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Syracuse Mets to Honor City’s Pivotal NBA Role by Becoming Syracuse Shot Clocks

[This post is part of Uni Watch Positivity Week. You can learn more about that here, and you can see all the UWPW posts here. — PL]

Did you know that the NBA’s now-familiar 24-second clock originated in Syracuse, N.Y.? It’s true! And now the Triple-A Syracuse Mets have announced plans to honor that history by becoming the Syracuse Shot Clocks for a one-game promotion on Aug. 19.

The shot clock was invented as a way to solve pro basketball’s problem of dull, low-scoring games. Some teams — usually the weaker team in a given game — were relying too much on the tactic of simply passing the ball back and forth, essentially playing keep-away and resulting in very few shots per game. Enter the shot clock, as explained in this Wikipedia passage:

In 1954 in Syracuse, New York, Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers) owner Danny Biasone and general manager Leo Ferris experimented with a 24-second shot clock during a scrimmage. Jack Andrews, longtime basketball writer for The Syracuse Post-Standard, often recalled how Ferris would sit at Danny Biasone’s Eastwood bowling alley, scribbling potential shot clock formulas onto a napkin. According to Biasone, “I looked at the box scores from the games I enjoyed, games where they didn’t screw around and stall. I noticed each team took about 60 shots. That meant 120 shots per game. So I took 2,880 seconds (48 minutes) and divided that by 120 shots. The result was 24 seconds per shot.” Ferris was singled out by business manager Bob Sexton at the 1954 team banquet for pushing the shot clock rule. Biasone and Ferris then convinced the NBA to adopt it for the 1954–55 season, a season in which the Nationals won the NBA Championship.

The story is also told in this video clip:

In 2005, a commemorative shot clock was actually installed on Franklin St. in Syracuse:

The clock constantly ticks down from 24 to zero and then resets, although in an odd, blinky manner. This is the only video of it that I could find:

The front of the jersey and the cap are shown at the top of this page. Here’s the back of the jersey, along with the right-sleeve graphic:

You’d think No. 24 would be a coveted uni number for this promotion, but the team’s current roster doesn’t include anyone wearing that number. So I suggested to team GM Jason Smorol that they should have some sort of contest to see who gets to be “24 for a day” for the Shot Clocks. He said he’d look into it!

This will be at least the fourth local-themed one-game rebranding that the team has undergone in recent years, as they’ve previously played at the Syracuse Salt Potatoes, the Syracuse Butter Sculptures, and the Syracuse (Brannock) Devices. (I threw out the first pitch for that last one.) Indeed, it looks like the Shot Clocks’ mascot character might be a distant cousin of the Devices’ character:

This is all pretty great. How often does a baseball uniform teach us something about basketball history? Nicely done, Syracuse! Now maybe a basketball team can wear a uniform honoring MLB’s new pitch clock. Which city came up with that?


Comments (16)

    Those numbers on the back are really hard to read. If they were just the red dots it may have been more legible. Same goes for the team name on front. I’m curious as to why the mascot is wearing glasses. As for the shot clock monument, wouldn’t it have been cool if all the crosswalks in the city used something similar for the walk/don’t walk countdown?

    The mascot is modeled after the godfather of the shot clock, Danny Biasone, who is mentioned in Paul’s article. He can be seen in the embedded video, in his large orange frames

    It’s kind of weird seeing a cartoon character with four fingers.

    Very cool idea, but unfortunately the execution is awful. “SHOTCLOCKS” on front isn’t even really readable up close (forget from any distance), and the #OB is also very diffucult to read. Otherwise I absolutely love this.

    Totally agree that every state should have it. In Canada, all high school leagues use the shot clock (some 30, some 24) and it makes a huge difference in terms of pace of play and skill development. I find that the states that resist the shot clock, it’s usually some old guards or some coaches in the vocal minority who are more focused on winning than skill development and fun.
    But don’t mind me. I could rant for hours about how adults have absolutely ruined youth sports over the last 20 years.

    In the Netherlands only top level teams play with the shotclock (used to be 30, now 24 seconds). I absolutely love this concept by the Syracuse Mets, I love the character but unfortunately the team name and NOB are hard to read. But what a great story. Go Shotclocks!

    Their marketing folks seem to be pretty creative. So then why in the hell, in an era where we have teams called Trash Pandas and Disco Turkeys, did they change their name to match the big league club? Felt like a very ’80s move.

    Unfortunately, Syracuse’s MiLB history with a different monicker is loaded with all sorts of indigenous appropriation and rather questionable imagery. They did evolve over time (eventually morphing into a different version/meaning for their original name).

    They became the Mets a few years back with surprisingly little uproar. I was quite impressed at how smoothly it went, to be honest.

    Because so many teams have far-out names I rather miss the days when a decent number of minor league clubs had the same name as the parent club. They often used different hat/jersey logos however – usually the initial of the local city in the style of the parent team’s font. I wish I had thought to collect all the different minor league Mets or Tigers hats over the years.

    I love the logo, though the jersey design doesn’t quite work for me–as others have said, it’s really tough to read. Still, I’d consider picking up a hat when they become available.

    Back when I was living in Central New York, I would often meet friends at the Starbucks next to the Franklin Square shot clock before walking over to the Sound Garden record store. Not sure how much of that is still there these days.

    It is kinda tough to read, but I really like the idea behind it and as a one-off I love it.

    The Brannock Device mascot looks like the bully who beats up the nerdy Shot Clock mascot.

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