On an otherwise very slow uni-news day yesterday (which makes sense, since it’s Easter/Passover weekend), the Oregon State Beavers unveiled “new” uniforms, in conjunction with their Spring Game. At first glance, they closely resemble their previous uniform set. There are some differences however. First, let’s get the obligatory “hype” video out of the way — you can basically fast forward to about 1:23 if you just want to look at the new uniforms (or watch the whole thing if you want to see some highlights of past years uniforms — keeping in mind how bad some of those were):
• Number fonts appear to be the same as the previous set.
Let’s look at all three individually:
You can get an idea of the striping patterns from each of the three photos above. The pattern on the shoulders is basically replicated down the pants. It’s different than any shoulder striping pattern in the college game today, as it’s a wide stripe with a thin(ner) contrasting color middle stripe. Here’s a close up on the orange jersey:
You can get a better idea of how the uniform looks as a live model was wearing the all black uni at the Spring Game yesterday. It looks like this pattern (in different color combinations) is replicated on each of the different color unis (note the guys behind him are in the last iteration of the uniform — which doesn’t look that much different):
Below is a look at the Beavers’ previous uni. Note the striping pattern was on the shoulder cap, the pants stripe was even more truncated (and reversed), and the numbers were orange, bordered in white. The new unis have the fatter stripes on the top of the shoulders, and the numbers are white, bordered in orange.
So what else is new? Well, it wouldn’t be Nike if their designers didn’t have to add at least one signature element to the uniform, right? If you go back to the hype video, you may have seen the “new” numbers:
Still don’t see it?
OK, here’s a real close up:
Yes, they have a sublimated tree ring pattern inside the numbers. Because, ya know, Beavers chop down trees to make dams, so…
Yeah. Fortunately, it looks like the tree ring pattern is so subtle we won’t be able to see it except in extreme closeups. But of course, now we’ll never unsee it either.
All three jerseys feature an image of the Beaver logo on the collar:
I don’t hate the new uniforms, which look a lot like the old uniforms. Last time around, the Beavers sported black, white, and orange helmets, and I’d imagine they’ll have 3 again this time around. They also mixed and matched all the color combinations, so look for that this fall as well.
So there you have it — really, not much difference from before, although I do like the fact that they changed up the number color pattern on the black jersey. Definitely makes that one a bit easier to read:
NEW (left) vs OLD (right)
Gonna have to wait to see how they look on the field of course, but there’s nothing spectacularly good (or bad) about these so far (other than the sublimated tree ring pattern). I’d call it a lateral move — if they were a grade “B” before, they remain a B today.
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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Back today is concepter John Elbertson, who has some tweaks for the Winnipeg Jets:
This Winnipeg Jets concept started with the idea of carrying over various elements of the old Thrashers design. However, the yellows with the blues reminded me too much of St. Louis, so I scrapped that part and went back to red as an accent color. I got a tip online to reintroduce the tribute to the Royal Canadian Air Force, and I thought their roundel looked awesome on its own, so I used that as a shoulder patch instead of the Jets’ current logo. All that was left was to bring in the asymmetrical sleeve …. I just couldn’t do it. Went with some traditional stripes instead.
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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.
This is Eggcellent!
In the spirit of today, the one and only Gene Sanny sent in the following:
“Extra waterslide decals from my pocket pro helmet customization project led to a few of our eggs getting a classic NFL logo treatment.”
College Football News: Whoops: slight problem with this ESPN graphic. Says submitter Tyler Connor, “Problem here, that picture isn’t Quinnen Williams. That’s Irv Smith, Jr. (82).” Quinnen Williams is number 92. … Delaware football player Colby Reeder appears to be wearing the 150th anniversary patch ahead of the 2019 CFB season during their spring game yesterday (good spot by Bob Novotny). … Unlike their compatriots in Corvallis, the Oregon Ducks didn’t get new uniforms yesterday, but their quarterbacks were wearing red jerseys in a template that was retired a few years back (good spot by Glen Matthews).
Hockey News: The Cleveland Monsters goalie Brad Thiessen paid homage to Cleveland’s hockey history with his most recent mask (from The AHL). You can read more about that here.
Soccer News: Bugeaters FC (a men’s semi-pro soccer team based in Nebraska and compete in the USASA at the 4th level of US Soccer, according to their Twitter bio) have introduced a new home kit as well as a new secondary kit (from Protagonist Soccer FC). … The Real Madrid 2019-20 “Icon Retro” (WTF?) jersey has been leaked.
Grab Bag: Thailand’s Women’s Volleyball team design for 2019 season. Says submitter Jeremy Brahm, “I wonder if they will have to create a white one for FIVB regulations.” … The Campbellsville (KY) Fire Department uses the Tigers D (from Josh Claywell). … Check out this very cool advertisement for a salmon egg dispenser (yes, that’s what it’s called), sent in by Tyler Borm.
Night baseball, made possible by the addition of floodlights to a stadium’s roof, is not a new phenomenon — in fact the first night game in Major League history took place in Cincinnati, at Crosley Field, on May 24, 1935 — with the final stadium to receive lights (Chicago’s Wrigley Field on August 8, 1988) coming some 50-plus years later. You’re probably familiar with the first and last MLB stadia to receive lights, but night baseball was first pioneered in the Negro Leagues.
I’m joined again by Ronnie Bolton (who you should follow on twitter @OTBaseballPhoto), who will take a look today at several “first” night games in the big leagues. Enjoy! Click on any photo to enlarge. Here’s Ron…
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Muehlebach Field, Kansas City, April 28, 1930
Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson knew he had to do something, the Great Depression was hemorrhaging the bottom line of his Negro League team and he wisely chose night baseball to save the Monarchs. His ingenious plan called for portable lighting system that Wilkinson reportedly invested $50,000-100,000 of his own money in. Not only were they going to have night baseball at the Monarchs home field Muehlebach Field but they were going to bring night baseball to other ballparks as they barnstorm the Midwest. And it was a smashing success as Wilkinson and his caravan of players and portable lights drove to Enid, Oklahoma for the first night game test against Phillips University Haymakers.
The game attracted more than 3,000 and from there the concept of playing under lights took off not just for Monarchs and Wilkinson but baseball in general. Wilkinson, who made back his investment by mid-May, became known as “The Father of Night Baseball” and would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
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Crosley Field, Cincinnati, OH, May 24, 1935
Cincinnati Reds GM Larry MacPhail receives the ceremonial signal from the White House and flips a switch to turn on 632 floodlights for the Major Leagues first night game in history. The Reds hosted the Philadelphia Philles for the historic night that McPhail pushed for in claiming games under the lights would generate more revenue – and it did.
The Reds beat the Phillies 2-1 in what seem otherwise dull game with just ten hits between both teams and only one extra base hit being a double by the Reds Billy Myers. Nevertheless, it was the first time baseball fans watched a night game and must have been a very memorable experience for the 20,422 that came out that very chilly Cincinnati night.
Boxes are laid out over the playing field as final tests on lighting goes on before the New York Giants first night game at the Polo Grounds on May 24, 1940, five years to the day that the first MLB night game took place at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
And 22,260 showed up that night to see the Giants stomp the Boston Bees 8-1 behind three home runs and 13 hits. As for what the players thought about the lighting, for the most part they gave the thumbs up on the conditions and seeing the ball. Despite a crowd size that might be considered a disappointment to some, you have to take into account that since 1935, all the Friday games in May had averaged just 5,975 a game and they only hit the 10,000 mark once (12,242 on 5/7/37). So the 22,000+ that showed up had to make the night game considered a success.
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Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, June 4, 1940
When Pirates skipper Frankie Frisch selected journeyman pitcher Joe Bowman to take the rubber in the first night game at Forbes Field, it was with good reason as Bowman just happened to be the starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies when the first ever major league night game took place at Crosley Field on May 24, 1935. Bowman and the Phillies lost 2-1 on that historic night but he was not to blame as he pitched a solid game in giving up just two earned runs and four hits over seven innings but took the loss thanks to Phillies bats that went to sleep that might mustering only six hits.
But on this night Bowman got all the support he needed and then some as 20,310 sat under the new lights (installed at the cost of $125,000) and witnessed the Bucs rout the Boston Bees 14-3, the whipping was also the doing of the Bees gloves as they committed five errors on the night. Nonetheless, Bowman got the compete game win and a little redemption in giving up just five hits and two walks.Forbes Field,
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Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, June 15, 1938
Baseball fans who were fortunate enough to have tickets for this Wednesday game unexpectedly get a two for one deal in the historical aisle:, for one it’s the first night game at Ebbets Field, and two, the Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer would throw his second no-hitter in a row in a 6-0 win, a major league first and still to this day unmatched.
Ebbets Field would become the second ballpark to play ball under the lights and it was no real surprise since the man behind the plan was Dodgers GM Larry MacPhail, who as Reds GM three years earlier was the architect of the first night baseball game in major league history. The innovator he was knew the Dodgers as a franchise were in a rut coming into 1938, with five straight years of losing baseball and needed to become relevant again, so like in Cincinnati, lights were installed at Ebbets Field and on the night of June 15, 1938 in front of a crowd of 38,748 history was made — times two!
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Briggs Stadium, Detroit, MI, June 15, 1948
The lights are finally on at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium for the first time as team owner Walter Briggs finally relents on his stand of no night games.
Being a traditionalist, Briggs felt baseball shouldn’t be played at night, as a result the Tigers were the last American League team to have all their games played during the day. But after seeing the success night games were having across the league, Briggs finally gave the green light for eight towers to be installed.
As for the game itself, 54,480 were on hand to see the Tigers beat the Philadelphia Athletics 4-1, highlighted by two Detroit home runs in the 8th inning by Dick Wakefield and Pat Mullin, both coming off A’s pitcher Joe Coleman. Tigers pitcher Hal Newhouser went the distance for the complete game win giving up only two hits and improving his season record to 8-4.
And with Briggs Stadium now playing night ball there stood just one major league ballpark that still hadn’t flicked the switch and it would stay that way for forty years.
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Wrigley Field, Chicago, August 8, 1988*
On August 8, 1988, for the first time ever, night baseball came to Wrigley Field as the Chicago Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies and ended Wrigley Field’s 40-year run as the only major league ballpark not to have games under the lights.
While most baseball fans remember that the Chicago Cubs were the last team to play night baseball at home, what they might not be aware of is the Cubs were ready to install lights for the 1942 season! But instead they went the patriotic route and quietly donated the material (165 tons of steel, 35,000 feet of copper wire, and 800 aluminum reflectors) earmarked for the project to the war effort on December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese.
The Cubs noble deed only came out the next month in January when President Franklin Roosevelt made the request for more night baseball and the Cubs had to come clean, as if they did something wrong. After the war they were was discussion but nothing ever materialized until the 1980’s.
* The 8/8/88 (how bout that date!) game, scheduled to be the first night game in Cubs history, never made it into the record books as an official game (read more about it here), as the Cubs/Phils tilt was ultimately rained out after big pre-game festivities. The “first” official night game actually took place the following evening, August 9th, against the New York Mets. — PH
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Thanks, Ron! Great look back at some of the first night games in MLB history, always replete with great factoids!
The Uniforms Costumes of the 10 Commandments
[In the spirit of the holiday weekend, today we have a special look at a classic movie playing on TV tonight, from our own Brinke — Enjoy! — PH]
By Brinke Guthrie
One of my favorite annual events is the playing of The Ten Commandments on TV. It’s on ABC tonight (check local listings!) at 7pm. This is a true special effects spectacle, with state of the art stuff for 1956. (Parting the Red Sea, anyone?) There is a uni angle to this one- although Paul opines that they are more like costumes. Well, pro leagues like the NBA and NFL are getting more costume-like every year, so let’s just wade in here for some Ten Commandmentsuniform costume highlights.
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1) Moses’s Identity Crisis.
He’s all suited up with a really cool multi-colored collar thing there, but oops! He discovers the cloth that he was wrapped in as a baby. A….Hebrew baby. (Key line: “Am I not Moses?”) No, not the Prince of Egypt version, anyway. Crimson red with a black/white stripe. There is a definite class distinction at play here.
Let’s just say he won’t be getting the preferred corner table at his favorite Egyptian restaurant anytime soon.
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2) Men With Kilts.
Even though he’s totally misguided in this movie, Yul Brynner carries his part as Rameses with panache and swagger. Note the standard desert attire, please. He’s hot in that zip code, and you need to dress accordingly. He’s got a…a what, I don’t know, on his head- maybe it’s there just to keep the sun off. Accessorized with a gold band, no less. And I think that’s a snake in front. To announce one’s presence with authority. The necklace is a bit gaudy. Rameses and the word “discreet” don’t often enter the room at the same time. Then we come to the kilt. The last time I checked, Egypt was nowhere near the Scottish Highlands. Pair this with some of those burnished sandals, and you’re- sing it with me- walking like an Egyptian. This scene is where Dathan The Weasel (R) tells Rameses that the Deliverer is … Moses. Dathan’s movin’ on up to the east side with that gem of intel.
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3. Dance, You Mud Turtles.
Now, Charleton Heston/Moses gets hauled before Pharoah (Rameses’s work) and as you can see, his royal uniform costume is long gone. The clothes often do make the man.
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4. Rameses: Under Armour.
He’s got his Battle Head Hanky on, color-matched with some glittery outfit that just screams “Look at me. I own all of this.” You have to wonder who makes this stuff. Savile Row? No, too fancy. Some Italian tailor in Milan, perhaps.
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5. Weasels Wear Fur.
Edward G. Robinson plays the duplicitous weasel Dathan. The guy that (see #2 above) rats out Moses. While the navy and gold robe is an elegant touch, he’s got some tacky jaguar faux jaguar print draped over it. Definite #fail.
UW reader/friend Walter Young tipped us wise to the above tweet, which asks whether this is the first time a pitcher with the number “0” has faced a hitter who is also wearing the number “0”. I don’t have the answer (anyone out there want to try to check on this???), but to quote Paul, “the visual is striking” (pun not intended?). Actually, there’s no need to look it up: it is a MLB first.
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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Got an e-mail this week from reader Vincent Van Zile who wasn’t completely happy with the new New York Jets redesign:
I wasn’t a fan of what they gave us, so I decided to give it some small tweaks that I personally think reflect a more professional team…and overall better looking uniform.
– Smaller “New York”
– Shorter shoulder stripe
– The alternate…and better, JETS logo on the helmet
– Custom NYJ Bumper logo
Vin Van Zile
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Thanks Vin. 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.
The Ticker By Anthony Matthew Emerson
Baseball News: Phillies IF César Hernández mis-buttoned his jersey (from Frank McGuigan). And it didn’t take long for him to fix it. … For the second consecutive start, Astros P Justin Verlander has colored-in the New Era logo on his cap (from @bucksantiago). … The Indianapolis Indians, Triple-A affiliates of the Pirates, will wear Pirates-inspired unis today. … Also posted in the hockey section: a Twitter account campaigning to bring an MLB team to Raleigh, N.C., created an “old school baseball” logo for the Hurricanes (from Blake Pass and James Gilbert). … The Down East Wood Ducks, Class-A Advanced affiliates of the Rangers, will wear these jerseys, featuring a collage of fans’ pets, for Pet Appreciation Day next weekend (thanks, Phil). … The Pulaski Yankees will wear these jerseys, and rebrand as the Moo-laski Yankees, for Agriculture Night (thanks again, Phil). … Oregon State’s Joe Casey Gets It™. … Marshall softball players are wearing different-colored T-shirts during their games this weekend, each one corresponding to a different type of cancer. Each shirt also includes the name of someone affected by cancer that the player knows (from Ben Stroup). … A seamstress shop in West Virginia made a quilt out of a customer’s old baseball jerseys (from Brice Wallace). … Tecumseh (In.) High has poached the Braves wordmark and the Rangers’ cap logo. More images here (from John Moore). … It’s a shame the A’s don’t have kelly green jackets to wear on Fridays, when the team wears kelly green caps & jerseys (pic from Johnny Crotty). Looks off. … The Brewers Hernán Pérez was still wearing his Jackie Robinson day batting gloves last night (from Craig Van De Kreeke). … “The freshman pitcher for Vandy was interviewed (last) night and Eli Gold asked about his number (80),” says Griffin Smith. “Kumar said that coach assigned it and ‘I wouldn’t prefer it’ and ‘You don’t the right [to wear the number you want] as a freshman on this team’.”
NFL & College Football News:Steve Anderson found this absolutely beautiful NFL-branded dresser-and-desk set at a consignment shop in Lincoln, Ne. “I should have bought them,” he says. … Georgia teased black unis yesterday (thanks, Phil).
Hockey News: Avalanche LW Matt Nieto wears No. 83 to honor his sister Erin, who has Down syndrome and autism. “Eighty-three” is one of only 20 words she can say. Touching article here (paywalled) (from Mark Coale). … Cross-posted from the baseball section: a Twitter account campaigning to bring an MLB team to Raleigh, N.C., created an “old school baseball” logo for the Hurricanes (from Blake Pass and James Gilbert). … The Flyers have covered up the statue of disgraced singer Kate Smith that’s outside of Wells Fargo Arena (from Frank McGuigan).
Soccer News: AS Monaco, which is of course based in the independent city-state of Monaco but plays in the French league, will wear a patch depicting the patron saint of Monaco, Sainte-Dévote, and Notre-Dame de Paris for their Easter Sunday match in Paris against Paris St-Germain (from @nmaloney27). … FC Cincinnati and Real Salt Lake wore their ugly Parley jerseys for their match last night. At least they’re made from recycled plastic, right? (from Dustyn Richardson).
Twenty years ago today — April 19, 1999 — the sportswear brand Starter filed for bankruptcy, bringing an end to a storied retail and on-field brand.
As it happens, Uni Watch reader Kurt Evans (that’s him in the photo above, showing off Starter’s NFL sideline caps in 1998) was working for Starter at the time. Just as reader Dave Bloomquist recently told us what it was like to work for Twins Enterprise (the precursor of ’47 Brand), Kurt’s going to tell us a bit about his time with Starter. He’s provided photos of some of his T-shirt designs, including a few phantom shirts for games or titles that never happened, which I’ve sprinkled throughout the piece. For most of them, you can click to enlarge.
Take it away, Kurt.
Starting with Starter By Kurt Evans
As an art major at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven in the mid-1980s, I knew I wouldn’t be long for the conventional design world. I was a pro sports fanatic and the sportswear juggernaut Starter was headquartered right there in New Haven. That was too much of a coincidence for me — I worshipped the place, and I knew I had to be employed there.
After relentless nagging, I was fortunate enough to be hired in September of 1987, when I was still in school, as Starter’s first and only intern. My job was to mix and match the ink to team logo colors to be screened on the sew-on wristband appliqués for NFL, MLB, and NBA players.
Following my December ’87 graduation, I was hired full-time in Starter’s two-person art department. I’d been passionate about uniforms, colors, and logos since my youth, and it was a lot of fun getting my artistic sports visions out there. I specialized in designing graphics for my favorite sport, NFL football (although I also got to design Nolan Ryan’s official 300th-victory shirt [shown above]). I created the Conference Champs and Super Bowl locker room tees during the infancy of that product category. It was amazingly cool to have NFL team personnel and players wearing my artwork. I still see some of those shirts for sale on eBay 30 years later.
After two and a half years, I was able to secure the most coveted role I could have only dreamed of: pro teams services and relations coordinator. This job called for me to deal with the players and teams in all four of the major pro sports. With Starter being the biggest and best in the world at the time, and with the company at its peak, I could not envision a better job on the planet. How could there be? Here I was, a 25-year-old guy, going to Super Bowls, World Series, and so on, with all-areas access and elite treatment.
I was eventually appointed Team Service Manager for the NFL. It was a blast selecting the apparel and headwear styles for the teams to wear. I still remember the first player endorsement contract I negotiated — I signed Raiders wide receiver “Rocket” Ismail in ’94. Raiders players were always a priority and very important — something about the silver & black!
The job put me in contact with a lot of celebrities — not just NFL people (countless star players, along with coaches like Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Green), but also actors and musicians, I never knew who would be on the other end of the phone when I answered it, from Jerome Bettis to Paul McCartney. Everyone wanted Starter!
Originally we had all 28 then-current NFL teams wearing our product on the sidelines. Then, with the unexpected ambush of Apex One in 1990, we had to start paying coaches for their team’s coverage. The exposure wars began as we competed for the likes of George Seifert, Chuck Knox, Mike Ditka and so on. We would offer individual contracts to these guys for the right to outfit their team. The dollar amounts, which seemed exorbitant at the time, were laughably low sums by today’s standards.
Then we moved into uniforms. Although we didn’t have experience with on-field gear, there was no learning curve for us regarding uniform construction or production because it was outsourced to the very best — the Ripon folks in Berlin, Wis. They made our uniforms for us so the teams and Starter didn’t miss a beat in the transition.
We redesigned the Vikings’ purple jerseys following the ’95 season; I felt it was an aesthetic step backwards since I favored tradition:
Moving the TV numbers up to make room for the sleeve logo was fine. But I hated the sleeve stripes becoming the knit cuff at the end of the sleeves, especially striped in gold/white/gold. Those colors bordering each other never work — they don’t contrast well. if at all.
Unfortunately, as the 1990s wore on, the sun began to set on Starter. At that time, dozens of companies had the license to make Jets jerseys, Broncos jackets, etc. With all of that competition, and the league charging higher exposure fees from us, we had to spend more while sales began to wane. Just an oversaturated market. On April 19, 1999, only weeks after our product line had been voted the best at the annual NFL Equipment Managers meeting (beating out Nike, Reebok, and Logo Athletic), I got the word that we were finished as a company. Until the end and to this day, I maintain Starter made the best-quality apparel. It really was special there, the product and the people.
I moved on to Logo Athletic — Starter’s competitor — in Indianapolis. But in February 2000 I was called into the president’s office and told they were going out of business too. I was out of a job twice in less than a year, struck by bankruptcy lightning again.
I returned home to Connecticut in September of 2000 and was hired by Saranac, which at the time was Reebok’s NFL glove licensee. They had started on-field gloves for athletes — baseball batting gloves in the late ’60s, football in the ’70s. I was to handle all 32 teams’ glove and accessory needs, working closely with Reebok HQ to develop the colorways for their contracted players’ on-field gloves (thereby rekindling my design roots a bit). I reported to the owner of Saranac who, oddly, also happened to be a VP of the Green Bay Packers. A great man. It was a fun gig.
Reebok, meanwhile, soon struck an unprecedented 10-year exclusive apparel deal with the NFL. In September of 2003 I was given my biggest role: I was to work out of Reebok HQ in Massachusetts, overseeing the company’s contracted NFL players. In essence, I was managing the NFL team, league, and player services and relations for the company. This would primarily include negotiating and signing the players to contracts, and working on their footwear and glove product. (As an example, in November 2006 I did neon green gloves for Deion Branch in Seattle. That was the start of the Seahawks’ neon green craze.)
The signings included both Peyton and Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, DeMarcus Ware, Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, and many more. Reebok was the only game in town as far as the NFL’s uniforms and sideline apparel. Among other things, it put me on the Super Bowl XLI podium with Peyton in 2007:
My job also entailed executing player TV and photo shoots and appearances. My personal highlight was the “Perfectville” TV shoot in 2008 with the ’72 Dolphins (thanks for the jersey, Mercury!). When Reebok’s contract with the NFL expired, I stayed on for a year afterward until the remaining player contracts expired. I left in January 2013.
I’m currently the curator for the Patriots Hall of Fame. The Patriots are a premier, elite organization — the latest in a lifetime of such outfits I’ve been fortunate enough to be affiliated with. It’s been a great ride, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Paul here. Great story, Kurt — thanks for sharing.
Starter has gone through some new iterations since Kurt’s time with the company, of course. Most recently, they made the uniforms for the AAF — but we all know how that played out.
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Two great tastes that taste great together: You may have seen the shirt on the left before, but I’d never seen the one on the right until reader Ryan Brandt, who has both shirts in his wardrobe, sent me this photo. He says he got that one from a bottle shop on Chicago’s South Side — nice!
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At the old ballgame: Faaaascinating story yesterday from the New York Daily News, which reported that the Yankees have yanked Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” — a longtime staple of the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium — and replaced it with other recordings of the song after learning that Smith recorded at least two racist songs and endorsed a racist doll.
For those too young to remember, “God Bless America” was not played at MLB ballparks until after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when it became a standard seventh inning feature for the balance of the ’01 season and postseason. In the years that followed, most teams eventually reserved the song for Sundays and/or holidays, but the Yankees have kept playing it at every home game. Their TV broadcasts, most of which are shown on the team-owned YES network, stick around for the playing of the song instead of going to commercial (by contrast, the pregame playing of the national anthem is not broadcast), with the camera typically showing fans holding a flag or a USA-themed banner during the song.
Incredibly, this is the second time the Yankees have had to pull a “God Bless America” vocalist due to concerns about bigotry. In 2009, the team sacked Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who at the time routinely performed the song live on the field during the stretch of home playoff games, after reports that he had made an anti-Semitic slur, which he later said was a joke. (Visiting teams sometimes complained that Tynan’s long, drawn-out rendition of the song gave the Yanks an unfair advantage, because it forced the visiting pitcher to stand around in the October chill before getting down to business in the bottom of the seventh.)
Earlier that year, the Yankees settled a lawsuit brought by a fan who was ejected from a game after he tried to use the restroom during the playing of “God Bless America.” As part of the settlement, the team agreed that it would no longer restrict fans’ movements in the stadium while the song was being played.
Radical thought: Stop the outdated jingoistic nonsense already and just play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the stretch. I’m fairly certain there won’t be any lawsuits or accusations of bigotry over that.
NFL News: From Phil: The 49ers will again wear their all-white throwbacks in 2019. … We know that the Browns will have new uniforms in 2020. Could the five stripe pattern the team has recently used in its marketing materials be a part of any redesign, on or off the field? … This is kind of strange: The Chiefs released their 2019 schedule by recreating each of its opponents’ helmets with grey facemasks, whether accurate or not, except for the Chargers, who were shown with yellow facemasks (from @beelze_BUBBLES). … The Panthers unveiled their schedule with a journey through video gaming history. … Like the Falcons, the Texans paid homage to the Game of Thrones intro to unveil their 2019 schedule. … Here’s a clearer picture of the Jaguars’ new 25th-season logo that was recently teased (from multiple readers). … A designer has posted uniform concepts for each NFL team.
College Football News: How many SEC football stadiums can you fit in Talladega Superspeedway? It turns out all of them (from James Gilbert). … Boise State is replacing its well-known field this offseason, though the new turf will remain blue (from Tyler Keefe).
Hockey News: Reader Kary Klismet was at an Avalanche game when he spotted a fan wearing the jersey of “Bernie,” the team’s St. Bernard mascot, complete with a dog bone numeral and a hole in the back for a tail. Kary says the fan “has hired Bernie as entertainment for several events for his organization and got the jersey as an appreciative gesture from the team.”
Soccer News: Here’s a visual history of English club Liverpool wearing pinstripes, including on its newest shirt (from Steve Kriske). … Scottish club Celtic’s new home shirt probably leaked (from our own Anthony Matthew Emerson and multiple readers). … German club VfB Stuttgart will wear a 125th-anniversary shirt (from Antonio Losada). … FC Wichita Falls, an arena league team, announced that the winning submission from its team-naming contest was “Flyers.”
Grab Bag: Cross-listed from the college football section: How many SEC football stadiums can you fit in Talladega Superspeedway? It turns out all of them (from James Gilbert). … Professional IndyCar driver Marco Andretti will use a throwback livery for the Indianapolis 500 that pays homage to his grandfather, Mario Andretti, who won the race in 1969 (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Vogue detailed “the most mesmerizing design moments” from the world’s preeminent furnishing and design sector showcase, the Salone del Mobile. … The Wisconsin-based coffee company Kickapoo Coffee announced that it will change its name to avoid appropriating the identity of the indigenous Kickapoo tribes (from R. Scott Rogers and Nick Haering). … Disney has introduced “Captain Minnie Mouse,” who wears pants on the company’s cruise line, to “inspire the next generation of female leaders in the maritime industry.” … Some women are criticizing Twitter’s CEO for making a public appearance in a beanie and hooded sweatshirt that they believe represents a double standard. … This is what Walmart looked like when it first opened in 1962. … Ahead of Easter, check out these photographs depicting eggs in art and design. … Take a look at the Easter egg designs that Iowa and Utah submitted for this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. … HBO issued a statement asking that its “intellectual property not be used for political purposes” after President Trump made a made a Game of Thrones-themed tweet yesterday. … Adidas is out with a new Game of Thrones-themed shoe that depicts both “fire” and “ice” (from John Cerone).
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Our latest raffle winner is Randy Allemann, who’s won himself a Goodyear-inspired Uni Watch T-shirt, in green. Congrats to him, and big thanks to Jon Eidukas for purchasing and donating the shirt. We’ll have more raffles next week.
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Happy Passover and Easter to all who are celebrating this weekend. — Paul
I recently received an email from a guy named Dan Skinner, who explained that he was (a) a longtime Uni Watch reader and (b) the brand communications manager for Hebrew National hot dogs. He said an all-Jewish softball team that plays in a church league in Albuquerque, N.M., had contacted him a few months earlier to ask if it would be alright to change their team’s name to the Hebrew Nationals. “We decided we could do a lot more than just that,” said Skinner. “We designed a complete set of softball uniforms for them!”
I followed up with Skinner on the phone, after which he put me in touch with the softball team’s coach, Scott Fliegel, who agreed to a phone interview. Here’s an edited/condensed version of our conversation:
Uni Watch: First please tell me a little about yourself. Where do you live, how old are you, and what do you do for a living?
Scott Fliegel [shown at right]: Sure. I’m 55, I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I’m a project manager.
UW: Tell me about your team and the league that you play in.
SF: It’s a city league, called the Church League. Almost every team is affiliated in one way or another with a church. There’s a church on every corner here in Albuquerque, so there’s a lot of teams, in five divisions.
Our team, we’re not a super-religious bunch, but we were affiliated for many years with one of the four Jewish synagogues here in Albuquerque. But we recently decided to change the name of our team, and also to end that specific affiliation. Most everyone on our team is Jewish, and maybe involved with the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation, or any number of other Jewish organizations, but we didn’t feel we needed that connection to this one synagogue.
UW: Are the other teams all affiliated with Christian churches, or are there Muslim teams, Buddhist, or whatever?
SF: I wish there was more diversity, but all the other teams are affiliated with Christian churches. At one point a few years back our group had enough players to field a second team, so there were two Jewish teams.
UW: What was your team’s previous name?
SF: We were the Congregation Albert — that’s the name of the synagogue — Lions.
UW: And what sorts of uniforms did you have?
SF: We just had a V-neck jersey with “Congregation Albert Lions” on the front and a number on the back. We didn’t have uniform hats or pants. The requirement from the city is that we have a team jersey with a number on it.
UW: And how did you get the idea to change the name to Hebrew Nationals?
SF: The whole team had a vote toward the end of last season, because we knew we were going to change the name for 2019. There were a couple of other names in the running — I can’t remember what they were — but most people seemed to like Hebrew Nationals.
UW: I think a lot of people would have just chosen the name and not worried about asking the company for permission. I mean, if you had simply gone ahead and done it, they probably would never have heard about it, and probably wouldn’t have cared even if they did hear about it, don’t you think?
SF: Probably. But we have some lawyers on my team, and I was thinking I might as well call them, because I didn’t want to get in any trouble. But I had another motive, which was this: If they were okay with us using the name, would they also be willing to send us a logo that I could put on our jerseys? I liked the font, the colors, the whole thing.
UW: So instead of that, they offered to make a full uniform set for you?
SF: Exactly. Dan Skinner, our contact at Conagra [Hebrew National’s parent company], he said, “I don’t know if it’s okay to use the name — let me check with our legal department.” And then he got back to me and said, “Not only are we fine with it, but we all love the idea and want to sponsor the team.”
UW: And what was your reaction?
SF: I was like, are you kidding me? That sounded great! I said yeah, let’s do that.
UW: How involved were you and your teammates, if at all, in the design process?
SF: They came up with a few versions and sent us mock-ups, and we chose the one we liked best.
UW: I was a little surprised that they didn’t add an “s” to their logo on the jersey, so that it would say “Nationals,” to match your team name, instead of “National.” Did you discuss that with them?
SF: No, I didn’t — and I haven’t. We’re grateful for the uniforms. But I did notice that, and I do wish they’d included the “s.” [Dan Skinner, the Conagra guy, told me that changing the logo to pluralize it would have been too involved. — PL]
UW: They’re giving you caps, pants, and socks along with the jerseys. Do any of the other teams in your league do the full uniform like that?
SF: No, never.
UW: So you guys are really going to stick out as the most fully uniformed team in the league this year.
SF: No question.
UW: Do you have any concerns about looking like Hebrew National billboards or advertisements, or even looking like hot dog vendors?
SF: No, I really don’t.
UW: Were you a Hebrew National customer before this?
SF: I was! They sell ’em at Costco, and we all grew up eating Hebrew National hot dogs. And now I’ll definitely be a Hebrew National customer going forward.
UW: Are there any vegetarians on your team?
SF: You know, that’s a great question. I don’t know!
UW: If you did, you’d probably know. It would come up as part of the social camaraderie of the team — or it would have come up when you started talking about naming your team after a hot dog brand!
Nice story, right? Hebrew National also supplied the team with a pair of bats. The team won’t use them on the field (wood bats aren’t allowed), but they plan to use them as rally sticks:
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Paul, I thought you were opposed to corporate marketing on uniforms!” True enough. But come on, this is church softball league. And I like how everyone here has operated with such a sense of goodwill: The team didn’t have to ask permission to use the name (like I said in the interview, the company would probably never have known about it), but they asked anyway. And the company didn’t have to grant them permission, but they did — and then they decided to go the extra mile. And I’m happy to say that the word “branding” didn’t come up even once in my discussions with Skinner and Fliegel. The whole thing strikes me as more of a feel-good softball story than a corporate story, which is to the credit of everyone involved. I say it’s kosher.
One last thought: Having been to Albuquerque, and being a big neon sign fan, I know that the town has a gorgeous hot dog joint called the Dog House. Check this out (but you might want to mute the sound):
So good! Perhaps the team could pose for some photos under the Dog House sign, or get the restaurant involved in some way..? Alas, according to Fliegel, the team coach, the Dog House serves Vienna Beef dogs, not Hebrew National. Dang.
The Hebrew Nationals’ season begins on Monday. I for one will be rooting for them.
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NFL schedule announcements: It wasn’t so long ago that NFL teams would just say, “Here’s our schedule” and leave it at that. But nowadays teams commit some serious creative energy into publicizing their schedules. With the 2019 NFL slate announced yesterday, I was amazed by the lengths that some teams went to. The Packers, for example, came up with a fantastic Pac Man-inspired video clip — check this out:
Okay, so they got the Lions’ helmet wrong and apparently didn’t have time to update the Chargers’ facemask color, but still — so good! Kudos to all involved.
The Steelers’ announcement was based on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — a sweet nod to Pittsburgh’s own Fred Rogers, and it runs nicely against the grain of the NFL’s usual shock-and-awe messaging style:
More out-of-date helmets, but whatever. It’s about the most un-Cowboys-like thing I can imagine, and I mean that as a compliment.
I don’t know who’s coming up with these, but they’re more interesting that 90% of what we see during halftime reports, sideline reports, and so on.
(My thanks to CB Mallow, Anakin Forrest, Ephraim Vorzman, and Victor Quintana for bringing these to my attention.)
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Photo by Doug MacCash, NOLA.com; click to enlarge
Un-bead-able: The gentleman shown above is Vernon Martin Jr., and the photo was taken at last month’s Uptown Super Sunday Mardi Gras Indian procession. Martin’s incredible coat featured lots of incredible bead mosaics, several of which were Saints-themed. Dig (all photos by Doug MacCash, NOLA.com; click to enlarge):
(My thanks to Uni Watch New Orleans bureau chief Scott M.X. Turner for this one, along with my apologies for taking so long to post it.)
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Very belated (but welcome) response: I receive a lot of really special emails from Uni Watch readers. I think it’s safe to say that it’ll be a while before I receive one as good as the one that came in last night from a reader named Dennis:
Way back in 2004ish, when Mr. Lukas started his “Uni Watch” column on ESPN, I read his work and was a bit dumbfounded by the basis of the column. I struggled with the fact that a writer was writing about athletes’ uniforms rather than their accomplishments.
After reading the article several times, and pondering, I sent Paul an email. I don’t recall the details, but it was likely an unsuccessful attempt to be humorous by pointing out what I felt was the silliness of the “uniform” concept. I do however recall that I ended the note with the comment that “I hope I never meet you.” That’s a pretty horrible thing to say to anyone, but again, I was trying to be funny.
To my amazement, Paul responded with something along the lines of “Uh, thanks? I hope to never meet you too.”
Since that time, I have followed Paul’s column when I tripped across it, and really enjoyed the insight. But for 15 years my troll-like email has bothered me. It came across as mean-spirited.
So I apologize, Paul. You proved me wrong (not hard to do, so don’t let it go to your head).
Good luck in your new endeavor. I will follow, and someday I’d be happy to meet you.
That’s pretty amazing.
I don’t remember my original exchange with Dennis, although I do recall that there were plenty of emails like the one he describes during my early days at ESPN. I hope Dennis isn’t the only one who eventually Got It™ after some initial skepticism.
More importantly, Dennis’s note shows that it’s never too late to apologize — a lesson that’s good for all of us to remember from time to time. After I read his note, I called my brother and apologized for something petty I’d said to him a while back. It led to a good conversation. A win-win.
This whole episode is also a teachable moment about communication on the internet. Would Dennis have said something rude and demeaning to my face? Of course not. But the internet has this way of lowering inhibitions, erasing boundaries, and providing a sense of invisibility, anonymity, and lack of consequences. We’ve all been there (sometimes in the comments section of this website), but that doesn’t make it okay. Fortunately, as Dennis’s latest email shows, the internet often provides an avenue to make amends as well.
So thanks for that, Dennis. I’d be happy to meet you, too.
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Click to enlarge
ITEM! One-day T-shirt raffle: Reader Jon Eidukas likes our new Goodyear-inspired T-shirts so much that he bought one for himself and has generously offered to purchase one for a lucky raffle winner.
To enter this raffle, send an email with your color preference (green or grey), size, and shipping infoto the raffle address by 10pm Eastern tonight. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.
Meanwhile, for those who’d rather purchase a shirt instead of (or in addition to) winning one, here’s where you can order the green and grey versions.
Baseball News: Here’s some great newsreel footage from the first game ever played at Shea Stadium. See the uniform being worn by this ticket-taker? Sure enough, that matches up with the uni shown in an old stadium uniform catalog that I wrote about last year. … The Double-A Mississippi Braves, who play in Jackson, Miss., will wear 1990s Jackson Generals throwbacks on June 28. Their opponents will be the current Jackson Generals, a Diamondbacks affiliate based in Jackson, Tenn. So the game will be Jackson (Miss.) Generals vs. Jackson (Tenn.) Generals! (From Bill Hetrick.) … Two Padres — SS Manny Machado and LF Wil Myers — appeared to be wearing glossy batting helmets, instead of the team’s usual matte, in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game. They had worn matte up until that point. It was raining at the end of the game, so you might think that could have caused the glossy effect, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve asked Padres radio broadcaster and longtime uni-watcher Jesse Agler to investigate (good spot by Chris Fahrman). … The jersey logo for Adair County High School in Kentucky is positioned awfully high, and also manages to poach both the Braves and Florida State (from Josh Claywell, who says the team, which is called the Indians, also has Wahoo on the outfield fence for good measure). … Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper says he’d love to redesign many MLB teams’ uniforms (from Jason Diebold). … A street in Baltimore has been renamed for Frank Robinson, with the Orioles’ logo on the street sign. … Pepperdine will wear 1979 tequila sunrise throwbacks on April 28. The interesting thing there is that they were wearing that design when the Astros were still wearing it! (From Max G.) … New “Beer City” uniforms, celebrating regional craft breweries, for the Asheville Tourists. … Here’s a guide to the 24 Cincinnati locations with statues of Mr. Redlegs in throwback uniforms. … Here’s some rare newsreel footage of one-armed St. Louis Browns OF Pete Gray in action. … Not uni- or visual-related, but still pretty amazing: Reds 1B Joey Votto popped out to first base last night — the first time in his 13-year career that he’s ever done so. Really! … White Sox SS Tim Anderson appears to have a “TA”-monogrammed belt (from Malcolm MacMillan). … The Mets apparently misspelled P Noah Syndergaard’s surname on their own scoreboard (from Eric Abneri).
Football News: Broncos coach Vic Fangio is having the players wear their game jerseys, instead of practice jerseys, in minicamp. He says it’s because the game jerseys are tighter-fitting, so the players won’t develop bad jersey-grabbing habits. One positive result of this is that the ads normally worn on the team’s practice jerseys are nowhere to be found on the minicamp game jerseys (from Brian Spiess). … Here’s a video clip that shows keyboardist/vocalist Mike Lindup of British band Level 42 wearing a Bears jersey with an inaccurate number font (from Jim Vilk). … 1970s Packers RB Barty Smith wore a “B. E. Smith” NOB early in his career, because WR Barry Smth was also on the roster. Rare to see two initials! … The NFL will have four games in the UK this season, including two at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. According to this ESPN article, the Packers are the only NFL team not to have played in the UK. … Some new uni number assignments for the Colts (from Jarrod Campbell). … The AAF filed for bankruptcy yesterday (shocker). According to this paywalled WSJ article, the league listed among its assets “property including jerseys, pads, and other football equipment,” which will presumably be sold off to help pay creditors. … Hmm, did the Jags’ schedule announcement include a tease of a new 25th-anniversary logo? (From Jason Farmand.) … What’s even better than TV numbers on the sleeves? TV ads! That’s a player for the Kragujevac Wild Boars, a team in the Central European Football League (from Jim Roddy). … I’m not sure what a “custom compression top” is, but Florida has them and they look pretty weird (from Hunter G).
Hockey News: After the Wild agreed on Tuesday to keep playing in their current arena through 2035, team owner Craig Leipold and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter posed with a No. 2035 Wild jersey (from @faithson77). … Athletic Knit — a company that I confess I’d never even heard of before — is now the official jersey provider of the ECHL. … At a memorial service for a longtime Maple Leafs usher who died earlier this month, family members wore Leafs jerseys with No. G1 — short for Gate One, which was the gate where the deceased usher worked.
Basketball News: Inaugural uniforms for the Fraser Valley Bandits of the new Canadian Elite Basketball League. “The team is based in Abbotsford, British Columbia,” says Canadian uni specialist Wade Heidt. … Here’s a Baylor uniform that apparently wasn’t part of the school’s recent uni unveiling (from @squatcheeontop).
Soccer News: New kit outfitter for Reading FC (from Ed Zelaski). … Some of next season’s kits are being released, even though it’s still this season. Among the new releases: for Liverpool and Scottish junior team Clydebank (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … The first pictures of the next-gen Adidas Nemeziz 19+ boots have leaked, and so have new kits from Leicester City, São Paulo, and Santos (all of those from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: New kits for CA Bragantino.
Grab Bag: New uniforms for Italian volleyball officials (from Jeremy Brahm). … Cycling news: Team Sky will officially become Team Ineos on April 30, a day earlier than planned, with the new name to debut at the Tour de Romandie, but their new kit will be held back for the Tour de Yorkshire (from Matt Dowell). … The sports world is noticing that if rapper Drake wears a team’s jersey, it often turns out to be bad luck. … After a bit of local controversy, the Laguna Beach (Cal.) City Council has voted to keep the American flag-based deisgn on the city’s police cars. … U.S. special operations forces are getting a new combat helmet. … A comment from Adidas Tennis on this Instagram post indicates that the company will no longer include the “RG” logo, for Roland Garros, on its French Open attire: “[O]ur official partnership with this tournament has ended, so we’re no longer in a position to include that logo on our outfits” (thanks, Brinke). … Helvetica, the world’s most popular typeface, is getting a facelift. … I still call it Gateway Motorsports Park (from Chris Hickey). … The Olentangy (Ohio) Local School District’s new logo is a bit of a head-scratcher for local residents. … Oh, for fuck’s sake: The flight-progress maps on airplane seat-back video screens are about to become flooded with targeted advertising (WSJ link) (from Jack Wade). … Notre Dame has hired its first female leprechaun mascot (from Kary Klismet).