A Uni Watch Alum, His Son, and a Box of Baseball Caps

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from long-lost Uni Watch alum Bryan Redemske, who was this website’s weekend editor back in 2008, in the pre-Phil days. Enjoy. — PL]

By Bryan Redemske

Can a box of old baseball caps bring a father and son closer together? Quite possibly, if my son and I are any indication.

I grew up in the 1980s in north-central Iowa, miles and miles from anything of note — and certainly nowhere near any sort of outlet that would sell “cool” MLB gear. Getting a team cap in something other than mesh with a snapback was no easy feat in those days, and I spent the bulk of my childhood baseball fandom on the lookout for a fitted Cubs hat. I finally got one in 1994, by which time I had almost finished high school.

My collection took off from there. When the MLB alternate hat craze began to proliferate, I was always ready with my $20 to snap up another one. Why? I think it was due to the (relative) newness of the thing. “Oh, you have the Mariners’ alternate cap? Cool!” I enjoyed having a whole bunch of different teams, although I did set some limits: The natural rivals of the Cubs (Cardinals, Mets, Giants), plus a couple of others, were no-gos. Everything else? Go nuts.

Because I’m a hoarder (I’m working on it), I still have all of those caps. For a while now they’ve stashed away in a box, which turned up when our family recently moved to a new house and we were sifting through various belongings, deciding what to keep and what to toss.

When we got to the box of baseball caps, my wife, Chris, said, “Is this box really filled with hats? Are there any you can get rid of?” while my son, Jack, said, “IS THIS BOX REALLY FILLED WITH HATS!?!?!”

And that’s how I unwittingly helped Jack launch his own hat collection. He went through the box and took the following: Astros, Mariners, Diamondbacks and, somehow, the Moscow Red Devils:

Jack is 11, and as I’ve watched how he’s expanded his collection from there, it’s provided an interesting look at what “the kids today” are into.

Jack’s likes:

• Caps with patches on the sides. The 2018 Independence Day caps rate high because of this, as do those from the playoffs.

• Most alternate caps that share the “normal” color scheme. Think Orioles and Mariners.

• Caps with patches and alternate color schemes and other doodads, like the 2018 All-Star caps. He actually has three of those (Rockies, Royals, and Cubs), because they’re “pretty cool.”

• The raised MLB logo on the back of caps, which he prefers over the older flat logo.

Jack’s dislikes:

•  Caps that don’t have team colors, like camouflage, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day.

• The entirety of the current Diamondbacks look.

• Flat bills. “They hurt my head. But I don’t care if other players wear them.”

• Players Weekend caps. “I don’t like the logos and the colors aren’t right. The only good one is the Yankees, because it’s just grey and navy.”

He doesn’t have any particular feelings about the New Era logo on the side, maybe because he’s grown up seeing logo creep on everything.

When it comes to Jack’s personal on-field style, he’s a lot like any other kid. He likes long pants and white accessories; he thinks Nike gear is cool. I’d like it better if he had shorter pants and taller socks or stirrups, but whatever makes him happy and comfortable is fine. (also, dig the left-handed catcher in this shot!):

It’s been fascinating watching Jack explore his developing tastes. He wore my old Astros hat for Halloween, along with the correct 2003 road jersey. (Why the Astros? Because he wears Cubs stuff all the time, and it wouldn’t really be a costume if he wore his regular clothes.) But he had to pair the road jersey with white pants, because that’s all he had. He was concerned that it wasn’t right to wear white pants with a road jersey, but I assured him it would be okay.

He wears some of my other hats now and then, which is fun for me. It’s good to see them being used — and if Jack’s wearing them, my wife can’t bug me to throw them away.

As for me, I got myself a new hat for Christmas:

———

Paul here. Nice story, Bryan — thanks for sharing! (I’d also like to point out that Bryan was predestined to be involved with Uni Watch because he attended college at Northern Iowa — UNI.)

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Culinary Corner: Tomorrow is the first Saturday of May, which means it’s time for the Kentucky Derby. And that means I’ll be making the dish I always make for the Derby: a derby pie, which is a lot like a pecan pie but made with walnuts and chocolate chips.

Technically speaking, you’re not supposed to use the term “derby pie,” because that’s a registered trademark of some annoying people in Kentucky who insist that they own the name and love to send their lawyers after anyone who thinks otherwise. (They even sued their own chocolate chip supplier, Nestlé, for printing a “Tollhouse Derby Pie” recipe on the chip package.) So you’ll often see wink-wink names like Triple Crown pie, race day pie, winner’s circle pie, thoroughbred pie (which sounds kinda gross), and so on. But screw all of that — derby pie belongs to the people, and I intend to keep calling it that.

Derby pie is also really easy to make. Here’s how to do it:

1. If you know how to make pie crust, make some dough and position it in a 9-inch pie pan; if you don’t know how or just can’t be bothered, get yourself a frozen 9-inch pie shell.

2. Set your oven to 350º. While it’s heating up, get a big mixing bowl and beat together four eggs, a cup of light corn syrup, 3/4 cup of light brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of melted butter. Then add 3 tablespoons of decent bourbon (or maybe a smidge more than that, if you’re so inclined), a tablespoon of vanilla extract, a tablespoon of flour, 6 ounces of chocolate chips, and a cup of chopped walnuts.

3. Mix all of that together, pour it into the pie dough or frozen shell, and pop it into the oven for an hour. It’ll puff up high like a soufflé, but it’ll settle back down while it cools, which you should allow it to do for an hour or so. This up/down motion usually results in some cracks in the top of the pie, which used to annoy me, but now I’ve grown to like it:

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, the chocolate chips always sink to the bottom (I guess they’re less buoyant than the walnuts), resulting in a nice two-tone effect:

It’s traditional to serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream, although I don’t bother with that — the pie is rich enough on its own. Less traditional and even less necessary, but nonetheless delicious, is this bourbon sauce, which is pretty much the bomb.

Trust me, there won’t be any leftovers.

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Just between us: Lots and lots of you told me how much you enjoyed yesterday’s interview with Hal the Hot Dog Guy. I also heard from a goodly number of people who liked Wednesday’s post about NFL’s “Duluth Eskimos” trademark application and the ensuing clusterfuck. I don’t mind admitting that I’m pretty proud of both of those entries myself, so it’s very gratifying to see that you folks liked them as much as I did.

As you know, I no longer have the full-time backing of ESPN, or of any other media employer. So if you appreciate content like this, please consider supporting Uni Watch by ordering a membership card, buying a cap or some other type of merchandise, or making a donation.

Many of you have already generously provided your support in various ways — thanks so much. Obviously, no need to double up. But if you haven’t supported Uni Watch in the past, now would be a good time. Thanks for your consideration.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson, making his Friday Ticker debut

Baseball News: Cubs SS Addison Russell had been playing for Triple-A Iowa on a rehab assignment, and thus was allowed to use his single-earflapped MLB helmet. But he’s now been optioned to Iowa, so he’s now officially on the minor league roster, which means he now has to wear a double-flapped Iowa helmet (from Benjamin Kurt). … Fox Sports North had a neat little segment on the Twins’ equipment managers (from @cttrace). … A fan sitting behind home plate at Nationals Park during last night’s Nats/Cards game had some Expos/Nats crossover gear. I’ve never seen anything like that before, and neither has Jonathan Karberg. Has anyone else? … Here are the cap patches the Astros will wear for their upcoming Mexico Series games (from Ignacio Salazar). … The ownership group of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox has trademarked three possible team names ahead of the team’s move to Worcester, Mass. (from @jeffisrael25). … The Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers are having a “Pirates Night” on Saturday and are wearing Pirates-inspired unis (from Scott M. Trembly). … Next season’s Boise State unis have been revealed (thanks, Paul). … Union Brewing has come out with a beer honoring Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, with a pretty awesome can (from John Falardeau). … You may recall that Red Sox P David Price stopped removing the squatchee from his cap during last year’s postseason. But he’s once again squatchee-free in 2019.

NFL/CFL News: Here’s how the New Era logo looks on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ practice jerseys (from Wade Heidt). … The Giants have announced their rookies’ uni numbers, with QB Daniel Jones being handed No. 8 (thanks, Phil). … New facemask for Browns DE Myles Garrett (from Erin Ford).

Hockey News: Reader Kevin Vautour was going through some old photos and found some of Canadiens players Al Langlois and Phil Goyette with red sleeve numbers, as opposed to the Habs’ traditional blue. Kevin can find no other evidence of any Canadiens players wearing red sleeve numbers. Can anyone else?

Basketball News: The Trail Blazers credited their game two win over the Nuggets to ailing coach Jon Yim’s “bowtie Wednesday” (from Mike Chamernik). … Brad Eenhuis noticed that the wordmark on Northwestern’s 1988-89 men’s basketball unis extended onto the side panels. … The 3-on-3 BIG3 league, whose new season begins in June, will now have uniform sponsors advertising. Here’s a closer look at the patch (from Phil).

Soccer News: Barcelona posted a graphic on Twitter depicting the number of goals Lionel Messi scored in each kit (from many readers). … Here are all the kits for the forthcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup (thanks, Phil). … The following are all from Josh Hinton: Next season’s kits for West Bromwich Albion have been released. … Next season’s Bournemouth kits have been revealed, and they’re stunning. … Celtic’s keeper kit has been released. … French side Angers SCO 2019-20 kits have been released. … Minnesota United’s Jan Gregus’s shot in training sailed into the parking lot, striking and damaging his car. … New kits for Brazilian side Vasco da Gama (from Ed Żelaski). … Also from Ed: New shirt for Greenville FC. … New training kits for Liverpool (from Moe Khan).

Grab Bag: Golfers at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., wore green ribbons honoring the UNC Charlotte shooting victims. … A British police officer constable completed the London Marathon in full riot gear to raise awareness for mental health (from Richard Hindle). … New indigenous Aussie football guernseys for Collingwood (from Jeremy Brahm).

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Our latest raffle winner is Chris Edwards, who’s won himself a free item of his choice from the Vintage Brand website. Congrats to him, and thanks to Vintage Brand for making this raffle possible. — Paul

Vendi Vidi Vici: An Interview with A’s Vendor Hal the Hot Dog Guy

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As you may recall, the Uni Watch Classic Cap got some TV exposure last week when a hot dog vendor was shown wearing it during an A’s game.

The TV broadcasters identified the vendor as “Hal the Hot Dog Guy.” I put a note on the site the next day, inviting Hal to get in touch with me — and he did!

After confirming that Hal really was who he claimed to be, I asked if he’d be willing to do a phone interview. He readily agreed. Here’s how our conversation went:

Uni Watch: First, tell me a little bit about yourself. How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living when you’re not selling hot dogs?

Hal the Hot Dog Guy: I’m 31, I live in San Francisco, and I’m a Ph.D. grad student at Cal-Berkeley, getting a degree in environmental economics.

UW: How did you get into vending?

HtHDG: I started vending between high school and college in Chicago, where I grew up. I needed a summer job, and I knew another kid in my high school who vended. I said, “How can I get that job?” And he said, “Here, call this phone number,” which was the number for a union. So I called and I said I wanted to vend, and they said, “Alright, show up at this warehouse in two weeks.” My first game I think it was like 40 degrees out there, and I was selling Pepsi. I must have made about $20.

So I did that for a few summers, for the Cubs and White Sox. My first year was 2005, which was the year the White Sox won the World Series. That was exciting.

UW: How long have you been a vendor for the A’s?

HtHDG: I lived in DC for a while and kept vending at Nats games, and occasionally for the Orioles. Then I moved here for grad school, and I started vending at Giants and A’s games in 2016.

UW: Have you always had this high-profile persona, for lack of a better term?

HtHDG: The A’s have real low attendance. So they went to the vending company and said, “We want to do something that’s more entertaining for the fans, even if it’s not necessarily as money-making.” They’d seen some YouTube videos of a hot dog vendor in Cleveland or something who went around with all these condiments, and he’d act all ridiculous in this old-timey red-and-white striped outfit. So the A’s said, “Just give us something like that. Don’t worry about making money. Just create a good fan experience.”

So they went to this guy named Jim, who’s the oldest vendor here and asked him to set it up. And I guess he’d spotted something ridiculous in me. Like, “Oh, you’d be a good lunatic to do this.” That was about two-and-a-half years ago.

UW: So before that, your vending style was more conventional? But then you were told be more performative?

HtHDG: Yeah, exactly, exactly. But doing this has been the most fun I’ve ever had vending.

UW: I can tell just from talking with you, I can hear it your voice, that they got the right guy. You have the right attitude for this!

HtHDG: Well, like I said, Jim had spotted something in me, that I was ridiculous enough to try something like this.

UW: And what was your response when they asked you to do this?

HtHDG: It seemed like something different. And the idea of enhancing the fan experience was intriguing to me. My favorite book as a kid was Bill Veeck’s Veeck as in Wreck, and I always loved his approach. He’d do things that were a little silly, so people would laugh and have fun, and that’s sort of my philosophy. One of my favorite things to do is — when I started, I’d yell about hot dogs, leading chants like “Let’s eat hot dogs!” instead of “Let’s go Oakland!”

My new favorite chant is, I’ll stand at the front the section and yell, “Gimme an A!” And everyone yells, “A!” Then, “What’s that spell? A’s!” People laugh and stuff.

And you know, the usual thing with vending is that you want to sell quickly. You’re paid by commission and you want to sell as fast as you can. But the way I work now, with all the chants and these condiments —

UW: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that. I’m used to the hot dog vendor just giving me a packet of mustard and kinda glaring at me if I ask for two packets.

HtHDG: Exactly. But instead of packets, we actually have Heinz bottles of mustard, ketchup —

UW: When you say “we,” do you mean just you and Jim? Or all of the A’s hot dog vendors?

HtHDG: Jim and I are really the only hot dog vendors in the stadium. You can buy a hot dog at the stand, but we’re the only ones vending in the seats. Again, the A’s don’t draw well — last night there were maybe 8,000 people in the entire stadium.

The way Jim and I work, it’s a different kind of vendor experience. Usually you show up, they hand you your food, and you go out there. But we get there early, we make the hot dogs ourselves, make sure all our relish, sauerkraut, and onions are ready to go. And when we walk around, we don’t actually make that many sales. But we talk to a lot of people. And a lot of the old regulars there, they know us and they’ll have their hot dog order ready to go.

UW: But if you’re making fewer sales, are you earning less money?

HtHDG: Well, I don’t want to go into specifics, but I don’t work on commission. I get a flat fee for every game. And the fans still tip.

UW: From seeing that TV clip of you, I get the impression that you’re pretty famous, at least among A’s fans. The TV guys talked about you as if they knew you. Are you friends with them, or is just one of those things where they know you because you’re famous in the ballpark?

HtHDG: It’s just because I’m famous in the ballpark. Maybe I’ll try and contact them and see if they’ll have me up in the booth for an interview or something. But yeah, a lot of the fans know me. One thing I did this year, I went to the Topps website, and you can make your own baseball cards there. So I had a photo of myself vending hot dogs and had that made into some baseball cards, which I’ll hand out to people.

UW: That’s awesome! Do they ask you to autograph it?

HtHDG: Yeah, I had to start bringing Sharpies with me! It’s all pretty ridiculous, right? You’re asking for an autograph from some schlub who walks around and sells hot dogs. But it’s fun. [After our interview, Hal mailed me one of his cards. But he didn’t autograph it! Dang. — PL]

Here’s another autograph story: I tore my ACL two years ago playing soccer and had surgery in the offseason. The doctor in Berkeley had all kinds of signed photos of Pac-12 collegiate athletes in his office, so the last time I visited, I brought a framed signed picture of me vending as a joke. Six months later, some woman comes up to me at the Coliseum and says, “I work in a surgeon’s office and there’s a picture of you selling hot dogs on the wall next to the football players.” Bill Veeck would be proud.

I should say here that while I might get on TV a bit more, Jim is the brains and the heart behind the operation, making sure we have presentable-looking condiment bottles every homestand — the labels start looking awful after a week or so — making sure everything is up to health code. He is a true Bay Area vending legend in my book. Fans at Giants games recognize him going back 35 years.

UW: I notice you say, “vending” and “vend” and “vended” a lot. Never “selling”; always “vending.”

HtHDG: The industry standard is to refer to ourselves as vendors and the action as vending. I would only use the word sell in the sentence, “How much did you sell last night?” Or “What product did you sell last night?” But I would never say, “I was selling at the Giants game last night.” You would always say “I vended last night.” To me, selling is generic, but vending is the trade or craft of running up and down stairs selling food or beer in a stadium.

UW: How long have you been a Uni Watch reader?

HtHDG: Probably eight or nine years.

UW: I assume you don’t wear a Uni Watch cap for every single game. How do you usually handle your headwear, and how did the Uni Watch cap become part of the rotation?

HtHDG: When Jim and I started doing this, we had really janky uniforms. They gave us those paper hats, which have that old-timey look. But once you start sweating in those, they start disintegrating. And there’s also no brim for day games.

So last year I started wearing A’s hats. And then when you guys started selling the Uni Watch hats, I was like, “You know, those are A’s colors.” And the [winged stirrup] looks a lot like one of the old White Sox logos, so it has those Chicago roots for me. So I got that over the winter, and I also got a Chicago Dogs hat — which I learned about from Uni Watch!

So now I have three or four hats, and I just grab one as I’m walking out the door.

UW: So you had worn the Uni Watch hat prior to the game when they showed you wearing it on TV?

HtHDG: Yeah, that was probably like the third time.

UW: Did any of your customers recognize it?

HtHDG: I think one person said, “Nice Uni Watch hat.” Most people thought it was an old A’s hat, especially since it’s the old wool style. Like, “What year is that from?”

UW: Do your bosses care what kind of hat you wear?

HtHDG: Not really. At one point they told us to wear a plain black hat, so I did that for one game. My philosophy in general is, ask for forgiveness, not for permission.

UW: What about the rest of your outfit? When I saw you on TV wearing the Uni Watch cap, you were also wearing a striped vest and a necktie! What’s that all about?

HtHDG: When we started doing this, they gave us these striped vests so we’d look like an old-timey hot dog guy.

UW: An old Nathan’s guy.

HtHDG: Yeah, exactly! Anyway, the vending company must have gone to a costume shop or something, and gotten these two red-and-white striped vests. There were really thin, all polyester. Definitely not built to handle a guy running up and down stairs with 50 pounds of hot dogs. So they started fraying immediately. And we had white polo shirts underneath the vests.

So then Jim, who’s always trying to make sure we look good and classy, he knew this old guy who makes custom shoes and clothing. Usually high-end stuff, for really rich clients. But we walked in there and said, “We want custom hot dog vendor vests.” So he made them for us from scratch. It’s pretty cool — years from now, when I no longer live here and I’m no longer vending, I’m sure I’ll still have that vest. The only drawback is it’s really thick, so it’s a sweat machine during day games.

So then we had these fancy vests — and we’re gonna wear the same white polo shirts underneath them? I think a fan gave Jim a green and yellow bow tie last year, so Jim got a short-sleeved white dress shirt and began wearing the bow tie with it. And of course that made me look like a schlub, so I went on eBay and found an A’s tie for eight bucks and started wearing that. So now that’s become part of the thing.

UW: What about pants and shoes — anything special there, or just standard-issue apparel?

HtHDG: Standard-issue. But we did do one other cool thing, which was we went back to the same tailor and had nametags put on the vests.

UW: Yeah, I saw yours. It almost looks like it was written in mustard — was that the idea?

HtHDG: No. Since I’m Hal, and I’m at school at Cal, I doctored the Cal logo to make it say Hal. Most people don’t notice, but if I point it out, then they can tell.

UW: Ahhh, Hal from Cal. Nice. Have you ever vended at Cal?

HtHDG: A few times at their football games, yup.

UW: If you’re a longtime Uni Watch reader, you may recall that I like putting capers on my hot dog. Any chance that you might add capers to your topping options, at least when you’re wearing the Uni Watch hat?

HtHDG: Yeah, I did see that! For condiments, we normally have bottles of ketchup, mustard, and relish. And those bins that we keep on top, I think they’re older than I am. They’re remnants from Candlestick. In there we have onions, sauerkraut, and jalapeños. And the reason we picked those is that that’s what they had at the ballpark.

UW: I will personally reimburse you if you get capers.

HtHDG: Just for you, I will go out and — you know, we’ve been trying to come up with other things. Just the other day I brought a bottle of Sriracha with me. So for our next homestand [which begins on May 7], I will get a small thing of capers and I will ask people, “Do you want capers on your hot dog?” And I will report back.

UW: I encourage you to try it yourself and see how good it is, so you can say to them, “You know what, I’ve tried it and it’s not bad!”

HtHDG: Well, that’s the other big secret about me being a hot dog vendor, which is that I’m also a vegetarian. So I don’t eat the hot dogs! But I will go out and buy my favorite veggie dog, grill it up, and put capers on it. And if I like it, I will then attest to people that putting capers on a hot dog is delicious.

UW [cracking up]: Fantastic. You can wear the Uni Watch hat and say the guy whose hat it is made you do it.

HtHDG: Exactly. “So this hat is from this blog you haven’t heard of, and he saw me wearing it, and then I called him, and then he told me to get capers, and now I’m telling you to put capers on your hot dog. You want ’em? No? Okay, never mind.”

———

Oh, man — was that the best interview ever or what? Hal has really found his calling. When he eventually gets his degree, it may be environmental economics’ gain, but it will definitely be vending’s and baseball’s loss.

But wait — there’s more. A lot more. As I usually do toward the end of an interview, I asked Hal if he could send me a decent photo or two of himself. He responded two days later with a Dropbox folder packed with photos, most of which he described or explained in an accompanying email. Many of the descriptions were uni-related, so I’m going to show them here. In each case, I’m posting the photo (which you can click to enlarge) followed by Hal’s description of it. Here we go:

“This is from my rookie year, Game Two of the 2005 World Series. We normally wore standard Sox hats, but during the World Series they gave us a hat with a special World Series logo on it, although it’s a little hard to see in the photo. The guy in front of me is my dad, a huge White Sox fan.”

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“I worked a few playoff games in Baltimore. I did like that unlike most places that had us wear high-vis yellow, Baltimore had us wear orange, which made us harder to spot but felt more like a sports uniform.”

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“For Caps games, we wore ref’s uniforms. The mostly disappointing part of this uniform was the hat, which had the logo of the Verizon Center. The other story of this uniform was every time someone saw me coming home from a game, they asked me if I was a ref. But when my black vendor friends were going home, people always asked them if they worked at Foot Locker.”

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“Caps Winter Classic, Jan. 1, 2015. When you’re vending, you’re running around, so if it’s 40 degrees out, you can still wear short sleeves, whereas the fans are sitting still and drinking, so they’re freezing.”

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“Jim and I were about to head out for Opening Day 2018. This is our prep station, where we go back and refill our condiment bottles and trays and get more of everything. Each reload takes probably 10 minutes since there is so much to bring and refill, which is an eternity in vending. Notice we still have the clown vests (the good vests had been ordered but weren’t ready yet). This was the first time I wore a baseball hat, and I chose an Oakland Oaks hat. I thought that would be a nice way to capture the retro feeling of the hot dog man service, and also the colors went with the candy-striped vest. Very few people recognized what the hat was, however, so I switched to an A’s hat eventually.”

———

“That’s my dad again in the Northwestern hat. Here you can see I’m wearing the fancy custom-made vest, not the old clown vest.”

———

“This is from Cal Stanford night, 2018, which explains the hats. That’s my fiancée next to me in the Stanford sweatshirt. She just graduated from law school there.”

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“This is from July 4, 2018. I wore a blue undershirt underneath the striped vest, so I’d look like a giant American flag.”

———

“Here’s a closer look at the vest. After a homestand it is covered in mustard stains, which are getting harder and harder to get out. The tailor — Al, whose shop is called Al’s Attire — did an amazing job. There are pockets and you can see that he used red trim around the armholes, plus the stripes line up along the seams, which is really cool. Also, Al puts unique tags inside each garment he makes.”

“We also ordered custom straps from Al, and he put our names on those too.”

———

Paul here. And we’re still not done, because Hal also sent me a bunch of video clips from his various TV appearances. They’re all short but very, very sweet. Enjoy:

———

Okay — now we’re finally done. I don’t mind saying that this is one of the most enjoyable Uni Watch entries I’ve ever worked on, which means Hal has enhanced my fan experience — from 3,000 miles away. Thanks, buddy!

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Bling thing redux: Two days I wrote about how heavily jewelried Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo broke one of his necklaces while running the bases. Last night he had the same thing happen while attempting to catch a fly ball at the wall. Check out this video clip:

Verdugo now clearly leads the league in bling mishaps, which is one of those advanced metrics everyone talks about these days.

(Big thanks to Mike Chamernik for this one.)

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Another great cap: Last week I showed you the cap for a Uni Watch reader’s beer league team, the Oakland Beers. Now another reader, Drew McNeil, has shared a photo of the hat for his sandlot team, the Tulsa City Saturns. Love that design! Drew says the caps were made for the team by Ebbets Field Flannels — nice!

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Jeopardy! Watch: Like many Americans, I’ve taken an interest in James Holzhauer, the game show dynamo who’s quickly rewriting the book on Jeopardy! Aside from his impressive winning streak, I’m fascinated, and a bit disturbed, by his attire. He usually wears a V-neck sweater — with nothing underneath it (or if he does have a base layer, it too is a V-neck), so his upper chest is left exposed. Who wears a V-neck sweater that way? A V-neck tee, maybe, but a sweater? It’s like when a baseball player doesn’t have an undershirt — weird.

For reasons I can’t fully explain, this makes me antsy. Part of it is that I have a lot of chest hair in that spot, so if I wore a V-neck sweater like Holzhauer does, I’d have a rich forest of hair spilling forth for all to see — or else I’d have to shave it. Which raises the question: Does Holzhauer shave his chest? Or maybe he waxes? Or Nairs? Or some other depilatory method?

If I appeared on Jeopardy! and was going up against Holzhauer, I’d be half-beaten before the show even started, just because I’d be weirded out by the V-neck. And given the degree of gamesmanship he clearly displays in other facets of the game, it’s not unreasonable to ask: Is the V-neck just another way of fucking with his opponents? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Since this is Uni Watch, here’s a photo of Holzhauer in a Vegas Golden Knights jersey.

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Design contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, Uni Watch is teaming up with the Portland Pickles — that’s a college wood bat summer team — for a contest to design the Pickles’ “Future Baseball Night” jersey, which will be worn on July 4. There’s a $150 cash prize for the winning designer, along with a free futuristic jersey.

Entry deadline is tomorrow, May 3. Full details on the contest rules and entry requirements, along with the full scoop on what “Future Baseball Night” will entail, can be found here.

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Click to enlarge

rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

LAST CALL for this week’s raffle: Our friends at longtime Uni Watch advertiser Vintage Brand are once again letting me run a raffle for a lucky Uni Watch reader. The winner will be able to choose any item from the Vintage Brand website (including the canvas print of a Cubs program cover shown above).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 7pm ET today. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Little League World Series uniforms, which for the past few decades have been made by Russell Athletic, will now be made by Adidas. … Red Sox C Christian Vásquez wore eye red, instead of eye black, yesterday (from Alex Smolokoff). … The Triple-A Charlotte Knights showed solidarity with yesterday morning’s UNC Charlotte shooting victims by wearing green caps — the UNC Charlotte’s team color — for yesterday’s game against the Gwinnett Stripers (from James Gilbert). … The Rangers wore red jerseys and caps yesterday, but C Jeff Mathis wore blue catcher’s gear (from @JBeck132). … Phillies players Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins traded jerseys with Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz. … Here’s a Padres uni tracker up through the end of April (from @PadsUniTracker). … Here’s the cap patch that the Angels — and presumably also the Astros — will wear for their Mexico Series games this weekend (from Arthur Kinney). … There’s a lot going on in this photo of a Tennessee Smokies player. His uni number is badly off-center, he appears to have a memorial patch above his NOB (very odd place for that), and the color of his nameplate doesn’t quite match the color of his jersey (from Derek Brownlee). … Mets SS Amed Rosario came to bat last night wearing a metallic-toned gold elbow guard. Never seen him, or any other Met, wearing that before. … Nats P Dan Jennings hasn’t worn No. 43 since he was with the Rays in 2017 — he now wears No. 26 for the Nats — but still has 43 on his glove. He apparently wore it last season when he wore No. 38 for the Brewers, too (from Ryan Bowman and @champagnedirky). … One of the Mr. Redlegs figures that were recently positioned on benches around Cincinnati was vandalized (thanks, Brinke).

NFL News: New draft-class uni numbers for the Bengals and Falcons (thanks, Phil). … We already knew that the NFL 100 logo will be appearing on jersey collars and rear helmet shells this season. Now, thanks to a Madden screen shot, we can see that it will also be appearing on the pants. Not a surprise, but it’s good to have confirmation (from Clint Richardson). … If you’ve ever wondered what a Steelers helmet would look like with a yellow facemask, here you go. … The Bengals had newly drafted TE Drew Sample pose with a jersey with an upside-down 6 instead of a proper 9. You can tell from the drop shadows (from Tony Theobald). … Former Washington QB Joe Theismann has given the team’s newly drafted QB, Dwayne Haskins, permission to wear No. 7. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Eagles QB Carson Wentz traded jerseys with Philadelphia Phillies players Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. … If you look at this Instagram post showing Panthers rookies with their new jerseys, you can see that two of them have the NFL 100 logo on the collar, but one of them doesn’t (from Nathan Applebaum). … A Bengals fan thinks head coach Zac Taylor’s draft day attire left a lot to be desired (from K.C. Kless).

Hockey News: Here’s a rare treat: a hockey rink with no ads on the ice. That’s the home ice of the Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL. “They had ads and logos on the ice all season,” says @BusLeagueHockey, so it’s not clear why they’ve now disappeared.

Basketball News: New Jersey Devils P.A. announcer Kevin Clark, who I wrote about two months ago, is also an artist. Back in 1997, he was hired to create this artwork for the 76ers’ media guide. It was going to be the team’s first season wearing that uniform, so they loaned him a prototype uniform to use as visual reference. “I just thought it was really cool at the time that I had possession of these items and nobody even knew what the uniforms were going to look like yet. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos.” Also unfortunate: The Sixers decided not to use his cover art and instead went with a different design. … Robert Morris’s new arena is ready to open (from Jim Vilk).

Soccer News: New uniforms for Stoke City (from Josh Hinton). … New throwback keeper’s kit for Bayer 04 Leverkusen (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: New home kit for Celtic. … Man U apparently has a 1999 throwback in the works (thanks, Phil). … The first 3,000 fans at Saturday’s Las Vegas Lights FC game will receive a Mexican wrestling cape (Josh Hinton again). … Also from Josh: Borussia Dortmund’s new kit has leaked. … And one more from Josh: West Ham has extended its kit deal with Umbro.

Grab Bag: New York City is banning alcohol ads (NYT link) on city property. … New logo for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. … Apple is claiming that the logo for a German cycling path infringes on the company’s trademarked logo. … Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that this year’s SI swimsuit issue will feature, for the first time, a model wearing a burkini and a hijab. Here’s an interesting analysis of that development (WaPo link). … Speaking of SI, it appears that their days as a print magazine may be numbered. … The teams at Council Bluffs-Jefferson High School in Iowa are called the Yellow Jackets, but their colors do not include yellow. Scroll through the responses to that tweet to see similar examples. … New helmet for Fox Racing, one of the best-known motocross brands (from John Flory). … Aussie football news: Hawthorn’s new high-profile recruit, Chad Wingard, sometimes likes to wear long sleeves, but Hawthorn has a “No long sleeves” policy (from James MacNeil).

Lawyer’s Tweet Sparks False NFL Throwback Speculation

An odd little drama played out in the uni-verse yesterday. It was nominally about the NFL, the Vikings, and the 1920s franchise the Duluth Eskimos (whose old jersey design is shown above). But in the bigger picture, it was really about misinformation, speculation, and bad journalism.

It began when an intellectual property attorney named Josh Gerben noticed that the NFL filed a trademark application last week for the team name “Duluth Eskimos.” Gerben, who enjoys sharing trademark analysis, especially on sports-related topics, on his Twitter feed, tweeted yesterday morning that the trademark filing “suggests that a[n] NFL team could play a game as the Duluth Eskimos this coming year.” In an accompanying video, he went further, saying it’s “very likely” that an NFL team — presumably the Vikings — would play a game as the Eskimos this season, and that it would be “very odd” for that not to happen, based on the language in the trademark application. At the end of the video, he hedged a bit and said this was all “obviously speculation at this point.”

I urge you to watch the video for yourself — it’s only two minutes long:

A few hours later, writer Jordan Heck of the Sporting News used Gerben’s tweet as the basis for an article. The headline, which has since been changed, said that the Vikings would “likely” wear Eskimos throwbacks this season. The text (which I wish I had screen-capped, because the key passages have now been scrubbed) made it sound like the throwbacks were pretty much a done deal.

As you’d expect, that generated a lot of response. A Uni Watch reader posted the Sporting News link in the comments section of yesterday’s post; several other readers emailed the Sporting News link to me; lots of people on social media began getting all excited, assuming that this was the first sign of a full-blown NFL throwback program for the league’s centennial, just like the one they did for the 75th anniversary in 1994; a thread popped up on Reddit; the #HTTR crowd began stirring the pot regarding “Eskimo” vs. “Redskin”; and so on.

But I was skeptical. For starters, we just wrapped up the NFL Draft, which is where uni-related announcements, hints, and teases usually occur, and there was exactly zero buzz about centennial throwbacks. Moreover, how could the Vikings wear Eskimos throwbacks, or any other non-purple throwbacks, with the one-shell rule still in place?

So I did what the Sporting News guy didn’t bother to do: I emailed an NFL spokesman, explained that the trademark filing was leading to a lot of speculation, and asked if he could confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on it. I also included a link to the Sporting News story. His response came within a few minutes:

There are no plans to make a name change or wear those jerseys. As part of the league’s 100th season, the team will look to celebrate and salute early football in the state of Minnesota. There are some plans for promotional and content opportunities. The league had the trademark in the mid-’90s following the 75th season and was asked by the club to file again.

So that was the end of that. In order to shut down the speculation, I tweeted at the Sporting News guy and let him know that the throwbacks weren’t happening. He thanked me, changed his headline, made some adjustments to his text, and tacked a “Eh, never mind” update onto the end of his now-pointless story.

A few thoughts about all this:

1. Trademark applications are becoming a fertile source of uni- and logo-related information. A number of media outlets, including SportsLogos.net, have based stories on these filings. I confess that I know nothing about this type of research, but I’d like to learn more about it. If anyone wants to school me, I’m all ears.

2. It’s one thing to find some interesting info in a trademark application; it’s another to read the tea leaves and speculate about what that information means. So I decided to get in touch with Josh Gerben, the trademark attorney whose tweet had gotten this whole thing started.

We had a short talk yesterday afternoon and a longer talk in the evening. Smart guy, interesting guy. The short version is that even though the Vikings aren’t going to wear Eskimos throwbacks, he stands by his analysis of the NFL’s trademark application and thinks most other trademark attorneys would draw the same conclusions he did. In other words, he says he connected the right dots, based on the available evidence from the NFL’s paperwork.

Gerben also pointed out that he’s not a journalist and can’t just call up the NFL to ask them about their trademarks, all of which is true. And although he didn’t bring this up, I understand what “very likely” means from a probability standpoint: If the weather forecast says there’s a 70 percent chance of rain, that still means it won’t rain 30 times out of 100. So I don’t think it’s a ruinous error for his prediction/speculation to have been wrong in this case. But as I explained to him, I do wish he’d choose his words more carefully, because when an expert says something is “very likely,” it sends people off to the races, and that makes things difficult for those of us who work in the world of facts and information. He said he’d take our conversation to heart.

Later in the evening, I sent Gerben a follow-up note with an additional point that I’d neglected to mention on the phone: While he may be an expert on trademarks, he is not an expert on uniforms. If he were, he would have known about the one-shell rule, and that in turn would have made him much more skeptical about the chances of the Vikings wearing Eskimos throwbacks. I’m not sure it would have changed his ultimate conclusion (he insists that the way the trademark application was worded made it seem like the NFL would be putting a team called the Eskimos on the field, and I’ll have to take his word for that because he knows more about trademark applications than I do), but at the very least it would have altered his calculus. This lack of expertise in the specific fields and industries from which the trademark applications originate makes it even harder for him (or anyone) to read those tea leaves, and that makes it even more important for him (or anyone) to choose his words with care when publicly assessing those applications.

3. The original Sporting News piece by Jordan Heck was a highly irresponsible piece of journalism. Heck didn’t contact Gerben or the NFL — he just ran with Gerben’s tweet and used it as the basis for some unfounded assertions. After I followed up with the NFL like he should have done, he scrubbed his erroneous text without indicating that he’d done so. From start to finish, that’s some really shoddy work. None of it reflects well on whoever his editor is, either.

But when I talked to Gerben, the trademark attorney, he told me that a Canadian wire service had also published a story about all of this (in part, it appears, because the team name “Eskimos” has been controversial in the CFL). The Canadian reporter, Bob Weber, contacted Gerben and the NFL, so his story was accurate. See, it’s not so hard.

———

Overall: What a mess. It’s really a case study of how false narratives can spread in no time flat on the internet. Much like that unverified Jets leak from a few weeks back, it’s the kind of situation that’s hard to contain and tends to bring out the stupid in just enough people to create a critical mass of misinformation. I’m glad I was able to nip this one in the bud.

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Design contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, Uni Watch is teaming up with the Portland Pickles — that’s a college wood bat summer team — for a contest to design the Pickles’ “Future Baseball Night” jersey, which will be worn on July 4. There’s a $150 cash prize for the winning designer, along with a free futuristic jersey.

Entry deadline is this Friday, May 3. Full details on the contest rules and entry requirements, along with the full scoop on what “Future Baseball Night” will entail, can be found here.

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Click to enlarge

rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle reminder: In case you missed it on Monday our friends at longtime Uni Watch advertiser Vintage Brand are once again letting me run a raffle for a lucky Uni Watch reader. The winner will be able to choose any item from the Vintage Brand website (including the canvas print of a Cubs program cover shown above).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by tomorrow, May 2, 7pm ET. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

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The Ticker
By Paul, covering today for Lloyd

Baseball News: In the wake of film director John Singleton’s death earlier this week, a photo accompanying one of his obituaries showed him wearing a Pirates cap. … Jerry Wolper was watching footage from a 1977 Phils/Padres game in San Diego and noticed that the two base coaches’ boxes had the teams’ names, sort of like a football stadium having the two teams’ names in the end zones. … Former pitcher Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 will be permanently retired by all teams in the Mexican League on July 6. … Here’s a Texas player wearing a clear facemask in the 1987 College World Series. Rockies 3B Charlie Hayes wore something very similar in 1994. … Can’t unsee it: The Cubs’ logo has a slight but annoying asymmetry (blame Sean Patton). … Braves SS Dansby Swanson’s batting helmet logo was off-center last night (from Blake Bozeman). … Phil noticed that Reds OF Yasiel Puig has been doing the old trick of strrreeetching his pant cuffs down over the heels of his cleats and impaling them on his back spikes. That move was banned a long time ago, but, like so many things, they’ve given up on policing it. … Milwaukee Bucks C Brook Lopez, who’s from Fresno, wore a Fresno Tacos jersey when arriving for last night’s NBA playoff game in Milwaukee (from Anthony Johnson). … No photos, but an intriguing storyline: On April 29, 1913, the Reds wore White Sox uniforms for a game against the Cubs in Chicago, because their own unis had been left behind during travel (from Frank Bitzer). … Interesting article about a baseball historian’s quest to see if Stan Musial once wore No. 36, instead of his familiar No. 6 (from Tod Meisner). … Speaking of Musial, here’s a shot of him — maybe from spring training? — wearing what appears to be No. 18 or 19! (From @HighSockSundays.) … Here’s a good close-up look at the Braves’ 3D helmet graphics, including the MLB logo and numbers on the back.

Football News: Twitter-er @waynetm41 notes that LB Thomas Davis, who wore the Walter Payton patch while playing for the Panthers, is now a Charger, which means he’s poised to become the first NFLer to wear the Payton patch for two different teams. … Here are the uni numbers for the Colts’ draft class. … If you’re into uni-ranking polls, here’s one that ranks the SEC’s home uniforms from worst to first.

Hockey News: The WHL’s Everett Silvertips are holding a design contest to create G Dustin Wolf’s new mask (from Dave Sizer). … Here’s another article about the matching outfits worn by the Blue Jackets’ wives and girlfriends (thanks, Phil).

NBA News: Even by the usual grifting standards of publicly financed sports venues, the latest developments involving the Pacers’ arena are an absolute scandal. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: When Kareem played for the Bucks, he sometimes tied his necklace to his jersey strap so it wouldn’t flap around while he ran (from Matthew Radican). … The excellent collection of Bucks gameday posters, which we’ve linked to before, has been updated to show April’s games (from Jeff Ash). … Oooh, check out these old shots of former NBA star George Gervin playing with Roma and Manresa toward the end of his career (from @Throwback_Sport). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Bucks C Brook Lopez, who’s from Fresno, wore a Fresno Tacos (MiLB) jersey when arriving for last night’s playoff game in Milwaukee (from Anthony Johnson). … A Portland company is upcycling unused NBA jerseys into backpacks, hip-packs, pillows, and more (thanks, Phil). … Uni Watch readers presumably already know what the Trail Blazers’ logo represents — but just in case, here’s an explainer.

Soccer News: Sampdoria and Parma have released mash-up shirts ahead of their match next week. … Celtic’s new shirt, which has already leaked, will officially launch today (from Ed Zelaski). … Real Madrid’s new home kit has leaked. … SF City FC is adding a memorial patch for former SF Dons soccer coach Steve Negoesco (from Joachim S.). … Turkish team Alanyaspor retired No. 90 for Czech striker Josef Šural, who was killed in a minibus accident last weekend (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … New pregame jerseys for Louisville City FC (from Josh Hinton). … Forward Madison FC is apparently planning to unveil pink uniforms on Friday (from JM Fisher).

Grab Bag: New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy has removed the Mississippi state flag from Liberty State Park, which features the flags of all the other states, because the Mississippi flag includes the Confederate battle flag. Several cities and counties in Mississippi, along with all eight of the state’s public universities, have also stopped flying the flag. … The U.S. Navy has new color-coded uniforms for prisoners in the brig. … A Greenwood, S.C., police officer is being disciplined for falling asleep while in uniform. … Amazon has introduced a new version of its logo in American Sign Language. … A Kickstarter campaign is trying to raise funds to reprint the style guide from the 1972 Munich Olympics. … A Philly cop is accused of traveling to Brooklyn, assaulting his girlfriend’s brother, and stealing the brother’s dog — all while in uniform. … Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue will feature, for the first time, a model wearing a burkini and a hijab. That’s a nice nod to diversity and inclusion, although it would be even better if SI didn’t have a swimsuit issue at all. … New logo and name for Marvin Windows and Doors. … Here’s something I think we all saw coming: ESPN will soon discontinue the print version of its magazine. I can add that to the growing list of now-defunct publications I’ve written for. … A new bill awaiting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s signature would allow teen-aged military members to wear their military uniforms at their high school graduations. … There was controversy earlier this week when several U.S. Airmen were spotted riding handicapped scooters and twerking while in uniform. … Speaking of the Air Force, here’s an exclusive look at their uniform office (thanks, Phil). … The sportswear company Champion is getting into the e-sports scene. Additional info here. … New university logo for Cal Poly. … Aussie football news: Richmond star Daniel Rioli helped design a new guernsey that the team will wear on May 25 (from James MacNeil). … The software company Red Hat will unveil a new logo today.

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Happy May Day to one and all. And to you Hawaiians out there, happy Lei Day!

Ramones Dozen

Photo taken on Tuesday morning; click to enlarge

You’ve heard of a baker’s dozen? The rock critic Ira Robbins once referred to the number 14 as a “Ramones dozen,” because that’s how many songs were on each of the band’s first three albums. It’s also how old Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin is turning today. That’s 72 in human years, but she still isn’t showing her age. Look how bright-eyed she is with her new green mouse toy! She’s still my little monkey, inquisitively exploring everything, getting into mischief, and chatterboxing the whole time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is Caitlin’s first birthday at the new Uni Watch HQ, where we moved about eight months ago. She was spooked at first — she’d lived her entire life at the old Uni Watch HQ — but it would be fair to say she’s now settled in:

Caitlin’s birthday will be filled with lots of catnip, toys, and treats (most of her other days are also filled with these things), plus we just got her one of those circulating water fountain thingies (she loves to drink from the faucet, so we thought we’d bring a faucet down to her level). It arrived in the mail yesterday, so we set it up for her as an early birthday present. She hasn’t decided what she thinks of it yet, which of course is a cat’s prerogative.

Here’s something I’ve written before, but I think it’s worth repeating: The bond between humans and pets strikes me as a bit of a miracle. Imagine if you didn’t already know that people had pets. Then imagine if someone told you, “You’re going to have these completely different species living in your home with you, and you’re going to love them, and they’re going to love you back, and it’s going to enhance their lives and yours.” It seems like a really dubious proposition — like, how could that work? But the cross-species bond does work, and I think that’s really special.

I’ve been telling the Tugboat Captain that it might be time to bring a new kitten into the house, but she’s worried that Caitlin might not like that. But we’ll see — I figure there’s always room for one more, right?

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Click to enlarge

Late-breaking MLB uni change: Reader Zach Mauldin has spotted something that the rest of us missed: The Braves have made a slight change to their NOB font this season. It appears that the new version may simply be a bold version of the previous version.

After Zach pointed this out to me last night, I went to the MLB Style Guide to see if the change is reflected there. Sure enough, it is! But the change is so subtle that I didn’t notice it (and the Braves never announced anything about it).

Remember, the Braves made several other fairly subtle uni changes this season — slight alterations to their road, script, adding sleeve piping to their cream alternate. It’s really interesting to see that they also made this tiny tweak to their NOB font. They really tried to get every detail just right!

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Click to enlarge

He went to Jared: Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo wears a lot of bling. That caused problems for him in the top of the seventh inning of last night’s game against the Giants, as one of his necklaces broke while he was scampering from first to third on a teammate’s base hit (you can see the broken strand much more clearly in the click-enlarged version), causing him to reach up and secure the jewelry while running. He had dived head-first on a pick-off attempt just prior to this play, so that might be when the necklace broke.

Seriously, why do players wear this stuff on the field?

(My thanks to Jakob Fox for letting me know about this one.)

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Ladies and gentleman, before the era of computer sports games, we had stuff like this early-1970s NFL Game Plan. “The fast pro tactics game for the whole family.” Right, like my mom would get into this. This was an attempt by Tudor (maker of electric football games) to branch out a bit. Through a combination of rolling the dice and inserting those data cards, you’d move up and down the field like the pros. This was a most excellent game, and one I was quite good at. I learned a lot about the X’s and O’s of the sport. Highly recommended!

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Speaking of sports games, here’s an auction with three different “peg” baseball board games — one from 1961, one from 1936, and one from 1908!

• Jack Clancy was a flanker for the 1968 Dolphins. His Topps card shows him wearing what is commonly known as the “Griese face mask.”

• You won this plaque as part of the MLB Pitch/Hit/Throw competition sponsored by Phillips 66. Maybe 1960s for this one?

• Wonder why the Bills chose No. 31 for the player to wear on this 1960s decal?

• Check out this 1960s Packers vinyl lunch bag tote/thermal bottle combo!

• This 1960s Bengals jacket, which does look like ones they wore early on, was “Tailored By Butwin, The Jacket for Champions.” [As an aside, Butwin tagging was always the best. — PL]

• Lots of1960s NFL team logos to be found on this NFL seat cushion.

• Ah, the simplicity of this blue-on-white 1960s Baltimore Colts coffee mug from Chase & Sanborn.

• This 1960s Detroit Lions Technigraph helmet plaque is in excellent condition.

Seen an item on eBay that would be good for Collector’s Corner? Send any submissions here.

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Design contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, Uni Watch is teaming up with the Portland Pickles — that’s a college wood bat summer team — for a contest to design the Pickles’ “Future Baseball Night” jersey, which will be worn on July 4. There’s a $150 cash prize for the winning designer, along with a free futuristic jersey.

Entry deadline is this Friday, May 3. Full details on the contest rules and entry requirements, along with the full scoop on what “Future Baseball Night” will entail, can be found here.

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Click to enlarge

rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, our friends at longtime Uni Watch advertiser Vintage Brand are once again letting me run a raffle for a lucky Uni Watch reader. The winner will be able to choose any item from the Vintage Brand website (including the canvas print of a Cubs program cover shown above).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by this Thursday, May 2, 7pm ET. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

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Anniversary countdown: We are now less than a month away from May 26, which will be 20 years to the day since the very first Uni Watch column was published. That will kick off a 20th-anniversary celebration that I hope to keep going, in various ways, throughout the rest of this calendar year.

A lot of the anniversary stuff is still taking shape in my head, and I’m sure it will include some things I haven’t even thought of yet, but here are a few things I have in mind:

• There will be an anniversary logo. In fact, there already is an anniversary logo — I got that taken care of earlier this month (a rare case of actually having my shit together way ahead of time). You can expect to see a lot of it on the site, plus we’ll have embroidered patches, stickers, etc.

• At some point this summer there will be an anniversary-related T-shirt that’s going to be awesome. In addition to celebrating Uni Watch’s anniversary, it will also celebrate another notable anniversary. Seriously, this is going to be so good. You’ll see.

• I’m thinking of doing another piece of commemorative anniversary merch — an unusual item that I don’t really expect anyone to buy, but it’ll still be fun to make. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

• Although I’ve always referred to my cats as the Uni Watch mascots, we’ve never had a Uni Watch mascot character. (Well, Caitlin is actually quite the character, but you know what I mean.) I hope to introduce one soon as part of the anniversary celebration.

• There will definitely be a 20th-anniversary party here in Brooklyn, perhaps with some special guests in attendance. I’m not yet sure of the date, but it will likely be a Saturday or Sunday in June or July. More details soon.

If you have ideas for other ways to celebrate Uni Watch turning 20, I’m all ears.

But wait — before we get to Uni Watch’s birthday, we have to get to this website’s birthday. The blog will turn 13 years old on Friday, May 17. As always, that date will be Purple Amnesty Day, the one day of the year when I accept purple-inclusive membership card orders. As usual, I’ve once again collaborated with designer Bryan Molloy on a special piece of hideous purple merchandise that will be available for only 24 hours, and I don’t mind saying that this year’s item is a doozy. Can’t wait till you folks see it!

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Click to enlarge

Hoodie update/clarification: There’s been some confusion about the sizing of the Uni Watch Tequila Sunrise Deluxe Hoodie. The ordering page includes a size chart that, as it turns out, is mixed up. The “Length” and “Width” columns are reversed — the “Length” numbers are actually the chest-width measurements, and vicey-versey. I’ve told Teespring about this, but they haven’t fixed it yet.

Anyway: The hoodie is a hoot. Here’s how it looks from the back, along with a peek at the “For People Who Get It™” slogan printed on the inner pocket:

My continued thanks to Jimmy Nutini of Teespring for his help with this item. You can order it here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsThe Atlantic League is currently experimenting with a no-shift rule, and is policing it with a chalk line on the infield. … Nats P Sean Doolittle says he helped design his own bobblehead (from Ted Bloss). … Speaking of the Nats, they hosted the Cardinals last night, meaning St. Louis broke out their navy road caps, as they regularly do when facing a red-capped team (from Phil). … The Rochester Red Wings took a page out of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans‘ book with Deaf Awareness Night jerseys (from Phil). … This listicle breaks down each team’s “coolest throwback jersey” — by player, not design (from Mike Chamernik). … Let’s hope Tyler Phillips, a pitcher in the Rangers organization, makes the big show soon and brings his stirrups with him (from @atopgreeneshill). … Yesterday’s Ticker included an item about a logo on White Sox letterhead from 1931. Per Todd Radom, that logo was the basis for the first commemorative logo in MLB history. … You know how companies used to call themselves “AAA Moving” or “AAA Taxi” so they’d be listed first in the various sections of the phone book? A “AAA”-named company in Utah has poached the Braves’ logo three times (from Brice Wallace). … Yesterday Paul mentioned that he’d been interviewed for a segment of the “Reds Alert” podcast. You can now listen to that episode here. … Rutgers’ uniforms include a sublimated outline of the state of New Jersey underneath the numbers (from Andrew Wooley). … This player for LaRue County High School (Kentucky) Gets It™️ (from Josh Claywell). … Orioles P Miguel Castro wears a necklace pendant that says, “hi mom” (from Jakob Fox).

Football NewsNew number assignments for Chargers rookies (from J.S.). … Same for the Bucs, who debuted their new assignments via caricature (also from J.S.). … More numbers, this time for the Packers (from Phil). … Maryland used the 2018 NFL Draft logo in a graphic announcing the selection of one its players this year (from Derek Buchheit). … Speaking of outdated logos, this Michigan graphic uses an outdated Jags helmet (bottom left) (from @bosproshops). … Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, is investing in “smart” helmets that will transmit information concerning hits (from Phil). … Also from Phil, researchers at Florida State are developing new materials that could be used in football helmets. … These were the uniforms for the Empire Challenge, an annual high school football All-Star game between players from New York City and Long Island (from Matt Shevin). … “This picture of DL Dexter Manley from his short early-’90s stint with the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders shows him wearing the by-then no-longer used ‘R helmet’ sleeve logo, and the player next to him has the ‘new for 1992’ logo on the helmet and jersey,” says Johnny Garfield. “I guess the Eastern Riders were slow in phasing in the new look.” … New end zones for the U. of Minnesota. … Here are the results of a poll in which over 5,000 NFL fans ranked the league’s uniforms. … Former Washington QB Joe Theismann wants to talk to the team’s new top draft pick, QB Dwayne Haskins, about possibly letting Haskins wear Theismann’s No. 7 (from William Yurasko).

Hockey NewsTwenty-two years ago yesterday, the helmetless era in the NHL officially came to a close with the retirement of Craig MacTavish (from Erik Spoonmore). … The Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League put their helmet numbers inside of a maple leaf (from Matthew Hanson).

Basketball NewsReader Brad Eenhuis was doing some research and found some gems in old Sheffield-Chapin (Iowa) High School yearbooks. The basketball shorts the boys’ team wore in 1962 incorporated uni numbers into a logo, and the 1974 girls wore double-decker numbers (and sleeves!). … Granny Basketball, a women’s rec league with teams across the country, takes uniforms seriously. Per 1920s rules, long white shirts are required, as are bloomers. No skin, or it’s a foul (from Kary Klismet). … Thomas Holscher, a Kansas designer, put together a redesign for the Kings’ return to Kansas City (from Seth Rosner). … The Baylor women’s basketball team presented President Trump with a customized No. 1 jersey during their White House championship visit (from Phil).

Soccer News: The 2019-2020 home kit for Benfica of Portugal’s Primeira Liga leaked yesterday (from Mike D.). … New home shirt for Corinthians — “inspired by Ronaldo,” says Ed Zelaski.

Grab BagAdidas unveiled the inaugural uniforms for the new Premier Lacrosse League yesterday. Additional info here. … The uni-verse will more than likely appreciate Sunday’s The Argyle Sweater comic strip (from Paul Dillon). … Robstown High School (Texas) goes by the Cotton Pickers, which, unsurprisingly, is controversial (from Ronnie Yates). … This piece breaks down uniform advertising in premier rugby leagues around the world (from Andrew M.). … The CDC is using 3D technology in newer smartphones to fit bike helmets for kids (from James Gilbert). … The famous arrivals/departures board in New York’s Grand Central Station is going digital (from @ohhhsourry). … This column calls for Memphis to redo its city seal (from Griffin T. Smith).

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Caitlin isn’t the only Uni Watch team member who’s celebrating a birthday today. Please join me in wishing a happy birthday to our own Lloyd Alaban, who produces the Tickers that run on Wednesdays (although not this week, because I’ve given him the week off). Enjoy your special day, Lloyd! — Paul