Gear up for the 2020 MLB Season with new gear from Nike

Blue (Name)Plate Special: High School Wears Team-Oriented NOB

Reader Josh Claywell was watching a high school tournament a few nights ago and noticed something interesting: One of the schools — McEachern High from Powder Springs, Ga. — was wearing “WE>ME” nameplates. It seemed like a clever way of turning the old “Play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back” cliché on its head.

I did some quick research and found that McEachern appeared to have been wearing the motto all season long (you can see some additional photos here). I wanted to know more, so I got in touch with the team’s coach, Mike Thompson, who readily agreed to a phone interview.

Before we go any further: It’s worth mentioning that McEachern’s teams are called the Indians. I asked Thompson if there’s been any controversy about that, and he said no. It’s not really the topic at hand, so I don’t want to get bogged down in it, but I did want to acknowledge it.

Here’s an edited transcript of my chat with Thompson, which took place yesterday afternoon:

Uni Watch: Who came up with the “WE>ME” idea, and when?

Mike Thompson: This past summer, I was sitting in my living room, watching a Little League baseball game. And some team from — I don’t even remember where they were from, maybe another country. Not even sure. But they had that slogan on the back of their jersey. I only saw it for a second, but it kinda stuck with me.

I don’t know how much you follow high school basketball, but the climate and culture is very much “Me, me, me.” I’ve been doing this for 36 years, so I’ve seen that culture change from being just a hometown team to all-out high school recruiting, kids being interested only in what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for the team.

I’ve got good kids, good players, but they’ve sometimes been guilty of that same thing, where they think they’re entitled to a lot. We ended our last season getting upset by another school, and I couldn’t help but think that some of it had to do with individualism on our team. So when I saw that motto on the Little League uniform, it got me thinking, and I decided to do it.

UW: Prior to wearing “WE>ME” this season, did your jerseys have the players’ names on them, or did they have no names?

MT: I’ve always been a guy who didn’t have anything on the back, until about three years ago. I had a really good group of kids coming in — the group that I have now — so I put their names on the back of the jerseys. But after what happened last season, I had ’em all ripped off. We have little plates on the back, so we can change ’em every year, so I decided to put that [motto] on there, because I thought it would remind us of what we really should be doing.

UW: How have your players responded?

MT: I didn’t really tell them — I just did it. They got their jerseys, and there was a little bit of silence, and then they said, “You know what, coach? We like that, that’s cool.” So it went well for us. I didn’t have any kids who showed any disappointment, at least not outwardly.

I explained it to them why I did it, just like I’m explaining it to you. And I think they’re smart, they understood. I think it’s good for basketball — I think all teams should be thinking like that.

UW: As the season has gone on, has the motto become a sort of unifying theme or a rallying cry for your team?

MT: I’ve heard the kids say it a couple of times. It’s not something that we’ve hammered into the kids. When I originally talked to them about it, I explained that if we were gonna accomplish what we wanted to accomplish this year, we’d have to kinda live by that motto. But we don’t harp on it. But it’s there, sort of like a reminder.

UW: Any response from your players’ parents?

MT: I haven’t had a lot of comments from the parents. Maybe one or two who liked it. Haven’t heard from anyone who didn’t like it.

UW: Nobody said, “Put my kid’s name back on the jersey”?

MT: No, nothing like that. To be honest with you, Paul, I don’t see how anyone could argue with it. You want your kids to be thinking about the right thing and maybe change their attitude a little bit — not just about basketball, but about everything.

UW: What about opposing players and coaches — any response from them?

MT: Haven’t heard any comment from anybody.

UW: No coach has said, “Hey, that’s a great idea, we might do it too”?

MT: No. But if they wanted to do that, I’d be all for it. I didn’t do it for it to be an exclusive thing. I would be proud for anyone to wear it, really, because I think it’s the right message. I wish I could think of that Little League team that I saw wearing it!

UW: When you told your uniform supplier what you wanted, was it weird to explain it to them?

MT: Yeah, I had to draw it for them, kinda show ’em how I wanted it to look. They said, “Do you want this on all the jerseys?” And I said yes, and that was it.

UW: Did you have to check with your local league or conference to make sure they were okay with it, since it’s a slightly unusual approach?

MT: If I was supposed to, I didn’t. But nobody has said anything.

UW: Do you expect to keep doing it next season, and beyond?

MT: I do. Unless I come up with something better! But you know, it’s short, to the point, universal in sports — I don’t know that I could come up with a better one.

UW: What about the coaches of the sports teams at your school — have they talked to you about maybe putting the motto on their uniforms?

MT: No. Some of them have said they think it’s a good idea, but I don’t think any of them have said they’re gonna do it too. But again, this is the first year we’ve done it, the football season was mostly over when our season started. So we’ll see. But I haven’t politicked for it or anything like that. The other coaches have their own teams, they can do what they want. I just felt that this was the right move for our team.

UW: The “greater than” symbol is used in math. So are the math teachers at your school particularly happy about the slogan, and have some of your players joked that this will help them be better at math?

MT [laughing]: When my players first saw the jerseys, some of my higher-academic guys probably had to explain to the other guys what that meant. And to be honest with you, I’m not sure a math teacher has even seen any of our games — I’m not sure they get out that much.

(Major thanks to Josh Claywell, who brought the “WE>ME” nameplate to my attention.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Naming Wrongs update: Everyone wanted us to do a shirt for the Brewers’ stadium. But as I already explained, that won’t be happening. But if you really want a Brewers shirt, we’ve done them for the team’s spring training complex, which is also being renamed. This is the first time we’ve done a shirt for a spring training venue, and it’s available in royal, grey:

These shirts are now available in the Naming Wrongs shop. My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Membership update: Whenever we get a membership order from a reader with a “Mc”-based surname, I always ask, “Do you want your NOB styled as all-caps, or with a small c, or with a small raised c?” It’s rare that the person opts for that last option, but Vaughn McCarter did for his new Browns-themed card, shown at right. I like that!

We’ve been getting a nice flurry of membership orders this week (thank you!), so another five designs have been added to the membership card gallery. I have three slots open on the current sheet, so the next three people who sign up will get their cards very quickly.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, quite 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. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me.) 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, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

• • • • •

• • • • •

LAST CALL for the S/M cap: In case you missed it earlier this week, on Monday I asked how many of you would be willing to pre-order a flex-fit Uni Watch Alternate Cap in size S/M for the cut-rate price of $10.99 plus $4 for shipping (further details here), and now I’m asking those of you who responded affirmatively to put your money where your mouths are by going ahead and pre-ordering the cap.

Without going into specific numbers, it would be fair to say that the number of people who said they’d pre-order has been a lot higher than the number of people who actually have pre-ordered. After today, I will stop taking pre-orders, so if you want one of these caps, please do one of the following today:

1. Send me $14.99 via Venmo, using @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee. (This is my preferred payment method, because there are no fees.)

2. Send me $14.99 via Zelle, using plukas64@gmail.com as the payee. (Again, no fees.)

3. Send me $14.99 with this Amazon Payments button (if you don’t see the button, refresh the page):

Whichever payment method you choose, please email me and give me your shipping address after making your payment.

Sorry, American customers only for this deal.

I should be able to ship the caps in early February. Thanks for helping me move this inventory.

• • • • •

Signal flare: Yo, Todd Burnside and David Crane, I received your cap payments (thank you!) but didn’t receive the follow-up emails with your shipping addresses. Little help..?

• • • • •

• • • • •

Candela update: It’s been several years since I had anything to say about the Candela Structures, the two fiberglass structures located just north of the Mets’ ballpark, which I was totally obsessed with for a while (additional details here and here). But I’ve periodically checked in on the structures — they’re not in good shape, and I’ve been concerned that the NYC Parks Dept., which owns them, might declare them a hazard and tear them down. Winter is always particularly worrisome, because water gets into the structures’ cracks and then freezes and expands, causing further damage.

But this week I got some good news: A design consultant emailed me to let me know that his firm is pursuing a project with the Parks Dept. that includes restoration and reconstruction of the Candelas. He stumbled across our old Candela website during his research, which is how he got in touch.

The timeline on this restoration project isn’t yet clear, but it’s great to hear that the structures may be saved. Fingers crossed.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

And it’s green, too: My friend Tim Adams lives in Chicago, where he recently spotted this sign that combines many of my favorite things in one very efficient package. Perhaps I should partner with these people in some way!

Chicago, incidentally, is full of great hand-painted signs like this one. This type of signage has almost completely disappeared from New York (and, I gather, from most other places), but Chi-town remains a sign-lover’s paradise. Gotta get back there soon.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Journalism in crisis, continued: I don’t mean to be a downer, but it’s been another terrible month for the industry I work in. This week alone, Gannett laid off workers at newspapers across the country; Verizon Media, which owns HuffPost, AOL, and Yahoo, announced plans to lay off seven percent of its workforce (the HuffPost bloodbath began yesterday); and BuzzFeed announced a 15 percent staff cut. Earlier in the month, The Dallas Morning News laid off 43 people and The New York Daily News axed its sports editor (with no plans to replace him), among other hits.

I’ll say it again: If you value journalism, please consider paying for it. The old ad-driven business model no longer works, and the expectation that you can get content on the internet for free is a long-term death sentence for that content and a pink slip for the people who produce it. That includes the content you get here on this site, which you can support here. Thanks.

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: It’s official: Newly acquired Yankees P Adam Ottavino will become the first player in team history to wear No. 0. … The Devil Rays didn’t play their first game until 1998 — but here’s a shot from one of their games, with plate ump Jim McKean wearing the 1997 Jackie Robinson sleeve patch (good spot by @Core4WantsMore). … Last year the Tigers had beautiful season tickets designed by Todd Radom. This year, alas, they’re going with digital season tickets (from Howard Bosworth). … New spring training jerseys and caps for the Mariners (from Josh Claywell and Tim Dunn). … Speaking of spring training, St. Paddy’s Day caps are starting to show up. Here they are for the Rangers, Reds, and Mets. … New logo for the College Classic.

Football News: Here’s our first look at this year’s Super Bowl sideline caps. … Forty-eight years ago yesterday, the two Gene Washingtons — one from the 49ers and one from the Vikings — played together on the NFC squad in the Pro Bowl (from Jerry Wolper). … News flash: Super Bowl jersey colors have sparked a lot of superstitions (thanks, Brinke). … Oh baby, check out this old 1980s shot of the Browns’ basketball team! (Big thanks to Cleo Macin.) … Fun DIY project from Diego Yanez, who’s made what he calls “2-D bobbleheads” for the Super Bowl. … At the Pro Bowl, players are apparently wearing caps featuring their regular team logos rendered in Pro Bowl colors (from David Hanson). … Emory University doesn’t have a football team, but they created jerseys — with no maker’s mark! — for Emory alums who served on the Super Bowl Host Committee (from John FitzGerald). … Check this out: NFL helmet bluetooth speakers! (Nice find by Eric Wright.) … The Bears, who already have two throwbacks in their wardrobe, will reportedly be adding another throwback for their centennial-anniversary season in 2019. … The bleachers at Oklahoma’s stadium are getting a makeover. … Check out this video clip from 1998 Oilers/Buccaneers game in which Bucs QB Trent Dilfer wore former Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw’s old facemask from Super Bowl X, and broadcaster Joe Theismann talks about it (from Gene Sanny). … Great shot of Joe Namath in an AFL All-Star Game uniform. And dig that old NBC logo, too!

Hockey News: The OHL’s Peterborough Petes will go back to maroon/white uniforms next season. … Another one-game makeover: The ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones will become the Cincinnati Flying Pigs on Feb. 15.

NBA News: The NBA All-Star uniforms have finally been officially unveiled, but nobody cares because they were leaked more than a week ago. … Tiny photo, but it looks like Josh Howard was given a seriously oversized Mavs jersey for his rookie photo shoot (from Brad Eenhuis). … The BIG3 league has some new teams this year, including the Triplets and Aliens. Those uniforms, like all of the league’s attire, were designed by Todd Radom. … Cross-listed from the NFL section: Check out this old 1980s shot of the Cleveland Browns’ basketball team (big thanks to Cleo Macin). … F Bruno Caboclo will wear No. 5 for the Grizzlies. … “Every day I bike past the site of the Warriors’ future arena,” says Justin Adler. “Recently there’s been a commercial truck running a mini-team shop with Warriors-branded hi-vis construction gear. I think it’s pretty neat to see the team’s logo and ‘Strength in Numbers’ slogan on this kind of gear.”

College Hoops News: Kentucky’s women’s hoops coaches will wear custom footwear in honor of Pat Summitt (rare non-soccer contribution from Josh Hinton). … Throwbacks on tap next month for Albany (from Solomon Syed). … South Dakota State and North Dakota State went color vs. color last night (from Chris Lather). … The Norfolk State women’s team had already retired Tracy Saunders’s No. 10, but now they’re finally raising her jersey to the rafters. … UNC’s JV team played its only road game of the season last night and wore white because that’s their only uniform (from James Gilbert).

Soccer News: Here’s some info on Manchester City’s upcoming third kit (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh: There’s a new USL Two team in Sarasota, Fla. … New jersey advertiser for the Chicago Fire. … Here’s the logo for Houston’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup. … A rare instance of “rebrand” being used appropriately: USL League Two club North County United is now the Treasure Coast Tritons (Josh Hinton again). … And yet another one from Josh: The New York Red Bulls’ new home kit has leaked.

Grab Bag: The esports operation Berlin International Gaming has a new sponsorship advertising deal with the online bookmaker Betway. … More esports: New ad partnership for Team Liquid. … Asics is turning used clothing into Japanese Olympic uniforms. … Under Armour is going to produce “spacewear” for Virgin Galactic’s astronauts. … Throwbacks this Saturday for the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings (from @PhillyPartTwo). … Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort will be permitted to wear a suit instead of a prison uniform when appearing for a court hearing today. … Oh man, look at these great speed skating sweaters and caps from the 1950s (from Jimmy Lonetti). … Mississippi State’s tennis team will open the season wearing teal jerseys in honor of MSU softball player Alex Wilcox, who died of ovarian cancer last summer. … Uniqlo will supply the uniforms for the 2020 Swedish Olympic team.

There’s Gold in Them Thar Unis: Twins Unveil New Alternates

Click to enlarge

The Twins stirred the hot-stove pot a bit yesterday by unveiling a new alternate home uniform. As you can see above, it features a new navy cap and jersey that both have a lot of gold trim. The script is the same retro insignia that they wore for the past nine seasons on their throwback alternates, which unfortunately are now being retired.

In what may be a first, the Twins “unveiled” this design via an interactive 3-D rendering, which you can play around with (the view up through the bottom of the jersey is amusing):

Meanwhile, F.K. Yaaj has done a public service by comparing the scripts on various Twins jerseys through the years:

As for the new design: Not a fan. Don’t care for the gold trim (cue the “This is as close as they’ll ever get to wearing gold after winning the Series” jokes), the old-school script doesn’t make sense on the relatively newfangled base design (as much as I dislike the Twins’ primary home insignia, it would make more sense on this jersey), and the red numbering and lettering seems like it might vibrate a little on the navy background. Definitely a downgrade from the throwback.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Our regularly scheduled plea: Dear Hall of Fame: Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Mariano Rivera deserve better than to be dressed in those painfully lame-o jerseys that you make all the inductees wear. If you insist on having them wear jerseys, Uni Watch readers came up with some much better designs a few years ago. But why not scrap the jerseys entirely and go with blazers, or old-school dugout sweaters, or anything other than these awful jerseys? Signed, Almost Everyone.

In other Hall of Fame news:

• Roy Halladay’s widow says his Hall plaque will feature a logo-free cap, rather than a Phillies or Blue Jays cap. Seems like the right way to go.

• Mussina still hasn’t decided which cap he’d like to have on his plaque, but New York Post baseball columnist Ken Davidoff has some interesting thoughts on that.

• In a related item, here’s an argument for doing away with team logos on Hall plaques altogether. (I happen to agree with it.)

• You probably know that Rivera was the last MLB player to wear No. 42 (Jackie Day notwithstanding). But did you know that Mussina also wore No. 42 early in his career? I didn’t!

(My thanks to Eric Nits and Kary Klismet for their contributions to this section.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to slightly enlarge

Too good for the Ticker (or the comments): In yesterday afternoon’s comments, longtime reader/commenter Jet posted a link to this awesome shot of the Minnesota North Stars softball team. Are those some sweet uniforms or what? From left to right, that’s Tony McKegney, Willi Plett, and Ron Wilson.

After Jet posted that, fellow reader/commenter Wade Heidt responded with this shot of the Edmonton Oilers softball team (click to enlarge):

Definitely not as good as the Minnesota uni, but you’ve still gotta love a hockey team in baseball stirrups.

• • • • •

• • • • •

ITEM! Cap reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, on Monday I asked how many of you would be willing to pre-order a flex-fit Uni Watch Alternate Cap in size S/M for the cut-rate price of $10.99 plus $4 for shipping (further details here), and now I’m asking those of you who responded affirmatively to put your money where your mouths are by going ahead and pre-ordering the cap.

Without going into specific numbers, it would be fair to say that the number of people who said they’d pre-order has been a lot higher than the number of people who actually have pre-ordered. So I’m asking again — if you want one of these caps, please do one of the following:

1. Send me $14.99 via Venmo, using @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee. (This is my preferred payment method, because there are no fees.)

2. Send me $14.99 via Zelle, using plukas64@gmail.com as the payee. (Again, no fees.)

3. Send me $14.99 with this Amazon Payments button (if you don’t see the button, refresh the page):

Whichever payment method you choose, please email me and give me your shipping address after making your payment.

Sorry, American customers only for this deal.

I should be able to ship the caps in early February. Thanks for helping me move this inventory.

• • • • •

Signal flare: Attention Todd Burnside and Scott Thomas — I received your cap payments (thank you!) but didn’t receive the follow-up emails with your shipping addresses. Little help..?

• • • • •

• • • • •

Membership update: A bunch of new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Zach Pearce’s Islanders fisherman card, shown at right, the latest example of how the worst uniforms make the best membership cards). I expect the printed/laminated versions of this latest batch ship out early next week.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, quite 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. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me.) 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, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Still an important date to me: My father would have turned 95 yesterday. We always loved that his birthday was 1-2-3 (Jan. 23) while mine is 3-2-1 (March 21) — birthday bookends! He’s no longer with us, unfortunately, but I had a good time reminiscing about him yesterday with my mom, who’ll be 95 herself in April.

Mom’s battery has run down a bit since the mild stroke she suffered last summer, but she’s still pretty spry. I felt bad lying to her when she asked, “How’s work? How’s ESPN?,” but I still haven’t told her about the recent unpleasantness because it would just upset her. I’ll fill her in when I’ve figured out what I’m doing next (still working on that).

That necklace Mom’s wearing in that photo, by the way, consists of two old shoe buckles. The shoes eventually fell apart, but she removed the buckles, strung them together on some leather cord, and voilà — a good little DIY project!

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Buried within this article about Maine’s new governor attempting to improve relations with Maine’s indigenous people is the news that there’s been a bill proposed in the Maine legislature that would ban the use of Native American mascots in public schools (from our own Anthony Emerson).

Baseball News: Here’s a video of Nats P Max Scherzer talking about why he wears No. 31 (from Steve Johnston). … Some uni number changes for the White Sox (from Sean Jankowski). … According to this page, the Royals will be giving away 1970s jerseys on May 25, which makes me wonder if the team will be wearing pullover/sansabelt throwbacks that day. … Pretty cool new cap for the El Paso Chihuahuas. … Angels P/DH Shohei Ohtani, INF David Fletcher, and broadcaster Mark Langston took part in the pregame puck drop at last night’s Anaheim Ducks game and wore Angels/Ducks mashup jerseys for the occasion (from @ratmfoo).

NFL News: You apparently need the NFL’s permission to use a team logo on a headstone, but that permission is usually granted (from John Dankosky). … Jags DE Calais Campbell was issued a Pro Bowl T-shirt with his name misspelled but says he has no hard feelings (from @stone_rousseau). … According to a bullet point in this article, the Steelers will wear their block-number throwbacks again in 2019, but there are no plans to bring back the block numbers on a permanent basis. … Here’s a look at all of the uniforms that the Patriots have worn, along with the game outcomes, in their many Super Bowl appearances (from John M. Williams).

College Football News: An old Washington Huskies helmet cart, originally built for the team’s appearance in the 1977 Rose Bowl, is on display at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle (from Paul Dillon).

Hockey News: Here are the stories behind the Bruins uni number choices (paywalled) (from Matt Bessette). … New cancer-awareness uniforms for the University of Nebraska (from dakotabluesing). … Outsiders House Museum Night uniforms upcoming for the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers (from Mike Iles). … Here’s the mask that new Coyotes G Calvin Pickard wore for his ’Yotes debut last night (from Josh Pearlman). … The Canadiens went with Twitter-handle NOBs for last night’s pregame skate (from Wade Heidt). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Two players and a broadcaster from MLB’s Anaheim Angels took part in the pregame puck drop at last night’s Ducks/Blues game in Ahaheim and wore Angels/Ducks mashup jerseys for the occasion (from @ratmfoo).

NBA News: Anyone know what this black Mavs patch was for? It’s not the same shape or size as most NBA memorial bands, and it’s on the right shoulder instead of the more common left. Here’s a closer look on a game-used road jersey (from Sam McKinley and Jeff Bartlett). … We had previously seen a leak of the NBA All-Star jerseys. Now the shorts have leaked as well.

College Hoops News: Reader Jason Collins received an email invitation to volunteer for the B1G hoops tourney. One of the positions is “Cup Monitor,” whose duties include “requir[ing] all members of the media and others sitting on press row that their beverages be poured into a Big Ten or a United Center cup.” Douchebags. … Brutal-looking game last night as Providence and Xavier went black vs. grey (from Paul D.). … Oklahoma State and Oklahoma going red vs. orange wasn’t much better (from Brian Murphy). … Pitt is teasing some good-looking throwbacks, which will apparently be worn on Feb. 2 (from Jay Yander).

Soccer News: Fans of the Venezuelan national team are upset because the team’s new kits are the wrong shade of red (from Ed Zelaski). … “South Georgia Tormenta FC, a founding member of the new USA third tier called USL League One, already had a team in the unofficial fourth tier (USL League Two, the old PDL),” says Josh Hinton. “Their League Two team has a new club name.” … Also from Josh: There’s a new New USL League Two club, called Daytona SC. … Here are the inaugural uniforms for Wayne Rovers SC, an amateur team in Wooster, Ohio (from Ed Zelaski). … The Scotland national team’s Twitter has account restarted a thread featuring drawings of current players wearing vintage kits. “The first two are Celtic winger James Forrest and Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay wearing some late-’70s kits,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. “They’re supposed to be from 1977, but Forrest’s shirt clearly has 1978 World Cup detailing on it and McTominay’s mono-white appears to have only been worn once in that era, in 1980.” … Also from Jamie: Aberdeen MF Greg Stewart returned to the team last weekend and wore No. 14 for one game. But he switched to No. 7 yesterday because that number just became available when its previous occupant left the team.

Grab Bag: The cryptocurrency Litecoin has a new logo. … New uniforms in the works for the Boy Scouts (from Dan Liszka). … The high school in Belding, Mich., is adopting a new team name — the Black Knights. But the local school board doesn’t want the logo to include any swords. … Members of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard — technically the world’s smallest army — received their first new helmets in 500 years this week.

The End of Miller Time

News broke yesterday that the name of the Brewers’ stadium, which for the past two decades has been an ad for a brewery, will soon become an ad for an insurance company. The change will become effective at the end of 2020.

This news led dozens of people to contact me via social media and email to ask how soon I’d be producing an “I Still Call It Miller Park” T-shirt as part of our Naming Wrongs project. Several people even offered to pay for a shirt immediately, so they could have it shipped as soon as it was designed.

I completely understand why people are upset about the name changing. But as I explained to everyone who asked, we don’t do shirts that honor corporate stadium names — only non-corporate names — so we won’t be doing a Miller Park shirt. It was interesting (and, frankly, depressing) to see that there are so many people out there who are aware of Naming Wrongs but don’t understand the idea behind it. But even more interestingly, several people then responded by saying (I’m paraphrasing here), “You should make an exception for Miller Park, because the team is called the Brewers and because Miller is a beloved hometown brand.”

I understand what those people were trying to say, but nuh-uh. Leaving aside Miller’s rather dubious “hometown” status (over the past 17 years, Miller has been purchased by a South African conglomerate and then spun off as the property of several different subsidiaries; it’s currently owned by a joint-brewery subsidiary headquartered in Chicago, which in turn is owned by an American/Canadian multinational headquartered in Denver, all of which may explain why they felt no particular need to extend their naming rights deal), my decision not to do a Miller Park shirt isn’t just about the name itself. It’s about the whole system of teams selling off their stadium and arena identities to advertisers, which is bad for fans and bad for cities. If the Brewers had called their building Brewers Ballpark or Milwaukee Stadium to begin with, like they should have, we wouldn’t need to be having this discussion. This is just another example of how corporate-advertised stadium and arena names suck, no matter how “appropriate” the advertiser may seem. You end up with no consistent identity and no civic equity. You’re just in the billboard business.

One person who I explained this to responded, with no apparent irony, “Yeah, I see what you mean, but you should really do the shirt anyway, because of all the money you’ll make!” — which, of course, is precisely the mindset that has now resulted in the name of the Brewers’ ballpark changing from a brewery advertisement to an insurance company advertisement. Sigh.

Over the years, many people — knowing that I hate naming rights but love Wisconsin and Milwaukee — have said to me, “Sure, naming rights deals aren’t ideal, but don’t you think Miller Park isn’t so bad? You know — beer, the Brewers, Wisconsin’s brewery heritage. It’s one of those partnerships that makes sense for everyone involved!” And sure, I totally get that on some level Miller Park seems less objectionable than a lot of the other more cringe-worthy stadium and arena names. But if there’s anything we can learn from yesterday’s announcement, it’s that the Miller Park name never “made sense” for anyone on any deep cultural level. If the deal truly made sense for Miller, why are they letting the deal expire instead of renewing it? If it truly made sense for the Brewers, why didn’t they offer to lower the price for Miller instead of accepting a higher bid from the insurance company? The reality is that it never “made sense” anywhere except on a balance sheet, and pretending otherwise is just a romantic fantasy.

Miller beer will still be sold at the stadium. The company issued this statement, which perhaps says more than it means to:

While the name on the stadium will change after the 2020 season, we fully expect Brewers fans inside and outside the stadium will continue to celebrate every home run and every strikeout with one of our beloved brands.

Not “our beloved beers” — “our beloved brands.” That’s really sad.

Meanwhile: The first thing I thought of when I heard about the new stadium name was, “Hmmm, I wonder if they’ll change their primary logo,” which has always seemed transparently evocative of the Miller script. Given the unrelenting clamor for a return to the ball-in-glove “mb” logo (or, really, any change from the current design, which has been snoozeville from the moment of its launch), it wouldn’t surprise me to see them make a change in 2021. But if they do, that would pretty much confirm that the current design was always just a Miller tie-in, which is pretty gross. Doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to do that with their new stadium-name advertiser’s logo, though, which is perhaps the best thing we can say about the new naming rights deal.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Lunch angle: How much do I miss baseball? This much: The Tugboat Captain and I had lunch yesterday at the venerable Manhattan sandwich joint Eisenberg’s, where I ordered a pastrami on rye. When our platters arrived, I took one look at mine and immediately thought, “Hmmm, blue and orange toothpicks — Mets colors!”

How long until pitchers and catchers?

• • • • •

• • • • •

ITEM! Cap reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, on Monday I asked how many of you would be willing to order a flex-fit Uni Watch Alternate Cap in size S/M for the cut-rate price of $10.99 plus $4 for shipping (further details here), and yesterday I asked those of you who responded affirmatively to put your money where your mouths are by going ahead and pre-ordering the cap.

Without going into specific numbers, it would be fair to say that the number of people who said they’d pre-order was a lot higher than the number of people who actually did pre-order. So I’m asking again — if you want one of these caps, please do one of the following:

1. Send me $14.99 via Venmo, using @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee. (This is my preferred payment method, because there are no fees.)

2. Send me $14.99 via Zelle, using plukas64@gmail.com as the payee. (Again, no fees.)

3. Send me $14.99 with this Amazon Payments button (if you don’t see the button, refresh the page):

Whichever payment method you choose, please email me and give me your shipping address after making your payment.

Sorry, American customers only for this deal.

I should be able to ship the caps in early February. Thanks for helping me move this inventory.

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Yesterday — Jan. 22 — has been a momentous date in the uni-verse. In 1929, the Yankees announced that they’d be adding numbers to their uniforms, and in 1960 the White Sox announced that they’d be adding NOBs (from @BSmile). … Adam Vitcavage found these vintage MLB mini-pennants in his aunt’s house. … Orioles C Mickey Tettleton is wearing an interesting double-striped mock-neck collar in this card (from Hovan Patey). … Someone set out to find a minor league cap for every letter in the alphabet. Turns out 24 of the 26 letters are accounted for. … Pirates Double-A affiliate Altoona Curve will become the Allegheny Yinzers for select home games this season. A Yinzer is a person who hails from the Pittsburgh area (from Darien Somers). … The Phillies are adding a beer garden to their ballpark, complete with the Liberty Bell that topped their previous home, Veterans Stadium (from Arthur Savokinas). … Newly elected Hall of Famer Mike Mussina says he isn’t sure whether he wants to be depicted in an Orioles cap or a Yankees cap on his Cooperstown plaque. … Deadspin did a ranking of newly elected Hall of Famer Roy Halladay’s caps (from Mike Chamernik).

Pro Football News: The Rams will apparently be the first team in NFL history to wear different helmet designs in the conference championship and the Super Bowl. They wore white horns last Sunday and will wear yellow horns for the Super Bowl (from Andy Zare). … The grounds crew in Atlanta is getting to work on the Rams end zone for the Super Bowl. This will be the fourth different end zone design the Rams will use in the Supe (from Jon Anker and Joe H.). … Still mad about how the refs handled the NFC Championship Game? Now you can buy a shirt featuring the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s headline about the game (from John Stinson). … About two seconds into this video, you can see the Browns using their interlocking “CB” logo at midfield at Cleveland Stadium (from @The_Real_Cub). … The 1968 Jets have some crazy stories about their Super Bowl rings (from Mike Chamernik). … It looks like the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL found a quick solution to changing facemask colors: Just dip them in white paint (from Pro Football Journal).

College Football News: Following up on yesterday lede about a 1960 photo of a Clemson player getting ready for a game, Douglas Ford dug deeper into Clemson football history and found this orange-cleated photo gem. … Tim Dunn found this list of Clemson media guides, a couple of game programs, and a video of the team storming down “The Hill.”

Hockey News: Everyone’s familiar with Islanders C Butch Goring’s Jofa helmet, but was anyone aware of these strap-tied skates? (From Steve Helldorfer.) … It looks like helmets at this Saturday’s NHL All-Star Game will have decals with division names on them (from Rick, who didn’t give his last name). … Here are the sweaters for this year’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game (from Wade Heidt). … The Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League will be wearing astronaut-themed uniforms for Moon Landing Night on March 23 (from DJ Morvay).

NBA News: PF/C Kenneth Faried is wearing No. 35 with the Rockets (from Etienne Catalan). … Mavericks G Luka Doncic took his frustrations out on his jersey last night, ripping it apart in anger (from our own Anthony Emerson).

College/High School Hoops News: New alternates for Clemson men’s (from @DaveGH2P). … The University of South Carolina Upstate debuted new uniforms this season with white on white numbers. Perhaps due to visibility issues, they’ve updated their numbers to black (from James Lightsey). … The University of Kentucky men’s coaches will wear these sneakers for their annual Coaches vs. Cancer Week (from Josh Hinton). … Indiana and Northwestern went black vs. red last night (from Kenneth Traisman). … In that same game, Indiana Assistant Athletic Director for Basketball Administration Bill Comar wore tennis shoes on the sideline last night in support of Princess Lacy’s Legacy, a child cancer charity (from Eric Farrell).

Soccer News: The following three items are from Josh Hinton: Brazil’s new home shirt has leaked. … LAFC’s away shirt has leaked. Newell’s Old Boys has released their new home shirt. … The Chicago Fire have a new shirt advertiser. Here’s how it looks like on their new alternate shirt (from multiple readers). … The El Paso Locomotive of the USL Championship have revealed their shirts.

Grab Bag: Even though Florida wears Jordan brand and Nike, their lacrosse team is outfitted with Under Armour. The lacrosse squad is just a club team, so they’re not under the same outfitting rules as the official school teams (from Hunter G and Mark M). … Jeremy Brahm observes that the Norway men’s national handball team looks like they’re wearing sweaters at this year’s Handball World Men’s Handball Championship. … The WWE has inked a new deal with New Era. … New uniforms for Liberty lacrosse. … Here’s a profile on the laundry man for many of the world’s top musicians (NYT link) (from Tommy Turner). … This writer has a theory as to why 2020 presidential campaign logos are straying away from blue and red. … President Trump’s social media team has apparently been digitally altering photos of him to make him look thinner and longer-fingered (from Ted Arnold). … Here’s a shot of every Florida license plate design from about 1911 to about 1980.

• • • • •

I have to vist my mom today. See you back here tomorrow. — Paul

A Lot of Clemson History in One Old Photo

Click to enlarge

Nowadays, Clemson’s football program is associated with the paw print logo and lots of purple trim. But it wasn’t always that way.

Uni Watch reader Bryan Hoover’s father, Fred Hoover, was Clemson’s head athletic trainer from 1958 through 1998. The photo above is from 1960, and shows Fred Hoover applying what Bryan describes as “a cold cream-based eye cream” to an unidentified player. There are lots of other noteworthy details, including the following:

• The helmet being worn by the player does not match the design shown in the Helmet Project’s database (scroll down to the Clemson section from that link). I’ve forwarded the photo to the Helmet Project people.

• Assuming this was a game-day photo (which appears to be the case — note the marching band in the background, just behind Hoover’s shoulder), Clemson was wearing white at home.

• Right next to the marching band, look at the goalpost — check out that striping!

• Note the little tag dangling from Hoover’s belt loop. Bryan says that was a sideline access pass. That’s an accessory I will forever associate with John Madden, from his days coaching the Raiders.

• Both Hoover and the player are wearing classic Riddell footwear.

• Bryan doesn’t know the story behind the woman in the tiger suit, but that’s some outfit!

• “If you look in the backround, you’ll see that the Hill is practically empty, which was the norm on those days,” says Bryan. “It was not the spectacle that it is today. In fact, the Hill was the most practical way to get into the stadium from the old Fike Field House, which housed the locker room and training room, and the players casually walked down the Hill to get to the field.”

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing, Bryan!

• • • • •

• • • • •

Concussion discussion, continued: Here’s something I missed from last week: ESPN.com published a faaaaascinating Outside the Lines piece about how the mounting evidence linking football to neurological disease has led an increasing number of insurance companies, which at one time were happy to cover football teams, leagues, and helmet manufacturers, to abandon the sport and refuse to cover it.

One source quoted in the story says, “Insurance coverage is arguably the biggest threat to the sport.” Another says, “People say football will never go away, but if we can’t get insurance, it will.”

The story is long but extremely well-reported — highly recommended. Check it out here.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

The Los Angeles Rams will face the New England Patriots in Atlanta in two weeks for the Lombardi Trophy, so we’re leading off with those two teams. Up above, we’ve got a retro-ish Rams sweatshirt from Mitchell & Ness, featuring the No. 55 of Rams Hall of Famer Tom Fears, who played for them from 1948-1956. (He also wore No. 80.) And for the Pats, a 1990s Patriots parka made by Apex, who usually always came up with great designs. We’ve also got a set of 1970s Patriots bicycle helmet hubcaps, though it looks as though Pat might be stuck on there rather poorly — can’t tell if the decal is just laying on there or is stuck on.

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• In the “What might have been” category, here are a couple of Chiefs items: a nice-looking 1990s Chiefs hoodie from Starter (I had a Bengals version and loved it, except the flocking on the chest script tended to pick up bits of lint and whatnot floating in the air as you can see in the close-up photo) as well as a 1970s Chiefs ceramic cup/stein shaped like, of course, a football.

• These 1970s Eagles sketches are from artist Jack Davis, best known for his work with Mad magazine.

• This 1960s “Sports Waving Ball Car Decoration” has “Cincinnati” printed in red. Must have been an unlicensed Reds item.

• Wow, a very nice-looking 1960s San Francisco Giants bobblehead right here.

• Keep your 1970s O-Pee-Chee NHL hockey cards in this cardboard “storage locker,” divided into Eastern and Western divisions.

• How about the Seattle Pilots-style scrambled eggs on the bill of this NFL Alumni cap?

• This 1970s Chargers sweater made by Garan is about as bold a yellow as you can get.

• Got a neat-looking baseball model kit here, of all things. AMT made this “Hang Out 3 Dimensional Action Scene” diorama called “Big Hit?”

• The Steelers helmet logo looks a bit off when it’s rendered in all yellow, as on this 1970s seat cushion.

• I like the powder blue/burgundy trim on this Phillies cap (definitely not 1970s, more like 1990s) made by American Needle.

• This 1970s “Official Major League” baseball glove came with the Chicago Cubs logo on the strap. It’s made of “Top Grain Cowhide” and comes with a “Pro Pocket.” “Flex-Action, too!”

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

• • • • •

• • • • •

Little things mean a lot: In 2005, the Dodgers made a small adjustment to their road jerseys: They changed the buttons from blue to clear. It may seem like a minor thing, but it really changed the visual feel of the jersey.

I recently made a similar change to a piece of my own clothing, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out that I’m going to tell you about it today.

So: A few years ago I bought this vintage plaid coat. It’s big and heavy, warm enough for winter wear, and right in my color wheelhouse (click to enlarge):

It had shank buttons, which seemed fine at first, but then the buttons kept coming off, so I kept having to sew them back on, which was a pain in the ass. When I wore the coat, I found myself instinctively altering my posture and movements so I wouldn’t put stress on the buttons, which was annoying. At some point last winter I pretty much stopped wearing the coat altogether.

Eventually I realized that problem was that the buttons’ metal shanks had gotten rusty, and the rusty surface kept tearing through the thread that attached the buttons:

So I decided to get fresh buttons. At first I thought I’d just try to match the old ones, but then it occurred to me that brown buttons would be much better than the original black ones.

I went to M&J Trimming in Manhattan, which has a huge button selection, and found some brown faux-leather buttons that matched the size of black originals. And these had plastic shanks, so there’d be no rust issue to worry about (click to enlarge):

Then I swapped out the old black buttons for the new brown ones — looks so much better! Old version on the left, new on the right (click to enlarge):

Very satisfying to have solved the button problem and improved the coat’s look. A win-win! So interesting to see how replacing three buttons can make such a big visual difference (at least to me).

The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that there are still two oddly placed black buttons on the upper chest. Those are just decorative, but I’ll probably swap them out as well. They’re a bit smaller than the main buttons, so I’ll have to go back to M&J Trimming to match the proper size. But for now, I’m very pleased with the new primary buttons, and I’ve already begun wearing the coat again, which feels like being reunited with an old friend.

• • • • •

• • • • •

And as long as we’re talking about my wardrobe ..: It’s not often that I find myself envying or coveting another guy’s item of mass-produced apparel. But I was out seeing music on Sunday night and saw a guy wearing a T-shirt that I liked a lot — so much, in fact, that I asked the guy if I could photograph it (click to enlarge):

The lighting in the club was awful, and I had to punch up the levels on that photo quite a bit. Here’s a better look at the striping pattern, which the guy sent me the next day:

Swoon. Is that gorgeous or what? Those are totally my colors.

The guy (whose name, by coincidence, is Paul) said he bought the shirt about five years ago at Uniqlo, which is funny, because about the only thing I know about Uniqlo is that their clothing supposedly falls apart after about three wearings.

Anyway, I looked on eBay, Etsy, and a few other places to see if I could find the shirt — no dice. If anyone knows where I can find it in a medium (and/or if anyone has such a shirt and is willing to sell it), you know what to do.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Infinite regression: Everyone loves a good infinite regression, right? Here’s a really good one:

That’s pretty awesome. Reminds me of the similarly awesome Infinite Cat Project.

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

• • • • •

• • • • •

ITEM! Cap update: Yesterday I asked how many of you would be willing to pre-order one of our S/M flex-fit Uni Watch Alternate Caps at the cut-rate price of $10.99 plus $4 for shipping (for more details on why I’m doing this, look here). The response was, frankly, better than I’d expected — thanks!

For those of you who responded affirmatively, now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. If you want one of these caps, please do one of the following:

1. Send me $14.99 via Venmo, using @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee. (This is my preferred payment method, because there are no fees.)

2. Send me $14.99 via Zelle, using plukas64@gmail.com as the payee. (Again, no fees.)

3. Send me $14.99 with this Amazon Payments button (if you don’t see the button, refresh the page):

Whichever payment method you choose, please email me and give me your shipping address after making your payment.

Sorry, American customers only for this deal.

I should be able to ship the caps in early February. Thanks for helping me move this inventory.

• • • • •

• • • • •

KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles is about a little turkey charm. Check it out here.

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsThe Astros are establishing a team Hall of Fame. The Hall’s initial class will include players whose numbers have already been retired and those who have been honored on the team Walk of Fame (from Ignacio Salazar). … Also from Ignacio: Astros OF Josh Reddick is a big wrestling fan, so when he tied the knot over the weekend, the reception included a WWE-style entrance, complete with robes and championship belts. … The birds on the bat of this ’80s vintage Cardinals jersey look hypnotizedMatt Henderson spotted that on an eBay listing for an obviously counterfeit Lou Brock jersey. … Lots of new gear for Creighton (from @Perez_Cristian3).

NFL NewsHere’s our first look at how the Super Bowl LIII patch will look on a Rams jersey (from Matt Lally). … Remember that obviously fake/Photoshopped photo of Rams RB Todd Gurley swapping jerseys with a ref, which ran on lots of media outlets, including Uni Watch, yesterday? Radio yakker Mike Francesa thought it was real.

College Football News: Florida State’s social media team ended up with egg on its face yesterday when it tweeted an insensitive graphic of Martin Luther King Jr. wearing a football glove (?) and performing the tomahawk chop. Yikes (from Kurt Esposito).

Hockey News Reader Mandy Lopez spotted this Wayne Gretzky Kings jersey with an upside-down sleeve number at a Dick’s Sporting Goods. … The Stockton Heat of the AHL gave away a bobblehead of Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs wearing a Heat sweater, a Stockton Ports baseball cap, and Stockton Kings basketball shorts and shoes (from Pádraig T. Watson). … The ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones wore Paw Patrol-themed uniforms on Sunday. Here’s how they looked on the ice (from Brian Henke). … A few child actors from the Mighty Ducks movies, now fully grown up, donned the Ducks’ throwback sweaters while taking in a Ducks/Isles game on Long Island over the weekend. The jerseys were personalized with the actors’ movie personas (from Michael Lopez). … Here are the stories behind the Blue Jackets’ uniform numbers (paywalled) (from Jason Hillyer).

NBA NewsThe D League’s Texas Legends went with MLK-themed uniforms yesterday. Jordan maker’s mark, too (from Zak Buncik). … The latest from NBA uni numbers guru Etienne Catalan: New Pacers G Stephan Hicks will wear No. 17, new Wizards PG Gary Payton II will wear No. 4, and new Rockets F/C Kenneth Faried will wear No. 35. … Great look at Dr. J in a classic old 76ers warmup top (from Pro Football Journal).

College Hoops NewsPretty rough black-vs.-GFGS matchup between Colorado and Utah on Sunday (from Perry Sailor). … Virginia Tech went BFBS on the road yesterday against North Carolina (from Andrew Cosentino).

Soccer NewsMan City ST Sergio Aguero rolled down his socks on Sunday against Huddersfield, and lots of fans noticed (scroll about halfway down the page) (from Sean Kautzman). … Forward Madison FC of USL League One has inked a deal with a uniform advertiser and says their uniforms will be unveiled in the coming weeks (from JohnMark Fisher and Ed Zelaski). … New away shirt for Vasco da Gama (from Ed Zelaski). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: New sleeve sponsor advertiser for the German Bundesliga club Schalke 04.

Grab BagThe National Lacrosse League has already announced that the Rochester Knighthawks will relocate to Halifax after this season. Apparently, the league has filed trademarks for new logos and for the team name “Halifax Thunderbirds” (from Jack Goods). … Sen. Kamala Harris announced her presidential campaign yesterday — 47 years to the day after Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to do so. Harris’s campaign colors are red and yellow, a nod to Chisholm’s campaign. … Mississippi’s current state flag still includes the Confederate battle flag. But proposed legislation could replace that design with one that doesn’t include Confederate imagery — and was designed by the granddaughter of one of the state’s most ardent segregationists. … David Firestone came across these race car diagrams in a racing press kit. … The school district in Hurley, Wis., has voted to stop using “Midgets” as the name for the district’s sports teams at the end of this school year. A new team name will be chosen in time for the start of the following school year (from Jerry Nitzh).