[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from longtime reader Eric Bangeman, who’s going to tell us about some childhood uni ephemera he recently rediscovered. Enjoy. — PL]
By Eric Bangeman
Like most of us here at Uni Watch, I developed an obsession with uniforms and logos at an early age. When I was growing up in Aurora, Colo., my favorite sport was football, so I’d create imaginary football leagues, stock them with teams, and design uniforms and logos for them. Here’s an early example:
I also had a Tudor electric football game, and I loved painting uniforms on the little red (or yellow) plastic players, which was cheaper than buying the official team sets.
In the early ’80s, when I was 12 or 13, I played for a youth league team called the Cardinals. Each team would receive a plain white helmet, white pants, and pads. We were then sent to the local sporting goods store to buy our jerseys. Curiously, the league decided that the Cardinals should dress like the Houston Oilers, so my mom bought a polyester jersey and had my last name and desired number heat-pressed onto it:
As a young sports aesthete, I found the plain white helmet profoundly disappointing, so I decided to give it a paint job. I was recently visiting my folks and found the helmet in a box of childhood artifacts:
For the cardinal’s head, I used the same paint I used for my electric football players and model airplanes. I don’t remember if I was looking at a picture of a Cardinals helmet when I did it, but I do know that I did it freehand.
After finishing the sides, I decided it could be improved with some stripes:
You’ll notice I also painted my number on the front, Steelers-style (plus there’s a bonus “76,” much smaller, near the base of the center stripe). You can also see the last few letters of my surname across the stripes above the numbers. That came from a sheet of rub-on transfer letters and was protected by a piece of Scotch tape.
Of course, I also needed to have my number on the back of the helmet, so I painted that on as well — in red, for some reason:
My teammates thought my painted helmet was pretty cool. So by the time of our first game, about half of the team had painted cardinals on their helmets. That was fun, but the inconsistency between the helmets bothered me. It was bad enough that not everyone had the exact same jersey (a few of my teammates had mesh, tearaway-style jerseys with slightly different sleeve striping). I remember being angry at one of my teammates who gave his cardinal fangs, which I found offensive on several levels. I also recall being irritated because one of my teammates who played guard chose to wear 34 instead of something between 50 and 79.
Being the only team in the league with hand-painted logos didn’t help us on the field. I think we might have won one game that season. But it was fun wearing a uniform that I helped design.
Paul here. Great stuff from Eric! I love how he took it upon himself to become an early DIYer. Also love hearing how he was annoyed by his team’s non-uniformity. Clearly, Getting It™ can sometimes be a mixed blessing.
Does anyone else have childhood stories of being bugged by uni issues on their youth teams? Feel free to post them in today’s comments.