He Shoots, He Scores: The Legend of Taro Tsujimoto

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Peter J. Romano, who has a fun NHL story to share. — PL]

By Peter J. Romano

When I was growing up and attending Buffalo Sabres games in the late 1980s, I’d sometimes see fans wearing jerseys with “Tsujimoto” on the back. There were also some banners that were hung at the Aud, which always started with “Taro says…” I also seem to also remember the crowd starting a “We want Taro!” chant every now and then.

I didn’t really understand any of this, but I was young and didn’t think much of it. I didn’t realize it was all part of an elaborate prank.

The short version is that the Buffalo Sabres drafted Taro Tsujimoto, a right-handed shooter from the Tokyo Katanas (the fact that Katana is a loose translation of “Sabre” should have tipped everyone off from the beginning) in the 11th round of the 1974 NHL draft, 183rd overall. It was in the media guides, it was reported in the newspapers. The punch line — pun fully intended — was that the guy didn’t exist. He was made up on the spot by Sabres GM Punch Imlach (see what I did there?), who was bored and annoyed by the slow process of drafting over the phone. He decided to have a little fun, so with the help of PR Director Paul Wieland, the fictional player was picked in the 11th round. Nobody knew it was a joke until training camp several months later.

But while the player wasn’t real, the legend of Tsujimoto has spawned a lot of very real memorabilia: trading cards, caps, bumper stickers, arena signage, jerseys, even a fictional biography.

Nowadays, it’s easy enough to buy yourself a Tsujimoto jersey. But back in the day, before the advent of jersey mass-retailing, people made their own Tsujimoto jerseys, and I can remember seeing them all of the time. Decades later, the joke hasn’t lost any of its luster. I still see Tsujimoto jerseys at games — and not just in Buffalo, but even on the road at other arenas.

The great thing about this prank is that the fans have bought into it and continue to promote it. That’s the kind of thing that turns a fan base into a community.

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Paul here. Interesting stuff — I didn’t know this story (which is why I invited Peter to write about it once he brought it to my attention).

As a Mets fan, of course I’m familiar with the Sidd Finch prank. I don’t recall seeing fans wearing “Finch” jerseys at the ballpark, but maybe I just haven’t noticed..?

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Adam and the Babe: The Yankees are good at several things — tradition, heritage, hubris masquerading as a commitment to excellence, etc. — but they’ve never been particularly good at humor or playfulness. It’s just not what they’re about.

But man, they totally nailed it with this new commercial that riffs on pitcher Adam Ottanvino’s recent claim that he could strike out Babe Ruth, complete with Ottavino wearing an old-timey No. 0 uniform (which they’re apparently going to give away!). Great concept, great execution — kudos to all involved, including Ottavino, who clearly has the ability to laugh at himself. Good for him.

(Big thanks to @mikeDfromCT for bringing this one to my attention.)

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No, not that Chuck Taylor: For reasons I’ve never been able to figure out, FNOB (that’s full name on back) seems to be rarer in MLB than in the other major sports league. For years the only two examples I’ve been aware of, at least off the top of my head, have been Angels first baseman Ron Jackson (Reggie was also on the roster but just wore “Jackson”) and Cardinals utility man Carl Taylor. It was always pretty apparent that Taylor went FNOB because pitcher Chuck Taylor was also on the roster, but I’d never seen a rear-view photo of Chuck — until now:

Longtime reader/pal Ben Traxel found that shot. Obviously, I’d prefer to have a clearer view of Taylor’s first name, but it’ll do. MLB FNOBs are so rare, we have to take what we can get!

Of course, it’s also a slight jolt to the system to see an MLB player wearing No. 42, but that photo was taken in 1970, more than a quarter-century before MLB retired that number for Jackie Robinson.

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Too good for the Ticker: We often talk about situations where there are too many letters to fit on the back of a jersey. But what if there are too many letters for the front of a jersey? That’s the case with this vintage hockey jersey that Wafflebored spotted on Etsy:

Yowza! I’d never heard of Wissahickon before, but it’s apparently the name of a Philadelphia neighborhood, a Philly-area creek, and a school district in the Philly suburbs, among other things.

If you want to see more photos, or even purchase the jersey, here’s the Etsy listing.

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Click to enlarge

Uni Watch lurks in surprising places: On my birthday, which was last Thursday, I mentioned that I’d be checking out this museum exhibition of paintings by the great Hilma af Klint. It was every bit as good as I’d hoped, but check out the painting at top-right in the photo shown above — it has “UW” (for reasons that are unclear) and is rendered in Uni Watch-ish colors! Truly a sign from above on my birthday, no?

A lot of the paintings were very deisgn-y, very geometric, in ways that I think would appeal to Uni Watch readers. Check out some of these, for example:

I also liked this grouping of work, which collectively looks a bit like a Pantone color swatch book:

I took a few dozen more photos, which you can see here. If you want to see the exhibit, which I thoroughly recommend, it’s up through April 23. And the Guggenheim is pay-what-you-wish on Saturdays from 5-8pm.

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ITEM! The return of the sublimated Tequila Sunrise shirt: As some of you may remember, back in 2015 we did a sublimated tequila sunrise design (shown at right) as one of the monthly offerings in the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club. It was the first sublimated design that Teespring had ever done, and it turned out to be a steep learning curve for them. The biggest problem was that the front and back stripes often didn’t align. It was still a fun shirt, but the experiment wasn’t entirely successful. In the years since then, we’ve offered a conventional screen-printed version with truncated stripes.

Teespring recently overhauled its manufacturing processes, and they’ve now added a new sublimation functionality that they say is really good. They offered to send me a sample of the tequila sunrise design so I could see for myself. I was, frankly, a bit skeptical, but I have to say it looks spectacular. Check this out (click to enlarge):

Does that look hot or what? The colors really pop! Unlike our original design, this one has stripes on the sleeves, and I love the two-tone collar.

And the stripes align much better as well:

I’m really happy with this one, and I’m excited to have it in the Uni Watch shop. Sublimation is a pricey process, so the shirt ain’t cheap — $35.99 — but I think it’s pretty special. You can order it here.

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Click to enlarge

ITEM! Yet another new raffle: With Opening Day coming up this Thursday, our friends at Vintage Brand are offering a free item to a lucky Uni Watch reader. The winner will get to choose any single item from the Vintage Brand website (like the nifty coasters shown above, which are based on a ticket stub from the first game in Mariners history!).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by this Thursday, March 28, 7pm Eastern. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

Speaking of raffle winners: The winner of the free Uni Watch membership donated by Brent Light (who himself was the winner of a free membership donated by an anonymous reader) is Randy Clement. Congrats to him, and big thanks to Brent for paying it forward.

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ITEM! New project: Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have professional gigs writing about most of the things I’m passionate about — uniforms, road trips, food, minutiae, music, and more. But there’s one topic that has eluded me: collecting.

For years I’ve been pitching a column called “Collection Agency,” about collections and the collectors who collect them. I’ve shopped it to all sorts of media outlets and have always been turned down. But when I believe in something, I keep plugging away (the report card and key ring projects both took a loooong time to find their venues), and now I’m happy to report that the excellent NYC-centric news site Gothamist is giving this project a shot.

My first piece is about a guy (shown above) who collects vintage police mugshots. You can check it out here.

Gothamist hasn’t yet decided whether they’ll run this as a regular column (it may depend on what kind of traffic this first piece generates), but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, if you’re a NYC-based collector with an interesting collection, or if you know of such a person, I’d like to hear from you. Thanks.

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Click to enlarge

ITEM! Meats shirt makes West Coast beefsteak debut: San Diego-based reader Chris Schoenthal — that’s him at far-right, posing with a bunch of his friends — got in touch a few weeks ago to let me know that he’d be attending his first-ever beefsteak (and on my birthday, no less), so we fixed him up right proper with a Meats T-shirt so he could make the scene in style. Nice job of not covering up the shirt with your apron, Chris!

Chris says he got a lot of comments about the shirt. If you have any comments or questions about it yourself, you know what to do.

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ITEM! Socks going fast: Remember a few days ago when I got that big carton filled with 100 pairs of Uni Watch socks? As of this morning, 76 pairs have already sold. So if you want a pair for yourself, move fast! Full details on how to order can be found here. Thanks.

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Requiem for a writer’s writer: Woke up to sad news today, as word came down that longtime Mets beat writer Marty Noble had passed away. Appropriately, he died while attending a ballgame. He was 70 years old.

Noble covered the Mets primarily for Newsday (which is where I got acquainted with his work) and, later, for MLB.com. His knowledge of baseball in general and the Mets in particular was encyclopedic, and his wordsmithery was spectacular, and I hung on every word. When Newsday began putting its content on the internet at some point in the 1990s, I actually said to my then-girlfriend, “Now we can live somewhere besides New York if we want, because I can still read Marty Noble no matter where we go.”

Mets uni-number blogger and longtime Uni Watch pal Jon Springer did a great two-part interview with Noble back in 2008. It’s a great read for anyone interested in baseball journalism, or baseball in general (trust me, you don’t need to be a Mets fan to enjoy it). Here’s Part One and Part Two. R.I.P.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Yesterday, the Yankees wore their home spring training jerseys with road grey pants (from Jon Rose). … The Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are doing Florida Man Night this summer. Florida Man is a tongue-in-cheek superhero referring to the relatively large number of news articles about Floridians doing bizarre things (from Andrew Cosentino).

Football News: Reader Bill Kellick tells us that 49ers RB Vic Washington appeared to be wearing basketball knee pads in the 1972 NFC championship game. … Also posted in basketball: Florida State added a memorial patch for forward Phil Cofer’s father, former Lions linebacker Mike Cofer, who passed away on Thursday (from @VictoryCB). … Reader Chris Quinlan DIY-ed an Oilers jacket. … UNC’s stadium is switching to artificial turf. “Not a fan of this,” says James Gilbert.

Hockey News: The Capitals wore white at home yesterday against the Flyers (from multiple readers). … The AHL’s Cleveland Monsters dressed up as astronauts for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11, a look which included white pants (also from multiple readers). … The Division III championship between Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Norwich (Vt.) — which is a military college — was yellow-vs.-camouflage (from @hockeyinthecac). … The WCHA championship between Minnesota State and Bowling Green was also color-vs.-color.

Basketball News: Kings C Willie Cauley-Stein has new Kentucky-themed shoes for March Madness (from Josh Hinton). … The Bucks retired No. 8 for SF Marques Johnson (from Mike Chamernik). … The Bucks also gave Johnson a framed jersey with a double-decker FNOB. Johnson wore that style in the early 1980s, as did teammate Mickey Johnson. There’s even a Uni Watch membership card based on that style. … Villanova wore blue throwbacks Saturday, and borrowed the term “Uni Watch” for that tweet (from Blake Fox). … Florida State added a memorial patch for F Phil Cofer’s father, former Detroit Lions linebacker Mike Cofer, who passed away on Thursday (from @VictoryCB).

Soccer News: Côte d’Ivoire and Rwanda played an orange-vs.-yellow matchup in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying (from multiple readers). … France revealed a 100th anniversary shirt to be worn today against Iceland. …. Several other national teams released one or more new kits or shirts, including Argentina, Colombia, Curaçao, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Tunisia. … The Euro 2020 qualifiers began this week and we can see that the sleeve patch (at left) is just the tournament logo without text, but the generic “European Qualifiers” patch (at right) was also kept from previous campaigns, meaning there are effectively two patches for the same competition. … England wore black armbands for Christchurch, all on the left arm except for captain Harry Kane, who wore his on the right arm.

Grab Bag: A Guatemalan woman ran in the Los Angeles Marathon wearing a traditional Mayan outfit (thanks, Paul). … Australian Football League teams North Melbourne and Fremantle both wore two black armbands: one for Christchurch and one in memory of someone different for each team. … A new exhibit at the Ohio History Center in Columbus explores the state’s sports history, including a lot of uniforms (from Jason Hillyer).

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Tomorrow: the 21st annual Uni Watch MLB Season Preview.

What's Your Sign(ature) — New York Mets Redux

Mets Signature 550

[Editor’s Note: Phil is feeling seriously under the weather this weekend. So with Opening Day right around the corner, we’re reviving one of his favorite posts from the “What’s Your Sign(ature)” series, which originally ran in 2016. Enjoy. — Paul]

By Phil Hecken

Thus far, in the “What’s Your Sign(ature)” series, we’ve looked at the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Houston Astros. Today we’ll take a look at my team — the New York Mets — and as you can probably tell from today’s splash, their signature uni is the “Racing Stripes.” It’s also my least favorite uniform. But if we take a look back at the uniforms the Mets have worn through their 50+ year history — this is the one that really stands out as the “METS” more than any other. (Continue reading)

It's A Beauty (of a Game): Neil Leifer's 'Ballet In The Dirt'

By Phil Hecken, with Jimmy Parker

Hey guys. This has been a brutal week, health-wise, for me, as I’ve been laid up with the flu for about a half-dozen days. But a couple weeks ago, on “World Book Day,” a great account I follow (@BeautyOfAGame) on Twitter posted the following:

Almost half-jokingly, I asked where Todd Radom’s “Winning Ugly” was, and of course, he had it on another shelf. But I also noticed at the bottom right of that photo there was a big blue book tucked away with the words “NEIL LEIFER” on the spine.

Now, I’m sure most of you are familiar with Neil Leifer — the photographer who in my opinion has taken the most iconic photograph of the past century — from the famous Ali/Liston bout in 1965 (for more about that photograph, click here).

Anyway, I chatted briefly with @BeautyOfAGame, whose real name is Jimmy Parker, about the book (as it’s not currently in my own sports book library), and if he’d like to pull a few images from that for a little review on UW. Jimmy happily obliged. Thankfully Jimmy was able to put this together for me as I feel like I’ve been at death’s door for the past week. Please click on each photo to enlarge.

Here’s Jimmy — enjoy!

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Ballet In The Dirt, a brief overview
By Jimmy Parker

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Which would make Ballet In The Dirt over 300,000 of the most beautiful words ever written about the game of baseball. Collecting some of the best shots from legendary sports photographer Neil Leifer, Ballet In The Dirt offers a look at memorable moments, players and uniforms of the National Pastime.

Leifer began taking photos as a hobby in his pre-teen years and made his first sale to Sports Illustrated on his 16th birthday. By the age of 19, he’d landed the first of his 170 SI cover shots.

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Pg. 29 (Ebbets Field OF)

An excellent glimpse into being a baseball fan in the 1950s. The intimacy of the Ebbets Field stands, the gentle slope of the outfield wall and the ads on it, even the concessions vendor’s attire, Leifer shows us what it’s like to be a fan during baseball’s “golden age.” It’s interesting to note that at this time Leifer himself was still only a fan, in his teens but already making a name for himself through his photography.

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Pg. 48-49 (The Game section header/Elroy Face)

Section headers in the book are given a vintage uniform look by utilizing a pinstripe pattern and custom embroidery. Red section name and navy blue chapter number are beautifully laid out within a gold baseball diamond.

Leifer uses strobe lights to capture Pirates hurler Elroy Face throughout his delivery. The rapid firing of the strobe lights allow Leifer to suspend time and show Face at various points in his pitching motion, while also showing off one of the classic uniforms of the time, the button front vests of the 1960 Pirates.

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Pg. 91 (Ernie Banks)

That timeless cap. Those long blue stirrups. The Cub on one shoulder sleeve, the MLB centennial patch on the other. Is there anything NOT to love about this shot of Ernie Banks gliding off first base to snag a grounder?

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Pgs. 110-11 (Willie Davis sliding into 2B)

Always one to try new techniques, in 1965 Leifer put a camera underneath Dodger Stadium’s second base bag, clicking the shutter via remote. In the resulting iconic shot, the second baseman’s shoe and the Dodger Stadium stands seem to frame Dodger Willie Davis, beginning his slide into second.

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Pg. 119 (1967 St. Louis Cardinals team shot)

The Cardinals uniforms all hanging so perfectly in their lockers. The players themselves in a variety of hair and clothing styles, while the manager sits in uniform. If there was ever a photo that symbolized the state of baseball in the 1960s beginning to evolve into the free wheeling 1970s, this is probably it.

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Pg. 151 (Hank Aaron at bat)

The determined look. Those powerful hands that almost seem to squeeze the bat. The bill of his cap peeking out beneath the batting helmet. The hint of the Braves script on road gray jersey. This shot of Hank Aaron at bat perfectly shows the stillness that comes moments before the swing that made Henry a king. [I’m particularly fond of the flocking on Aaron’s helmet — PH]

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Pg. 157 (Hank Aaron 715th)

A triumphant Hank Aaron holds up the ball he hit for his record-setting 715th home run. This Sports Illustrated cover shot features the classic uniform that Aaron helped Braves art director Wayland Moore design.

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Pgs. 192-193 (Willie Mays & John Roseboro)

A bewildered Willie Mays pulls Dodger catcher John Roseboro from the melee that resulted from Juan Marichal’s bludgeoning with a bat. Roseboro, blood splattered on his chest protector, wipes his forehead in confusion.

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Pg. 245 (Yastrzemski/McCarver)

Capping off his 1967 Triple Crown season, Carl Yastrzemski launches a home run in World Series Game Two. Yaz’s swing with no batting gloves. St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver with just a cap beneath his catcher’s mask. The home plate umpire crouching behind a balloon style chest protector. So many beautiful little things in the shot that all add up to a classic.

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Pg. 255 (Drysdale)

Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale walks off the field with catcher John Roseboro and third baseman Jim Gilliam. The slight brown dirt on those classic white Dodger home uniforms. The beautiful green grass and blue sky of Dodger Stadium. There’s good reason this shot is the one chosen for the book’s cover.

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Pg. 283 (A’s Celebrate)

All those combinations of white, yellow and kelley green uniforms. The hat the manager has is different from the players. At first glance, it’s hard to tell if this is a baseball celebration or a fight. There may be no better shot to illustrate Charley Finley’s Oakland A’s winning the first of their 3 straight World Series.

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Thanks, Jimmy — great stuff! I don’t yet own this book, but I will definitely try to add it to my library in the near future.

You can follow Jimmy @BeautyOfaGame on Twitter and Instagram and Beauty Of a Game on Pinterest. He doesn’t have a website (yet!). He adds, “I’m just designer who appreciates the visual aesthetic of sports in it’s many forms – fine art, photography, design, illustration, you name it – if it’s has to do with the look of sports, I dig it.”

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Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017, and more recently, in August of 2018.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

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Title: “Old Hoss”
Subject: Charles ‘Hoss’ Radbourn, 1887
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 12″ x 16″

87 strikeouts. That was Charles Radbourn’s total for the 1887 season. It was the first time in his career that he had not managed to crack triple digits. He would never do so again.

By all accounts, he had a decent year, going 24-23. However, the game was changing. In the pitcher’s box, where ‘Hoss’ took full advantage of every inch to intensify his delivery, 18 inches of space were now gone – effectively pushing him further from the plate and the batter. Also, that year and that year only, four strikes were required to retire a batter.

Old Hoss was starting to show signs of aging. Or at least, his arm was. In the first seven years of his career, he amassed 3,481 innings. However, in 1887, had his lowest total since his rookie campaign. And in that first year, Radbourn had the excuse of only starting 36 contests. In 1887, he had started 50.

It was odd to think that only three years before, Hoss had been the most outstanding pitcher in the game. His bravery and stamina all but saved the Providence Grays from mediocrity in the middle of the 1884 season. After the pugnacious pitcher Charlie Sweeney drunkenly left the team on July 22, it was thought that the franchise could not survive. The club ownership had threatened that if the team did not win the pennant that year, they would be disbanded.

However, Radbourn offered to start every single game for the rest of the season in exchange for exemption from the reserve clause for the next season, making him a free agent. Also, he was to receive a hefty pay raise, enough to pay two regular pitchers. He was also given an extra $1,000, as Providence feared that he was considering jumping ship and playing in the Union Association. That year, he made upwards of $5,000.

The next two months saw Providence playing forty-three games, with Hoss starting forty of them. Out of those forty, Radbourn won thirty-six. Toward the end of that span, his arm became so sore he could not even raise it to comb his hair. On game day he would be at the ballpark hours before the starting time. He would begin his warm up by throwing just a few feet, increasing the distance gradually until he was pitching from second base and finally from short centerfield.

Providence won the pennant by 10.5 games over Boston. The Grays played the American Association champion New York Metropolitans in the 1884 World Series – the first of its kind. Radbourn started each game of the series and won all three. In twenty-two innings, he struck out seventeen, allowed only seventeen hits, and had no walks.

That year was to be the main focus of Radbourn’s career. He took the mound in seventy-five different games, starting seventy-three of them and finishing every single one. He pitched eleven shut outs, which was one of his few figures that did not lead the league. In 678 2/3 innings, he struck out 441 batters and posted a minuscule 1.38 ERA – less than half the league average. Hoss actually ceded fewer combined hits and walks than innings pitched.

Winning more than 83% of his decisions, he went 59-12 that season. His success in ’84 and his commitment to take the mound virtually everyday after July 22nd marked his campaign as perhaps the finest that any pitcher had ever entered into the record books. Unfortunately, the wear and tear from his efforts had a lasting consequence to the health of his right arm and his subsequent efficiency.

Though a reluctant Radbourn would eventually return for the 1888 season, it would not be until 1889 that he seemed to regain some of his old form, posting a 20-11 record in a slightly less workman-like year. Though contributing 277 innings to complement Boston’s new star hurler John Clarkson, his Beaneaters fell one game short of winning the pennant that season. And when he joined the Boston Reds of the Players’ League the following year – mainly to contribute to the league effort of breaking management’s control over the game – he pitched the team to the pennant, winning twenty-seven and losing twelve. His .692 winning percentage led the league that year.

“He had regained his old Providence form,” said the Boston Globe. “He is the ‘king pitcher of 1890.’”

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Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

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Uni Concepts & Tweaks

After being dormant for a while, the Uni Tweaks/Concepts have returned!

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

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Last weekend we looked at a NY Islanders concept from John Elbertson. This weekend he’s back again, with a Devils concept plus a “bonus”. Here’s John:

Phil,

Here’s my latest attempt to bring green back to New Jersey full time. I removed the circle from the NJ crest so it could reverse out for the red jersey. Added a shoulder patch that I designed for a previous contest, and made the red phantom striping symmetrical on the sleeves. The striping on the breezers is a nod to the Rockies. Lastly, as seen here, I’m selling the modern trend of ditching the hem stripe.

Who thinks we need to bring back ringer tees? I can’t be the only one, right?

John

Thanks John. OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Bryce Harper was wearing Philly Phanatic socks during Thursday’s Spring Training game (from Blake Fox). … The replica batting helmets at the official Yakult Swallows team store feature a raised, embroidered decal (from @TwoStrikeNoise). … Rays prospect Simon Rosenblum-Larson has a ridiculous/amazing NOB (from @GRBRays). … Rangers prospect Tyler Depreta-Johnson eschews having his NOB go all the way to his kidneys, by instead having it extend onto his sleeves. Rare to see in baseball (from @JWJW1174). … The Braves have revealed some of the gorgeous posters they’re featuring for their Art in the Park series (from Jeremy Poursine). … Not uni related, but too entertaining not to post: Nationals P Sean Doolittle posted a Twitter thread detailing some of the best old-timey baseball player nicknames (from @bryanwdc). … New helmet decals for Mizzou (from Kate Sutter). … Camo cap last night for Bama (from Griffin T. Smith). … UNLV wore custom, Vegas-themed batting gloves last night (from @damarkts). … Very similar shades of maroon for yesterday’s color-vs-color St. Bonaventure-Fordham game (from Ryan Hammonds). … Arkansas softball went GFGS (from Derek Brownlee). … Here are photo of Ichiro pitching and Hideki Matsui hitting in high school while wearing some pretty nice striped stirrups (from Rod Blunck).

NFL News: ESPN has a rundown of some of the things athletes have done to get a uni number from a teammate (from Mike Chamernik and Brinke). … The Browns’ 2019 season ticket holder gift includes a pair of socks in the team’s old stripe pattern. Hmm (from @JMLedgewood). … The Niners’ SBNation blog is holding a poll on which look the team should bring back (thanks, Brinke). … “You might be cool, but you’ll never be Jack Lambert on a roller coaster in full uniform cool,” says Gene Sanny.

College/High School Football News: Oregon State will reveal how Nikefied their identity will become on April 20 (from Joe MacQuarrie).
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NBA & College Hoops News: Jimmer Fredette will wear No. 32 for the Suns (from Etienne Catalan). … Tim LaDuca noticed that Cincinnati guard Justin Jenifer has a bigger J and smaller “enifer” on his NOB, while his teammates all have NOB lettering the same size. … Speaking of the Bearcats, their matchup against Iowa was almost identical to the Texas Tech-Northern Kentucky game going on at the same time (from Brent Schwartz). … Arizona State equipment tweeted out a photo of the NCAA uniform regulations posters that are no doubt up all over the arenas hosting March Madness (from Ted Jones).

Soccer News: New kits for the Botswana national team (from Ed Żelaski). … Blake Pass found a poster for MLS’s uniform code during a tour of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. … The latest episode of the BT Sport webseries What I Wore series is out on Twitter, featuring Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale (from David Schucosky).

Grab Bag:  BYUTV has a new logo (from Jim Vilk). … Deadspin has an interesting article on “vaportecture” — the stadium design renderings that end up looking nothing like the actual stadium (from our own Alex Hider). … New helmets for Army lacrosse. … Golfer Thomas Pieters is trying to sell ad space on his golf bag (from Michael Brighton). … Last week at the Indianapolis supercross Chad Reed ran custom birthday graphics with his wife and children’s personal messages on them. Chad is a two time champion and oldest rider currently competing (from John Flory). … Here’s a cool animated history of the growth/expansion of the NHL including franchise movement AND logo changes (from Ben Conover).

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Adults Only: The Story of the Hebrew Oilers

[Today we have a guest entry from Matthew Ciccone, who’s going to tell about his adult baseball league’s uniforms. Enjoy. — PL]

By Matthew Ciccone

Adult sports leagues don’t get much coverage here on Uni Watch, but I feel like they comprise the deepest and most opaque vein of uniform culture. It’s always really interesting to see how adults choose to uniform themselves, taking into account style, budgets, various preferences, issues with sourcing, etc.

Case in point: For over 15 years I’ve played in an adult baseball league in Pittsburgh. The players on our team, the Hebrew Oilers, have a range of ages and attitudes. We order uniforms every few years, and we’ve had some gems and made some really terrible decisions

Here are some examples of our team’s uniform history [for all photos, you can click to enlarge]:

Early Days

Our team was founded in 2004 (I think), and for many years we wore some version of these navy shirts, hats, and stirrups. Our local supplier changed twill vendors on us at one point, necessitating our chest letter changing from block to cursive, which hit some players and not others. Also of note is our team’s tradition of painting batting helmets gold for the playoffs.

Modern Day

We finally changed our unis around 2015. We got lucky with Majestic phasing out their stock in anticipation of MLB switching to Under Armor (which has had a real ripple through adult baseball uniform ordering, in our experience). Our lucky break — which i still don’t totally understand — was that they differentiated between the base color “cream” vs some other version of cream. Whichever cream we ended up with was on clearance, thus these beauties (MLB stock) on discount. Also note the new stirrups.

Less lucky: While the new hats were great, New Era doesn’t let you order without their side logo.

Sleeve Logo

We partnered with a local nonprofit for this sleeve logo and found a vendor to stitch it directly into the jersey (it’s not a separate patch).

Mismatched Stirrups

As we’ve added new stirrup designs over the years, players have occasionally chosen to mix and match, which is interesting. The guy shown above is “one of the most important baseball players of all time,” Witer Jimenez. The stirrup on his right leg is a design we added in 2017 and features cream, not white — we really had to search for that one.

2018 — Concept

As new players cycle in each season, they need new uniforms. One of the ripples of Majestic phasing out was that our excellent 2015 uniforms were replaced with a 2017 Majestic product that looked the same, but the material was not as good — more mesh than the knit we liked. Plus the cream was getting hard to maintain. When we decided to change up in 2018, Majestic wasn’t available at all. Based on a supplier recommendation, we went with a Rawlings product and came up with this ambitious design.

2018 — Actual

It didn’t really work out as planned (plus we went conservative on the naming). You can’t really tell from this image, but the jerseys are like a kitchen sink of jersey of design, with everything going on except a zipper. The button-front is complimented by a weird Velcro tab under the “e” in the team name. [MLB teams have also done this. — PL] The “Oilers” script is tackle twill, but the “Hebrew” is sublimated. Rather than the beautiful direct-embroidered sleeve logo, we had to cut the budget and ended up with these iron-on sleeve patches printed on some sort of weird shiny material.

We went totally overboard on piping, which might have worked on flannel (or our old jerseys) but was totally ridiculous on the very soft, silky material Rawlings used for these jerseys. The redeeming quality was that they looked okay from a distance.

On the plus side, the 2018 stirrups were a big success. Interestingly, this model was double-ply, which made a huge difference in quality and durability compared to the typical single-layer material. Still, some players still insisted on wearing older versions. Can’t please everyone.

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side

A few Hebrew Oilers suited up for our rival, the Pittsburgh South Oakland Ducks of the North Side, for a summer tournament game. The Ducks also have a good uniform history, and a good logo.

One other point: Often the most cost-effective jersey method is to buy stock jerseys and have the lettering, numbering, and so on added locally, rather than as a packaged order. The sticking point for us is the only tackle twill provider we could find in Pittsburgh is also the Pittsburgh Penguins’ vendor (I question whether they’re really the city’s only tackle twill provider, but that’s what our equipment guy says). On a few occasions our jersey order has conflicted with their timing to provide playoff jerseys for the Penguins, creating a semi-absurd situation in which our blown-out adult baseball team is somehow waiting on a professional hockey team to get an extra handful of jerseys. Such are the complexities of adult league uniforms.

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Paul here. First and foremost, big thanks to Matthew for sharing all of this with us.

Also, he’s opened up a window on adult league uniforms, which are a subculture that doesn’t get much coverage here on Uni Watch. If any of you out there play in an adult sports league and would like to tell the story of your uniforms like Matthew has done here, I’m open to considering more entries like this one in the future.

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

ITEM! One-day membership raffle: When a generous reader recently raffled off a Uni Watch membership, the winner was Brent Light. Brent has now done two very cool things. First, he had an ingenious request for his card design, which he wanted to be based on the Cowboys’ early-’80s hip numbers. It’s the first time anyone has asked for that, and I love how it turned out:

Second, Brent has decided to pay it forward by purchasing a new membership for me to raffle off. How awesome is that? To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 7pm Eastern today. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Speaking of raffle winners, the two winners of the Homefield Apparel raffle are Timothy Holdener and Arin Mitchell. Congrats to them, and thanks to all who entered.

We’ll have yet another new raffle beginning on Monday.

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Click to enlarge

Sock reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, I now have a big carton of Uni Watch socks from Rock ’Em Socks. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a better view of how they look (click to enlarge):

I love that they’re hosiery with a depiction of hosiery. Very meta!

If you want a pair, the price is $13.99 plus $3 shipping, so the total is $16.99.

If you want two pairs, the shipping is $4, for a total of $31.98.

If you want more than two pairs, get in touch and I’ll quote you a price.

Here’s how to order:

1. Send the appropriate payment to me. I accept Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (use plukas64@gmail.com; if you’re not familiar with Zelle, your bank’s website probably offers it under “Payments” and/or “Transfers”), and the Cash App (plukas64@gmail.com).

Sorry, no PayPal (a long, annoying story). If you prefer to send a paper check, get in touch and I’ll tell you where to send it.

2. After sending payment, please email me with your shipping address.

Kudos to Harrison Hall and Brad Stafford at Rock ’Em Socks for making this happen, and my thanks to everyone, as always, for considering our products.

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IMPORTANT signal flare: Adam Yarnevich, I received your sock payment (thank you!), but you need to send me your shipping address. Okay? Okay!

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T-shirt reminder: We launched three new Uni Watch T-shirt designs this week (click to enlarge):

Here’s where you can order the white shirt, as well as the green one with gold letters and the green one with white letters. My thanks, as always, for considering our products.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: On Wednesday Paul mentioned that the Opening Series bat boys were not wearing jerseys of the A’s or Mariners. Here’s a shot of what they wore instead: Tokyo Dome jerseys (from Douglas Whichard). … Reds 1B Nick Longhi wore his club’s 2018 batting practice jersey during their game yesterday (from Sonny Lee Smith). … The Phillies have moved the Liberty Bell sign that once stood in Veteran’s Stadium to their current home stadium (from Blake Fox). … We’ve all heard of bobbleheads, but how about a bobblefork? The Rochester Red Wings, Triple-A affiliate of the Twins, will be giving them away (from @ddddwhite9). … The Lansing Lugnuts, Class-A affiliate of the Blue Jays, are investigating a Louisiana high school baseball team for allegedly poaching their logo (from Jason Hillyer). … Check out the uniforms in this 1915 Opening Day photo. Managers Fielder Jones (St. Louis Terriers) and Joe Tinker (Chicago Whales) receive floral arrangements during pregame festivities for the Federal League’s opener (from Alex Cheremeteff). … Here’s an article detailing all the new food items (WaPo link) at Nationals Park (from Tom Turner).

NFL/College Football News: The Eagles have signed DE Vinny Curry, who formerly played for the Buccaneers. However, the Eagles didn’t bother to Photoshop him in Eagles green, tweeting a photo wearing his Bucs uniform instead (from Jeff Taylor). … The Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League posed with an NHL-branded football for the 2020 Winter Classic media day. The game will take place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (from Michael Alper). … Check out these Florida Gators-themed hard hats (from Dom Ingram).

Hockey News: Cross-listed from the football section: The Stars posed with an NHL-branded football for the 2020 Winter Classic media day. The game will take place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (from Michael Alper).

NBA News: The Bulls gave away an infinite regression bobblehead of their mascot Wednesday (from Jay Mazzone). … PG Scott Machado will wear No. 10 with the Lakers (from Etienne Catalan). … Mavericks SF Justin Jackson wore these custom Nike Hyper Dunks last night. He signed them and will be auctioning them off with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards GiGi’s Playhouse, a Down Syndrome charity (from Taylor Vippolis).

College Hoops News: Here’s a breakdown of all 64 men’s tourney teams by uniform manufacturer (from @BrandBracket). … Buffalo’s men’s and women’s programs have both made the Big Dance, so The Buffalo News ran a feature with some of the players’ shoes as the lead photo (from @HaskesCage). … Duke PG Tre Jones wore shoes with pink ribbons on them to support his mother, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer (from Jeff Gravley). … Unusual placement for the three stripes on this Adidas Nevada polo (from Andrew Mire).

Soccer News: New shirts for Limerick FC of the League of Ireland (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: Toulouse FC of Ligue 1 has released throwback shirts to celebrate their 82nd anniversary. … DC Comics is not happy with FC Valencia’s 100th-anniversary logo (from James Gilbert).

Grab Bag: Cross-listed from the soccer section: DC Comics is not happy with FC Valencia’s 100th anniversary logo (from James Gilbert). … Here are the singlets UNC will be wearing at the NCAA D1 Wrestling Championships (from James Gilbert). … A volleyball court from the 2016 Summer Olympics is up for sale (from Jeremy Brahm). … East Catholic High School in Manchester, Conn., is poaching the BC logo (from Bill Abley).

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Thanks to everyone for all the birthday notes yesterday. You people are the best. It was a very, very good day. — Paul