Jim Bouton: 1939–2019

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Word came down last night that former MLB pitcher and best-selling author Jim Bouton had died at the age of 80. As you can see in the photo above, which is from the 1964 World Series, he had a uni-related quirk: His hat often fell off as he delivered a pitch.

You can see a video sequence of his cap flying off here:

His hat even fell off when he pitched at the Yankees’ Old-Timer’s Day in 1998:

Bouton was best known as the author of Ball Four, which was published in 1970 and was essentially a diary of his 1969 season — a season he split between the Seattle Pilots and the Houston Astros (with a brief minor league demotion along the way). Nearly half a century after its publication, it is almost certainly still the best and most important baseball book ever written. It is also one of two or three books that have had the biggest impact on me.

When people think about Ball Four, they don’t tend to think about uniforms, but the book has a surprisingly large number of uni-related discussions. Here are some of them:

1. First and foremost, there’s the bit about Frank Robinson and his stirrups, which I’ve quoted many, many times over the years. Here it is once more:

It has become the fashion — I don’t know how it started, possibly with Frank Robinson — to have long, long stirrups with a lot of white showing. The higher your stirrups, the cooler you are. Your legs look long and cool instead of dumpy and hot. The way to make your stirrups longest, or what are called high-cuts, is to slice the stirrup and sew in some extra material.

For many years I had to take that description on faith. Eventually, the internet made it easy to find late-’60s photos of Robinson, which confirmed Bouton’s account. (But Bouton didn’t mention that Robinson’s stirrups had created a huge controversy, leading to an American League rule change, in 1967. Full details on that here.)

2. During spring training, Bouton had this to say:

Uniform-measuring day. This is always a waste. They measure everybody carefully and the uniforms arrive three sizes too big. Part of the reason is that everybody is wearing tight-fitting uniforms these days. [Yankees first baseman Joe] Pepitone refuses to take the field if his uniform isn’t skintight. [Yankees infielder] Phil Linz used to say that he didn’t know why, but he could run faster in tight pants. And I understand that Dick Stuart, old Dr. Strangeglove, would smooth his uniform carefully, adjust his cap, tighten his belt, and say, “I can add 20 points to my average if I know I look bitchin’ out there.”

3. Also from spring training:

The higher your [uniform] number, the worse chance they think you have of making the club. The year I was given 56 was the year I made the club. Toward the end of spring training, Big Pete Sheehy, the No. 1 Yankee clubhouse man, said, “Listen, I got a better number for you. I can give you 27.” I told him I’d keep 56 because I wanted it to remind me of how close I was to not making the club. I still wear 56. I’m still close to not making the club.

4. On Opening Day:

There was a lot of grousing about the [Pilots’] uniforms. It isn’t only that they don’t fit (no baseball uniforms fit, possibly because you are carefully measured for them). It’s that they’re so gaudy. I guess because we’re the Pilots, we have to have captain’s uniforms. They have stripes on the sleeves, scrambled eggs on the peak of the cap and blue socks with yellow stripes. Also there are blue and yellow stripes down the sides of the pants. We look like goddam clowns.

Here’s a shot of Bouton in his Pilots road uni, so you can see for yourself (click to slightly enlarge):

5. Talking about one of his Pilots teammates, pitcher Dick Baney:

[Baney] took his uniform to a tailor and had it made so form-fitting that the whole thing looks like it was painted on. He says this is important and the reason he did poorly his first time out was that “I looked down at myself and I looked like a clown. I figured if I look like a clown, I must be pitching like a clown, and so I did.”

6. At the start of a series against the Yankees:

The first thing I felt when the Yankees showed up at the park today was embarrassment. That’s because our uniforms look so silly with that technicolor gingerbread all over them. The Yankee uniforms, even their gray traveling uniforms, are beautiful in their simplicity. [Teammate] John O’Donoghue said that when [former Yankee] Johnny Blanchard was traded to Kansas City, he refused to come out of the dugout wearing that green and gold uniform. I would guess it’s the only feeling I’ve ever had in common with Blanchard.

7. A funny story involving Bouton’s teammate Mike Marshall, (who would later go on to become the first reliever to win the Cy Young Award):

Mike Marshall was sitting against the fence in the bullpen watching the ballgame. In order to get close to the fence, he turned his cap around backward and used the leather band to protect his head from the cold steel. Without saying a word, [bullpen coach] Eddie O’Brien lifted the hat off his head and put it back on him peak-front. “I don’t want Joe [Schultz, the manager] getting on me because you guys are wearing your hats backward,” he said.

With that, Marshall took his hat off, slammed it on the ground, and said, “How’s that? I don’t have it on wrong now, do I?”

8. When the Pilots were scheduled for their first nationally televised appearance on the NBC Game of the Week:

[Pilots first baseman] Don Mincher was worried about appearing on national television. “My mother’s going to watch this ballgame in Alabama,” he said, “and she’s going to notice first thing that I’m not using the batting helmet with the earflap on it. And tonight she’s going to be on the telephone, guaranteed, asking me why I’m not wearing my earflap.”

9. Then there’s this bit, about Braves outfielder Rico Carty:

Note about Rico Carty. He doesn’t trust banks. He also doesn’t trust the clubhouse valuables box. So that big lump you see in his back pocket during games is his wallet.

In 2006, I was working on an ESPN piece about baseball pants pockets and tried to find a photo that showed Carty’s wallet bulge. If you squint, you can sorta-kinda see it here and maybe here, but I couldn’t really find definitive visual evidence of it, so I got in touch with Bouton to ask him about it. He gave me a quote and then told me something really interesting (I’m paraphrasing here): “I’ve told and re-told the stories from Ball Four so many times over the years that I don’t really remember most of those incidents anymore. I just remember telling the stories.” I thought that was a pretty self-aware thing to say, and a good insight into how memory works (or doesn’t work) over time.

That was the only time I ever spoke with Bouton. Talking to him was a thrill, because Ball Four completely changed my life. I stumbled upon it sort of by accident in 1976, when I was 12 (we were spending the weekend at my parents’ best friends’ house, and they had a copy on the bookshelf in the guest room where I was sleeping). At the time, I had no idea that it had been a best-seller, that it was the first real tell-all book about baseball, that the commissioner had tried to ban it, or that it had essentially gotten Bouton blackballed out of the game. I only knew that it presented baseball in a way I’d never experienced before, full of cursing, sex, drinking, amphetamines, doctoring the ball, and lots of other stuff that blew my 12-year-old mind.

It was also very, very funny, and very well-written. It would be stretching things to say Ball Four inspired me to become a writer, but it definitely opened my eyes, probably for the first time, to the expressive and creative possibilities of straightforward narrative storytelling. It remains a huge influence on me to this day.

Ball Four wasn’t perfect, and neither was Bouton. Sometime around 1997, my then-girlfriend began reading the book and said to me, “You know who really loves Jim Bouton? Jim Bouton.” It was a fair comment. In 1983, 13 years after Ball Four was published, Bouton’s ex-wife and Mike Marshall’s ex-wife collaborated on a book of their own, so fans could see what it was like to be the spouse of a big leaguer. It would be fair to say that the book, which I read while I was in college and still very much in thrall to Ball Four, was not flattering to either player. A good reality check.

Still, Ball Four remains a landmark, both in my life and in the annals of sports literature. If you haven’t already read it, get yourself a copy — you’ll thank me later. Meanwhile, we can honor Bouton today by grabbing a bag of Big League Chew, which he helped create. R.I.P.

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A card on a card: You know how many banks will now let you customize your credit card with a photo or whatever? Reader Taylor Nicolaisen decided to use his new Iowa State-themed Uni Watch membership card as the custom look for his Visa debit card.

“I’m looking forward to lots of perplexed looks, a few knowing Cyclones fans, and hopefully one person who Gets It™ sharing a look with me,” he says.

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Uni-versary patch reminder: In case you haven’t seen, the Uni Watch 20th-anniversary logo is now available as an embroidered patch. The patch was made for us by Stitches, the same shop that does all the sewing for the Mets, Yankees, and Islanders. It measures four inches across and is suitable for sewing onto a jersey or jacket, or just for displaying.

The price is $9.99, plus $1 for shipping (or $2 for shipping outside the USA). To order, send payment to me via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Cash App (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check, or if you’re outside the USA and can only use PayPal, shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in.

Once you send payment, be sure to send me your shipping address so I can send the patch on its way to you. Thanks!

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

LAST CALL for this week’s raffle: Our friends at Vintage Brand are once again letting a lucky Uni Watch reader choose anything from their broad range of retro-minded offerings (including this groovy 1978 MLB All-Star Game canvas).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Good luck!

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Going, going…: Today’s also the next-to-last day to enter the Bengals-redesign contest that I’m running in conjunction with Sports Illustrated. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsHere’s a great breakdown of the various tweaks the Phillies’ jersey script has undergone through the years (from Gary Mattox and Wayne Terry). … The White Sox will install MLB’s first foul pole-to-foul pole safety net in time for the team’s next home game on July 22. … At least one baseball writer tweeted that the ink on the 2019 All-Star Game programs was causing issues at airport security (from Matt Burgess). … The Braves are giving away a miniature Hank Aaron jersey with a stand on Aug. 1 (from Joel Mendelson). … According to a fan vote, the Albuquerque Isotopes’ Copa de la Diversión nickname, the Mariachis, is the best among all of MiLB’s alternate Latin identities (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … Back in 1917, as America was entering World War I, the White Sox performed military drills on the field (from Bob Gassel). … Hunter Hook found a complete set of these 1998 National League collector’s baseballs. … Check out the uniforms worn by the Lake Shore Stone Company, a team that played in 1915 near Milwaukee (from Scott Rogers). … Pretty cool throwbacks for the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the Northwoods League. … Players in the Triple-A All-Star Game wore Ronald McDonald House Charities jersey patches (from Niko Goutakolis). … The New York Post created a back-page illustration that depicted Mets skipper Mickey Callaway in a jersey that the team hasn’t worn since 2011 (from Brendan Dircks). … The Sydney Blue Sox, an Australian team, will wear 1990s Sydney Blues throwbacks for Sunday games this year (from Dave Raglin).

Football NewsReader Benji King spotted an NFC logo on this ambulance that’s been repurposed as an embroidery business in Star Valley, Wyo. … Neat move by Penn State, which made its 2019 schedule poster in such a way that it can be folded up into a model helmet (thanks to all who shared). … The University of Washington officially unveiled its new uniforms yesterday. The designs confirm earlier leaks (from Tyler Keefe). … New jerseys for the Cincinnati Bearcats. It appears the pants and helmet are unchanged (from Joe Owen). … You may have seen the news item about the alligator that was found swimming in a Chicago park on Tuesday. Well, someone made a logo for the gator, based on the University of Florida’s logo (from Scott G.).

Basketball NewsMichael Jordan’s first Bulls jersey — the one he held up at his first contract signing in 1984 — is going up for auction, with a minimum initial bid of $15,000 (from Jordan Cutler). … Celtics C Tacko Fall tried to enter a summer league game while still wearing his warmup top (from Kary Klismet). … With the NBA in the throes of free agency, visit Etienne Catalan’s Twitter page for the latest on new NBA number assignments. … New floor for the West Virginia Mountaineers (from Drew Ward). … New home, away and alternate uniforms for NAIA Lincoln College in Illinois. … Here’s a gallery showing how NBA team logos looked in old 16-bit video games.

Soccer NewsBayern Munich’s away and third jerseys have reportedly leaked (from Josh Hinton). … New away shirt for Crystal Palace. … Aston Villa’s women’s soccer team is changing its name from Aston Villa Ladies to Aston Villa Women (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie: Scottish Championship team Queen of the South has a new tartan second jersey. … US women’s soccer star Rose Lavelle’s grade school near Cincinnati shared a photo of her as an 8-year-old wearing a Mia Hamm jersey (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: USWNT’s Denver natives, Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh, have been painted on the side of a Denver building. … Former president Barack Obama tweeted a photo of himself with a personalized UWWNT jersey yesterday (from James Gilbert). … Lazio’s third kit has apparently leaked. … For a roundup of more kit unveilings from smaller clubs and leagues, check out the Twitter feeds from Josh Hinton and Ed Zelaski.

Grab BagJapan’s Rugby World Cup jerseys are made of different materials, depending on the player’s position (from Eric Bangeman). … New logos for Elmira College in New York (from Kary Klismet and The Goal Net). … Hurley High School in Wisconsin has chosen the Northstars as its new team name, replacing Midgets.

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Rough times in New Orleans this week. To all our readers in southern Louisiana, including membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner, take care and be safe. — Paul

A Uni Watch Look at the 2019 MLB All-Star Game

For all photos, click to enlarge

Last night’s MLB All-Star Game turned into a giant uni-borne memorial for recently deceased Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, as all uniformed personnel on both teams wore a black “45” chest patch — Skaggs’s number.

Or at least that was the idea. The “45” patches were apparently applied with adhesive, not sewn on. In a case of particularly bad timing, Tigers pitcher Shane Greene’s patch fell off just as the camera was focusing on him during the pregame introductions:

In addition, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s patch had already fallen off by that point:

And other players were also missing the patch by the time they took the field:

Indeed, the patches must have been a last-minute addition, because nobody was wearing them during pregame activities:

After Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor’s “45” patch fell off, he stuck it onto his cap:

Lots of other players lost their Skaggs patches during the game as well. To everyone at MLB who’s reading this: Nice idea, weak execution.

In a more permanent salute to Skaggs, the Angels’ two All-Star representatives — outfielder Mike Trout, who usually wears No. 27, and infielder Tommy La Stella, who normally wears No. 9 (and who is currently injured but still made the trip for the game) — both wore No. 45 for the game:

And at least one player — White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito — wrote Skaggs’s number on his cap:

In other news from last night’s Midsummer Classic:

• With two outs in the top of the eighth, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was wearing a Brewers batting helmet while on deck:

He never came up to bat that inning, because the third out was made. When he led off the top of the ninth, he had a Phillies helmet:

What was the story there? According to this article:

Realmuto arrived in the dugout moments before the first pitch and looked to stash his batting gloves in his helmet.

Only problem was his helmet wasn’t in the rack.

“I didn’t know what was going on so I asked,” he said. “They looked in all my bags and everything and they’re like, ‘I guess the equipment guy forgot to pack it in your bag.’”

Realmuto’s catcher’s helmet did make it to Cleveland.

“I took the Cardinals sticker off [Cardinals infielder Paul] DeJong’s helmet and put our P on it,” Realmuto said with a laugh.

He popped out in his first at-bat in the seventh inning.

The next inning he found himself in the on-deck circle with two outs. Only problem was DeJong was on base, wearing his helmet. So Realmuto wore Yasmani Grandal’s Milwaukee Brewers helmet into the on-deck circle. He did not bat in that inning because the American League got the third out with him in the on-deck circle.

That might have been a blessing because Grandal’s helmet “was huge,” and might have fallen off if Realmuto had to bat in that inning.

So there you go — good stuff!

• Speaking of helmets: Although the American League players were wearing their home uniforms, Yankees players wore the Yanks’ road (i.e., matte) batting helmet:

This marked the second time in two weeks that the Yanks’ matte helmet was paired with the home pinstripes, the first time having been for the two games against the Red Sox in London.

• Given that the American League was the home team, it seems odd that the Tigers’ All-Star cap featured an orange “D” (the same as their regular road caps), instead of the white home “D”:

• The combination of the Skaggs patch and the migration of existing sleeve-positioned memorial patches to the chest (due to the All-Star Game sleeve patch taking precedence) resulted in a very patch-happy look for the Giants’ lone All-Star representative, pitcher Will Smith:

• The scoreboard misidentified Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger and Diamondbacks infielder Ketel Marte as members of the Braves:

• The scoreboard also misspelled Rockies outfielder David Dahl’s first name, listing him as “Davis”:

• And in yet another scoreboard glitch, Mets infielder/outfielder Jeff McNeil’s name and stats were accompanied by a photo of pitcher Jacob deGrom:

McNeil was reportedly not amused:

• Maybe I’ve just become numb to it, but it seemed to me that there were fewer shoe-design shenanigans this time around than in recent years.

• Finally, there’s something funny about a bat-shaped game MVP trophy being awarded to an American League pitcher — Cleveland’s Shane Bieber:

(My thanks to all contributors, including Darrell Dawson, Jakob Fox, Brinke Guthrie, Dom Sedicino, Griffin Smith, Jeremy Van Dorp, @NYYDJ2, and @PapaBeez.)

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Uni-versary patch reminder: In case you haven’t seen, the Uni Watch 20th-anniversary logo is now available as an embroidered patch. The patch was made for us by Stitches, the same shop that does all the sewing for the Mets, Yankees, and Islanders. It measures four inches across and is suitable for sewing onto a jersey or jacket, or just for displaying.

The price is $9.99, plus $1 for shipping (or $2 for shipping outside the USA). To order, send payment to me via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Cash App (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check, or if you’re outside the USA and can only use PayPal, shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in.

Once you send payment, be sure to send me your shipping address so I can send the patch on its way to you. Thanks!

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle reminder: Our friends at Vintage Brand are once again letting a lucky Uni Watch reader choose anything from their broad range of retro-minded offerings (including this groovy 1978 MLB All-Star Game canvas).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by this tomorrow, July 11, 8pm Eastern. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday. Good luck!

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Bengals contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, I’m teaming up with Sports Illustrated for a Bengals-redesign contest. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Here’s a good article on the history of old-school concrete and steel ballparks (from Mike Chamernik). … And here’s a brief history of another baseball staple: organ music (from Kary Klismet). … It looks like the outfield wall distance numbers at Wrigley Field are painted freehand, not stenciled (from Dave Z.). … Reader Brandon Weir found this hoodie mashup of the Brewers and the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. … The Lansing Lugnuts, Single-A affiliate of the Blue Jays, will be handing out Burt Reynolds bobbleheads this month (from our own Phil Hecken). … The Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League will be wearing these jerseys to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. … Mike Selock recently visited the Reds Hall of Fame and saw this 1971 MLB All-Star Game plaque; the nine-pound collar worn by former team owner Marge Schott’s St. Bernard, Schottzie, following the team’s 1990 World Series victory; a Crosley Field usher’s uniform; and a hat liner worn by Reds legend Pete Rose. … Baseball quizmaster Scott Rogowsky, who used to be the host of HQ Trivia and now the streaming trivia show ChangeUp, showed up at the All-Star Game wearing a David Wright jersey and an orange undershirt — just like Wright himself used to wear (from Mike Engle).

Football News: Arkansas unveiled new uniforms yesterday (from many readers). … A Ducks fan has started a petition to change Oregon’s home uniforms. … Here’s an in-depth look at USF’s new uniforms (from Kent Perry). … Here’s how the CFB 150 patch looks on Baylor’s unis, as modeled by the school’s mascot (from Jace Joseph). … Former Kentucky and NFL QB Jared Lorenzen died last week at age 38. In response, current UK quarterback Terry Wilson tweeted that he might wear No. 22 — Lorenzen’s college number — for Kentucky’s opening game against Toledo (from Travis Coffey). … A Saskatchewan Roughriders fan got the team’s logo painted on his prosthetic eye (from Mike Styczen).

Hockey News: Cross-listed from the baseball section: Reader Brandon Weir found this hoodie mashup of Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers and the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. … The Brantford Blast of the Ontario Hockey Association revealed new sweaters (from Ross Taylor).

Basketball News: This year’s edition of The Tournament — the annual basketball tourney featuring a hodgepodge of players divvied up into 64 teams competing for a $2 million prize — will soon begin. A bunch of the teams released their jersey designs yesterday (from Michael Barkaan). … Etienne Catalan’s Twitter feed has all the latest NBA uni number assignments. … Former Warriors PG Tim Hardaway, who spent six seasons with Golden State, gave his take on the team retiring Kevin Durant’s and Andre Iguodala’s numbers. … Rockets SG/PG James Harden visited Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal, and wore an Arsenal shirt (from Ignacio Salazar).

Soccer News: Chelsea’s third kit has leaked (from Josh Hinton). For a roundup of more kit unveilings from smaller clubs and leagues, check out Josh’s Twitter feed, @clash_kit. … For more soccer kit unveilings and related news check out Ed Zelaski’s feed, @edzelaski. … Cross-listed from the basketball section: NBA’s Houston Rockets SG/PG James Harden visited Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal, and wore an Arsenal shirt (from Ignacio Salazar). … New kit for Leeds United to celebrate their 100th anniversary (from @jamesesiddall). … New kits for Perth Glory (from Chris Hockman).

Grab Bag: How creative can you get with all-white at Wimbledon? Here’s a roundup of the most notable outfits for this year’s tournament (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … Here’s a primer on what the Tour de France jersey colors mean. … Atlanta’s fleet of Xpress buses will now sport the city’s “ATL” logo. … There’s chatter on a Michigan State message board about a new Sparty mascot logo that the university recently (and quietly) added to its trademark list. It appears to be an updated version of their venerable “scruffy Sparty” logo based on the look of their current costumed mascot (from Kary Klismet). … Here are the indigenous guernseys Australian Football League clubs will wear this season (from @JeffChrz).

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I’m visiting my mom today, so I’ll be off the grid for most of the day. Play nice while I’m away and I’ll see you back here tomorrow. — Paul

Auction Action

As you may have noticed in the left sidebar, our friends at Grey Flannel Auctions are running another catalog auction. Here are some of the items that have caught my eye:

• I always like leagues that deviate from the standard black/white zebra-striped officiating uniforms. The World Football League’s blue/gold jerseys (shown at right, click to enlarge) are a prime example. Bid on it here.

• Love love love the striped collar on this 1891 (!) Cy Young baseball card. Scroll over the thumbnail to get the full effect.

• With Willie McCovey’s recent death, a bunch of his memorabilia is now up for auction. McCovey was left-handed, so it seems odd that this trophy for his 500th home run shows a right-handed batter figurine (and a righty glove to boot).

• Speaking of McCovey, I really like this 1971 All-Star Game platter. Never seen that type of item before!

• One last McCovey entry: The Giants usually styled his NOB with a raised “c,” as seen here, here, and here, but this one has a base-aligned “c.”

• I never really noticed before how the Astros’ 1972 road jerseys had matching radially arched chest lettering and NOBs, while the ’73 design had matching vertically arched chest lettering and NOBs.

• This 1980 Reds jacket design, with the team logo down toward the bottom, is one of the oddest jacket formats I’ve ever seen.

• Speaking of jackets, check out this 1967 Earl Monroe College Division championship beauty.

• Oh baby, it doesn’t get much better than this century-old Yankees dugout sweater!

• It’s rare enough for a MLB team to have TV numbers on one sleeve. But in 1979 and ’80, the Cardinals had them on both sleeves!

• Attention, Brinke Guthrie! We don’t often see tennis gear come up for auction, but here’s a 1991 autographed Jimmy Connors warm-up top.

• I love everything about the lettering styles on this mid-1970s 76ers warm-up jacket.

Want to see more? You can click through all of the auction listings — more than 500 of them — here.

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All-Star stuff: We got our first look yesterday at some of this year’s MLB All-Stars in their completely absurd ASG socks. Yes, the design shows a batter about to swing a guitar. (Speaking of which, here’s an article about how the guitar became the all-purpose Cleveland symbol.)

As you can also see there, the players also have All-Star belts this year. Pretty sure that’s a first. Along with the two-tone and uni-numbered belts we’ve seen this year, this appears to be MLB’s latest attempt to turn this accessory into a piece of merchandise, or at least a point of interest. Here’s how they look from the back:

Meanwhile, in last night’s Home Run Derby:

• I don’t know if Dodgers outfield/first baseman Joc Pederson is doing acupuncture or if he’s a cyborg or what, but he’s got something very weird on the back of his neck:

• Most of the players wore their regular team caps, but Blue Jays third baseman Vlad Guerrero Jr. wore a Jays bandana:

• I’m pretty sure this photo is from a day or two earlier, but Pirates first baseman Josh Bell’s Derby pitcher, Jonathan Schwind, was channeling some Buccos history with a Dave Parker throwback T-shirt:

(My thanks to Brian Hansen and our own Alex Hider for their contributions to this section.)

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Tonight’s the night for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland. As of this writing, standing room tickets are $235 — and that’s with an obstructed view! So let’s go back to July 14, 1970, when the Midsummer Classic was played at a different Ohio venue — then-new Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. This ticket stub says you could get a seat in the upper reaches of the stadium for just eight bucks! One puzzling detail: The flags on the steamboat show the years 1919, 1939, 1940, and 1961. The Reds won the World Series in 1919 and 1940, but the other two years don’t match up with Cincy championships or with the city’s previous All-Star hosting years. Anyone know what those flag dates mean?

One other thing about that 1970 ASG: When I said Riverfront was new, I meant it was really new. The first game had been played there on June 30, just two weeks earlier! Not only that, but this website says the ASG’s location wasn’t even announced until June 1! Atlanta was standing by in case the new ballpark wasn’t ready in time. Can you imagine that happening now?

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• In keeping with the 1970 All-Star Game theme, this eBay seller is offering a set of then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn’s business cards.

• This auction is for a 1970s Baskin-Robbins MLB helmet display board, and you get 21 helmets with it. “Two-scoop sundae in a mini helmet. THE HELMET IS FREE!”

• This 1970s-1980s Phillies sweatshirt was made by Velva Sheen of Cincinnati. If you lived there back in the day, the VS outlets were the place to go for T-shirt seconds.

• When I lived in Dallas, there was a 7-Eleven right up the street. So I’d hop on my bike and go get one of these baseball cups with a Slushee or Slurpee or Icee or whatever they were called. Always a mix of cherry and cola if I could get it. Even back then at age 10, I Got It™, because I didn’t like how there were no logos on the caps!

• The seller of this Wilson-made satin Atlanta Braves dugout jacket says it’s “team issued.”

• This custom-made DIY Pittsburgh Steelers rug has been rolled up in storage since the late 1970s.

• Just wanted to include this “Vintage Bengals Helmet 1960s-1970s” because it’s, well, so sad-looking.

• Good golly Miss Molly, straight from Sears NFL Shoppes, how about this 1970s Dallas Cowboys bulletin board, with helmet pins included.

• Here’s a set of 28 NFL helmet vending machine stickers. The seller dates them from the late 1970s-1990s.

• Never seen one of these before; a 1970s Green Bay Packers zip-front pullover made by Allison. Team logo on the front by the zipper, city on the back.

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

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Uni-versary patch reminder: In case you haven’t seen, the Uni Watch 20th-anniversary logo is now available as an embroidered patch. The patch was made for us by Stitches, the same shop that does all the sewing for the Mets, Yankees, and Islanders. It measures four inches across and is suitable for sewing onto a jersey or jacket, or just for displaying.

The price is $9.99, plus $1 for shipping (or $2 for shipping outside the USA). To order, send payment to me via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Cash App (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check, or if you’re outside the USA and can only use PayPal, shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in.

Once you send payment, be sure to send me your shipping address so I can send the patch on its way to you. Thanks!

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle reminder: Our friends at Vintage Brand are once again letting a lucky Uni Watch reader choose anything from their broad range of retro-minded offerings. With the MLB All-Star Game taking place tonight, this 1974 ASG program cover canvas would be a good choice, or maybe this 1961 ASG cutting board, or anything else. Your choice does not have to be ASG-related!

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by this Thursday, July 11, 8pm Eastern. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday. Good luck!

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Bengals contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, I’m teaming up with Sports Illustrated for a Bengals-redesign contest. Full details here.

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Click to enlarge

Too good for the Ticker: Oh man, check out this spectacular photo of former Detroit Red Wings GM Jack Adams! The striped hood, the patches, the texture — even the whistle looks Just Right. Uni Watch’s highest rating!

(Big thanks to Fred Teigen for this one.)

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KRC update: The latest installment of Key Ring Chronicles involves a tropical island, a fashion model, a load of drugs, and some very bad air quality. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: A junior hockey team in Ontario that for the past 85 years has been called the Redmen is changing its name to the Reds (from many readers). … In addition, two other junior hockey teams are scrapping their indigenous-based logos (from Mike Golley). … At the recent Indigenous Bowl — a high school football game featuring Native American and First Nations players from all over North America — a player from Winnipeg wore face paint to bring attention to the large number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada (from @ohhhsourry).

Baseball News: The Charleston RiverDogs are taking dumb minor league uni promotions to their logical conclusion with Dumbest Night of the Year Night on Aug. 12 (from @TheBenJye). … Oops: All-Star Game banners all over Cleveland feature Phillies OF Bryce Harper — who, as it turns out, didn’t make the National League roster (from Mike Chamernik). … Want to see Ted Kluszewski wearing sleeves? Here he is in a suit and tie, along with a bunch of his 1956 Redlegs teammates, on an old segment of What’s My Line? (nice find by Bob Moon). … Here’s Cleveland’s record so far this season broken down by uniform. … Not uni-related, but in case you missed it over the holiday weekend, ESPN ran a fun piece of “What If?” fiction about how the Home Run Derby supplanted regular baseball as the national pastime. It’s entertaining and semi-plausible — recommended. … Here’s what Corvallis Knights wore for their recent “futuristic” game against the Portland Pickles. ” The inspiration behind our uniforms was 7-on-7 football, because baseball in the year 2050 will be sleeker and faster,” explains team spokesman Derek Buchheit. … William Yurasko has written a piece in which he argues that the Nats should wear Senators throwbacks, not Expos throwbacks. … The Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds have some weirdly truncated pants striping (from Blue Burke). … Think the Home Run Derby is cool? Check out its polar opposite: the Korean bunting contest! (Big thanks to James Gilbert.) … Back in 1984, The Pittsburgh Press ran a pretty good article on the Pirates’ clubhouse managers (from Jerry Wolper).

NFL News: A recent episode of The Loudest Voice had an era-inappropriate Jets helmet. … Speaking of the Jets, check out this recently unearthed archival concert footage of the Velvet Undergound with drummer Mo Tucker wearing a Jets sweatshirt! (Big thanks to Patrick Reynolds.)

College Football News: For the first time since 2015, Florida will have players wearing No. 1. … Arkansas will apparently unveil new uniforms today (from Matt Snyder).

Pro Basketball News: Instead of listing all of the new NBA uni number assignments, I’m going to recommend that you just check out Etienne Catalan’s Twitter feed. … Former NBAer Glen “Big Baby” Davis was ejected from a BIG3 game the other day, whereupon he removed his uniform and tossed it into the crowd.

College Hoops News: North Texas is letting fans vote on the school’s new court design (from @profjimmyc). … New logo and hashtag for the Horizon League 2020 championship.

Soccer News: The USWNT has added a fourth star to their crest. … Pretty weird number/NOB font for Mexico. … New kits for Portuguese side Boavista (from @mikeDfromCT). … Budweiser is now the official beer advertiser of the NWSL (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Also from Jamie: New second kit for the Republic of Ireland. “The 3 on the front is an ad that appears on retail versions, not a number,” says Jamie. … The daily download from Josh Hinton: AS Roma’s new away shirt is available for sale in Hong Kong even though it hasn’t been officially released yet; OKC Energy’s reserve side is switching to Adidas, even though the senior team wears Under Armour; and new kits for Aston Villa, Crawley Town, Stade de Reims, Darmstadt, Torquay United, AFC Leopards, Caykur Rizespor, MSV Duisburg, Charleroi, AC Milan (leak), Coventry City, Cercle Brugge (home and away), Norrköping, Heracles Almelo, Cardiff City, and VfL Wolfsburg. … Meanwhile, Ed Zelaski has Viktoria Plzeň’s new home/road kits and goalkeeper kits; new kits for Bournemouth, Arka Gdynia, and Brondby.

Grab Bag: Oklahoma’s license plates are getting a redesign. … Trentino in the Italian men’s volleyball league is letting their fans vote for the team’s next libero jersey (from, of course, volleyball maven Jeremy Brahm). … Interesting article on the history and symbolism of American flag-themed clothing (from K.C. Kless). … New uniforms in the works for the Vermont Army National Guard.

Reds Have Big Surprise Up Their Sleeves

Embed from Getty Images

Ever since the Reds announced their massive 150th-anniversary throwback program last fall, I’ve had yesterday’s game, featuring Cincy’s 1956 road unis, circled on my calendar.

That’s not because the ’56 road greys are my favorites (that distinction goes to the 1936 design with the red pants, which they wore on June 30). No, the reason I’ve been particularly interested in the ’56 design is that it’s the only uni in this year’s throwback program that falls within the Kluszewski era, and that raised some intriguing possibilities.

To explain: Ted Kluszewski was a slugging first baseman who played for the Reds from 1947 through 1957. He was known for his bulging biceps, which he often accentuated by cutting the sleeves off of his jerseys and undershirts. So when the Reds wore vest jerseys, as they did for Big Klu’s final two years with the team, all of the players were sleeveless, but Kluszewski was really sleeveless.

As it happens, there are lots of photos of him going bare-armed in the uniform that the Reds were wearing yesterday (for most of these, you can click to enlarge):

It was a unique look. To my knowledge, no other big leaguer ever went this route with his uniform.

The Reds have their own slugging first baseman today, of course — Joey Votto. (Okay, so he’s not the offensive force he once was, but still.) So for months I was looking forward to yesterday’s game and wondering if Votto would honor the Reds’ heritage by going bare-armed à la Big Klu.

So did he or didn’t he? Yup, he did — take a look (for all of yesterday’s game pics, you can click to enlarge):

Good job, Joey! But here’s the thing — it didn’t occur to me that other Reds besides Votto would choose to go bare-armed yesterday. As it turned out, the fully sleeveless look was more the rule than the exception:

I have to admit, I didn’t anticipate this mass display of exhibitionism. As is so often the case, the gesture seems a bit less special when it’s repeated so many times, but it was a fun move by the Cincy players.

Still, some players pulled it off better than others. Note that some Reds wore undershirts with the sleeves completely cut off (not bad), while others dispensed with their undershirts altogether (ewww), but only Votto really captured the quintessence of Kluszewski by leaving his undersleeves barely visible (nicely done!).

A few other notes about yesterday’s throwbacks:

• If you look at those old pics of Big Klu, you can see that the Reds’ original vest jerseys were tailored very narrow across the shoulders, with large armholes. But the Reds (or maybe just Majestic) took the lazy approach with yesterday’s throwbacks, using regular jersey tailoring — wide across the shoulders — but without the sleeves. Booooo! The Cubs and A’s have done this the right way in recent years, so there’s really no excuse.

• The original 1956 stirrups had pencil-thin stripes, but yesterday’s throwback stirrups had much thicker stripes — double-boooo! Here’s a comparison:

• Reds pitcher Jimmy Herget, perhaps overcompensating for his bare-armed teammates, wore two undershirts:

• The Reds’ current road pants match the 1956 design. So did they get new throwback pants or just use their current road pants? Answer: The current pants. How can you tell? The MLB logos on the jersey and pants didn’t match:

This was the eighth of the Reds’ 15 throwbacks for this season, so they’ve now passed halfway point. Next up: the 1961 pinstriped vest, which they’ll wear on July 21. Here’s hoping they don’t go bare-armed for that game, since Big Klu was no longer with the Reds in 1961, so the look would be more gratuitous than historically accurate.

(Thanks to David Sonny for catching the mismatched MLB logos.)

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Click to enlarge

New NBA leak?: The Mavs are getting a new Statement alternate this season, and multiple sources suggest that it’s probably the very lackluster design shown above, which was spotted at a Dallas-area Dick’s. Man, what a downgrade.

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Can’t look away: In the fall of 1985, I worked the Monday-night proofreading shift at my college newspaper. On one particular Monday night that November, I was waiting outside my apartment for the bus to take me to campus when I suddenly realized I’d forgotten my Walkman (which was essential for getting through those long proofreading shifts). So I ran back to my apartment and headed toward my bedroom to retrieve the Walkman. As I walked through the living room, where my housemates were watching Monday Night Football, I glanced at the TV so I could see the play that was in progress.

That was the play that ended Joe Theismann’s career.

I ended up missing the bus. In fact, I missed several buses and was late for my shift, because I sat there gawking along with my housemates as we watched the replays and tried to process what had just happened to Theismann’s right leg. It was horrific, but we couldn’t look away.

I mention all of this for two reasons. First, it’s a good story (if I hadn’t forgotten my Walkman, I would have missed one of the iconic sports moments of the 1980s). But more importantly, The New York Times Magazine has a piece this week about why we watch and rewatch injury footage. Interesting stuff — recommended.

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Uni-versary patch reminder: Traffic has been low over the past several days, so you may have missed the news that the Uni Watch 20th-anniversary logo is now available as an embroidered patch. The patch was made for us by Stitches, the same shop that does all the sewing for the Mets, Yankees, and Islanders. It measures four inches across and is suitable for sewing onto a jersey or jacket, or just for displaying.

The price is $9.99, plus $1 for shipping (or $2 for shipping outside the USA). To order, send payment to me via Venmo (use @Paul-Lukas-2 as the payee), Zelle (plukas64@gmail.com), or Cash App (plukas64@gmail.com). If you want to use Apple Pay or a paper check, or if you’re outside the USA and can only use PayPal, shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in.

Once you send payment, be sure to send me your shipping address so I can send the patch on its way to you. Thanks!

And as long as we’re talking patches, don’t forget the wonderful chain-stitched patches that are handmade for us by master embroiderer Amy Bengtson:

These measure about six inches high and wide. They cost $35 (80% of which goes to Amy), and that price includes shipping. Same payment methods as for the uni-versary patch, okay? Okay!

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

ITEM! New raffle: Our friends at Vintage Brand are once again letting a lucky Uni Watch reader choose anything from their broad range of retro-minded offerings. With the MLB All-Star Game taking place tomorrow night, this 1974 ASG program cover canvas would be a good choice, or maybe this 1961 ASG cutting board, or anything else. Your choice does not have to be ASG-related!

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by this Thursday, July 11, 8pm Eastern. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday. Good luck!

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Click to enlarge

Meet the Contributors — Ed Zelaski: Welcome to another round of “Meet the Contributors,” as I continue to showcase Ticker contributors who have specific niches. Today’s featured contributor is Ed Zelaski, who’s probably our second-most-prolific source of soccer items (after Josh Hinton, who we profiled a few weeks ago). I’ll let Ed — who’s shown above, with his cat, Felix — tell his own story:

I’m a 31-year-old lawyer in Cleveland. I’ve been following the Uni Watch website for probably around seven-ish years. When I first started reading, I was nervous to submit items. Now, I read the website, comments and Twitter feed. I want to buy a membership card; I just can’t decide on a design.

I’ve always been interested in uniforms. I remember as a kid being very interested in the designs and how the teams looked. At the mall I’d ask my parents to go through the sports apparel section at stores just so I could look at uniforms (I was a weird child). In middle school I would design uniforms for the different soccer teams I liked. I played FIFA 2000 a bunch when I was younger, and would always edit the team uniforms.

I primarily follow soccer leagues in the U.S., Poland, Germany, and Scotland. I collect soccer shirts, and I try to focus on Central and Eastern Europe, so that also gets a lot of my attention. Most of my Twitter feed will have uniform-related things from those regions, so my contributions are just things I’m seeing when I check tweets. A the game has gotten more popular, I’ve paid more attention to smaller leagues, and the internet makes it so much easier to do that too.

I don’t really think of myself as “one of the Uni Watch soccer guys.” I enjoy the community, and I like submitting things. The soccer world is so big and there are a lot of teams doing really creative things with their uniforms, especially in the lower leagues here in the U.S. I just enjoy sharing that with other Uni Watch readers. There’s so much toxicity on the internet, so it’s nice to get a break from that and enjoy the Uni Watch community.

Thanks, Ed — both for sharing your story and for all your great Ticker submissions!

We’ll have another round of “Meet the Contributors” in the next week or so.

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Bengals contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, I’m teaming up with Sports Illustrated for a Bengals-redesign contest. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Reds CF Nick Senzel slid into first base on Saturday and somehow ended up with Cleveland 1B Carlos Santana’s sunglasses (from Mike Chamernik). … Paul stumbled across a picture of Dodgers RF Darryl Strawberry wearing teammate Orel Hershiser’s jersey. Twitter-er @williamnyy23 tells us that the picture was taken on the day of Hershiser’s return from shoulder surgery in May 1991, so Strawberry was saluting his return. … Also from Paul: Braves 3B coach Ron Washington wears his cap under his helmet. That used to be common among players, of course, but Paul says he’s never seen a base coach doing it before … Angels CF Mike Trout added a Tyler Skaggs memorial pin to his cap on Friday (from Joanna Zweip). … Nationals SS Carter Kieboom had his name misspelled on his jersey and locker nameplate at the All-Star Futures Game. Kieboom later got a corrected jersey (from multiple readers). … Current Phillies executive Charlie Manuel was the AL bench coach at the Futures Game and wore a Phillies logo on his jersey and Phillies pants (also from multiple readers). … MLB Network broadcaster Sean Casey was also an AL coach, but had a Reds patch on his jersey, perhaps because he spent the most time there as a player (from @Clevelove1). … Mariners pitching prospect Justin Dunn has a silver glove featuring the name of T’Challa, from the movie Black Panther and other Marvel comic books (from Alex Shirley).

Football News: Reprinted from Saturday’s comments: the Saskachewan Roughriders’ mascot, Gainer the Gopher, received a new look this season, including green eyes. Fans complained about the makeover, but especially the green eyes, which were replaced with the previous black eyes this weekend (from Wade Heidt). … More CFL from Wade: because of the league’s new one-shell rule, the Calgary Stampeders wore traditional red helmets on the road for the first time in several years, while Toronto wore light blue socks with dark blue jerseys and pants, having worn dark blue socks for their first home game. Also, the three Saskatchewan-born players on the Blues — centers Brayden Schenn and Tyler Bozak and winger Jaden Schwartz — brought the Stanley Cup to this weekend’s Roughriders game. They were wearing Blues sweaters, but took them off to reveal Riders jerseys with their names and numbers.

Hockey News: Cross-posted from football: The three Saskatchewan-born players on the Blues — centers Brayden Schenn and Tyler Bozak and winger Jaden Schwartz — brought the Stanley Cup to this weekend’s Roughriders game. They were wearing Blues sweaters, but took them off to reveal Riders jerseys with their names and numbers (from Wade Heidt).

Basketball News: Here is an apparent Hornets prototype that never made it onto the court. Chad Sealine spotted it at the 3:22 mark of this video. … Warriors executive Joe Lacob says that the team plans to retire SG Andre Iguodala’s number (thanks, Brinke). … Numbers for NBA draft picks and free agents include No. 15 for Grizzlies PF Brandon Clarke and No. 3 for teammate Grayson Allen, No. 11 for Nets PG Kyrie Irving and No. 7 for teammate Kevin Durant, No. 12 for Hawks SF De’Andre Hunter and No. 24 for teammate Bruno Fernando, No. 31 for Bulls PG Tomáš Satoranský, No. 1 for Pacers SF T.J. Warren and No. 26 for teammate Jeremy Lamb, No. 4 for Wizards PG Isaiah Thomas and No. 15 for teammate Moritz Wagner, and No. 0 for Kings SF Trevor Ariza (all from Etienne Catalan).

Soccer News: The USWNT lifted the World Cup in shirts that had “Champions 19” on the back, their normal numbers on the front, and for now a golden fourth star above the first three. The star arrangement may not be permanent; JohnMark Fisher points out that in 2015, the three stars were arranged in a triangle for the post-World Cup victory tour, but were put in a row afterwards. The goalies also received yellow shirts for the celebration, even though they wore black during the game. … New kits or shirts, among numerous other releases over the past few days, for Dutch second-tier team NEC Nijmegen and Mexican team Pachuca (from Josh Hinton). … Polish team ŁKS Łódź revealed a new logo (from Ed Żelaski). … Also, Scottish Premiership team Kilmarnock revealed a a 150th-anniversary first shirt and a second shirt; the first shirt is solid blue instead of the usual blue and white stripes, which moves to third choice. A second kit for league-mates Hamilton Academical and a first kit for Scottish League One’s Peterhead (in blue) debuted during preseason games. … Germany’s women’s top tier, the Frauen-Bundesliga, has a new ball and title advertiser. … The Chicago Sun-Times asked Fire midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr about the story behind his No. 33 (from Mike Chamernik). … USL Championship team Loudoun United’s naming-rights ad (WaPo link) for their new stadium in Leesburg, Va., is to be announced today (also from Josh Hinton). … The second-tier women’s team at English club Millwall, who formerly went by “Millwall Lionesses,” changed their name to the convoluted and somewhat meaningless “London City Lionesses.”

Grab Bag: Australia’s cricket team revealed the name/number font to be worn in August and September’s Ashes series in England. While numbers and NOBs are coming to Test cricket for the first time in its 142-year history — they’re already used in the other forms of cricket and at domestic level — they won’t be visible if players are wearing sweaters (from Ben Searle). … Wales revealed their Rugby World Cup kits. No ads are allowed at the tournament, so there is an ad-free World Cup version with a giant tournament logo patch and another version with ads. … Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, reintroduced a maximum sock height this year. As a result, somebody from the organization was at Stage 2 of the Tour de France measuring the riders’ socks (from @CeeDeeFive). … In cycling, the rider given No. 13 for a race traditionally wears one of their two numbers upside down, with the entire dossard turned upside down. At this year’s Tour de France, the numbers appear to have both been printed upside-down for Bora-Hansgrohe’s Marcus Burghardt, so the name and ad are still right-side up. During time trials, where riders only wear one number, the one number is upside down (from Tom Flanagan and Mark Smith). … A new Japanese TV show called No Side Game has the protagonist become the general manager of his fictional company’s rugby union team, Tokiwa RFC. The club, nicknamed the Astros, has its own primary and alternate logos, a shirt, and a scarf (from Jeremy Brahm). … Here’s how to build a beach volleyball court at a non-beach site (from Jeremy Brahm).