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EXCLUSIVE: Newly Revealed Photos Add to Seattle Pilots’ Prototype Uni Intrigue

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[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]

Good morning! I have some amazing stuff to share with you today. But before I can do that, I need to establish some context by recapping a few things we already know.

Let’s start with this: On Oct. 10, 1968, prior to Game Seven of the World Series between the Cardinals and Tigers, Cards coach Joe Schultz tried on a Seattle Pilots prototype cap and road jersey in the St. Louis clubhouse (as shown above). A few hours later, after the final game of the Series, it was announced that Schultz would be the Pilots’ manager for their inaugural season in 1969.

That wire photo has been floating around the uni-verse for many years. So have these next two shots, which show Schultz wearing the same jersey and cap (perhaps they were taken on the same day as the wire photo; at the very least, I’m fairly sure they were taken in the fall of 1968):

As you probably know, this is not the cap or road jersey that the Pilots eventually wore for their one season of existence. The “S” logo on their cap was simpler and less stylized, and their road jersey insignia was arched, not straight:

Again, none of this is new information. We’ve known for years that Schultz was wearing prototype gear in those 1968 photos, and that the Pilots made some slight design adjustments over the winter.

One thing I’ve always wondered about, though, is whether Schultz’s prototype jersey was light blue or just grey. It’s hard to be sure from the old black-and-white photos of Schultz, and we’d never seen a color photo of the prototype design.

Until now:

The guy in that photo is Jim Kittilsby, who was the assistant to Pilots GM Marvin Milkes. The photo was taken in August or September of 1968 in Kittilsby’s office, which was in a double-wide trailer outside of the team’s ballpark, Sicks’ Stadium. (The stadium itself was too old and small to have adequate office space.) Kittilsby, who’s now 85, explained in a recent podcast interview for the Shanaman Sports Museum in Tacoma, Wash., how he ended up as the uniform model:

I used to order the equipment, including uniforms. I always bought stuff from Wilson Sporting Goods — the Sorianos [the Pilots’ owners] always used Wilson Sporting Goods at the time. They sent uniform samples and I was the model and they would take pictures of me, because the samples were always size 38. Most of the people on the staff were bigger — the men, most of the men were bigger than a 38. But at the time, I was five foot seven, I was about 160 pounds, so I was stocky enough to to wear those. And I wasn’t selected because of my rank or my importance — it was because they fit me.

So Kittilsby was probably the first person ever to wear a Seattle Pilots uniform — even before Joe Schultz!

And that’s not all — there’s also this rear view:

Nice blousing there, Jim!

Kittilsby also modeled the home uniform (which, unlike the road jersey, did not undergo any further design changes) with the prototype cap! To my knowledge, this jersey/cap combo has never been seen before:

I love how Kittilsby just pulled the stirrups over his regular dress socks instead of getting a pair of white sanitaries, which really underscores how makeshift the whole setup was.

These photos came my way from a guy named Ethan Allen (yes, like the furniture brand and the Revolutionary War hero). He got them from his father, Rick Allen, who wrote a book about the Pilots that came out in 2020. Rick Allen interviewed and befriended Kittilsby while writing that book, which is how he got access to the photos. Until now, they’ve only been seen by the Kittilsby family, the Allen family, and the Pilots’ top brass at the time.

It’s worth noting that the Pilots’ brief history included at least two other jersey designs. There’s this one, which was worn in spring training of 1969:

And then there’s this AP photo, which uni designer/historian Todd Radom discovered about 10 years ago. It was taken at MLB’s 1968 winter meetings and ran in The New York Times (and, presumably, in lots of other newspapers) on Dec. 4, 1968. It shows jerseys and caps for the four 1969 expansion teams — the Royals, Pilots, Padres, and Expos — including a Pilots road jersey with a completely different “Seattle” insignia:

(Note that Expos scout Peanuts Lowrey is wearing a Wilson glove in the photo, which means this was probably a Wilson merchandise display. And that in turn matches up with Jim Kittilsby saying that the Pilots’ owners always got their gear from Wilson.)

I wondered if Kittilsby — the guy who modeled the Pilots uniforms — knew anything about the ’69 spring training design or the jersey from the ’68 winter meetings. So I recently arranged to speak with him and gave him a call at his condo in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Jim Kittilsby.

The good news is that he’s extremely loquacious, appears to have a pretty good memory, and is absolutely obsessed with baseball (he says he has about 1,400 baseball books!). The bad news is that he didn’t have much information in response to my queries, which included the following:

  • Does he know who designed the Pilots’ uniforms? (He doesn’t.)
  • Did he see any drawings or design mock-ups of the uniforms before the prototypes were made? (He didn’t.)
  • What happened to the prototypes after he modeled them? (He thinks they were sent back to Wilson.)
  • Did he model any other designs aside from the two shown in this post? (He didn’t.)
  • Why did the Pilots choose to go with light-blue road uniforms instead of grey? (He doesn’t know.)
  • Why were the cap and road uniform changed over the winter? (He doesn’t know.)
  • Why did the team wear a different uniform for spring training? (He doesn’t know or remember.)

So we weren’t able to learn much more about the Pilots’ uni history, but the photos still add to this short-lived team’s surprisingly deep uni-related storyline.

Update: Shortly after this post was published, Todd Radom informed me that the Pilots’ uniforms were designed by Stuart Moldrem (who, unfortunately, died in 2015). Lots of good info in this old article, which I hadn’t seen before (thanks, Todd!):



(My deepest thanks to Ethan and Rick Allen, without whom this post would not have been possible.)




Substack Reminder

In case you missed it on Wednesday: Having spent the past two weeks doing deep-dive Uni Watch Premium articles on two of the NFL uniforms that are being revived as throwbacks this season — the Seahawks’ silver/blue uniforms and the Bucs’ creamsicles — I’m turning my attention this week to the Eagles’ Kelly greens (whose latest throwback iteration leaked last week). I’ve come up with a dozen fun facts about Philly’s Kelly period, most of which you probably didn’t know or have forgotten.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack (which will also give you access to my full Substack/Bulletin archives). My thanks, as always, for your consideration.




New Cap Reminder

After a bunch of false starts, I’m happy to announce that we are once again offering a Uni Watch ballcap! This one is a 100% cotton low-profile strapback (i.e., a “dad cap”). It looks great and, like all Uni Watch products, does not have a visible maker’s mark.

You can order the cap here. My thanks, as always, for your consideration of our products.



Too Good for the Ticker

Who was that pitching for the University of Minnesota in the College World Series almost exactly 50 years ago (June 13, 1973)? None other than Dave Winfield!



Can of the Day

Here’s a weird one: a can with a depiction of  a can! Too bad they didn’t go for the infinite regression.

Comments (30)

    So glad they eventually went with the radially arched “seattle” (always wondered why it was in lower-case) and ditched that weird “S” … that never made much sense (although it appears to match the script font on that crazy, never-worn jersey that Todd found in the newspaper photo).

    Great stuff. Very positive!

    It also resembled the font that the Pilots ended up going with on their uniforms, although not as bold.

    The logical assumption would be that the Pilot’s uniform design wasn’t nailed down and/or had not been manufactured at the start of spring training, so a basic one was used in Arizona. The Expos and Pilots had similar, somewhat radical designs for their home uniforms, which makes me wonder who designed them. Someone at Wilson, perhaps?

    Very enjoyable read about the Pilots uni.
    Yet again, great graphics with the stripes produced during that time period. Thx Paul

    It was 50 years ago today — June 15, 1973 — that University of Minnesota outfielder/pitcher Dave Winfield signed with the Padres after being named MVP of the College World Series. The Padres said he would be used solely as an outfielder. Winfield also was drafted by the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, the ABA’s Utah Stars (he’d also played basketball for Minnesota) and the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings (even though he never played college football).

    I would be pissed if I found out one of the coaches of my favorite team was screwing around trying on a prototype uniform of another team in the clubhouse before game seven of the World Series.

    I just have to wonder what Cards manager Red Schoendienst thought of the whole thing. It’s one thing to know going into that last game that Schultz had a job lined up for the next season, but to actually don another team’s uniform before that last game, that can give the impression that, maybe, that person isn’t completely focused on the game ahead. I doubt, though, that it had any significant effect on the actual game.

    As I recall, Curt Gowdy and Harry Carey mention on NBC’s broadcast of Game 7 that Schultz was going to be the manager of the expansion Seattle team the following season, so if it hadn’t been formally announced yet, it was the worst-kept secret in baseball. Apparently, everyone knew he was going to manage the Pilots, so trying on their uniform prior to Game 7 wouldn’t be any more distracting than having gone through the interview process and being hired.

    Anyone who has read “Ball Four” is aware that Barney Schultz was not exactly the most congenial person to walk the earth. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Schoendienst tolerated the photo if it meant not having to deal with Schultz the next season.

    Could Schultz have used the technicality that the team on the uniform didn’t exist yet?

    You’d hope everybody would just be happy for the guy who just got a big promotion!

    “Three Fingers” Brown, “Home Run” Baker, my personal favorite, “Stunning” Steve Dunning, and now we have “Loquacious” Jim Kittilsby.

    Terrific story! Just when you think you’ve seen it all – Thanks to all contributors.
    Based solely on these uniforms, I almost wish that the Pilots had stayed put in Seattle.
    What if they had…Paging, Chris Diamond!

    What a fun story. As an 8 year-old baseball loving, card collecting, uniform obsessed kid in 1968, these images and this story bring back great memories. Every one of those four expansion team uniforms were beautiful. The Pilots and Expos reflected modernism, the Royals and Padres represented the more classic designs.

    Great to see those prototypes. What a great discovery. Always great to see new Pilots pics.

    Regarding the article detailing the uniform design, here is the original post of the newspaper those scans came from, including a fantastic logo filled cover, as well as an article on the proposed dome and an ad for a Pilots cap:


    That article that Todd Radom provided is great.

    The Pilots uniforms were distinctive, but they were anything but simple.

    And of course, the Seattle uni was changed only slightly when the team moved to Milwaukee the next year, a week before opening day. Milwaukee owner Bud Selig had some unis made in the past with a heavy script Brewers (color unknown) but the staff decided it was easier to just put on new lettering, the block Brewers used through the 70s. The wider sleeve stripes lasted for the first year but we’re slimmed and a number on the front added for year two. But even the current unis are still Pilots blue/gold.

    I am confused by the newspaper article which claims that the American League prohibited 2-color caps (here meaning a cap with a contrasting bill). This was for 1969, and the Orioles started wearing orange bills on their black caps with the debut of the cartoon bird in 1966.

    The crazy road lettering displayed in the Wilson merchandise display may be their design, but the Pilots road uniforms were made by Spalding. Maybe Spaulding ‘cleaned up’ the road lettering on the design Jim Kittilsby is wearing, while Wilson came up with a more elaborate design.

    Michael appears to be correct:

    The home uniforms, however, were made by Wilson:

    Interesting! This may explain why the home uni wasn’t changed over the winter, while the road uni was.

    A very good story for UW Positivity Week. Hail to the year 1969, arguably the best set of MLB baseball uniforms across both leagues.

    Thanks Paul.

    Go Pilots!

    Ethan and I were happy to help in bringing these uniform pictures to you and your followers. As you know, they are in my book Inside Pitch which you kindly referenced, but in black and white (as were all of the photos in the book). Jim Kittilsby had sent me the color photos and I called him to get the OK to release them in color before hooking him up with you, and he was more than happy to do it.

    Jim was one of two “inside administrators” with the Pilots I interviewed in depth for Inside Pitch, exploring the administrative side of the 1969 Pilots and answering the question of “who ran that team and hired all those quirky ballplayers in Jim Bouton’s great Ball Four” book. The other insider was Bob Schoenbachler, the 22 year old CFO of that infamous one-and-done MLB team (yep, 22).

    I hope some of your followers will take a gander at Inside Pitch, exploring the quicky characters in suits and ties that tried so hard to save that 1969 MLB star-crossed team. It’s the funny-business side of baseball. Jim and Bob then followed the team after its sale to Bud Selig; both worked for Bud in the early start-up of that franchise, and there’s some funny-business that goes on there, as well. It’s a fascinating story I just fell into while on a trip to Africa….and Bob was in my group at a dinner table telling some of the stories now in the book.

    Again, happy to help. Glad you and Jim made a connection, even though it didn’t have several of the answers you were seeking.

    All the best to you in your continuing quest to bring new uniform information into the light of day from the depths of history.

    Rick Allen
    Author, Inside Pitch: Insiders Reveal
    How the Ill-Fated Seattle Pilots Got Played Into Bankruptcy in One Year

    I read all of these 1968-69 articles when I started Ebbets Field Flannels in 1987-88. The home and road Pilots jerseys were among the first we sold (completely unlicensed!) I dyed the road jerseys that shade of blue in my bathtub. Blue baseball flannel did not exist at the time. As to the Spring Training uniforms, my feeling is that the club wanted to make a splash with the official uniforms on Opening Day (though the team started wearing the “scrambled eggs” caps late in Spring Training.

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