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Uni Watch Library: ‘The Pro Quarterback’ (1966)

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Hello from L.A., where we had an excellent day of Uni Watch activities yesterday. I’ll try to have a report on that for tomorrow morning.

But today I want to tell you about something I found at the Babe Ruth Museum and Birthplace on Friday (part of the excellent Purp Walk ’24 roster of activities). While checking out their gift shop, I noticed that they had a shelf of used sports books available for sale, all priced at half of their original cover price. I gravitated toward a thick tome called The Pro Quarterback, which was published in the fall of 1966 — a few months before the first Super Bowl — and was filled with sensational old NFL photos. It reminded me a bit of a book I found in our house when I was growing up, called The Proswhich had a foundational effect on my appreciation of gridiron aesthetics.

The Pro Quarterback’s original price from nearly 50 years ago, printed on the dust jacket, was $12.95, so I was able to score it for just $6.50, which seemed like a good deal.

The cover is shown above. Here’s a view of the spine, which I find very satisfyingly thick and monolithic:

When I got the book back to my hotel room, I found that it included a letter, still in its original envelope, from the author, Murray Olderman, to John Steadman, who was the sports editor of The Baltimore News-American at the time:

Steadman apparently tucked the letter into the book, and then the book somehow found its way to the museum gift shop. As I’m sure you can imagine, I love finding this type of artifact!

The book has over two dozen excellent color photos and well over 100 more in black-and-white. I took pics of the color images for you. Because I’m on the road and short for time (I’m typing this on an airplane), I haven’t been able to crop or edit these shots as much I’d usually prefer to do, nor am I able to point out all of the uni-relevant details, but I think you’ll still enjoy these shots:

In addition to the photos, there are illustrations, diagrams, and reasonably decent text. A good addition to your football library! Lots of used copies are available on eBay.



ITEM! A Preview of Inconspicuous Consumption

For this week’s article over on Substack, I’ve decided to give you a preview of what my Substack will be like after it gets a makeover and returns this summer as Inconspicuous Consumption. I’ve provided several examples of the type of content I’ll be featuring, plus there’s a Q&A section that should address some of the questions you may have.

You can read the article here, and this piece is not paywalled, so it’s available to everyone. I hope you’ll check it out!



Membership Update

Another batch of designs has been added to the membership card gallery, as we continue to go through all the Purp Walk orders (including Javier Bañuelos’s Jazz-themed card, shown at right).

The membership program will end this Sunday, so move fast if you want to get on board. As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 3,500 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.



NYC Party Reminder

Remember, Uni Watch’s 25th-anniversary party is coming up this Sunday, May 26, 1-5pm, at the Bowery Electric in Manhattan. The Zambonis will be playing (and will be wearing Uni Watch hockey jerseys), and there should be other fun surprises as well. Tickets are available here, and all proceeds go to the band, not to Uni Watch. Hope to see you there!

• • • • •

After today, I will have four days remaining at Uni Watch. — Paul

Comments (25)

    Sensational find, Paul. Including that wonderful letter to the editor. Those pictures are so good: the Vikings with those huge horns on their helmets, Johnny U’s perfect flat top haircut and my favorite one: The pass of Colts number 15 seen from behind with the stadium stand in the background. Looking forward to your LA Story!

    The pass of Colts number 15 seen from behind

    Gary Cuozzo!
    If you play Immaculate Grid online,
    he and Norm Snead have been a couple of my go-to guys. They played for a lot of teams.

    The pictures of Bobby Layne have me curious: who was the last non-kicker to play without a face mask?

    Slightly related question. Was Sonny Jurgensen the last QB to play with a viable beer gut?

    There’s a pic of Fran T. with the Vikes wearing a white jersey, but it doesn’t have the UCLA stripes. I guess I never noticed they wore white jerseys without them!

    I have that book along with Olderman’s two accompanying efforts; The Running Backs and The Defenders. All three are wonderful.

    If you ask me what year is the best looking in football history, I’d say 1972.
    If you ask me what *decade* is the best looking, I’d say the 1960s. This book partly illustrates why: Properly-sized numbers, NNOB (at least in the NFL), a smattering of white plastic facemasks (Bears and Cards), and sleeves!
    I also miss some of the logo-less helmets. I was saying yesterday I wish Pittsburgh would replace the Steelmark logo with Steely McBeam, but I’d be just as happy if they went back to helmet numbers. And of course the Giants never looked better than when they wore their pre-“ny” helmet.

    I’d keep the Steelers’ hypocycloids but I’d put “33” on the left side of the helmet for their inaugural year.

    I agree that ’72 may have been a uniform peak, but I think the overall look of the game was better in the 60s because almost every game was played on grass. By ’72 nearly half of the teams were playing on Astroturf which really detracts from the visual experience at least for me.

    You’re right about the overall look being better in the 60s. 1972 was the first year of a more standardized field design, which meant no more shields on the Raiders’ field numbers and no more diamonds with San Diego’s. And no more numbers every five yards like in Buffalo. And once they put in the turf, teams like New Orleans and Dallas, who used to paint the visitors name and logo in one end zone every week, stopped doing that.

    I know I am old now, I met five of those players in the photos and only Kemp was retired, the rest were still active players at the end of their careers. Wow, time flies. Ran into Johnny Unitas in an elevator in the summer of 1980 in Ocean City MD, I never mentioned to him I got his autograph after they lost to Washington 38-0 seven years earlier.

    Inu Question ….

    While the Colts appear to be wearing White Durene jerseys in the photo of the offence pre-snap here, In the past I have noticed the Baltimore Colts wearing long sleeved MESH jerseys, such as in the Super Bowl victory over the Cowboys.

    Question: Are the Colts the only NFL team to wear long sleeved MESH jerseys?
    Were the Steelers the last NFL team to regularly wear Durene jerseys (I know the
    Chargers had Durene “cold weather” jerseys – some long sleeved – after going to Navy
    Blue in the Fouts era.

    The *current* Steelers jerseys have sleeves with the same sublimated stripes that used to be on the durene jerseys. I have both a modern Nike and 80s Sand Knit durene jersey and the sleeve material on the modern jersey still looks and feels a lot like the 80s one, although it must be some modern equivalent.

    Good to see the practice of “dudes wearing the jersey/cap/jacket/etc of a team that’s not involved in today’s game” goes back to our grandfather’s generation. In the page with Frank Ryan, there’s a guy in the background wearing a ‘Skins jacket to a Browns-Cardinals game. May this practice never go out of style. :D

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