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Painting Greenville Purple: Your 2023 Purp Walk Report

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Good morning! Greetings from Brooklyn, where I got back to Uni Watch HQ late last night (and not a moment too soon for Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin, who I think missed me almost as much as I missed her!).

The photo above shows me with ECU infielder Cam Murphy moments after he caught my first pitch prior to Tuesday’s ECU/Campbell ballgame in Greeneville Purpleville, N.C. Like everyone else I met during my trip, he was really swell (and, as you’ll see in a minute, saved me from a bit of potential embarrassment).

The scene at the ECU game was really fun, but I was puzzled by the low turnout from our comm-uni-ty. ECU told me they’d sold 16 tickets with the Uni Watch discount code as of two weeks ago, so I figured maybe 20 people would show up. Instead, only five people were on hand. Surprising, but we still had plenty of fun, and at least I wasn’t in the usual situation of talking a little bit with everyone but not enough with anyone.

I owe a huge debt of thanks to Uni Watch reader and Greenville native Michael Grubb. When I first announced that I’d be coming to Greenville, Mike immediately offered to be my local point person. He gave me advice on where to eat, where to hold the Uni Watch party, etc. He also had dinner with me when I arrived in town on Monday night, left work early on Tuesday so he could play catch with me to warm up my arm before the game, and was generally super-generous-spirited. He’s a great ambassador for Greenville! Here he is during our dinner on Monday night:

(If you’re wondering about the vittles, don’t worry — I’ll have a separate post about my barbecue adventures on this trip.)

Here’s Mike again (on the right), along with my longtime friend Tim Adams (center) and Tim’s brother Tom, who drove up from Durham for the game:

Also on hand was the great Ron Ruelle — the man behind the Brooklyn Branches! — who came up from Wilmington, N.C. After many years of corresponding and collaborating with him, it was great to finally meet him. Here he is with his girlfriend, Alice Yadon (and dig Ron’s awesome Tennessee Tech shirt!):

That was our entire crew. Since there were so few of us, ECU let everyone mill about on the field for a few minutes before my first pitch. Here’s a shot of me kibbitzing with with one of the ECU athletics guys (whose name I didn’t get, unfortunately). In the background is intern Jessie, who gave me a tour of the stadium when I arrived:

Ron got this fun selfie that also shows me talking with that same ECU guy (and also provides a good view of my purple stirrups!):

If you look closely, you can see that Ron is wearing one of the Branch Rickety pins, made from the actual Brooklyn branch by the DIYer extraordinaire Wafflebored!

This next shot shows me with one of the team’s student managers, who said he’s a big Uni Watch fan — super-nice guy:

Soon it was time for the first pitch. Look at that form, people:

Here’s the whole (very short) thing, captured on video:

As you can see, my toss was a little hit high and outside, but Cam immediately jumped out of his crouch to reel it in. Thanks, buddy! (Also: I didn’t realize this until I watched the video, but Cam wears No. 0!)

And yes, I cringed a bit when the P.A. guy mispronounced “Uni Watch,” but whaddaya gonna do. All in all, a really fun experience, and everyone seemed amused (if also somewhat confused) that I was celebrating a color I dislike.

I was hoping maybe more people would be on hand for the afterparty. As it turned out, only one additional person showed up, but it was an important one: the great Gabe Cornwall, who’s been a tireless advocate for North Carolina uniforms for at least a decade now. After all these years of emailing with him, it was a treat to meet him:

Gabe was about the only person I met all day who wasn’t wearing purple. He said he dislikes it even more than I do!

All in all: a really fun day!  I’m indebted to my NYC friends Rich Meyer, Michael McMahon, and Jay Jaffe, who helped me loosen up my hinge by playing catch with me in the weeks preceding my trip; to Parker Eason in the ECU Athletics Dept. for agreeing to do this crazy promotion and coordinating everything smoothly; to designer/illustrator Bryan Molloy for collaborating with me on this year’s T-shirt; to everyone who helped support this year’s Purp Walk by purchasing T-shirts, caps, posters, and membership cards; to Ron Ruelle and Alice Yadon for taking most of the photos in this post; and, again, to reader Michael Grubb for all his friendship and hospitality.

Two other Purp Walk odds and ends: First, in case you missed it in yesterday’s Ticker, the Empire State Building got the memo:

Also, as you can see from this screen shot supplied by reader David Gregson, our website’s ad network apparently got the memo as well:

That’s pretty funny, right?

Okay, that’s a wrap for Purp Walk 2023. Can’t wait for next year’s installment! I already have some ideas about that…..



Can of the Day

After all that purple, I felt the need to add some green to the equation. Amazing front design, arguably even more amazing rear design, and what a slogan: “Reduces Friction to a Fraction”!

Comments (37)

    Did any of the Pirates go high-cuffed? Those powder purps look terrible worn pajama-style, but with a nice set of purple socks (or even better, purple rups with white sanis), they would look much better.

    No, they didn’t. I asked the student manager about that, and he said that all of the pants were long, and the cuffs didn’t even have elastic in them, so they had to be worn long!

    “the cuffs didn’t even have elastic in them, so they had to be worn long”

    Tsk. Well, they just don’t know how to properly cuff. It takes a little effort, but there’s no elastic needed ;).

    I wonder if any of the players asked about getting pants in that could be worn high, or if none of them even care.


    Yellow sanis. Like the Padres and A’s who partake. It’s a school color, too.

    I am so bummed to have missed hanging with you. Had I not been doing the anthem for the Durham Bulls that exact night, I would have been there… :-(

    I don’t know how long it’s been in use (read: how long I’ve been oblivious) but the Purple = Death tag on this post made my morning.

    Glad the day was so fun for everyone! Sorry so few showed for the game and party, but like you said, more individual time with everyone for you, and them.

    If you ever decide to do a Purple Amnesty event in the KC area, I’ll enthusiastically attend (K-State isn’t far, and my son attends school there – The Little Apple is quite the purple town). For that matter, I would come to any Uni-Watch event in KC, purple-oriented or not!

    Phil, if those unis look bad in photos, they’re worse in person (didn’t see them at the game – apologies to Paul and crew – and was somewhat concerned that not liking those unis would have gone over poorly in the Jungle. Paul wasn’t joking … I might dislike purple more than he does).

    But, in all fairness, my school colors do not go over well with many here.

    Again, everyone at the gathering was superb. Shame on my oddball schedule and trying to tie up all my loose ends. Only then did I actually get a little sleep … right through the game.

    Surprised Three Stripes couldn’t do something to install cuffs in those pants. Haven’t seen my alma mater, another Adidas school, so I have no idea if that’s up to the apparel manufacturer or if it’s up to the schools’ equipment staffs. Could be a case of Power Five schools and/or those with more lucrative apparel deals handle this whereas smaller programs have to outsource it or go without … question might be where that line is drawn between uniform haves and have-nots. Given that this is UW, is this a story idea?

    Also … good to see that Paul and Michael indulged in some Parker’s. Background decor, sectioned-off plates are dead giveaway.

    Eagle eye! Yes, that was Parker’s. Unfortunately, I had to work Tuesday so I didn’t get to partake in the “Tour of Pitt County BBQ” that I sent Paul on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to the food write up! All the pork one could dream of in one day!

    Alice and I had a terrific time Tuesday! It was great meeting you in person after all these years! The atmosphere at the game was incredible along with an enthusiastic visiting fan presence. Perfect weather for a game, and it ended in a 14-13 nail-biter, much like a Coors Field classic. I wish more folks could have enjoyed it all with us!

    Really wished I was in my hometown to hang out with you guys! But, glad you had fun. I can’t wait to read about your bbq adventures

    Come to think of it, I think the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Va. was lit up in shades of purple on Tuesday night. I was driving over to PG County to play broomball so it didn’t quite register and I wouldn’t have been able to get a photo anyway.

    I am going to what I can learn.

    As much as Paul hates purple, I love it LOL

    BUT I don’t know if I’m too keen on the powder purples. I think what the Royals do sometimes with their powder blue jersey – pairing it with white pants – would be more appealing, especially with the purple and white hat and purple/white trim script across the front of the jersey.

    Regarding the way the PA announcer said “Uni-watch,” I know “uni-watch” is pronounced “you-knee”…but isn’t “uniform” pronounced “you-na-form” or “you-nuh-form”? I’ve never once said “you-knee-form”, but that could be my Chicago accent…

    Lots of shortened slang terms have pronunciations that deviate a bit from the parent term. Nothing unusual about that.

    Hmmm. I’ve always pronounced it “you – nih – form”. Not quite you-knee, but not you-nah either…

    YMMV and all that.

    At this point, I’ve kind of accepted the perpetual mispronunciations as part of the charm of the brand Paul has create in Uni Watch and of the comm-uni-ty as a whole. If you don’t Get It(TM), then you probably don’t know how to pronounce it.

    He could have pronounced it “ooh-knee watch,” figuring you are really into sea urchin. Or maybe he was concentrating more on the “watch” part because he thought you are a big fan of horology.

    Great recap on what looks like a fun day, Paul! So you threw a bit high and outside on that pitch. I’m a high ball hitter with a long reach, so I’m pretty sure I would have chased it. Therefore, I’m balling it a strike!

    I watched the game on ESPN+ (actually bumped up my subscription package to do it). I was hoping to catch some passing mention of the Purp Walk festivities on the broadcast or a shot of the comm-uni-ty in the crowd. Alas, there was neither. The only uni-related banter was a brief exchange between the play-by-play announcer and the color commentator somewhere around the fifth inning expressing their opinions about ECU’s “pastel purple” uniforms. (The color commentator said he was “more of a traditionalist” and left it at that, while the play-by-play guy said they were “growing on him.”) And that was that!

    Anyway, I’m glad it was a good time! I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip details – especially the barbecue report! And I can’t wait till next year’s Purp Walk!

    the article reminded me: is there still Brooklyn Branches merch? Loved that idea.

    I wanted to go since I only like 2 to 2.5 hours away but being during the week it would have been hard.

    I bought a ticket, got my purple gear lined up, secured replacement transportation for my kids … then came down with shingles. It pained me to miss. I was itching to be there. (I’ll stop.) I did watch on ESPN+ wearing my Purp Walk shirt, though. All sad and pathetic. And good grief those uniforms are ugly.

    Looks like the mystery man’s name is Blake, director of baseball operations for the Pirates. Ops staff need all the love they can get!

    Looks like a great day at the Jungle, even though only a select group of the comm-uni-ty could make it to NC. Being thousands of miles away in Europe it was a bit difficult to join in the fun. Maybe some other time. And a 14-13 game is an unexpected bonus!

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