A Visit to the National Football Museum in Manchester

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[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Mark Gillingham, who’s going to tell us about a museum exhibit about soccer kits that he recently checked out. Enjoy. — PL]

By Mark Gillingham

I recently visited the National Football Museum in Manchester, England. As you’d expect, the museum has a few permanent displays involving shirts and kits (including an England shirt from the first ever international match in 1872), but they currently have an exhibit called Strip! How Football Got Shirty, which is essentially a history of football kits. It touches on all aspects of design and manufacture, but I thought there were a few parts that Uni Watch readers might be particularly interested in.

On the manufacturing side of things, there was an example of one of the first synthetic-fiber shirts to be used in an English football match, worn by Bolton Wanderers in the 1953 FA Cup Final:

It was described as being made of “man-made silk.” And instead of the standard explanations we get today for materials being stronger/lighter/cooler, it was apparently beneficial because of the shimmer coming from the material, which made it easier for Bolton’s players to pick each other out on the pitch. This doesn’t appear to have been too successful, though — they lost the game, 4-3, to Blackpool FC.

There is also quite a lot about the commercialization of the football kit. Replica shirts are touched upon — apparently Admiral Sportswear CEO Bert Patrick gets the credit (or blame) for them:

The display also used a Manchester City shirt to note that, initially, replica kits were almost exclusively manufactured for children, but those kids then wanted adult versions when they grew up

There is also a considerable amount about shirt “sponsorship.” Interestingly, this exhibit is the first time I’ve ever seen such companies referred to as “advertisers” in the UK, and the point of view seemed quite explicitly opposed to the idea of excessive branding on kits — maybe the curators include some Uni Watch readers!

In addition, there were numerous examples of early branded/advertised shirts on display:

I didn’t take photographs of every part of the exhibit, but other sections included a collection of the 20 greatest football shirts of all time (as chosen by the curators, obviously) and a shirt Hall of Shame, which included not only perceived “bad designs” but also shirts that had been produced or designed with poor intentions, or shirts that had been breaks from tradition with negative impacts on the clubs (such as Cardiff City’s ill-fated shift from blue to red as their primary color). 

For any Uni Watch readers who happen to be in the area between now and June, I’d certainly recommend a visit. The exhibit has clearly been put together by people who have their finger on the pulse when it comes to issues around football kits today, and it’s an interesting way of killing an hour or two (and the rest of the museum is worth a look as well). 

To finish, I here’s an image of my favorite aesthetic part of the exhibit — an extensive collection of some very ’90s shirts that’s an absolute feast for the eyes:

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Paul here. Thanks for that, Mark. In addition, the museum is currently running an interactive display that allows visitors to design their own soccer shirts. Good stuff!

Also: As noted in yesterday’s Ticker, the museum has been in the news lately because they had a match-worn 1991-92 Celtic shirt stolen. I’m assuming Mark didn’t have anything to do with that — right, Mark?

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Pats contest results reminder: In case you missed it on Thursday, the results of our Patriots-redesign contest are now available over on InsideHook. Enjoy!

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Membership update: Eight new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Joe McGrath’s New York Rangers treatment, shown at right). I expect the printed/laminated versions of these cards to ship out by next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in our Teespring shop and our Naming Wrongs shop. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.)

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,400 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The day after: It is no longer National Chili Day (that was yesterday), but any day would be a good day for the shirt design shown above, at least hypothetically. If you agree, shoot me a note. Thanks.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: At least one Indians player was in an old Majestic jersey during their Cactus League game yesterday (from @BraysWorld). … The Rockies have an interesting logo celebrating 25 years at Coors Field. It likely won’t be worn as a patch, though (from Bryan Stelmak). … The Washington Post has a really great article on how Nats OF Michael A. Taylor breaks in a new glove. Highly recommended (from Tommy Turner and Mike Rosenberg). … Red Sox IF Chad De La Guerra has a Garciaparra-esque NOB arch (from @MopUpReliver). … The Altoona Curve, Double-A affiliates of the Pirates, will run a weekend promotion as the “Altoona Brookies” on June 19-21 (from Matthew Loudreau). … Also posted in the hoops section: Kansas City men are wearing unis inspired by the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs tonight in honor of Black History Month (from @TwinsFan54321). … Gorgeous new away jerseys for Wartburg College (from Romelle Slaughter II).

NFL News: Packers blog The Packers Wire is having a contest to design the Pack’s new alternate uni. … I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing the “Las Vegas Raiders” on a wordmark (from Austin Meo). … A bunch of people were upset when country singer Garth Brooks posted a picture of himself in a Lions Barry Sanders jersey, because they thought the “SANDERS 20” jersey was an endorsement of Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Maybe if Garth hadn’t picked up the ugly gray jersey that Barry Sanders never wore they might’ve gotten it (from multiple readers). … The last time the Bucs redesigned their uniforms, the “unveiling” was simply an internet announcement. This time they’ll have a proper live event.

Hockey News: Golden Knights G Robin Lehner very subtly changed his pad design following his trade from the Blackhawks to Vegas earlier this week (from @illisconsin). … The AHL’s Ontario Reign wore these sweaters for First Responders Night yesterday (from Jakob Fox).

Hoops News: Reader Ian Brekke noticed that the Pelicans seemed to have lowered the striping on their Mardi Gras jerseys, apparently so that players’ NOBs no longer overlapped with the stripes. … Cross-posted from the baseball section: Kansas City men are wearing unis inspired by the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs tonight in honor of Black History Month (from @TwinsFan54321). … Good article about the new wave of college basketball court designs (from Timmy Donahue).

Soccer News: After Manchester United ST Odion Ighalo scored a goal during United’s match against Club Brugge, he lifted up his jersey to reveal his undershirt, which had a photo of his sister who recently passed away (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: Wolves wore their charity’s logo instead of their betting advertisement during their Europa League match against Espanyol in Spain. … In honor of their 10th season, the Portland Timbers tweeted an extremely cool animation of every kit in their history (from @bryant_rf and @GDH415). … USL Championship side North Carolina FC have unveiled their new kits. Note the club’s badge was changed to match the color scheme of their advertiser (from John Flory). … The Columbus Crew are getting a new jersey advertiser. I doubt any Uni Watch readers will partake in this, but the Crew are offering fans who purchased the new jersey without the ad the ability to add the advertisement for free (from multiple readers). … A whole bunch of Canadian Premier League kits were revealed yesterday: Hamilton Forge, York 9 FC, Winnipeg Valour, Pacific FC, Halifax Wanderers, Cavalry FC, and FC Edmonton. I really wish the CPL threaded those tweets together! (from Wade Heidt). … New York Cosmos, now playing in the National Independent Soccer Association, have unveiled their new home kit (from Ed Żelaski). … NWSL side Washington Spirit have teased their new shirt (thanks, Jamie). … Here’s a ranking of the new MLS jerseys.

Grab Bag: A carnival float in Spain featured people dressed in Nazi uniforms. … New logo for Giant supermarkets. … Auto maker Kia will have a new logo soon. … Can you identify these original car logos?

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Emancipation Day: Tomorrow, Feb. 29 (Leap Day!), is the 24th anniversary of the day I walked out of my office at Billboard Books for the final time and began life as a full-time freelance writer. I’d been freelancing on the side for a little over two years and decided it was time to take the plunge. Giving up a stable job was a bit scary, but I had to give it a try, because I wasn’t happy with my life or career up to that point and knew I needed to make changes or else I wouldn’t be able to keep facing myself in the mirror each morning.

The flip side to the flexibility I’ve enjoyed since then, of course, is a lack of security — a point that was driven home rather forcefully last year. But despite all that tumult, I have no regrets about the path I’ve chosen. Despite a few rocky moments, in the big picture it’s worked out better than I ever could have imagined, in part because of of the wonderful and supportive comm-uni-ty that’s formed around this website. On a nearly daily basis, you folks make it clear to me that I made the right choice two dozen years ago.

As I like to remind people each year on this date — and also remind myself — the moral of the story is this: If you want to change your life or reinvent yourself, don’t just sit around fantasizing about it — make it happen. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you won’t spend the rest of your life wondering about what might have been.

When I’ve run this item in past years, some of you have gotten in touch and said something like, “That’s really inspiring. I’d like to reinvent myself too, but where do I start?” The biggest thing, I’d say, is to have a sense of direction. It’s one thing to know that you want to make changes to your life; it’s another to know what you want those changes to be. In my case, I had come to realize that I needed to live a creative life in general and be a writer in particular. I wasn’t sure I could be successful at it, but I at least needed to try.

Of course, maybe you already like your life just fine the way it is, in which case more power to you! Either way, thanks for listening, and have a great weekend. — Paul

Time for the Patriots-Redesign Contest Results

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Big thanks to everyone who submitted entries for our “Redesign the Patriots” contest (including Gene Sanny, whose entry, shown above, caught my eye because of his interesting side-view rendition of Pat Patriot). Today we have the results, as I’ve singled out the best and most interesting results. You can see them over on InsideHook.

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Thing of beauty: Gotta love this late-1970s ad from Wilson. Of particular note, check out the line at bottom where it says, “16 major league teams suit up in Wilson uniforms … 9 for both road and home.” In those days, that was more the exception than the rule, as teams routinely had different outfitters for their home and road unis.

(My thanks to Tom O’Grady for posting this on Twitter.)

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What’s in a name, continued: Earlier this month I mentioned how weird it was to see an obituary for someone with the same name as mine. Similarly, my surname has been misspelled as “Lucas” so often during my life that it’s also a bit weird to see the misspelling printed on the chest of a high school football uniform.

The school in question is Lucas High in the heretofore unknown-to-me town of Lucas, Ohio. They unveiled the new uniforms yesterday. Interestingly, they don’t seem to have maker’s marks — very Lucas/Lukas-appropriate!

Lucas, incidentally, is about two hours due east from another notably named Ohio town: Uniopolis. I may have to hit both of those towns on a road trip one day.

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Too good for the Ticker: Pictograms for the various Olympic sports are nothing new. But as you can see above, the 2020 Tokyo Games will have something new: animated pictograms.

I’m a sucker for this kind of simple but engaging animation. Click on the video link — it’s fun! Lots of additional info here.

Of course, it’s worth noting that the Tokyo Games could be cancelled due to the coronavirus, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

(Big thanks to my pal Rob Walker for this one.)

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And hey, speaking of that virus thingie…: With the coronavirus threatening to become a global pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control issued this spectacular infographic showing how certain male facial hair styles compromise the efficacy of protective masks. Lots of names here I wasn’t familiar with, like Hulihee and Balbo. I also didn’t realize that a Hitler-style ’stache is called a Toothbrush, or that there’s another style called a Painter’s Brush. The more you know!

All joking aside, I’m a bit concerned about all of this because (a) I am a chronic asthmatic, which means any respiratory virus is a major danger for me (that’s a polite way of saying there’s a good chance the coronavirus would kill me), and (b) I take a medicine — for something else, not for asthma — that compromises my immune system, so I’m at a higher risk for infection (although, on the plus side, (c) I work from home, which helps limit my exposure). All of which is to say, I haven’t put on a mask yet, but I’m thinking about it. And if I go that route, this chart indicates that I’ll have to change my facial hair in order to preserve the mask’s effectiveness. I wonder how many other men will end up up changing their facial hair as a result of this outbreak.

Update: Reader/commenter Martina notes that this infographic was actually released in 2017. “The advice about respirators might end up being relevant to the coronavirus, but currently CDC is not recommending people use them.” Thanks for that, Martina!

Meanwhile: I’m sorry to report that the coronavirus’s disruption of global supply chains has affected us here at Uni Watch. Our March design for the Uni Watch Pin Club would normally be due to launch next Tuesday (the first Tuesday of the month), but that will will be pushed back to next Friday or maybe the following week, depending on how things shake out. Also, our Uni Watch hockey jerseys, which were originally slated to ship out to customers in mid-March, are being delayed by about a month. Obviously, we’re just a very small part of the global slowdown, but it’s interesting to see that even Uni Watch is not immune. Thanks to everyone for their patience.

(My thanks to the Tugboat Captain for this one.)

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Hypothetically speaking: Did you know that today is National Chili Day? It’s true! Wouldn’t it be fun, just hypothetically, if this momentous occasion could be celebrated with the shirt design concept shown above? If you agree, shoot me a note. Thanks.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Students at South San Francisco High School, whose teams are called the Warriors, are pushing for the school to stop using Native American imagery, although there’s no move to change the team name itself (from Timmy Donahue). … There’s reportedly an increased push for the U. of Illinois to change from the Fighting Illini to the Kingfishers (from Matt Snyder). … High school students in Menomonee Falls, Wis., have narrowed down the list of potential names that will replace “Indians” for the school’s teams (from @dbalke). … A recent installment in The Sturgis Journal’s ongoing series about local high school mascots in Michigan covers the White Pigeon Chiefs and the story of Wahbememe, a Potawatomi chief whose name translates to “White Pigeon” — the town’s name. “The article delves into the appropriateness of Native American nicknames and whether written approval from one of Wahbememe’s descendants provides sufficient justification for the use of the ‘Chiefs’ name,” says Kary Klismet.

Baseball News: Phillies P Zach Eflin has noticed some changes to the MLB ball this spring (from @brianspeaksnow). … The Single-A Lexington Legends, a Royals affiliate, will play as the Kentucky Beer Cheese on Aug. 13-15 (from Noah Neidlinger). … Former Red Sox star David Ortiz is selling off a bunch of cool memorabilia (from Sara Klein). … The Diamondbacks have explored the possibility of playing in Vancouver if their home ballpark has a structural emergency (from Wade Heidt). … The famously flippant St. Paul Saints will be giving away “Astro the Grouch” bobbleheads on July 31 (from Nick Hannula). … New powder-blue jerseys for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (from Chris Nickinson). … The Cubs gave away Arizona State-themed Cubs caps for yesterday’s spring training game. … New cream uniforms for Cal State Northridge (from @MistaMaxG). … Reds OF Nick Castellanos was wearing the team’s regular season cap, rather than the spring/BP, during yesterday’s exhibition game against the Mariners (from Joanna Zweip). … Also from Joanna: Phillies OF Bryce Harper posed for a photo with Phils prospect Bryson Stott, who appeared to be wearing Harper’s personal logo on his belt. … Remember the black memorial armband that the Blue Jays recently added for Tony Fernández? They’ve now stopped wearing it. I thought they might replace it with a patch based on their new outfield wall memorial graphic, but not so far. … Vanderbilt C Ty Duvall’s batting helmet logo was askew yesterday. … It’s a little hard to see, but at least two Houston Cougars players appeared to be wearing black bands over their right hoodie sleeves the other night. Bob Andrews thinks they might be memorial bands for John Altobelli, who played college ball at Houston and recently died in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash. … The Smithsonian’s permanent collection includes a Rangers uniform worn by country singer Charley Pride (from James Gilbert). … MLB will reportedly be cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances this season. … “The 1988 Fresno Suns were a co-op team consisting mostly of Japanese minor leaguers (with great names like Bullet Manabe) and castoffs (with even greater names like Rocco Buffolino) looking for a new gig,” says John English. “There are almost no color photos of them, aside from two card sets.” But that didn’t stop John from DIYing this great jersey. “My process involved printing stencils backwards, tracing those onto fusible bond-mounted flannel felt, then stitching everything together to reinforce, and adhering it to the jersey.” He also DIY’d that 1961 KC A’s jersey that’s visible in the final photo! … The Cubs have put their old, much-derided “Cuba” script in the outfield grass.

NFL News: Whoa, what the hell were they thinking when they put this messed-up Saints helmet graphic on the field in 1970? (Good find by @unavion.) … Here’s a weird one: The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers are offering a bobblehead of one of their players, Larry Nance Jr., in a Browns jersey. The rare cross-sport bobble! (From Jerry Wolper.) … Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, discussing the team’s upcoming new uniforms, says, “I think it’s more closer to the Super Bowl uniforms.” If he’s right, that doesn’t bode well for those hoping for a return of the Creamsicles.

College Football News: The LA Bowl — that’s a new bowl game debuting next winter because, you know, there weren’t enough bowl games already — unveiled its inaugural logo.

Hockey News: Trinity Catholic High School will retire former co-captain Brian Bill’s No. 24 on March 2. “Bill, who became a Navy SEAL, died in action in Afghanistan in 2011,” explains Timmy Donahue). … Rare shot of Wayne Gretzky in a Phoenix Roadrunners uniform. He played one exhibition game for them in 1993 (from @SDubs35). … In this photo from a 1970s Leafs/Caps game, the Caps player in the center has white “Washington” lettering, while his teammates have blue (good spot by Johnny Woods). … Military-appreciation pregame sweaters last night for the Avs (from Collin Felix). … Speaking of the Avs, head coach Jared Bednar had quite the outfit last night (from Collin Felix). … The Golden Knights added a helmet decal last night for Alex Bush, a 12-year-old in the team’s youth hockey program who was recently killed by a distracted driver (from Taylor Crabtree). … The hockey team at Moorhead High in Minnesota has pretty much the best logo ever (from Jimmy Lonetti). … Unusual development in last night’s Kings/Pens game, as a puck got stuck in the net’s exterior plastic apron. … Prior to that same game, Kings mascot Bailey wore an L.A. Blades jersey in honor of pregame Black History Month guest Willie O’Ree.

NBA News: PF/C Donta Hall will wear No. 42 for the Pistons. … The D League’s Texas Legends went with mental health awareness gear last night (from Chris Mycoskie). … Cross-listed from the NFL section: The Cavs are offering a bobblehead of PF/C Larry Nance Jr. wearing a Cleveland Browns jersey (from Jerry Wolper).

College Hoops News: Here’s the court design for next month’s MAAC championships (from @DaveGH2P). … Villanova retired alum Kyle Lowry’s No. 1 last night (from Timmy Donahue). … Yesterday was Virginia Tech’s “Maroon Effect” game, so the Hokies wore maroon at home, with UVA wearing white on the road (from Andrew Cosentino).

Soccer News: New title advertiser for the Russian Premier League (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: New kit outfitter for Scottish side Kilmarnock FC. … “A match-worn Celtic shirt from the 1991-92 season was recently stolen from England’s National Football Museum in Manchester,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. … New secondary jersey for the Chicago Fire (from Terry Mark). … Speaking of the Fire, they’ve also unveiled a series of 12 patch designs that they’ll wear during the upcoming season (from Anthony Nuccio). … Chattanooga FC’s inaugural jersey will be subtly imprinted with the names of nearly 4,000 investors in the club (from @TannerDabbs). … Here’s a look at some basic facts and figures for every MLS training facility (from Wade Heidt). … Fun plug by Miles Crowther for an interesting-sounding project: “Away Days is a service this dude in Massachusetts runs, where he’ll send you a completely random, small-club soccer jersey for really cheap. There’s also membership component in which you receive a typed newsletter and random sticker for a U.S.-based club. It’s a cool way to learn about some lesser-known clubs from around the world.” … Bayern Munich will celebrate their 120th anniversary by wearing 1932 throwbacks. “That was the year when they first won the German championship,” says Tim Wünderlich. “Here’s a photo of the original kit.” … Finland’s women’s league has changed its name from “Women’s League” (Naisten Liiga) to the gender-neutral “National League” (Kansallinen Liiga). “The scarf at the top of this story shows the league’s new logo,” says our own Jamie Rathjen.

Grab Bag: NASCAR Cup driver William Byron’s car will have a Kobe Bryant-themed paint scheme this weekend. “it’s particularly appropriate because he’s the current occupier of No. 24,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. … And here’s a roundup of all the NASCAR/Bryant tributes (from our own Anthony Emerson). … Fun article on the current state of golf shoes (thanks, Brinke). … New logo for the historic Marylebone Cricket Club (from James Gilbert). … Whoa, this Twitter feed devoted to Japanese mascots is pure gold (from Alex Graber). … Here’s an explanation of the TSA’s logo (from @alfredisgreat). … You knew about retired uniform numbers, but did you know about retired sheriff’s deputy badge numbers? An Oklahoma sheriff’s department is doing just that for a deputy who recently died in the of duty (from Timmy Donahue). … Also from Timmy: New logo for the Truckee Meadows fire department in Nevada. … Dayton, Ohio, is down to three finalists in its quest for a new city flag design (from Todd Herzog). … Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has ordered all Confederate-related symbols to be removed from Marine Corps installations (from Timmy Donahue). … The Milwaukee brewery employee who shot five of his co-workers and then himself yesterday was still wearing his work uniform.

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Our latest raffle winner is Chris Spisak, who’s won himself a free Uni Watch membership (and has chosen to base the card’s design on this awesome Cleveland Force jersey!). Congrats to him, and thanks to the anonymous donor who sponsored this one — he knows who he is. — Paul

Talking Baseball Cards with Ryan Cornell of Repacked Wax

Longtime reader/pal Jeff Ash recently hepped me to something interesting: a new company called Repacked Wax, which takes old baseball cards from the 1950s through the 1980s and packages them in 15-card packs with old-fashioned wax paper wrappers for $3 a pack.

The idea is pure nostalgia: old cards in an old-school wrapper. The guy behind it, Ryan Cornell, does a good job of explaining his motivations and goals in this video:

Personally, I have no interest in purchasing vintage cards, but I’m intrigued by the notion of a project based largely on a nostalgic package design, so I got in touch with Cornell and asked if we could do a phone interview. Here’s how that went:

Uni Watch: First, please tell me a little bit about yourself. How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

Ryan Cornell [that’s him at right]: I’m 43, I live in Akron, Ohio, and I work in public relations. I used to be a newspaper reporter.

UW: I assume you’ve been collecting baseball cards for most of your life.

RC: Yeah. I bought my first pack when I was eight years old. I was very big into collecting throughout the 1980s and into the early ’90s, when I discovered the guitar and dating, so I started spending my money on girls and guitars.

UW: How many cards do you own, roughly?

RC: Just a couple of thousand. It used to be more, but I’ve pared my collection down to just the key stuff, mostly vintage. Also I collect unopened wax boxes, which was one of the influences on how I created Repacked Wax.

UW: Give me a short, elevator-pitch version of how you got the idea for Repacked Wax.

RC: I was in the grocery store last summer, and they had this product that consisted of maybe 100 baseball cards packed in a clear plastic wrapper — a mix from all different years. It was maybe $5 or $7 for the 100 cards. I looked at it and I thought, “I wish someone would do this better.” First, put some good cards in there so it’s not all commons. And then I thought, “What if they sold it in wax packs? I might actually buy something like that, just for the fun of it.”

So that notion was sort of kicking around in my head for a few months, and then in October I was pulling out of my driveway one day and it hit me: If nobody’s doing this, why don’t I do it?

UW: Was “Repacked Wax” your original name for it, or did you go through some workshopping on that?

RC: My wife and I have a little farm with alpacas, and that’s part of where the name came from — alpaca, Repacked. As I was backing out of the driveway that day, I saw the alpaca right there out front, so the name came along with the idea. I guess I have to thank my alpaca for that.

UW: Is the project just you, or are there other people involved?

RC: My wife is very gracious about helping me, but that’s it for now.

UW: When did the card industry move away from using wax paper, and why?

RC: In 1991, I’m pretty sure. They switched to plastic and foil because it was more secure — tampering had become a problem with the wax packs. The hobby was taking off, so people would open the wax packs, slip out the best card, and then reseal it with an iron and put it back out for sale. It was a legitimate problem.

UW: Why do you find wax paper more satisfying than the newer packaging formats? Is it simply nostalgia, or is there more to it than that?

RC: There’s definitely a nostalgia factor to it. We all miss those bygone things we grew up with. I found I really missed the wax packs, so I just wanted to bring them back. And sure, you can go on eBay and find some unopened original wax pack product, but you’re going to pay a lot for it, and then you’re not going to want to open it.

And let’s face it, nostalgia is a big part of the trading card hobby. Topps does all sorts of throwback or retro card designs…

UW: Have they ever done a limited run of retro wax wrappers?

RC: Not that I’m aware of. Maybe there have been some boutique one-offs, but I haven’t seen anything like that.

UW: How well do you feel you’ve captured and replicated the feel of the old wrappers?

RC: I spent a lot of time opening vintage product to refamiliarize myself with the feel of it, and then testing various papers to get the right thickness. I tracked down a vendor with thinner paper, so it tears the way the original wrappers did, and then we did an offset printing process on it, instead of digital printing — ink, not toner. And then we have a waxer with paraffin wax, so we run each wrapper through the machine. The result, I feel, is very similar to the vintage product. I spent a lot of time getting it right.

Same thing with the boxes: I tried to find the same chipboard and cardboard that they used to use.

UW: Who did the graphic design for your wrapper and boxes?

RC: I did the layout myself. The graphics are licensed from stock image sites. Again, I tried to recapture that old feel.

UW: Once the wrappers are waxed, how do you package the cards? Like, by machine, by hand, or what?

RC [sounding weary]: Every … single … pack gets wrapped by hand. There’s a huge learning curve to getting that right so it looks crisp and clean and sharp. I can do approximately 85 packs an hour, but I’m hoping to get faster. At some point, if this project becomes more successful, I’ll have to look into automation.

UW: What adhesive do you use to seal the packs?

RC: Wax. You apply heat from a sealing iron and it basically adheres to itself. [Ryan later provided the following video that shows how he does this. — PL]

UW: Do you do all this in your garage, or basement..?

RC: I have a spare room. If the project grows, I have a workshop outside that would probably be a good fit.

UW: A skeptic might say, “You’re just putting the same old stuff in a different wrapper, and then asking me to pay a premium for the wrapper.” How would you respond to that?

RC: In some ways, that’s accurate. But it’s not just about the cards — it’s about an experience that’s hard to get elsewhere. But I also want people to get good value, and that means good cards — not just common cards every single time, but a mix similar to what you would’ve gotten in a new pack as a kid.

That actually takes a lot of time and effort, to track down old cards, sets, and collections. I buy private collections, and also sets, and try to do it in volume so I can bring the price down and make everything economically viable. I want people to have fun, and I also want them to feel they get good value for their money in terms of the cards they get in each pack. One of those collections had a Johnny Bench rookie card, so that’ll be in there. I want people to feel good enough about what they get that they’ll want to come back for another purchase, or purchase it as a gift. I don’t want to rip people off.

UW: Is this strictly an e-commerce project, or do you hope to get Repacked Wax stocked in card shops?

RC: I’m starting to line up a few places where we can sell this at brick-and-mortar retail. But for now, online is the way to go, because you can reach so many people.

UW: I’m sure everyone asks you this, but if you’re bringing back the old wrapper, are you also bringing back the stick of bubble gum?

RC: I actually was contacted by someone who’s getting into the bubble gum business, and they think they’ve hit on a recipe that’s very similar to the old “pink sticks” from the old Topps packages. So yeah, while I’m not doing it yet, I’m not ruling it out at some point down the road.

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Good stuff. Shortly after we spoke, Ryan sent me a note: “Sales are pretty brisk for a new product. So far, the people who have given feedback seem to like it. Someone even opened some packs live on YouTube the other day!” Here’s that video:

Ryan also sent me a pack of cards so I could experience the product for myself. Having grown up collecting cards in the 1970s, I can say that the wrapper did indeed feel very familiar, although it opened more easily than the old packs I remember. The wax seal didn’t put up much resistance. I realize that may vary from pack to pack, of course, and I don’t mean it as a complaint or a criticism — just an observation.

As for the cards, here’s what I got (Ryan says this pack was given to me randomly, not assembled specifically for me; click to enlarge):

Fun enough, I suppose. Honestly, it has never occurred to me to want to purchase or own old baseball cards, no matter how they’re packaged, so I can’t say Repacked Wax is something that really appeals to me. But I like the idea behind it and the DIY spirit of what Ryan is doing, so I hope it catches on. If you want to try the product for yourself, it’s available here.

Since my pack opened so easily, the wrapper is still in good shape, so I’m going to seal the cards back up in the wrapper and raffle them off in our next year-end raffle.

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Click to enlarge

And gimme a 12-pack of Post-its while you’re at it: Beau “Bear” Mills, the 18-month-old grandson of Indians bench coach Brad Mills and son of former Indians first-round draft choice Beau Mills, died on Monday, so the Indians wore a patch for him yesterday. Except it wasn’t really a patch, at least not in the traditional sense of the term — it appears to have been just an Avery label. If you zoom in, you can even see the toner flaking off some of the letters.

I can’t recall a major-level pro team using such a low-tech jersey patch before (although it’s worth noting that Pirates skipper Danny Murtaugh wore a paper Roberto Clemente memorial patch on at least one occasion in 1973; additional details here). I hate to think what happened if a player took a head-first slide.

To be clear: I am not criticizing the Indians here. Just noting how unusual it is to see this type of patch.

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Phanatic update: After Monday’s post about the new-look Phillie Phanatic, some people asked about the legal issues surrounding the Phanatic and how the changes to the mascot’s look played into those issues.

Now reader James Ryan, who’s an intellectual property attorney, has written a good primer on all of that. You can check it out here.

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Another membership raffle: Today I’m raffling off a complimentary Uni Watch membership that has been donated by a generous reader who prefers to remain anonymous.

This will be a one-day raffle. To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Thanks!

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Working Class Wannabes™, continued: Reader Timmy Donahue (who, as you may recall, gave us lots of insights about military uniforms two months ago) has been intrigued by the blue-collar marketing phenomenon and has taken it upon himself to track a particular aspect of it.

“I have been searching Twitter for schools that give out hard hats and lunch pails as awards,” he says. “I wanted to see if there was any rhyme or reason to the use of this trope.” He’s summarized his findings in this PowerPoint slideshow and this spreadsheet, both of which are fascinating. Highly recommended!

Why did Timmy take the time to do this? He explains his reasons as follows:

While my immediate family is white-collar (I am a lawyer; my wife is a lawyer; my sister is a lawyer; my brother-in-law is an accountant; my brother is a writer at NBC; my dad is an accountant; and my mom is a school teacher), my extended family was blue-collar.

My maternal grandfather drove a cloth diaper delivery truck in the 1950s and ’60s before his untimely death at 36. My paternal grandfather was a WWII vet who worked construction and then became a mailman. My maternal grandmother worked in a clothing factory. My dad worked in that clothing factory, and my mom folded diapers to make money for school. My great-grandfather worked in an asbestos plant and my other great-grandfather worked on the railroad.

My parents were the first in their families to go to college and my siblings and I are the first to get graduate degrees. In short, my family of Irish/German immigrants made the American dream and would likely be shocked to know that, three generations removed from jobs that took years off their lives, we live comfortably and wear suits to an office every day. So, I find the blue collar awards obnoxious.

Also, these hard hat and lunch pail awards make it seem like white collar people do not work hard, which is just obnoxious. I used to work 16- to 18-hour days in the Army; public defenders [Timmy’s current job — PL] work nights, weekends, and holidays; my wife went to law school at night while working 40 hours a week; my brother got his master’s at night. Those are just a few examples. So along with caricaturing a whole class of people (blue-collar workers), these awards devalues the work of others. But you already knew that, so I will stop ranting.

Well stated, Timmy.

You know, there’s one other thing related to all of this that I haven’t mentioned: The sports world routinely panders in various ways for a wide range of holidays and “awareness” months. But you know which holiday gets no acknowledgement whatsoever? Labor Day. Think about that the next time you see this blue-collar bullshit being foisted upon us.

Meanwhile, since we’re on this topic, here’s the latest Ticker-style roundup:

If you want to play a round of blue-collar bingo, Virginia Tech football has managed to cram an unusually large number of working class clichés into one 58-second video (from Andrew Cosentino). … Jonathan Hayes, coach of the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks, says he likes St. Louis because it’s a “blue-collar town” filled with “hard-working people who just want good, real, hard-nosed sports.” Not like, you know, all those other towns (from Jake Klein). … Former NBA player Kendrick Perkins says that when you’re playing the Thunder, “You better bring your [motherfucking] lunch pail and your hard hat or be prepared to get smacked up!” (From Chance Plett.)

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Click to enlarge

Cap surgery update: As you can see above, reader Brett Baker has been very productive lately. As we saw earlier with reader Wes Muniz, there’s something extremely satisfying about seeing all those little piles of contrast-colored thread next to the caps. Nicely done, Brett!

If you want to join the #NoEra movement, you can get a seam ripper at any fabric store, or you can order one from me. And if you need a tutorial on how to perform cap surgery, there’s a good video (now viewed over 1,500 times!) here.

I want to reinforce the point that it’s also fine to leave the logo on your cap if you prefer it that way. No pressure, no imperatives. To each his/her own!

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: It’s no suprrise to see spring training games that are color vs. color, but yesterday the Nats and Cards went red vs. red (from multiple readers). … The Angels wore caps to honor Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli yesterday. Altobelli, along with his wife and daughter, was killed in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash last month (from Mike Chamernik). … Kentucky wore their cream unis yesterday (from Brandon S. Turner). … It’s a bit hard to see in this picture, but Georgia P Garrett Brown wore very nice stirrups yesterday (from Mason Cantrell). … Red vs. orange for Houston and UTRGV last night (from George Rafael). … The Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot, Gritty, who’s usually all orange, had blue eyes and a blue tail last night to match the new-look Phillie Phanatic (from @UntillTheNight). … St. Cloud State’s baseball diamond still has a very visible football gridiron painted on it (from Kurt Crowley).

Football News: Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy, speaking at the NFL Combine, explained why he wears a Star of David necklace (from Mike Chamernik). … As you can see in that last link, the Combine warm-up jackets are being made by New Era this year. They had previously been made by Under Armour. … A logoless Patriots team plane was spotted on the tarmac at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Here’s what the plane usually looks like. More info here (from Corey, who didn’t give his last name).

Hockey News: Capitals F Ilya Kovalchuk wore a pair of teammate Jayson Megna’s gloves at practice earlier this week (from Eric Griffin). … Speaking of Kovalchuk, he’s now wearing yellow laces, just like teammate Alex Ovechkin. That link has really good background info on the yellow lace phenomenon (from @OlegKvasha). … G Robin Lehner will wear No. 90 with the Golden Knights. Lehner was asked by the Hurricanes if he’s honoring recent fill-in emergency backup goaltender Dave Ayres, and Lehner said “Sure, why not.” Lehner had worn No. 40 his entire career (from Mike Chamernik). … G Louis Domingue was just acquired from the Devils by the Canucks. Domingue still didn’t have Canucks-colored gear, so he had his dad bring him his old Lightning mask and gear. His dad lives in the Montreal area and the Canucks are there on the road right now (from Wade Heidt). … Reader Noah Sidel recently went to the Bell Centre, the home of the Canadiens, and saw these fantastic retro-style posters. … The MSG Network and its sister station, MSG Plus, both broadcast the Rangers/Islanders game last night, and had different score bug designs (from Steven Woj). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The Flyers’ mascot, Gritty, who is usually all orange, had blue eyes and a blue tail last night to match the new-look Phillie Phanatic mascot (from @UntillTheNight).

NBA News: PF/C Dragan Bender will wear No. 10 with the Warriors (from Etienne Catalan). … For the latest on NBA uniform updates, follow Etienne’s Twitter feed. … Raptors C Serge Ibaka told the origin story of the massive scarf he wore before Tuesday’s game. … If you’re going to be promoting a Bulls hat, it might be good to use better letterspacing.

College and High School Hoops News: New throwbacks for Georgia Tech men’s (from Timmy Donahue). … Also from Timmy: Color vs. color last night for TCU and Iowa State. … Iowa men’s had mismatching collar designs last night (from @B1GKurt). … Virginia’s men’s is wearing white for an away game against Virginia Tech today (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … It was senior night last night for Utah State men’s. Seniors received framed jerseys, but they were from last season (from @akaggie). … Fans in attendance at the current Carrier Dome’s final game will receive a commemorative Carrier Dome-shaped tin (from James Gilbert). … Also from James: New floor for Fordham. … One more from James: UNC wore throwbacks last night against NC State.

Soccer News: Fox mistakenly used Bayern Munich’s logo after a goal by Atlanta United (from multiple readers). … New shirt for San Antonio FC of the USL Championship (from multiple readers).

Grab Bag: NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney will be driving a Kobe Bryant-themed car for this weekend’s race at this weekend’s Pennzoil 400 (from multiple readers). … Fellow NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez will wear Bryant-themed gloves and shoes at the Auto Club 400 on March 1. Auto Club Speedway, located in Southern California, will also have a No. 24 painted on the infield grass (from James Gilbert). … Due to uniform rules for the Olympic marathon trials this Saturday, one particular singlet will be the most common attire. Approximately 20% of runners will have it on according to reader @Hahntourage. … One of the characters in the TV series Bosch is written to be from the 1st BN 5th Group — part of the US Army Special Forces — but his character uses the patch of the 173rd Airborne (from Timmy Donahue). … The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is holding a competition open to state residents to design a logo for the new Southwest Montana Veterans Home under construction in Butte. … When candidates drop out of the race for president, here’s what happens to their promo apparel and merch (NYT link) (from Tom Turner). … Here’s the finisher’s jacket for this year’s Boston Marathon. … Great article on the shop that produces stop signs and other road signage in NYC (from Rob Walker).

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If anyone is still having trouble with the mobile version of the site (or, for that matter, with the desktop version), try adding or removing “?amp” after the slash at the end of the URL. If that doesn’t help, please email me directly (rather than posting about it in the comments) and let me know if you’re using iPhone, Android, or other, and which browser you’re using. Thanks. — Paul

When a Uni Watch Reader Caught Rapid Robert

All photos by Gary Fitz, Nashua Telegraph; click to enlarge

Hmmm, what’s going on in this photo? The pitcher is wearing a full Indians uniform, the catcher is clearly wearing a different uni (or at least a different jersey) than the pitcher, and the batter appears to be wearing a T-shirt with Herb Tarlek pants.

The photo was taken on June 28, 1984. The catcher was Ed Gefen, who is now a Uni Watch reader. I’ll let him explain the context:

I was 18 at the time, and was working as the statistician and official scorer for the Double-A Nashua Pirates in New Hampshire. The team was originally called the Nashua Angels in 1983 but changed names and affiliations in ’84.

The pitcher is Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who was then 65. He travelled around the minor leagues and pitched to media members and friends of the owner before the start of the game. I knew that I would not be chosen to hit against him, so I grabbed catcher’s equipment and got behind the plate, which was really cool. The extent of my catching experience was in friends’ backyards with a tennis ball, but nobody needed to know that.

This was my second time catching him. The previous year, I wore just a regular button-front shirt. But this time, I had the foresight to grab a spare jersey from the Pirates’ locker room.

Even though Feller was in his 60s, he threw harder than I ever could, which took me by surprise at first. After his pitching exhibition, he sat in a chair behind the home dugout and chatted with fans who came up to him. His recall was tremendous, and he was extremely engaging with the fans.

What a sensational story! Here’s another shot of Feller from that same date:

And here’s a shot of Ed, wearing his Pirates jersey. As you can see in the background, the team apparently wore pillbox caps in 1984, just like the big league Pirates:

And here’s a shot of Ed and Feller shaking hands after the first time Ed caught him, in June of 1983, when Ed wore a regular collared shirt instead of a jersey:

After that first catching experience, Ed received this autograph from Feller:

This is all so awesome. And here’s a really nice kicker: I learned about all of this because Ed recently ordered a Uni Watch membership card and wants the design on the back to be based on the jersey he was wearing when he caught Feller the second time — a white Pirates jersey, No. 2, NNOB. “Having a membership card based on this time period will be a wonderful reminder of the most fun job I ever had,” he says. Tremendous!

Uniforms notwithstanding, Ed’s experience with the minor league team was a fascinating one. Here are some additional details he shared:

How I got the job: In early 1983, I was a 16-year-old junior at Nashua High School (now Nashua South). A friend mentioned that our city was getting a Double-A baseball team — the Angels’ affiliate moving from Holyoke, Mass. — and he suggested I apply to work for them. I met with Bob Zeig, who was the assistant to the GM. He said that they already had hired a statistician, but I could be his unpaid assistant. I asked who they had hired, and Bob said Ron Kosmatka. I immediately said yes. I knew Mr. Kosmatka — he was a science teacher at my junior high, and I had learned how to keep stats from him as a seventh grader during a “mini-course,” a lunch-period activity that students could sign up for in lieu of study hall.

In Mr. Kosmatka’s mini-course, “Big League Baseball,” the 14 students were each assigned an American League team and played with that team in a board game (similar to Strat-O-Matic, but with a 100-space spinner). We all had to keep score, and we all had to keep stats with stat pages he had designed – each player had his own page. He used that same system with the Nashua Angels — each player had a page. This was before widespread computer use and the internet, so this was “how it was done.” Mr. Kosmatka was also the official scorer, making all the scoring decisions and filling out the official game reports that were mailed to the Eastern League offices. I sat next to him for most of the games and got very comfortable with his processes.
 
Full-time: In June, Mr. Kosmatka (once a teacher, always “Mr.”) had to resign due to a family commitment. He must have recommended me strongly, because they asked me, then 17, to take over. I really enjoyed being the official scorer, having that authority. The press box was better situated for football than for baseball (it was beyond the infield dirt, past third base), which sometimes meant a lot of postgame questions for umpires and managers, particularly wild pitch vs. passed ball. Decisions were questioned — that’s part of the gig — but I was taught to be fair based on what I saw.

The most difficult part about keeping the stats was getting accurate information from away games. Box scores were not available, so when the team came back from a road trip, I often had to use the team’s pitching charts to decode what had happened in the games. I wrote a lot to official scorers and statisticians in the league’s other cities. Most were cooperative and sent copies of the official report, but having up-to-date information was hit or miss in the first few days after a road trip.
 
Batting practice: Sometimes I would get to the stadium as early as 3pm when there was a 7pm game, so I’d do my homework and watch BP. At some point, I asked the manager, Winston Llenas, if I could go in the outfield and catch fly balls with the pitchers and other players. He said sure, so I did that quite a bit. I got to talk with a lot of the players and remember having a conversation with outfielder Jim Beswick about his brief stint in the majors with the Padres five years earlier. I wrote my college essay on spending time with players in the outfield during BP (“This describes me better than which figure in history I’d like to have dinner with” or some such crap).

I also remember standing at first base behind a screen during BP, taking throws from Gus Polidor. He made a lot of errors that year, but that’s because he got to a lot of ground balls; perhaps throwing to a small target like me (5-foot-9) paid off for him later on. I never got the chance to throw BP; I didn’t throw hard enough, and my arm got sore pretty quickly. Once when I arrived super-early, one of the players asked me to throw to him before BP. He hit a line shot right back at me that, fortunately, pinged off the pitcher’s screen. If the ball was a couple inches higher, it would have hit me hard in the back.
   
Chewing tobacco: During that first summer, Winston had me help him fill out some reports. At one point, he said “Have you ever tried tobacco?” I said “No.” He said, “Come on outside; you will try some tobacco.” It was Chattanooga Chew and it was the worst five minutes ever.
  
Second season: In 1984, the Angels moved to Waterbury, Conn., and Nashua got the Pirates’ Double-A team from Lynn, Mass. Early in the season, there was an exhibition game with the parent club. Chuck Tanner, Pittsburgh’s manager at the time, was outstanding. I met with him in the locker room before the game and asked him if there was anything unusual that I needed to be aware of. Just a couple of things, he said: John Tudor (a pitcher) was going to be the DH and infielder Jim Morrison was going to play all nine positions. Holy cow — that might be a fan or player’s idea of fun, but it’s an official scorer’s nightmare. Thankfully, Tanner was able to script it all out for me so there were no surprises once the game started.
 
Sweetest thing I ever saw on a baseball field: One day early in the season, I got to the ballpark before BP started. The batting cage, pitcher’s screen and infield screens were all set up, and there was one player on the field with a bunch of kids from the elementary school next to the stadium. The kids were having a great time throwing and hitting and hanging out with Bobby Bonilla. I don’t think I ever told him I witnessed this, but that’s the nicest thing I’ve ever seen. He had a hot-and-cold relationship with the media during his MLB career, but he’s a really nice person in my book.

Such good stuff! Great story, with a great uni angle. Big thanks to Ed for sharing all of this with us.

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Never heard that one before: Boxing ring entrances long ago became insufferable, so it was no surprise that Deontay Wilder wore some sort of voodoo superhero costume (shown above) prior to Saturday night’s heavyweight title unification bout against Tyson Fury. What is surprising, however, is that Wilder is now blaming the costume for his miserable performance, which ended when his corner threw in the towel as he was being pummeled during the seventh round, resulting in a TKO.

Speaking yesterday with Yahoo Sports, Wilder said:

[M]y uniform was way too heavy for me. I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight. … A lot of people were telling me, “It looked like something was wrong with you.” Something was, but when you’re in the ring, you have to bluff a lot of things. I tried my best to do so. I knew I didn’t have the legs because of my uniform.

I was only able to put it on [for the first time] the night before, but I didn’t think it was going to be that heavy. It weighed 40, 40-some pounds with the helmet and all the batteries. I wanted my tribute to be great for Black History Month. I wanted it to be good and I guess I put that before anything.

It’s interesting that Wilder repeatedly used the term “uniform,” which I’d say is a bit of a stretch. But whatever you want to call his outfit, this is the first time I’m aware of a boxer using his ring entrance attire as the excuse for a crummy showing. Innovative!

Fury, incidentally, arrived at the ring sitting on a throne and wearing a cape and crown (which I’m pretty sure didn’t have any batteries, no doubt accounting for his superior performance). Man, sometimes I really miss Mike Tyson.

(My thanks to Timmy Donahue for bringing this one to my attention.)

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Uni Watch’s new favorite team: The Savannah Bananas — one of those collegiate wood bat summer ballclubs — have a lot going for them besides an endearingly fun name. They play in historic Grayson Stadium, which opened in 1926, have frequently been singled out for their innovative marketing approach, and are currently riding an 88-game home sellout streak dating back to 2016.

And now they have another distinction: Starting this season, the Bananas’ ballpark will be ad-free. The team announced the move yesterday:

“We don’t believe fans want to come to a ballpark, especially one like Grayson Stadium, and be advertised to,” said team owner Jesse Cole. “So we’re giving the whole stadium back to the fans. Behind me you’ll see there are no ads — it’s going back to the roots of the 1926 ballpark.”

“We asked ourselves the question, do our fans want to come to Grayson Stadium and be advertised to?” said Jared Orton, Savannah Bananas President. “And we thought, probably not, and so we feel like this was the next phase and the best possible fans-first experience.”

They’re also eliminating ads on the P.A. system and even in the game programs. And according to this article, they’re not raising ticket prices or anything like that to compensate. They’re just going to take the financial hit because they think it’s a fan-friendly thing to do. Imagine that!

I don’t think all ballpark advertising is bad. But on balance, I think an ad-free ballpark is much better than an ad-clad one, so I’m all in favor of this move. And you know, whenever I talk about the encroachment of advertising into every nook and cranny of our lives, people always tell me, “Look, it’s gonna happen, that’s capitalism for ya.” But as this story shows, it doesn’t have to be that way. Kudos to the Bananas for showing that it’s possible to run a successful business without monetizing every available asset. Here’s hoping other teams notice.

(Big thanks to Cameron Ilich and Jack O’Connor for bringing this one to my attention.)

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie
    

Winning Football by Bart Starr — some of the interior artwork is shown above — was a promotional magazine that came with Mattel Instant Replay. And what was Mattel Instant Replay? It was a little device that looked like a transistor radio, circa 1971 or so. You popped a little disc inside the device and it played highlights. I had one of these and it was terrific. Here is a link for the players and discs (and look at the disc artwork!), but good luck finding a player that’s operational. 

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Another one for the Pack: Curious design on this sweatshirt. We’ve all seen the gray “Property of” tees and sweats, with the team city arched on top, a small “XXL” in the middle and then the team name, all done in a stencil font. So why did they decide to make the “size” so huge and just obliterate the NFL logo?

• Just some terrific artwork here on this early-1970s Great Sports Moments of the Century record album. Narrated by Curt Gowdy, natch.

• Here’s an interesting Minnesota Vikings magnet. Notice the typeface and the Viking guy surrounded by a purple forest. Have they ever used this or is it merely artistic license on the part of the manufacturer? Here’s another Vikes item: a singing and dancing puppet kinda thing, I think.

• Classic football pose on the box of this 1945 football highlight film, Football Parade of the Year, from Castle Films.

• Another classic pose, but this time the sport is baseball on this has-to-be-early-1960s New York Mets Rheingold beer coaster.

• Check it out! A Larry Csonka noseguard! And here he is wearing it on this poster.  

• This 1980s MLB children’s sleeping bag includes the logos of all the then-current MLB teams.

• Nice artwork on this 1970s-1980s Dallas Cowboys drawstring bag. Why does it say “Cowboys Cowboys” rather than the city? And why are they wearing the cursed blue jerseys?

• On this 1970s NFL/NFC Conference glass, the NFL shield is in color, but the Eastern Division teams are all in a transparent frosted design.

• And finally: “Be Healthy and Stay Fit! Now You Can Enjoy Delicious, Vitamin-Filled Juice, The O.J. Way!” Yes, it’s an O.J. Simpson “The Juice” Extractor. (As seen on TV!)

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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is sort of about the pom-poms shown in the photo above, but is more about what the pom-poms replaced. It’s short, funny, and really well-written — don’t miss.

I’m always happy to get new entries for this project. If your key ring includes a special object of personal significance with a good story behind it, let’s talk. Thanks.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsHere’s an article about how the Phillies are using a new batting helmet model this season. After that story began circulating yesterday, Paul checked with a Rawlings exec, who confirmed that the Rawlings Mach is now MLB’s default helmet model, replacing the S100 (from Kurt Esposito). … The Blue Jays have added a memorial sign for Tony Fernández on the outfield wall at their spring training facility. It seems like the sign design could also be the basis for a sleeve patch, but for now they’re still wearing the black armband that they debuted on Saturday (from Samuel Williams). … Speaking of the Blue Jays, their costumed mascot is still wearing a Majestic jersey. … Cardinals P Jack Flaherty wrote a tribute to Kobe and Gigi Bryant on his cleats yesterday (from Josh Claywell). … Red Sox bench coach Jerry Narron has been showing off his calligraphy skills when filling out the team’s spring training lineup cards (from Jeff Israel). … A new biography about Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay will go on sale later this year with two different cover designs — Phillies-themed in the U.S., and Jays-themed for Canada (from Mike Lox). … NC State will sport an all-red look for some games this season (via @Uniswag). … North Carolina will wear a patch honoring the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues during their game today (from James Gilbert). … The Lexington Legends, the Royals’ Single-A affiliate, are teasing a new “mystery” cap that will presumably be worn this season (from Josh Claywell).

Football NewsAfter giving hints a few weeks ago, the Bucs made it officially official yesterday and formally confirmed that they will be unveiling new uniforms in April (from J.A. Scott and J.R. Rogers). … Speaking of the Bucs, this story has some photos of navy-and-orange Bucs concepts the team chose not use in the 1990s. … Columbia University has published an online exhibit that has a ton of great photos from the early years of the football program (from Jace McKeighan).

Hockey NewsCapitals LW Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th goal over the weekend in New Jersey, and the Devils took the net off the goal and are sending it to him (from Mike Chamernik). … Speaking of the Devils, they traded G Louis Domingue to the Canucks yesterday. Domingue wore No. 70 in New Jersey; he’ll wear No. 30 in Vancouver (from Wade Heidt). … Speaking of the Canucks, their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, will wear Flying Skate-inspired uniforms on Saturday (from James Beattie). … Penguins RW Dominik Simon will switch from No. 12 to No. 18 so deadline acquisition and veteran C Patrick Marleau can continue to wear No. 12 (from Brian Cox). … New Blue Jackets C Devin Shore will wear No. 74. Not only will he be the first player in franchise history to wear the number, but he’ll be wearing a number that rhymes with his name! (From Dan McCue.) … The Cleveland Monsters of the AHL will wear aviator uniforms for “Top Gun Night” on April 4 (from @vicious155). … It appears that in at least one scene in the movie Miracle, a fan is wearing a baseball cap with an era-inappropriate maker’s mark (from James Poisso).

NBA News: Celtics F Jayson Tatum recently got a new back tattoo, and he wore protective plastic over his new ink during Sunday’s game against the Lakers (from Mike Chamernik). … Max Weintraub sends along the story of  George “Horse” Haggerty, who once blew a game for the Washington Palace Five in the 1920s when one of his old Celtics teammates tricked him into throwing the ball on a critical inbound. Luckily, he looked good doing it. … New Lakers F Markieff Morris will wear No. 88 (from Etienne Catalan). … Billy McKinney played with the Bulls and Michael Jordan in 1985. Now, he’s the mayor of Zion, Ill,, and he keeps his Bulls uniform framed above his desk (from Timmy Donahue). … I don’t think I’ve seen this before: In the 1970s, Suns F Curtis Perry wore a hockey goalie mask on the court after suffering a broken nose (from Hit The Glass).

College and High School Hoops NewsDuring Sunday’s Notre Dame/Miami game in South Bend, a fan sitting behind the broadcast announcers offered fans a nice public service announcement about safe sex (from James Gilbert). … George Mason will wear shooting shirts and sneakers commemorating the Tuskegee Airmen tonight. … The NC State women wore pink uniforms last night for their annual Play4Kay Game for breast cancer awareness (from Timmy Donahue). … Very unusual uni design for Fern Creek High School in Louisville (from Lachlan McLean).

Soccer NewsWest Ham United wore black armbands to mark the anniversary of the death of Bobby Moore, one of the greatest players in team history. They also wore warm-up shirts honoring Moore prior to the game. Moore died of cancer on Feb. 24, 1993 (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Chelsea’s third shirt for the 2020-21 season has leaked (from Josh Hinton). … Georgian club FC Dinamo Tbilisi wore the names of fallen Georgian soldiers on their shirts Sunday during a Georgian Super Cup match against Saburtalo (from Ed Żelaski).

Grab Bag Fun piece from The Dallas Observer, which examined Dallas sports legends who ended their storied careers in non-Dallas uniforms (from Timmy Donahue). … Also from Timmy: This post recaps Captain America costume/uniform history. … And one more from Timmy; Police officers in Bernards Township, N.J., will wear puzzle piece badges in April to promote autism awareness … The logos and visual identity for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee have been unveiled (from Brian Kehrin and Kary Klismet). … The Sioux Falls (S.D.) School District has unveiled athletics logos for two new schools: the Jefferson High School Cavaliers and Ben Reifel Middle School Bison (from Kary Klismet). … Every team in the Premier Ultimate League, a women’s ultimate Frisbee league, has an alternate jersey this year — but the jerseys will only be available to purchase for those who chose to support players directly (from Tyler Kepner).

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What Paul did last night two nights ago: On Sunday night the Tugboat Captain and I went to an event hosted by The Museum of Interesting Things (a great name that should really be the subtitle of every single museum). The theme was “medical quackery,” so they had all sorts of dubious devices on hand, including the “Vibra-Finger” shown above. It was supposedly marketed as a gum massager, although, like most vibrating gadgets that predated the sexual revolution, it was probably used for, uh, other things.

Here are a few of the other things that were on display:

There were also some short films and presentations — fun! Fortunately, we escaped without having to experience a blood-washing.

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As some of you know, we’ve been having trouble with the mobile version of the site. Those issues should now be fixed. Let me know if you’re still experiencing any problems. — Paul