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Bill Hetrick: 1962–2021

For all photos, click to enlarge

Good morning. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, especially on the day before Christmas, but I’m sorry to report that longtime Uni Watch reader/supporter and all-around wonderful guy Bill Hetrick, who’s been featured many times here on the site in various capacities, died yesterday. He was 59.

Although Bill lived in Jackson, Miss., he was the ultimate Dolphins super-fan, with a huge collection of Miami memorabilia (among lots of other collectibles, as you can see in the photo above). He talked about his Dolphins collection with our own Phil Hecken in a 2017 Uni Watch post. Unfortunately, the photos that ran with that post have been scrubbed from the web (it’s a long story), but it’s still worth reading the interview transcript.

Phil, like the rest of us, was blindsided by the news of Bill’s death. I asked if he wanted to contribute something to today’s post, and of course he said yes:

I featured Bill on the site several times over the years, and his uniform/memorabilia collection was one of the finest ever.  Although I never met him, I definitely felt a connection to him through our shared love of uniforms and sports (Bill was even a Mets fan, having worked for the minor league Jackson Mets during the 1980s), and we corresponded frequently. In fact, Bill wrote me just a few weeks ago, saying he was in the hospital but but that he was nonetheless hoping to do another Uni Watch article with me, this time on football helmet maps.

Words cannot express how tragic his sudden passing is. I’m grateful for the wisdom, stories, and, of course, uniform history and knowledge he was able to impart. We’ll all sorely miss him.

As Phil mentioned, Bill had worked in minor league baseball, and he also had a big stash of baseball collectibles, which he talked about in this video from earlier this year:

You can feel the boyish enthusiasm in Bill’s voice as he describes his treasures, and that matches the feeling I always got from our email interactions. He was a very genuine guy, and I always got the impression that there wasn’t a jaded or cynical bone in his body.

Bill also did a silent walk-through tour of his collection in this video from just a few months ago. If you can stick with it for the full 12 minutes, it’s pretty mind-blowing:

Although I never got to meet Bill personally, another member of the Uni Watch comm-uni-ty did. That would be Tom Jacobsen, who you may remember as the Broncos super-fan who acquired the old files with the explosive NFL memo from Buddy Young that I wrote about back in 2018. Tom moved from Denver to Mississippi two winters ago and, sensing a kindred spirit, asked if I could put him in touch with Bill. I knew they’d hit it off, so I introduced them. The pandemic delayed their in-person meeting but they finally met face-to-face — or mask-to-mask — back in January:

More recently, shortly before Thanksgiving, Tom visited Bill’s home and got to see his amazing collection. I love this next photo so much — two of my favorite readers sharing their passion for athletics aesthetics:

I invited Tom to contribute some thoughts to today’s post. Here they are:

Despite not knowing me from Adam, Bill treated me like a friend from the first day we met. He showed me the best hole-in-the-wall places to grab lunch, included me when he was helping with events at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, invited me to card shows around town, and welcomed me into his home to see his amazing memorabilia collection (which, honestly, is hard to describe other than by saying, “Wow!”).  

Bill didn’t have to do any of this, but he did so without any hesitation. He was a kind, thoughtful, good guy. He saw I was like the “new kid at school” after my move from Colorado to Mississippi and made a point of making me feel welcome.  

I’ll miss the texts from Bill on game day about how the Dolphins or Broncos were doing, all the great Twitter posts about his collection, going to lunch with him and watching literally every single person in the restaurant saying hi to him — but most of all I’ll miss my friend very much.

As you can see in that last photo, Bill was also an avid collector of Uni Watch products (and he even wore that cap!). He was always super-supportive of the site.

One of Bill’s more recent acquisitions was a custom-made Dolphins jacket with a lining featuring lots of vintage Dolphins photos, which he got for himself earlier this year. He proudly told me it was the first sports-related jacket that fit him properly, and he loved wearing it, so I’m glad he got some time to enjoy it:

In case you’re wondering: Bill’s death was not Covid-related. He had a history of heart and lung problems and was hospitalized on Thanksgiving Day with serious respiratory issues, possibly triggered by an unrelated medication he’d been taking. Unfortunately, the doctors were unable to save him.

Bill was a co-founder of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. His family has asked that any donations in his memory be made to the Hall.

Despite never having met Bill, I thought of him as a close relative in the Uni Watch family. He’ll be sorely missed. R.I.P.

(Special thanks to Chris Sciria for his assistance with today’s post.)

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Ewwwww: The NBA began allowing teams to sell space on their uniforms to advertisers in 2017. The next step in that program came yesterday, when word came down that teams can now sell advertising space on their shooting shirts and warm-up jackets. Sigh.

The NHL will be adding advertising to its jerseys next season, and MLB is widely expected to include some sort of uni ad program in its next collective bargaining agreement, which is currently being negotiated. Who would’ve thought that the NFL, of all leagues, would be the last bastion of Big Four uniform integrity? Go figure.

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Too good for the Ticker: If you love the Bucks’ original logo as much as I do, then you’ll no doubt enjoy this sensational concept design by pseudonymous designer OC Ospreys. The red nose, which transforms Bango into Rudolph is the cherry on top (almost literally!). Great job.

(My thanks to @MichaelNotMikey for bringing this one to my attention.)

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Here’s an article exploring whether the Giants should retire Buster Posey’s No. 28 (thanks, Brinke). … Gotta love this Cubs cornhole set. … Here’s all-time great Ted Williams wearing an early version of a shinguard (from @finerific).

Pro Football News: The Panthers updated their logo a decade ago, but Academy Sports in Greenvile, N.C., still has the old logo (from Gabe Cornwall). … And so it’s come to this: Tom Brady now has his own proprietary shade of blue now (from multiple readers).

College/High School Football News: During the Gasparilla Bowl, a UCF player got his facemask entangled with a Florida player’s mask, requiring a referee to get the helmets separated (from multiple readers). … Here are UNC’s unis for their bowl game (from James Gilbert). … A user named “allendoc” at the Gator Country message boards created a fantastic infographic showcasing all of Florida’s uniforms since 2010. … Check this out: The first indoor college football game was the 1964 Liberty Bowl, which was played at the Atlantic City Convention Center, of all places (from Trevor Williams).

Hockey News: Oh man, check out this amazing Maple Leafs full uni set, released for kids in the 1960s. If Roch Carrier had gotten this set, maybe he wouldn’t have been so upset! (Excellent find by Noah Sidel.)

NBA News: The cover of the book Hiroshi’s Latte Art and Barista Style by Hiroshi Sawada has a parody of the NBA logo featuring a barista making a latte (good spot by Andy Riley). … ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes have some nice uni and equipment manager details in this article about Covid tearing through the league this month. Highly recommended, and not just for the uni tidbits (from Steve Kriske).

Soccer News: Does MLS Next Pro’s logo feature the worst typeface everJohn Flory says yes.

Grab Bag: Austrian racing driver Laura Kraihammer has her name written backwards on the right side of her helmet. According to Graham Clayton, it’s a mirror image of the left side. … The Marine Corps has nixed the wearing of fitness attire at exchanges and commissaries (from Timmy Donahue).

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That’s it for this week. Again, sorry to close out the run-up to Christmas on a down note, but it seemed important to give Bill Hetrick the Uni Watch tribute he deserved.

However you’re spending today and tonight, stay safe and well. I’ll be back tomorrow with the results of our annual year-end raffle, and then Phil will check in on Sunday with the Vilkmas raffle results. Until then, enjoy your Christmas Eve. Peace. — Paul

Comments (35)

    RIP Bill. That’s terrible anytime but especially at the holidays. And so young.
    The gist of the argument for retiring Buster Posey’s #28 is… uh… Barry Binds got his number retired? Not sure that’s the argument that resonates here. Steroids or not, Bonds was on track to be an all-time great. Posey is a great catcher relative to his peers, the best of his generation and was a vital part of 3 WS champions. HOF or not, there’s your argument. As for the others – Belt? Crawford? C’mon, let’s reserve the honor for the best of the best, not just the people we remember fondly from good teams. We’re not going to have any numbers left!
    Merry Christmas to all…

    Heartbreaking news. Condolences to Bill’s family. If everything that’s “widely expected” to be in the next collecting bargaining agreement for MLB happens, they may end up losing fans. Ads on uniforms, loss of real baseball in the NL and expanded playoffs are complete turnoffs. And let’s not think the NFL is so pure with its uniforms; lots (most? all?) of the teams have ads on their uniforms during preseason practices.

    And let’s not think the NFL is so pure with its uniforms; lots (most? all?) of the teams have ads on their uniforms during preseason practices.

    Actually, they have ads on practice jerseys all year long, not just during the preseason. Personally, though, I don’t care about that — let the go full-NASCAR on the practice jerseys – just leave the game uniforms alone. (YMMV and all that.)

    Of course, the NFL has long had advertisements on their jerseys, currently the Nike logo but Reebok and other companies before that.

    Sad news hearing about Bill and condolences to his family. He is a well respected and important part of our community.

    Lest anyone think that original post about the first indoor college football game is correct, there were probably 15 before 1910.


    Rough times here in Pittsburgh. My cousin’s wife lost her battle with cancer Tuesday night and yesterday I learned the homecoming queen from my class of ’94 suddenly passed. Like many of you, while I never met Bill, I really did feel like I knew him. It also makes me cherish the great people from this site that I have met in person and not to take that for granted. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

    I’m a collector too, so even though I never interacted with Bill (only ever heard of him and seen his stuff through this website), I know what it feels like to lose a passionate peer. All that pales in comparison to his survivors who lost a loved one. RIP. Condolences to those who knew and loved Bill Hetrick. Thanks for the news and tribute, it’s fitting even if the timing is bad. Happy holidays to all

    The Bucks’ mascot is named Bango, not Bongo. “Bango!” was original radio announcer Eddie Doucette’s exclamation whenever a Bucks player hit a long-range jumper.

    Such crushing news to read this morning. As a fellow Dolphins & Mets fan, I was instantly enamored with Bill & he was always wonderful to interact with on Twitter. Thank you Paul & the UW team for featuring Bill so often over the years.

    My sincere condolences to all who knew & loved Bill.

    Over Twitter, I talked to Bill a few times about the Miami Dolphins and minor league baseball. I wish I had talked to him more – such a knowledgeable and courteous guy. Gone too soon.

    I’m deeply saddened to hear of Bill’s passing. It feels like a star has gone out in the uni-verse. My condolences to all who knew and loved him. Thanks for the touching tributes, Paul, Phil, and Tom.

    Merry Christmas, all! I hope it’s festive and rejuvenating for everyone.

    RIP Bill. Glad I was able to connect with him earlier this year to help round out his pin club collection (after the March design sold out), my interactions with him were brief yet pleasant, and I appreciated that he offered me something in exchange from his remarkable collection. What a loss to the greater comm-uni-ty.

    Thoughts and prayers to Bill’s family and friends, who it sounds like he had many. Thank you Paul, Phil, and Tom, for those kind words about Bill. It gave us a real sense of this wonderful man.

    Proofreading: “Here’s an article exploring where the Giants should retire Buster Posey’s No. 28”

    Should that be “whether” instead of “where”?

    Heartfelt condolences to Bill’s family and friends.

    Sad to learn the passing of a member of our community. Each of us carries a portfolio of anecdotes and folklore that cannot be replaced.

    This, this, so much this.

    When I started reading Uni Watch, I thought it was about sports aesthetics. It is … but it’s really about the ways that sport touches people’s lives.

    Sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. As far as I’m concerned he’s a Uni-Watch hall of famer. You should put a black memorial band on today’s header. I’m just glad we’ve had so much to gain by him being here.

    Just have to mention that NC’s bowl game uni looks great! Too bad they’re playing in the mayonnaise bowl, horrible imagery that.

    I’d rather they Duke it out … or does that invite more jokes, especially in North Carolina.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and create this AMAZING article! It is very much appreciate and gave those with a non sports connection to Bill a deeper look into his sports world!
    Clay Mansell
    Publisher of Bill’s hometown paper, The Clinton Courier

    What a sweet, thoughtful, and kind tribute to Bill. That will serve as an additional memorial for his friends and family for years and years. RIP Bill.

Comments are closed.