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Phantastic Phind: Phils Used a Comic Book to Promote 1988 Season Tix

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Reader Jonathan Conner was recently going through some of his late father’s possessions and came across something really special: a season ticket renewal package that the Phillies sent to Jonathan’s dad in the fall of 1987. The cover letter on Phillies letterhead, shown above, is cool enough, but the real prize is a small comic book featuring the Phillie Phanatic and former Phils star Richie “Whitey” Ashburn, who was a broadcaster for the team at the time. Here’s the front cover:

Look at that super-stylized apostrophe — love it! As you can see, the cover illo is signed “Len Epstein.” I hadn’t heard of him before, but he’s apparently a longtime Philly-area illustrator.

Here are the comic book’s five interior spreads:

And here’s the back cover. If you look closely, you can see that Jonathan’s dad marked a few dates that he was eyeing for his partial season plan (“I was probably in tow for a few of those games,” says Jonathan):

The promo package also came with a little insert offering a free Phillies garment bag to fans who renewed their season plans by a certain date:

Jonathan says he’s been hoping to find the garment bag among his dad’s belongings, but no luck so far.

Man, what a sensational artifact. Please join me in thanking Jonathan for sharing it with us.



One Last Yo La Tengo Update

Amidst all the hubbub about Yo La Tengo guitarist Ira Kaplan throwing out the first pitch at last Thursday’s Mets game, reader Scott Nathanson sent me this photo of an old baseball-themed YLT shirt that he says he bought from the band over 25 years ago. I showed the photo to Ira, who said, “Oh, Michael McMahon designed that!”

Michael (who fronts the band Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co., which I’ve mentioned many times here on Uni Watch) is one of my best friends. As it happens, he hosted a little party on Sunday, so I showed him the photo of Scott’s old T-shirt and asked if he remembered designing it. He confirmed that it was indeed his handiwork and, better still, said he still had one squirreled away. He retreated to his closet and quickly emerged with the proof:

If you’re a Mets fan of a certain age, you probably recognize the Mr. Met-like character on the shirt, because he’s adapted from a Mr. Met rendering that appeared on an old Mets pennant. I got one of those pennants at the very first ballgame I attended, and it was on my bedroom wall throughout my youth. I don’t have it anymore, but I do have a shirt with that same design, which I was wearing when Ira threw out the first pitch last week. See how everything comes full circle?



A Great Uni Watch Story

Reader Ben Zoss recently sent me the photo shown above, along with the following note:

I am a Spanish teacher and football coach at Morton High School in Morton, Ill. One of my students recently wore a Green Bay Packers shirt that had the “G” backwards on the helmet. I pointed this out to her and she said no one had ever noticed. I told her that one of my favorite websites is Uni Watch and explained that this is the type of thing that the site’s readers notice.

Fast forward to today: She surprised me with a custom-made backwards UNI (my alma mater) T-shirt! This has to be the best surprise I’ve received from a student in 23 years of teaching — and I think there’s another uni-watcher out there.

How great is that? Thanks for sharing this story, Ben, and thanks also for the important work that you do as a teacher.



For Father's Day

Need a good gift idea for Father’s Day? Might I humbly suggest that you consider Uni Watch grilling tools, produced by our friends at Baseball BBQ. Available here.

Grilling tools aren’t quite what you’re looking for? Check out the rest of our Uni Watch merchandise, or consider a gift subscription to Uni Watch Premium on Substack or Uni Watch Plus. Thanks!



Too Good for the Ticker

Someone on Twitter — I no longer recall who, unfortunately — recently pointed me to a 1954 Armstrong’s catalog, featuring spectacular midcentury linoleum, rug, and wall tile designs. The entire catalog is available for online viewing here. Not to be missed!



Can of the Day

Here’s one I recently acquired. “NIF-TY” with a hyphen would be amusing enough, but “NIF=TY” with an equals sign is endearingly bizarre. Really nice design all around.

Comments (31)

    If Northern Iowa did not have purple as one of their colors, it would perhaps be the perfect school to be the Official UNIversity of Uni Watch!!! Maybe you could do a future Purple Amnesty Day event with them?

    Thank you to Jonathan for sharing this with you, Paul and also with us the reader. It is a really cool find and something that puts me right back as a kid who got yearly birthday cards from the Phanatic because I was in the Phanatic fan club as a kid. The art work from that comic book is the same as a lot of the Phanatic artwork in the birthday cards I got as a kid and as in the books I have bought my kids. This was good stuff to start my morning off with.

    Gotta say, this is one of the best all-around posts in a long time. If someone asks why I read this site, this is one of the posts I’d show them.

    And the 1988 Phillies responded to all of this hype by finishing 31 games under .500.

    The team had some potential, but their starting rotation was trash and Mike Schmidt was in his “that was the year I lost it” season.

    Also, Steve Jeltz…

    Can we keep the 1988 team in 1988, but bring back those prices.

    You could go to every Sunday game back then for the cost of a single game today.

    ’88…one of the rare seasons that Schmidt didn’t make the NL All Star team, yet the battery of Kevin Gross and Lance Parrish did!
    That was also the final season for the road powder blues, too.
    Sadly, they returned years later as a fan-favorite home alt.
    I Miss The Vet : (

    Gross was 8-2 with a 2.63 ERA through his first 15 starts that year. Hence the All-Star selection.

    In his final 18 starts he was 4-12 with a 4.70 ERA. That was the end of that.

    Also, I understand nostalgia as my first MLB games were at The Vet, but why would you miss that place? It was an absolute dump, a visual atrocity and that field shortened the careers of many MLB and NFL players…

    I honestly still love the brief 89-91 period with the Phils wearing road greys with the iconic maroon logo.

    Those creatures in that last spread need to come to life for the Mascot race.

    That glorious Mets pennant is framed and hanging in my office as we speak — and I also got it at my first Mets game!

    Thanks for posting Paul! I’ve found alot of fun Phillies stuff, but this was truly the most unique so far. Shout out to my dad for holding on to it.

    For reasons I don’t quite understand, the default for posting videos to TikTok is as mirror images, and almost no one bothers to change it. So that IИU shirt would work great there.

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been seeing a lot of posted videos that are “backwards” or mirror images and thought it might be a problem with my phone. Glad I don’t use TikTok!

    Just wanted to say that the additional nuggets in today’s post was a nice throwback to the old site/format. It was great to continue scrolling down and see yet another surprise waiting to be uncovered.

    Note in the schedule the August 8th game at Chicago being scheduled for 4:05 p.m. I’m guessing this was put together soon before the Cubs decided to add the lights to Wrigley that season and shift that game to 7:05 p.m. (which, of course, ended up getting rained out).

    I’ve only been to one Mets game, they were giving away garment bags. I have two of them and use them for my fanciest hockey jerseys.

    Fun fact Tim Tuffel had gone 4 /4 that day and was beaned during his 5th at bat setting off a bench clearing brawl.

    Ken Griffey Sr. sliding into second base and both teams wearing vertically arched NOBs. Think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

    Yes. 1987 was the year the Braves brought back their throwbacks. (I remember being excited to see Dale Murphy in them in the Sports Illustrated Spring Training Issue, and I’m a Cub fan.)

    It’s very crazy to me that at some point in time, bats were actually handed to kids at stadiums. I never got to go to Dodger Stadium or Anaheim stadium, we were very low income, until I was around 14. By then you would get a voucher and you’d have to pick up the bat at Big 5 or something.

    ‘If you’re a Mets fan of a certain age…” My very first Mets game was 7/24/71 which was the day before Paul’s first game and I got that very same Mets pennant that day and it remained on my bedroom wall for years too.

    that UNI t-shirt gift is awesome! Hope the student finds her way to the “uni-verse” soon!

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