam rippers, usually $6, are now $4.
• And custom-designed Uni Watch membership cards, usually $25, are now $20.
If you’d rather support Uni Watch via a donation, here’s now to do that.
My thanks, as always, for your consideration and support.
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NEXT-TO-LAST DAY for the cycling jersey: In case you missed it, we’re taking orders for another round of Uni Watch cycling jerseys. Just like before, you can customize the back of the jersey with your choice of number and NOB.
We’re only taking orders through tomorrow, so move fast. The product should be ready to ship in early May. Full ordering info here.
Photo taken on Oct. 19, 2014; click to enlarge
Tom Every, 1938–2020: In the fall of 2014, then-Uni Watch galpal the New Girl and I road-tripped through Wisconsin. One of our best stops was at Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron, a bizarre and completely delightful sculpture park created by the eccentric artist Tom “Dr. Evermore” Every.
Longtime Uni Watch reader and Wisconsin resident Nicole Haase let me know that Every died on Monday at the age of 81. It’s not yet clear what will become of his art park, but I’m hoping it will remain open. R.I.P.
Membership update: Eight more designs have been added to the membership card gallery. That includes Joshua Tretakoff’s card, which is based on the Cowboys’ early-1980s jerseys — the oft-forgotten period when the numbers on the blue jerseys were silver, not white.
Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.
’Skins Watch: The board of education in Paw Paw, Mich., has voted to stop calling its teams the Redskins. A new team name will be chosen by July (from Brandon Weir).
Working Class Wannabes™: Pittsburgh Steelers RB Derek Watt says he likes playing for the Steelers because “It’s a hard-nosed tough tradition of greatness. It’s tough blue collar. I think I fit that mold well” (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … … A new Tier 3 junior hockey team in Oregon, Wis., will be known as the Oregon Tradesmen. The team uses a lot of blue-collar imagery but is actually walking the walk by offering players the chance to learn skilled trades in partnership with local unions. Good for them (from Kevin Gier).
Baseball News: Not exactly a surprise, but MLB has officially cancelled the Cubs/Cards series that was supposed to take place in London in June. … You can currently stream filmmaker Ken Burns’s epic nine-part 1994 Baseball documentary for free on the PBS website. After viewing it again, GQ magazine declared it a “an unexpected fashion goldmine, tracing the connections between sport and style” (from Brian Ristau).
Pro Football News: The Falcons haven’t announced a specific date for their uni unveiling — they’ve just said it will happen in April — but a business associate of team owner Arthur Blank says it will happen on April 14 (from Andrew Wagner). … The NFL posted a bunch of design concepts showing NFL helmets in the Marvel and Star Wars universes (from Jon Viera). … Cardinals QB Kyler Murray apparently doesn’t like the team’s uniforms (and who can blame him?). … Here’s a look at the best players in Eagles history broken down by uni number (from Sam McKinley). … The CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos appear to be teasing new uniforms (from Moe Khan). … Also from Moe: Check out this pickup truck with Oilers helmet striping. … Here’s a shot of former Giants coach Bill Parcells wearing a windbreaker with a logo showing the team’s helmet — but with a red facemask). … The Saints have set up makeshift draft offices — or should that be draught offices? — in a brewery. … People on YouTube — much like people just about everywhere else — don’t like the Rams’ new logo. … More than a million badly needed N95 masks are on their way from China to Boston — on the Patriots’ airplane.
Hockey News: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is finally happy with the team’s upcoming gold alternate uni and hopes to unveil it in September. … Moments before the Devils scored the championship-winning goal in the 2000 Stanley Cup Final(s), RW Claude Lemiux had his “A” designation removed from his jersey. “He wasn’t listed as an ‘A’ for that game and wasn’t wearing it earlier in the game,” says James Beattie, to which Mike Oronato adds, “I believe he needed a jersey change and the only one they had on the road had the ‘A’ from earlier in the year. They already had two alternate captains playing that night, so they stripped it off.” … Longtime Uni Watch contributor/pal Rob Ullman has a great new comic, full of excellent uni illustrations, about how the Spanish Flu affected the 1919 Stanley Cup. “I thought it might merit a Ticker mention,” he says, “if only just for getting all the damn stripes on the Seattle and Ottawa sweaters in the correct order!”
NBA/ABA News: Reader Paul Bailey, expanding on an earlier idea from Todd Radom has created a quilt-like graphic showing the chest lettering from 45 different ABA jerseys. “It moves left to right chronologically,” he says, “with jerseys that were introduced in Season 1 followed by those from Season 2, and so on through Season 9. And I managed to avoid having any two same-colored jerseys next to each other.” Nicely done! … 76ers PG/F Ben Simmons has started a coronavirus-awareness nonprofit called the Philly Pledge, which uses a double-P logo in Sixers colors (from Timmy Donahue).
Soccer News: What do you do when there are no soccer games being played? You choose every MLS team’s all-time best jersey (from Wade Heidt). … Or, if you’re Leicester City, you track the evolution of your shirts (from Matthew Hackethal).
Grab Bag: A Michigan school district that had a Confederate-themed team name and mascot has unveiled a new identity (from Adam Twa). … Parents in Ohio whose kids have had their school sports seasons interrupted by the pandemic are putting framed jerseys on their houses to acknowledge the lost season. … Italian pro cyclist Giulio Ciccone has offered to auction off two of his Tour de France gold jerseys to help purchase a respirator for a local hospital. … New camouflage uniform for Italian Navy divers. … After reports of police impersonators in Mercedes, Texas, the town got new police uniforms. … Actor Patrick Stewart says he wasn’t allowed to keep or even purchase his uniform at the end of the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. … The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will keep the same logo, including the “2020.” … New logo for the U.S. embassy in Greece. … The U.S. Navy has relaxed its grooming standards to promote social distancing. Ditto for the Air Force (both from Timmy Donahue). … I’m not sure how this hadn’t already happened, but the 2020 Wimbledon tourney has been cancelled. … Ditto for the British Open. … Tulare County, Calif., has approved a design for its first-ever county flag (from Kary Klismet). … Really interesting story about how medical illustrators were called upon to depict the coronavirus (NYT link). … Our own Jamie Rathjen was rewatching a UVA/Duke field hockey game from last fall and sent this note: “Virginia wore what looked like combination green/purple ribbons that stumped me at the time and stumped me again today — I didn’t know what they were for. I am indebted to UVA sports photographer Matt Riley for getting this close-up shot, which reveals that they’re actually teal and purple and for the ‘Set the Expectation’ campaign, which is dedicated to combating sexual and physical violence.” … Pademic hero Dr. Anthony Fauci is getting his own bobblehead.
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What Paul did last night: So we’re out on the porch yesterday evening — beer for me, vodka and cranberry for the Tugboat Captain — and this neighbor, who’s maybe in her early 60s, walks by on the sidewalk. She stops to say hi and then, while she’s talking, she takes a few steps up the walkway. And then a few more steps. And a few more, until she’s basically at the foot of the porch steps, which means she’s definitely less than six feet away from me, at which point I remind her that we need to maintain social distancing. “Oh, right,” she says, with this tone in her voice like it’s all a bit of a joke, and then she obligingly steps back.
After she leaves, I turn to the Captain and ask, “What does she do for a living anyway?” To which she responds, “She’s a doctor. Pediatrician.” Jesus fuck.
Anyway: The great cartoonist Ben Katchor — one of only two cartoonists ever to win a MacArthur “genius” grant, don’tcha know — had been scheduled to be doing a live event at a local bookstore last night for his new book, The Dairy Restaurant. Obviously, the in-person event was cancelled, so they arranged for it to take place via Zoom:
The thing is, while Ben (who I’ve known on and off since the early 1990s, when we were both contributors to the alt-weekly New York Press) may be a genius, he can sometimes be a bit flummoxed by technology, so the Zoom presentation was a bit, well, haphazard. Still, it was good to take in some culture and feel just a teeny bit like I was participating in all the things NYC usually has to offer, even if only from my sofa.
Our latest raffle winner is Joe Delach, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks to Peter McCurdy for sponsoring this one. Everyone stay safe today! — Paul