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How Uni Watch Readers First Got It™, Vol. 3

Earlier this year, I published a blog post featuring Uni Watch readers sharing the stories of how they first got hooked on uniforms — in other words, how they first realized that they Get It™. The post was such a hit that I did a follow-up post a few months later, and today we have the third installment in the series.

Some really great stories here — enjoy.

Christopher Hickey

My dad volunteered as the football team doctor for our local Catholic high school from the 1950s to the 1970s. He kept a collection of the school’s yearbooks (given to him as keepsakes for his service, along with those my brothers received each year they attended) stored in a cabinet in his basement office. I remember being in grade school and making my way downstairs rather often to pore over those books. I’d look for photos of my dad or my brothers, but then found myself drawn to the various uniforms — band, track, baseball, etc. — and how they used the school colors, how styles changed over the years, and the like. It helped me connect with my dad, appreciate his call to service and gain some valuable common ground with my brothers, too. I stop by Uni Watch for some of the same reasons: to share, to learn, to gain perspective, and to connect with “family.”

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Gordon Blau

I first Got It™ when I was a young fan and noticed the Los Angeles Rams’ helmet. It caught my attention because it wasn’t just a logo slapped onto the side of a helmet; it was a true conceptual design! When their lineman were crouched and ready to collide, it was even more effective — that’s what actual rams do! I wasn’t even a Rams fan, but it was so well executed, I couldn’t help but admire them. I went on to a career in design, so I imagine my early appreciation for the Rams’ helmet foreshadowed that.

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Scott M.X. Turner

Two early moments:

1) Yankee Stadium, 1969, age eight. A twi-night double-header between the Yanks and the A’s. I’m super-excited to see the A’s all-yellow vest uniforms. They come out wearing their road greys. I am crushed. I sit through the entire game pouting. As the second game is getting set to start, my mom pokes me and points at the field — the A’s have changed into their yellow unis for the nightcap! I am thrilled. Lesson: Good things occasionally come to those who wait.

2) My grandfather’s house, White Plains, N.Y., Thanksgiving Day, 1971, age 11. Kansas City vs. Detroit Lions. I don’t wanna go to Poppo’s house, because the best NFL uniforms ever — KC’s white jersey/red pants — will look awful on his black-and-white TV. Who doesn’t understand this?! I refuse to go, but my mother is having none of it. She scruff-grabs and mom-handles me into the car. We arrive at Poppo’s, I drag my feet into the house, and it’s a Thanksgiving miracle — he’s bought a Sears color TV! The game is on and Kansas City’s red pants are bursting off of the screen. Lesson: Never doubt my Poppo.

To this day, my hopes for a sporting contest rise and fall on what the teams are wearing. Isn’t this everyone’s square one?

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Chris Mitchel

I used to scour the old Sporting News for any uniform items. That was my first foray into thinking I really Got It™. But I took it to a new level when I started to “detail” my electric football players with very specific uniform anomalies. My favorite was adding the Batman logo to my figure of Buccaneers linebacker Richard Wood. Sadly, those figures were later discarded by my father after I moved out and forgot to take them with me.

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Casey Siereveld

Growing up as a Detroit Tigers fan, I always found myself fixated on the team’s uniform quirks. The hat “D” was different from the jersey “D,” and this bothered me for years. However, when they “fixed” the jersey logo to match the hat a few years ago, it felt a bit jarring. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but what I know for sure is that I am obsessed with these sorts of details. One of the Tigers’ other quirks — the appearance of orange on the road set only — has heightened my awareness of the color-related quirks of other teams in other sports around the world. For example, the German soccer team Hamburger SV is known for its red shorts, even though the team’s colors are blue, white, and black. I would not be so intrigued by these sorts of things if it weren’t for my beloved, quirky Tigers.

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JohnMark Fisher

Oct. 14, 2002 –- the Seattle Seahawks hosted their first Monday Night Football game in their gorgeous new stadium, donning their bold new uniforms with the refreshed logo. As someone who grew up near Green Bay, I was constantly exposed to the Packers’ classic look. This Seahawks look was an awakening, like a splash of cold water in the face — “They can do that!?” I was hooked. I was in eighth grade and remember telling my friends the next day about how “cool” the Seahawks were, declared myself a fan, and subconsciously opened my mind to the world of athletics aesthetics.

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Brian Gunter

In the early 1960s, when I was five or six, my twin brother and I could barely wait for the Sunday paper with coverage of college football, especially Georgia Tech. But the photos in the paper were black-and-white, so we would take colored pencils and color them in. Then I remember our parents somehow got us some gold football pants — we already had Tech jerseys, but the pants, wow! Ironically, after going to Tech for a couple of quarters, I transferred to UGA and became a Dawg. My twin brother has yet to really forgive me!

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Greg Seher

One year in the late 1980s, my babysitter got me a John Offerdahl Starting Lineup figure. There was something unique about the Dolphins’ aqua-and-orange uniform and logo, and even the idea of a dolphin as the nickname and mascot was appealing. I quickly became a Dolphins fan. That was when I began to appreciate teams with good logos and uniforms. Then a couple of years later my dad took me on a chartered bus trip to check out a game at brand-new Camden Yards in Baltimore. On the trip I won Marc Okkonen’s baseball uniform book in a raffle, and from there I was hooked.

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Clarke Hall

When I was a kid, probably about 10-ish, I was obsessed with gumball helmets. I loved the collecting, I loved that you had to put them together. The only thing that bugged me, as a Bengals fan, was that their version really sucked. That little patch of stripes on the side was such a bummer. So my grandpa took an orange shell and cut accurate stripes out of electrical tape to make my brother and me a legit Bengals gumball helmet. He even cut out a number 80 for the back. My parents still hang that helmet on the tree every Christmas!

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Jesus Mora Saenz

Collecting stickers of older MLB teams got me interested in the meaning of logos, especially for the Expos. Never knew what it meant until after high school. The other key moment was watching Super Bowl XXVII and keeping an eye on uniform brands. The Cowboys wearing their usual white attire, made by Russell Athletic, and the Bills wearing Champion, if I’m not mistaken. Then the following year, Dallas was wearing Apex.

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Andrew Maynard

My first memory of liking a uniform for the sake of the uniform is when I went into the mall hat store and fell in love with the 1998 Canucks logo with the orca on it. I bought it right away, even though I’ve never been to the northwest. My only other hat at the time had “Marvel Comics” on it, so I didn’t follow any sport that closely. I didn’t know any players on the team and I didn’t even follow my hometown Blues too closely at the time, but I loved that logo. Later, I would learn that “Canuck” is a nickname for a Canadian, not for an orca.

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Shawn Klis

I remember watching hockey on black-and-white TV back in the late ’60s. I’ll never forget when my dad took me to my first Canadiens game at the Forum — seeing how vibrant and bright the Canadiens’ home red jerseys were for the first time was mesmerizing. I fell in love with those sweaters and still love them.

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Nathan Ellsworth

Hockey has always been my favorite sport and I’m a lifelong Penguins fan. I would have been nine or 10 when they were one of the first group of NHL teams to debut third jerseys in 1995-96. It blew my mind that they could have more jerseys than just home and away. The design was extremely ’90s and doesn’t hold up at all, but that only helped because it was so odd and interesting.

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Chip Powell

I was probably in third or fourth grade. I had gone from a YMCA league where we just all wore white pants with a YMCA T-shirt and hat in the primary color of our team (red for Cardinals, light blue for Royals, etc.) to a Little League that used MLB jersey designs. I was placed on the Braves, and we wore navy pants so the parents didn’t have to wash white. I remember complaining that we didn’t really look like the Braves in blue pants.

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Michael Gray

I first got the uni bug when I was about six years old and started using my mom’s ceramic paints to repaint all the players on my electric football set every week. The obsession really kicked in a couple years later, when my dad volunteered to be the equipment manager for our junior football league. We had literally hundreds of helmets hanging in our basement, plus all the uniforms and equipment for a half-dozen teams. I spent many hours cleaning and repainting helmets and helping my dad with inventory. But the best part was the annual trip we made to the local sporting goods wholesaler. My dad let me tag along so I could see all the newest gear (which we never bought, it was strictly plain-Jane stuff for our league). I still remember seeing a prototype helmet that had a clear plastic shell with the graphics on the inside — it sure beat the helmets we “refinished” with plain old rattle-can black before every season.

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Timothy Medeiros

I was eight years old when the Boston Bruins debuted their now-infamous Pooh Bear design in 1995. I remember my entire Bruins-obsessed family being so upset and embarrassed by the set. I couldn’t understand it and spent the next few years trying to convince everyone it was a fun change of pace and better than wearing the boring spoked-B all the time. I even made it the basis of my my Uni Watch membership card!

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Jacob King

I loved drawing as a kid. I was maybe four or five years old and decided to draw my first baseball player. For whatever reason, I started from the ground up, drawing the cleat and then the stirrup. I stopped to switch crayons and my older brother said, “Whoa! That’s a perfect-looking stirrup!” I was hooked. I’d do action shots with perspective and distance, spectators in the background, different teams so I could draw different uniforms, etc. Eventually, I filled binders with logos of imaginary sports teams in imaginary leagues, using a lot of alliteration (e.g. “Richland Rattlers”).

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Scott Durham

I first became fascinated with uniforms in the late 1970s while watching Clemson football games. This was during the tear-away jersey era, and it drove me nuts that some of the players had an outline on their numbers and others did not. I mentioned this to my mom, and her response was something along the lines of “Why would you even notice something like that?” I’ve been hooked since. In 1982, when Clemson and Georgia kicked off the college football season on Memorial Day night, the Tigers took the field with newly designed pants. I went on and on about it (I was 9 at the time) until one of my uncles told me to shut up. As a coach, I’ve always been very particular about what my teams wear, always keeping things simple and clean (I was a high school head baseball coach for 14 years and am in my seventh year as a head football coach). It drives most of my assistant coaches crazy the way I obsess over the uniforms.

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Lee Stokes

When I was six or seven — 1972-ish — my dad bought me a Minnesota Vikings helmet for Christmas. The bright white horn on purple, man, that was so cool. Because of the Vikings helmet, I studied all of the other helmets in the NFL. Loved the Rams and Eagles, thought the Bears, Bengals (just the wordmark at the time), and Packers were dumb. But even as a youngster, I had a certain respect for the Browns, because they chose to not to have a logo

Shortly thereafter I received a plain white helmet. I discovered that if you drew on it with crayon, you could wipe it off easily. That’s when my obsession for designing my own helmet logos took off. Two of my own designs I remember specifically from back then were for the Vermont Green Lightning (green helmet with way too many little yellow lightning bolts all over it and yellow facemasks) and the Iowa Romans (we lived in Iowa back then and ate Roman Meal bread in our household, so I translated their logo into a football team), who wore burgundy and gold with burgundy facemasks. Even then, I loved colored masks. It made the Chargers’ helmets so much cooler. Whenever I drew NFL helmets (which I did a lot!), I always gave them colored facemasks, well before most teams actually did so themselves. To this day, when rating team uniforms, it’s an automatic point deduction if the mask is grey.

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Dustin Jensen

I don’t remember not Getting It™. Whether it was looking at baseball cards, sports magazines, or newspapers, it was the details of the uniforms (especially baseball pants/stirrups and football helmet facemasks) that captured my attention as much as the players. When I started playing Little League, it was more important that the stirrups looked right than that the uniform fit right. The same was true of football — I chose an ill-fitting helmet and shoulder pads so I could have the right look.

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Sam Foss

It all started for me on Christmas Day in I think 2005. I would have been six at the time, and my parents got me Madden 2005 for the Playstation 2. I never was good at the game, but it had a “create a team” feature that for the time had a great uniform designer. I would sit there and design uniform after uniform. I never asked for a new version of the game because I couldn’t care less for the updated rosters or game modes. “Create a team” was all I needed.

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Austin Meo

Back when I was in elementary school, the Madden NFL games introduced “franchise mode,” where you could design a team from scratch, including stadium, players, and, of course, uniforms. My friends and I would spend hours debating each uniform, from colors to patterns to alternate/throwback uniforms. We’d rarely ever play a game the entire night. I can say with 100% certainty that we never designed a purple team — our top two primary choices were green or orange. We also made it a rule that if we ever played games against each other, we had to use AFL throwback uniforms. Once I saw my first Uni Watch NFL preview on ESPN years later, I was hooked.

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Ray P

I had to be about seven or eight years old. I saw something with the logos of the two then-new NFL teams, Seahawks and Buccaneers. I was instantly taken in by the Buccaneers’ logo. I can’t describe how I really felt, I just loved it! In my small Massachusetts neighborhood, I was the youngest of the kids who played sports in the street. Everyone had their favorite teams — Cowboys, Raiders, Packers, Saints and of course Patriots. So of course my team became the Buccaneers. I took a lot of ridicule over the years, both for their play and for the uniforms, but I always loved them.

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Eric Kehlenbrink

I first got the itch when my mom bought me football cards to keep me entertained while she worked and I waited to be taken home after school. The Upper Deck Collector’s Edition was my card of choice. The one that in particular that I will remember is the Kirk Lowdermilk card. I just loved seeing the three Colts helmets lined up before the snap.

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Scott Pendergraft

I was raised in a family that had sports on TV a lot, so I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with logos, helmets, caps, uniforms, how high stirrups were worn, number fonts, etc. This evolved into me sketching new uniforms for my favorite teams (Giants, 49ers, Trail Blazers), and then going ahead and doing new designs for all the teams in all the leagues. I wish I still had those drawings. A favorite uni memory was watching an MLB game on a small rabbit-ears TV in my bedroom as a 13-year-old. It was black and white, and the picture was “snowy,” but I could still tell that the Astros were wearing something that was blowing my mind. That was my introduction to the Tequila Sunrise Jersey. A thing of beauty to this day.

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EO Jackson

Although I grew up in the 1970s, my favorite books were published in the ’50s and ’60s, with lots of pictures of baseball players — all high-cuffed, low-stirrupped. So naturally, that’s what I drew. Also, I’m a Cubs fan (I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, but did not and do not like the White Sox because they changed their uniforms too often), and their team rule at the time was to go high-cuffed, low-stirrupped, like the Reds, of which I approved. I may not like some teams — Yankees, Packers, USC — but I like their continuity. You know at one glance who you’re looking at, and isn’t that the point?

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Dwayne White

I was a teenager in junior high when Cincinnati was getting a “major league” team in the World Hockey Association, the Cincinnati Stingers. I had always followed the Bruins (Phil Esposito was my favorite player) and could hear the Blackhawks on the radio from Chicago, but when I saw the Stingers’ logo printed in The Cincinnati Post, I was immediately hooked and the Stingers became my team. My friend Danny Bromwell strived every year to the Perfect Attendance tickets that the Stingers had as a promotion. We would go to many games and saw some of hockey’s greatest players and a lot of fights, but those Stingers “bumble bee yellow” jerseys were the best in sports.

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Paul here. Aren’t these stories great? I had so much fun editing them! I still have a few dozen more in the hopper, so we’ll have another installment soon.

If you want to share your own story of how you first Got It™ — no more than one paragraph, please — go ahead and send it here (note that this is not the usual Uni Watch email address). Thanks!

(My continued thanks to Brinke Guthrie for coming up with the idea for “When I First Got It™”.)

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Bumper bummer: Following up on a Ticker item from two days ago: The Steelers had voted as a team to wear “Antwon Rose Jr.” on their helmet bumpers. Rose was a Black teen who was fatally shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018.

But while the rest of the team wore Rose’s name, offensive lineman Al Villanueva — a former Army Ranger — instead hand-inscribed the name of Alwyn Cashe, a Black U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for heroism while serving in Iraq.

According to this ESPN story that ran yesterday, several Steelers players expressed surprise over Villanueva’s move, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger saying, “Unfortunately, it is what it is,” although coach Mike Tomlin said he knew about it and supported it.

This is not the first time Villanueva has gone against the grain of a protest-driven team decision. In 2017, when the team’s players opted to stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem prior to a game against the Bears in Chicago, Villanueva stood by himself in the tunnel.

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Color Remix cap reminder: In case you missed it on Wednesday, the first monthly round of Uni Watch Color Remix caps is now ready to go. The four designs, which I teased a few weeks ago, are shown above and are available here through mid-October, when we’ll launch a new batch with new color combos.

We also have corresponding T-shirts in the same four color combos:

Here’s where you can get the Black/Yellow, Royal/Orange, Navy/Red, and Red/Navy versions. (The T-shirts will remain available in the Uni Watch Shop indefinitely, and we’ll launch new shirts next month to match up with the October cap designs.)

My thanks, as always, for your consideration of our products.

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Seam ripper reminder: I am once again restocked on all five colors of Uni Watch Seam Rippers. They’re available here.

Also: I have two remaining sets of Uni Watch Coasters. Who wants ’em?

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Pocatello High School in Idaho will no longer call its teams the Indians (from Evan Feick and Brett Thomas).
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Working Class Wannabes™: An article new Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito refers to “the blue collar world of ice hockey.” … A player on the Missouri women’s soccer team says, “We’ve been working a lot on keeping, ‘What is Mizzou soccer?’ Which is hard work, a blue-collar-like mentality.” … An article about New York Giants head coach Joe Judge says he has an “old-school, blue-collar coaching style.” … A different article about Judge says he has “blue-collar guiding principles.” … West Virginia football coach Neal Brown has unveiled a new weekly player award, called the Blue-Collar Award, “an honor given to the recipient for [his] work ethic” (from Timmy Donahue). … A newly hired high school soccer coach in Burlington, N.J., says that under his leadership, “You’re going to see a disciplined, hard-working, blue-collar team. We want to outwork everyone.”

Baseball News: Looks like the logos for next year’s spring training are beginning to circulate (from Larry Littman). … The Astros shared a photo of prospect Narbe Cruz signing his first pro contract while wearing a ’Stros jersey. Interestingly, it has a Rawlings maker’s mark on the sleeve, instead of a Nike mark on the chest. That’s because it’s from the Gulf Coast League Astros, Houston’s rookie-level affiliate (from @robertBrownieJr and @fontophile). … More make-up game uniform follies: Giants in cream vs. Mariners in grey last night in San Francisco, even though the Giants were the road team. The game was originally scheduled for the previous night in Seattle but was postponed and moved to SF (thanks to all who shared).

NFL News: Washington is filled with government agencies and institutions, most of which have official seals. So Derek Peabody has come up with one one of the best ideas for a new Washington Football Team identity: the Washington Seals. Works on multiple levels, and you have to love that mascot balancing a football on his nose! … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Browns have a new end zone design featuring the AFC logo. … Following yesterday’s post on NFL jersey color data graphics, the Titans Uni Tracker created a similar graphic for the Titans’ pants. … Here’s a ranking of NFL stadiums (thanks, Brinke).

College Football News: New throwbacks on tap for UNC. … New uniforms for Bemidji State (from @bry_night). … Look for North Texas to unveil a new alternate uniform today, probably around 1:15pm Eastern. … San Diego State’s new stadium is scheduled to be ready by 2022. Until then, the team will play its home games over 100 miles north of San Diego (from Timmy Donahue). … Ole Miss has a new blue uniform that will be worn on Sept. 26 against Florida (from @RebelNutt18). … Now that the Big Ten is going to have a season after all, there’s some speculation about a grey-sleeved alternate jersey for Ohio State. … Here are this week’s uni combos for Syracuse and Louisville.

Hockey News: You don’t see many afros in hockey, but check out this great 1975 shot of Amarillo Wranglers G Doug Allen (from Ted Arnold). … Plans have been announced for a new arena for the Kraken’s AHL affiliate (from Wade Heidt). … New uniforms for the Danville Dashers of the Federal Prospects Hockey League (from John Cerone). … Also from John: If that same league had given a franchise to Memphis, here’s how their jersey would have looked.

College Hoops News: Following up on a Ticker item from yesterday, it turns out that Louisville’s embarrassingly corporate-named arena may retain its name — or at least its name signage — after the current naming-rights deal expires at the end of this month (from Timmy Donahue). … New court design for UC San Diego. “The Tritons are moving up to NCAA Division I this year and joining the Big West Conference,” says Steve Hartsock. … New collar striping for Baylor.

Soccer News: Australia’s national teams have unveiled two new shirts (thanks, Jamie).
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Grab Bag: Officials in Arlington County, Va., have expressed support for changing the county’s logo. The current logo depicts Arlington House, which was built by slaves and later served as the home for Confederate general Robert E. Lee. … The great SI writer Steve Rushin has a good piece about how head and face protection has always been a sensitive topic in sports. … Welsh Rugby Union will now be outfitted by Macron (from Jeremy Brahm). … Car brand Maserati has tweaked its logo. … Two former employees are suing the grocery chain Kroger because they were fired for not wearing an apron with a pro-LGBTQ logo. … Outdoorwear brand Patagonia has been including tags on its clothing that say, “Vote the Assholes Out.” The slogan is directed at politicians who deny or disregard the reality of climate change (from John Cerone). … Pro tennis’s Fed Cup is changing its name to honor Billie Jean King.

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Talking NFL Data Visualization With Anthony Reinhard

Click to enlarge — it’s worth it

The remarkable chart shown above tracks each NFL team’s jersey color over every game for the past 21 seasons. For each team shown, each horizontal row has 16 cells, representing that team’s 16 games in a given season, and each vertical column has 21 cells, representing every season from 1999 through 2019. So the top-left cell is the team’s first game in 1999, and the bottom-right cell is the team’s final game of last season.

It’s an engrossing and very satisfying example of data visualization. As you can see at the bottom, it was designed by a guy named Anthony Reinhard, who created it by using game-by-game jersey info from the mighty Gridiron Uniform Database. I’ll have more to say about Reinhard in a bit, but first let’s explore this wonderful graphic he’s created. Here are a bunch of things that jumped out at me:

1. If you had asked me which team had the fewest colored-jersey games over the past 21 seasons, I would have said, “Duh, the Cowboys.” But the correct answer, according to the data, is the Dolphins, who played 63 colored-jersey games over the past 21 seasons, compared to the Cowboys’ 67:

2. As you can see in the Dolphins’ chart, the team’s different shades of aqua over the years were taken into account — a nice detail. This makes it easy to see how certain teams have changed their primary team colors over the years. Many fans, for example, probably think that the Lions just wear Honolulu blue, period. But the chart indicates that their shade of blue changed quite a bit over the past 21 seasons:

3. You can see certain historical protocols and events play out in the color distribution. For example, remember how Washington used to routinely wear white at home, just like the Cowboys? Their chart makes it easy to see when they did that, and when they stopped:

4. Similarly, what’s that one yellow cell in the Eagles’ chart? It’s from that one time they wore the 1934 throwbacks:

5. And you can also see how the Bills abandoned their classic royal blue for navy for nine years, and then switched back to royal:

6. While most teams have at least two different non-white jerseys represented (the Broncos have four: orange, navy, yellow, and brown), the charts for some teams, like the Steelers and Kansas City, feature nothing but the team’s primary color and white:

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I could go on, but you get the idea. I’m sure you can find your own examples of interesting things lurking in the chart. It’s all very satisfying to pore over!

The chart does have its limitations. Some teams have two different white jerseys, for example, or two different blue jerseys, or whatever, and the chart doesn’t distinguish between them. Similarly, there’s no information on what the opposing team was wearing, who won the game, or any number of other things that might be fun to explore. But within the limited framework of what the chart sets out to do, it succeeds spectacularly.

Reinhard posted the chart on his Twitter feed two Saturdays ago, which is how I became aware of it. He describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “visualizer of football data,” which sounded intriguing, so I began scrolling through his feed, where I found all sorts of fun graphics (mostly created by him, but also some retweets of other people’s work). None of them were about uniforms, but many of them used team logos, team colors, and so on, so it all felt connected to athletics aesthetics — maybe not uni-related, but uni-adjacent. Here are some of the ones I particularly enjoyed:

After exploring Reinhard’s feed, I wanted to learn more, so I contacted him and asked if he’d be willing to do a phone interview. He readily agreed, and we recently had a really good talk. Here’s a transcript of that conversation, edited and abridged for clarity:

Uni Watch: Let’s start with some basic information about you. How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

Anthony Reinhard [shown at right with his wife, Gina, on the day of their engagement two years ago; click to enlarge]: I am 27 years old. I live in Columbus, Ohio. And for a living, I am a data analyst at a midsize insurance company.

UW: What does a person study to get into data analysis? Like what what was your major in college?

AR: I have a Bachelor of Science in actuarial science, which is basically just statistics and math that has to do with insurance.

UW: How and when did you start doing football data visualizations?

AR: I probably started doing this a little more seriously about eight months ago, close to the end of last football season. I’ve followed a few people on Twitter who talk a lot about advanced football metrics and stuff that is, you know, newer over the last six years or so. And one of the best ways to share information about these advanced metrics, which can be kind of complicated, is to make graphs about some of the information. I’ve worked with data a lot and in my professional life, so it seemed like an easy segue. And I’ve always loved football.

UW: Looking through your Twitter feed, it appears that you focus almost exclusively on the NFL — no college football, no other sports. Is that right?

AR: I wouldn’t preclude myself from getting into any other sport in the future, but right now the data for the NFL is so accessible, and the community seems to be right there for me. So it’s definitely the thing I’m focused on most right now.

UW: It’s so interesting that you use that word community, because that was my next question: I get the impression from your feed that there is a community of data visualizers out there. How big would you say that community is? And where do you all congregate online? Are there particular message boards or websites?

AR: I would say it’s small enough so that any person with an interest in visualization or football, I think there’s a place for them if they’re willing to chip in their own stuff. This is going to be a little bit in the weeds, but most of the stuff that I do is in a statistical package called R, or a statistical program called R

UW: Just the letter R?

AR: Yeah. It’s been around for a while, and it’s open-source. So it’s not something that’s owned, and it’s not for sale. You can download it on your own computer and do your own analysis. A lot of companies use it just because it’s so accessible, and a lot of academics use it because it’s available and you can use it across different universities or whatever. But within R you can download other programs that people have built inside this statistical program. So one of the ones that has been built kind of recently is called nflfastR. Basically, it’s a pipeline to get NFL play-by-play data very easily. So you can download a big table of data from every play, all the way back to 1999. And I would say that the folks who use that data and talk about it a lot are really at the nexus of the community.

Of course, there are people who work for ESPN or Pro Football Focus, who have access to other data. But the online Twitter community is mostly people who work with that nflfastR data.

UW: Are we talking dozens of people in this community? Hundreds of people? Thousands?

AR: Closer to hundreds, I would say.

UW: One thing I noticed while looking through your feed is that you often refer to data being “scraped.” Can you tell me more about that?

AR: I’m not an expert at web scraping, but basically it means going to a website, downloading parts of the web page, and then storing them in a secondary file so you can access them later.

For the graphic about the jersey colors, for example, I visited every web page on the Gridiron Uniform Database and downloaded the image of the uniform for each team in each game. And then once I downloaded the image, I could look at individual pixels in that image, and then those were the ones that gave me the ideas for the the colors of the uniform. Once I had all that information, I could make it into a graph.

UW: When you say you visited every page and downloaded the uniform images, did you do that, like, physically, one at a time? Or was there a global command?

AR: Yeah, that’s the magic of web scraping. I can write some code in R that will visit every web page for me — and quickly, too.

UW: I never really thought about this before, but now that we’re talking, it occurs to me that in order to create effective data-driven graphics, you need several distinct skills. First, you need to know what data is available and how to access it. Then you need to have ideas about how to harness or leverage that data in order to provide meaningful information — in other words, you have to know which questions to ask and how you can use data to answer them. And then you need good design skills in order to present that information in visually accessible and engaging ways. Which of those would you say is most important, and which one do you think is your biggest strength?

AR: I think you put it perfectly right there. I would say that to make something like what I made, in this case, you would need all three, probably in pretty equal doses. I think that probably the second one is ultimately the most important — knowing which questions to ask and then being able to, you know, answer those questions in interesting ways.

The third step — how you’re going to show it — is, I think, probably the most underrated of the three. I like to say that the information that you have is only as valuable as you can present it. If you have a really interesting finding but you can’t communicate it, whether that’s in a graph or even in words, then it isn’t worth much.

UW: In the data visualization community, are there people who are known as better number-crunchers, and other people who are known as better designers?

AR: Definitely. In my case, I’m probably a better designer than somebody who is a great analyst, and I think some of that comes with time. I’ve only been really looking at a lot of this data for eight months or so, while other folks have been doing this for a couple of years. For someone like me, I think a lot of people are interested in my designs, sometimes more than the information, which I’m okay with. Other folks might say they’d rather have a really interesting concept than an interesting design. So I think it depends. I think that there’s kind of a spectrum that folks land on in the football data community.

UW: You mentioned that you’ve only been doing this since the end of last football season. Now that the 2020 season is about to start, do you think watching a game will be a different experience for you? Will you be sort of processing what you see in a different way?

AR: Absolutely. One of the things that you quickly realize about the basic beliefs of the community is that a lot of folks think that teams run the ball too much, which is something I really hadn’t thought about too much in the past. And a lot of teams punt too often — probably they can be more aggressive on fourth down, and also go for it on two-point conversions a little more often. So I think those are things I’ll be looking out for. It’s very different once you’ve thought critically about some of the stuff that teams are doing in games.

I’ve always been a Cleveland Browns fan, so I think I’m very lucky that the Browns are, at this moment, one of the more analytically driven teams in the league. So I think I’ll be more comfortable watching Browns games than I would be if I were maybe a fan of the Seattle Seahawks, who are kind of working against some of the larger trends in the league — which I’m sure is very frustrating for a lot of the data-driven Seahawks fans that I know.

UW: You’re still new at this, but would you be interested in doing this type of thing for a living, like if a team wanted to hire you?

AR: That’s a tough question. I’m really happy with my current job, so it would be tough for me to imagine, you know, a whole different world like that. This is a hobby, I think — it’s a great getaway from what I normally do and also allows me to leverage skills that I can still use in my day job. If the right opportunity came along, I guess I would consider it, but I definitely see it as a hobby for now.

UW: OK, now let’s talk about the graphic you made about NFL regular season jersey colors. Is this the first uniform-related graphic you’ve created?

AR: Yes, I would say this first one that deals explicitly with uniforms.

UW: Why did you choose to document 21 seasons, instead of a round number like 20? Is it because of that data package you mentioned earlier, which goes back to 1999?

AR: Yeah, it is. We have really good data for those last 21 seasons. The Gridiron Uniforms site goes back to, I think, like the 1920s, so I certainly could have gotten more data, but most of the data that’s available for other metrics is from 1999 on, so I thought that would be a good year to stop.

UW: You mentioned before how you scraped the data — see, I can say it too! — and then got pixel values from the Gridiron Uniforms images. So is that how you were able to include all the slight color variations from year to year?

AR: Yeah.

UW: So, basically, you didn’t track the color changes — the Gridiron Uniforms site did.

AR: Yeah, they did all the hard work.

UW: Were there any patterns or revelations that surprised you? For example, I would have assumed that the Cowboys wore white more often than any other team during this period. But that honor actually goes to the Dolphins!

AR: Yeah, I guess I never really thought about that either, because I think of the Dolphins having that iconic aqua or teal color — that’s kind of how I think of them — but I guess they wear white a lot more often than I imagined.

UW: Did you happen to tabulate which teams wore white least frequently?

AR: No, I didn’t. That’s an interesting thought, though. I would have to think it would be a team in the NFC East, because of the Cowboys.

UW: But not Washington because there was a period where they also wore white at home!

AR: Oh, yeah. So then I’d have to think it would definitely be the Eagles or the Giants.

UW: From a visual perspective, do you find it more satisfying to see the charts for teams that just have white plus one color, like the Steelers and Chiefs? Or do you like the ones that have additional jersey colors scattered into the mix? I use the word satisfying because that’s the feeling I get from organizing information this way.

AR: I would say that the most aesthetically pleasing one for me was Tampa Bay, where they’re all almost the same shade of red and then their whites and then they have like four of the Creamsicle ones, which is a great color.

I also like the Seahawks, how they’ve kind of gone through waves with their three different uniform colors and then they have — I mean, I don’t like the green ones that they wear, but I think it looks good when there’s just like four specks of the tennis ball color.

UW: Do you think you might be doing any other uniform-related graphics now that you’ve done this one? And for that matter, are you, like, a uniform guy to begin with? Were you aware of my work, or aware of Uni Watch, before I got in touch with you?

AR: I had heard of Uni Watch before, but I wouldn’t say I have a super-big interest in uniforms. I definitely have an interest in design and color, so that relates to being interested in uniforms. Now that I have the data [from Gridiron Uniforms], I could definitely see myself doing a few more things with this in the future.

———

And there we are. I should add that Anthony was an absolute pleasure to talk to — really nice guy, and obviously really smart as well. Big thanks to him for sharing his time and expertise.

(Special thanks to Greg Boone, who was the first to bring Anthony’s jersey chart to my attention.)

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Click to enlarge

Too good for the Ticker: Hmmm, what’s going on in the photo shown above? That’s a shot from 1973 edition of the Baseball Hall of Fame Game, an annual exhibition game that took place in Cooperstown from 1940 through 2008. The ’73 game featured the Pirates vs. the Rangers (a routine interleague matchup nowadays, but a major novelty back in the day), and at least one Rangers player — outfielder Tom Grieve, who would later become the team’s GM — wore a Pirates batting helmet! It’s not clear, at least to me, if Grieve’s misplaced his regular helmet or if the teams were just having a bit of fun.

Moreover, although it’s a little hard to tell in that photo, both teams wore their road greys, because they were both in the middle of road trips when they detoured to Cooperstown for the game. Here’s a photo of the two managers — Texas’s Whitey Herzog and Pittsburgh’s Bill Virdon — where the grey tones are a bit more apparent:

(My thanks to @indywestie and @PolyesterUnis for this one.)

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A teacher who deserves an A+: Longtime Uni Watch reader Trevor Williams is a third grade match/science teacher in Texas. He also has what has to be one of America’s most uni-themed classrooms. To get a sense of how he incorporates sports into his teaching style watch the video shown above — it’s two minutes very well spent, I promise.

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ITEM! Color Remix cap launch: I’m happy to announce that the first monthly round of Uni Watch Color Remix caps is now ready to go. The four designs, which I teased a few weeks ago, are as follows (click to enlarge):

Nice, right? All four are 100%-cotton strapbacks. They’re available here and will remain available through mid-October, when we’ll launch a new batch of color combos.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it last week, we also have corresponding T-shirts in the same four color combos:

Here’s where you can get the Black/Yellow, Royal/Orange, Navy/Red, and Red/Navy versions. (The T-shirts will remain available in the Uni Watch Shop indefinitely, and we’ll launch new shirts next month to match up with the October cap designs.)

My thanks, as always, for your consideration of our products.

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Seam ripper update: I am once again restocked on all five colors of Uni Watch Seam Rippers. They’re available here.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Black Lives Matter stencil on the mound was obscured by the score bug in last night’s Cleveland/Cubs game, at least for the Cubs’ TV feed. Cleveland’s feed had a smaller bug, which meant the stencil was unobscured (from Phillip Santos and @CLETribe). … Padres P Zach Davies was still wearing the team’s Roberto Clemente sleeve patch on his cap last night, despite the fact that Roberto Clemente Day was last week (from Jakob Fox). … The Orix Buffaloes of NPB (which merged with the old Orix Blue Wave) wore Ichiro Suzuki-era Blue Wave unis yesterday. The Blue Wave was Ichiro’s former team before he joined the Mariners (from Dustin L. Meador). … The West Coast Baseball League has established a new team in Edmonton (from Wade Heidt). … Also from Phillip: The Paper Stadiums Twitter account made a 1968 replica of Wrigley Field entirely out of paper.

Football News: A vintage 1960 Raiders sideline cape is on display at the Raiders Image store at Allegiant Stadium. Amazing script! (From @khaled74.) … New uniforms for Bemidji State (from @doubleasterisk).

Hockey News: Here’s a video showing the Stars’ equipment staff adding the Stanley Cup Final patch the team’s jerseys (from Bill Larkin).
.

Basketball News: Here’s a look at some of the uniforms the Spain national team has worn throughout the years (from Jeremy Brahm). … High school player Nathan Bittle’s dad announced his commitment to the Oregon Ducks with a graphic showing Nathan Photoshopped into an Oregon women’s jersey and men’s shorts (from Derek Buchheit). … Louisville’s arena, which had arguably the most embarrassing corporate name of any sports facility in the country, will be getting a new name, because the current naming rights holder has opted not to renew its deal (from Timmy Donahue).

Soccer News: Two items from our own Jamie Rathjen: England’s Women’s FA Cup now has its own advertiser and a new logo, and new shirts for Australia’s Adelaide United.

Grab Bag: The U.S. Space Force will soon let some members test out dress and physical training uniforms (from Timmy Donahue). … Also from Timmy: Apparently President Trump wanted First Lady Melania Trump to have a hand in designing some of the Space Force’s uniforms. … Tokyo’s Ohta City Gymnasium has created a completely socially distanced seat map for the entire arena. Here’s the layout for basketball (from Jeremy Brahm).

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Some Thoughts on the Cardinals’ Memorial Patches

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Last Friday the Cardinals began wearing their memorial patch for Lou Brock, who died on Sept. 6. The patch features Brock’s uniform number and signature in a red circle, matching the style of the team’s earlier patches for Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst, so this template is now definitely a “Cardinals thing.” I want to talk about that today.

Some quick background: The Cards wore the Musial patch in 2013 and the Schoendienst patch in 2018. In between those two patches, they wore one other memorial patch, for outfielder Oscar Tavares in 2015. That one simply had Tavares’s initials — no uni number, no signature. Obviously, Tavares wasn’t a Hall of Famer or longtime Cardinals favorite like Musial, Schoendienst, and Brock, so it appears that the Cardinals are employing a sort of memorial patch hierarchy, with more “legendary” figures getting the number/signature treatment and mere mortals getting the more conventional patch.

I wanted to know more, so I contacted team president Bill DeWitt III (who, as longtime readers may recall, cares a lot about uniforms) and had a quick email back-and-forth with him, as follows:

Uni Watch: When the Musial patch was created in 2013, was it your intention from the start that it would serve as the design template for future patches? Or did that decision develop organically, perhaps when you were considering the best route to take for a Schoendienst patch?

Bill DeWitt: Originally I thought it would be just for Stan. But with Red being the next Cardinals HOFer to pass, we felt his immense contributions to the organization (60 years in uniform!) warranted a similar approach. Of course, Lou is in that same category, having been a great contributor not just on the field but also in the broadcast booth, as a coach, and as a member of the St. Louis community for so many years.

UW: You had the “OT” patch for Oscar Taveras in 2015. Is there a particular status that a person must have in order to qualify for the signature/number patch design? For example, must the person have had his number retired, or be a Hall of Famer, or something along those lines?

BD: We don’t have an official policy for these going forward, but you can probably guess who might warrant this sort of tribute (Ozzie, Gibson, etc.) vs. something a little more understated and typical, such as initials on a black circle or something like that for most others. It will be a case-by-case thing. The Cardinals are blessed to have so many of these iconic players who have had great careers and also continued to represent the organization long after they retire.

UW: Is there designer who deserves credit for this patch concept? I realize these things sometimes develop sort of “by committee,” but if there’s a particular designer who came up with the idea, I’d love to credit him or her.

BD: Tyler Munie (Manager of Creative Services with the Cardinals) and I collaborated on the original Musial patch design as well as the subsequent versions.

———

Interesting stuff. So the Cardinals now essentially have a two-tier protocol for memorial patches, sort of like first-class and coach. I can think of only one other team, in any sport, that does anything similar: the Yankees. Although there have been a few exceptions, in general their policy over the past 45 years or so has been to wear a black sleeve number for people whose numbers have been retired by the team (Billy Martin, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto), and a black armband for everyone else (well, unless your last name is Steinbrenner, but those are special cases).

The Yankees’ top-tier treatment is so simple — black numerals — that it works well as a one-size-fits-all approach. But the Cardinals’ number/signature design strikes me as a trickier proposition, and I can see arguments both for and against it. For example:

Points in favor
• It makes sense that the team with the most handsome, classy-looking uniform would also have such a handsome, classy-looking memorial patch design. And the Cardinals have done this with their typical attention to detail, producing separate versions of each patch for their different jersey colors:

• There’s something satisfying about team-specific rules and protocols. It’s sort of like looking through a style guide.

• This is sort of like when a family has a cemetery plot and everyone’s gravestone has the same basic design. It reinforces the sense of family, the sense of connection, and so on.

• Gotta like a team that establishes uniformity for any part of the uniform!

• Something about this feels very Cardinals-like — it just fits with their feel, their brand.

Points against
• Ah geez, does everything have to be branded, standardized, templated? Can’t some things just develop in whatever direction seems appropriate at the time?

• If you want a simple, stately design format that you can use for multiple honorees, that’s what retired number placards are for. But shoehorning so many people into the same patch template eliminates the chance for creativity. Wouldn’t it have been nice, for example, if Musial’s patch had included the words “The Man”? Or if Brock’s had some reference to a stolen base?

• Since DeWitt said the patch decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, it’s a safe bet that fans will start getting into idiotic arguments about which treatment should be given to players who are somewhat borderline: “He should get the number/signature patch!” “No, he should just get his initials!” I can already see myself closing the Twitter tab on that one.

• While the design concept may be handsome, it’s not ideal. Musial’s signature, for example, obscures part of the “6,” and the Brock patch makes it clear that the number/signature format looks a lot clunkier with two-digit numbers. In fact, if you compare the digital version of the Brock design, which the Cardinals began using as their social media avatar several days before the physical patch debuted, you can see that there are some differences in Brock’s signature and how the signature overlaps the numbers (presumably due to the logistical limitations of the embroidery process), with the real-world version looking significantly worse than the digital version:

So: Which side to come down on? I confess that I’m conflicted — I see the pros and the cons.

Meanwhile: There’s been some background chatter about how long it took the Cardinals to start wearing the Brock patch. Most teams tend to get memorial patches on the field within a day or two of someone’s death, but Brock’s patch didn’t appear until five days after he died. I initially figured this must have something to do with the pandemic, and I considered asking DeWitt about it, but I ultimately decided against it because it seemed like a potentially tasteless question (like, “Yo, what’s taking you so long to honor this dead man?”). But then I was doing some research about the Schoendienst patch in 2018 and discovered that I had written this at the time:

The most surprising thing about this new [Schoendienst] patch is how long it took for the Cards to start wearing it. Schoendienst died on June 6, but the patch didn’t debut until June 11 — a near-eternity in the world of modern uniform memorials, where teams often add patches within a day or two. (Just to be clear, I am not criticizing the Cardinals for taking too long, and I fully understand that they may have wanted to wait until they finished their road trip so the patch could make its debut at home. I’m just expressing surprise, not outrage.)

I hadn’t remembered that. So it turns out that there’s recent precedent for a five-day gap prior to a Cardinals memorial patch’s on-field debut. Not sure if that’s by plan or coincidence, but it’s interesting. (The situation with Musial was different, because he died during the offseason, not during a season, so the Cards began wearing his patch on Opening Day of 2013.)

Anyway: All good food for thought. That’s a lot of mileage out of a very small circle of cloth!

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie
 

Hard to believe the 1972 A’s/Reds World Series was almost 50 years ago! You can get reacquainted with it via Finley’s Heroes, a record album commemorating the first of three straight Series wins by owner Charles O. Finley’s band of mustachioed misfits. What terrific artwork on the album cover! Can’t make out the artist’s name, though. (Side note: There’s Joe Rudi at lower-left on the cover, stealing a home run from Denis Menke of the Reds in Game Two. I was just above him in the left field stands. Some things you cannot forget.)

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

• Someone went and made a pair of custom 1970s AFC/NFC Pro Bowl gumball helmets.

• Here’s a 1970s orange (of course) Cleveland Browns stadium megaphone. Sponsored by WHK 1420, “the radio home of the Browns.”

• Wow, look at this! A complete set of Nick Volpe portraits for the 1982 Los Angeles Dodgers. Twenty-six in all, including Vin Scully.

• Check out the artwork on this 1962 Houston Colt .45s booklet. I never realized the team’s logo mimicked the gun brand’s logo.)

• How about a 1990s jar of Jaromir Jagr Peanut Butter? Or maybe that should’ve been called “Peanut Buttr?”

• Pretty sure that’s not Yogi Berra on the cover of his 1962 book Behind The Plate. I’ll bet co-author Til Ferdenzi did the majority of the writing, too.

• This 2005 Strikeout Kings figurine features Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, sponsored by Citgo.

• This 1954 New York baseball Giants beer stein is in perfect shape. That was the year of The Catch, as the Giants swept Cleveland to win their final title in New York.

• Speaking of Series wins, nice artwork on this 1980 Philadelphia Phllies poster.

• Annnnnd one more World Series item: a pair of Milwaukee Brewer Bar wrappers. That candy bar was sold back in 1982 to commemorate their title. 

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Coasters reminder: As of this morning, I have only four remaining sets of Uni Watch Coasters. Who wants ’em?

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: Cardinals manager Mike Shildt wore the team’s BP cap for yesterday’s game (thanks to all who shared). … Postseason play will reportedly not feature any champagne-related celebrations or alcohol in locker rooms. … On Sunday night, the Brewers digitally superimposed an ad on the mound, but at one point the ad was covering up a team logo stenciled on the mound (from Brice Wallace). … Also from Brice: The Marlins appear to have darkened the back of their mound to allow better contrast for ads. … Typically, glovemakers give their glove models a series of letters and numbers. But Jimmy Lonetti notes that this Brooks Robinson Rawlings glove is Model No. 5, presumably after Robinson’s uniform number. Jimmy says he’s never seen another glove where the model number matched a player’s uni number. … What a display: 22 years of Hank Aaron baseball cards, arranged by date (from @texastrevor). … The batting helmet Padres 1B Eric Hosmer was wearing when he hit the team’s fourth grand slam in as many games earlier this season — an MLB record — has been sent to the Hall of Fame (from @Greg1MB). … A columnist for The Fresno Bee is calling for Fresno City College to rename its baseball stadium, which is named after a man who has been identified as a former KKK leader (from David Wishinsky). … If a foul ball is hit near a cardboard cutout at the Astros’ ballpark, the team will box up the ball and send it to the season ticket holder who would typically sit there (soft paywall) (from @bryant_rf).

Pro Football News: The NFL sent a memo advising coaches that they could face disciplinary action if they’re spotted without a mask or face covering while on the sideline. Rams coach Sean McVay says the memo was targeted at him. … Most Steelers players will wear Antwon Rose Jr.’s name on the back of their helmets in 2020. Rose was shot and killed by an East Pittsburgh Police Officer in 2018 (from Mike Chamernik). … At least one Steeler, however, was wearing a different name last night (from Jerry Wolper). … The NFL’s fantasy app curiously has updated the Rams logos, but has yet to update the Titans logos (from Marshall Grant Jones). … Interesting end zone design last night for the Broncos, who paired their throwback helmet logo with their primary wordmark (from many readers).

College/High School Football News: Charlotte opened their season on Saturday at Appalachian State. But their uniforms weren’t delivered until Friday morning — meaning the team’s equipment staff had just 26 hours to sew NOBs on the jerseys for every player on the roster (from Joel Mathwig). … Ole Miss was slated to retire No. 10 for Eli Manning this season. However, due to the pandemic, they’re delaying the ceremony until 2021, so fans can be present (from Griffin T. Smith). … The ACC Tracker has been updated through week 1. … SI’s Pat Forde has ranked his favorite and least favorite football statues on college campuses. … It appears Pitt will be wearing a soon-to-be-released alternate jersey on Sept. 26 (thanks to all who shared). … In 1991, Michigan G Matt Elliott was forced to go FNOB because there was also a Marc Elliott on the roster (from Justin Essa Zayid). … Air Force will unveil an alternate uniform that honors the Tuskegee Airmen on Sept. 21. They’ll wear the uniforms on Oct. 3 against Navy (from Phil). … Milton-Union High School (Ohio) Bulldogs wear pants with a spiked dog collar on their left pant leg (from Doc Ginn).

Hockey News: If you’ve ever wondered what the Lightning’s logo looks like rendered in coffee beans, today is your lucky day (from Mike Nessen). … Hey, look who won the NHL’s Western Conference championship — a convenience store chain! (From @ogkd13.) … The Hershey Bears of the AHL are selling a clever “chocolate-dipped” sweater on their website. I’m not sure if they’ve confirmed whether they will be wearing these on the ice next season (from Steve Forni).

Soccer News: EPL club Wolves have a new sleeve advertiser (from Josh Hinton). … The third jersey for Portugese top-flight club Benfica has reportedly leaked (from Mike D.). … Japan’s J-League has followed the lead of other leagues around the world by adopting a standardized typeface for numbers and NOBs (from Jeremy Brahm).

Grab Bag: Super Netball, the sport’s top pro league in Australia, has a new ball design for the 2020 “Indigenous Round” (from Jamie Rathjen). … The Washington Post (soft paywall) has a backstory on how Dr. Anthony Fauci ended up with his own bobblehead (from Tommy Turner). … Scouts in the United Kingdom can now earn a new badge for spotting fake news (from Timmy Donahue). … It appears that golf’s U.S. Open is going the way of the Super Bowl by using a cookie-cutter logo template for every event (from Mike Kinchla). … Emails show that UConn is considering several uniform-related tributes to the Black Lives Matter movement when their teams resume play later this year (from Timmy Donahue). … Whoops! Vinnie Donati found a “Led Zeppelin” T-shirt featuring the band members from KISS.

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Our latest raffle winners are Jason Hillyer and Jacob Draper, who’ve each won a Uni Watch Tequila Sunrise Mask. Congrats to them, and big thanks to reader Jeff Link for sponsoring this one.

I will be away from Uni Watch HQ for most of today. Play nice while I’m away, okay? Thanks. — Paul

Monday Morning Uni Watch

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Good morning! Greetings from Uni Watch HQ, where all three inhabitants continue to be safe and well, and where I’m happy to bring you the first Monday Morning Uni Watch of the 2020 NFL season.

And as MMUWs go, this one is a doozy, because yesterday was an unusually uni-eventful day around the league. That’s in large part because there were no preseason games this year, so a lot of things that we would normally have seen in August ended up staying under wraps until the start of the regular season. Also, some teams inexplicably waited until yesterday to announce and unveil patches, decals, and so on, so things that would normally have been included in my NFL Season Preview column instead ended up being announced just hours before yesterday’s kickoff.

Moreover, the lack of preseason games meant yesterday was our first chance to see all of this season’s new uniform designs on the field. As you can see above, the Chargers looked particularly sharp (although they had the advantage of standing out against the Bengals’ laughably bad mono-black costumes). I’ve been saying for decades that they should bring back the yellow pants, and the results were every bit as excellent as I had hoped for. You can see more photos from that game here and here.

Not every team debuting new uniforms was so lucky. Up in Foxboro, there was some weird shit going on with the Patriots’ new unis. As you know, their new navy jerseys are similar to last year’s Color Rash jerseys, but with a new number font and new NOB font. On the field yesterday, however, some players appeared to be wearing the old Rash jerseys instead of the new primary jerseys. Here, for example, is a shot showing cornerback Jason McCourty (No. 30) in the new jersey and teammate Joejuan Williams (No. 33) in the old Rash jersey (for this and most other photos in this section, you can click to enlarge):

Even stranger, offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor had the old Rash number font — but paired with the new NOB font! Dig:

Similarly, running back J.J. Taylor had the correct number font but the old, incorrect NOB font! Check this out:

What a mess! You can see more photos from that game here.

And then there were the Rams, who debuted their bone dishwater uniforms, which were every bit as awful as the unveiling led us to expect:

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What a mistake. You can see additional pics from that game here, and here are additional photo galleries showing our first on-field looks at the new Browns, Bucs, Colts, Falcons, and Washington uniforms.

In other news from around the league yesterday:

• In my NFL Season Preview column, I reported that the Packers would have a memorial helmet decal for Willie Davis this year but that they wouldn’t announce or unveil it until “shortly before the season opener.” They ended up waiting until yesterday morning, but here it is:

Note that the decal design matches the design of the Bart Starr decal they used last year.

• In another late-breaking uni memorial, but one that I don’t think anyone had any inkling of beforehand, the Jets announced yesterday morning that they’ve added a season-long memorial patch for Betty Wold Johnson, the mother of team owner Woody Johnson and team CEO Christopher Johnson:

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• In yet another late-breaking memorial, the Falcons saluted their hometown Congressman, the late John Lewis, by naming him as an honorary captain and also wearing wristbands with his initials. Their opponents, the Seahawks, also wore the wristbands, which featured the logos of both teams — a nice cross-team gesture for an American hero:

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• And in still another new memorial (although this one was announced on Friday, not on Sunday), Washington has added a season-long “49” patch for Bobby Mitchell, whose number is also being retired:

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• Speaking of Washington, linebacker Jon Bostic was the first to suffer a malfunction with the team’s new helmet numerals:

• In a terrible season-opening move, the Lions opted to go mono-blue:

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• Bengals running back Joe Mixon wore a rear-helmet decal in support of his agent’s cancer-stricken son:

That’s a nice gesture, and I’m plenty familiar with the ravages of Hodgkin’s lymphoma (my brother died of it), but a uniform memorial for your agent’s son? That seems like a bit much.

• New Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and new Colts quarterback Philip Rivers both wore captaincy patches with four gold stars and a gold “C” (that’s the format for players who’ve been captains for their teams for at least five seasons), even though this is their first year with their respective teams (and also, somewhat incredibly, the first time in Brady’s career that he’s ever worn a captaincy patch!):

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen teams playing fast and loose with the captaincy stars, of course, but it’s not supposed to work that way. The NFL should really get rid of the stars (or just get rid of the patches altogether).

• Circling back to the Patriots, coach Bill Belichick wore the name “Fritz Pollard” on his visor. Pollard was the NFL’s first Black head coach (additional info here):

• One more Pats item: They’ve changed the number font for their yard lines. Here’s a comparison — old version on top, new on bottom:

• Players wore a variety of social justice messaging on their pregame gear:

• The Ravens saluted Mo Gaba, a 14-year-old Ravens superfan who died of cancer in July, by adjusting their end zone lettering to highlight the letters “MO,” plus they filled an entire seating section with cutouts of him (additional info here):

• The Panthers have changed their end zone design. Here’s a comparison — old version on top, new on bottom:

• The officials wore masks, and many of them wore “End Racism” patches on their caps:

• Here’s a good rundown of how various teams handled the national anthem.

• There were apparently some issues with the phony crowd noise.

• Four teams wore white at home: the Bills, Jaguars, Panthers, and Ravens (plus we could sorta-kinda include the Rams).

(My thanks to all contributors, including Jeff Ash, Ryan Bugaj, Gabe Cornwall, our own Anthony Emerson, Marcus Hall, Lance Harris, Will Hughes, Matt Monitto, @skinsunis, Mike Sullivan, and Dan Zappulla.)

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Uni Watch, Est. 1999: I’ve mentioned several times how interesting it is that the Cowboys chose to put “Est. 1960,” rather than “1960-2020,” on their 60th-anniversary logo (which they’re also wearing as a jersey patch). What I didn’t realize until now was that this is part of a larger trend that extends throughout the world of trademarks and logo design.

According to a great new article by James Bowie, “Est.” and its variants are now appearing in trademarks 17 times more frequently than in 1980. Here’s a chart that shows the trend (click to enlarge):

As you can see, the use of “Est.” bottomed out in the 1970s, presumably because being associated with “the establishment” in any manner was considered out of step with the countercultural times. As for “Est.”‘s current resurgence, Bowie provides some good analysis — recommended reading.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t mention the Cowboys’ anniversary logo. It’ll be interesting to see if any other teams follow Dallas’s lead with their own upcoming anniversary patches.

Update: Reader/commenter LI Matt notes that this trend has also hit the Washington Football Team’s new end zones, which include “Est. 1932”!

(Thanks to my buddy Rob Walker for this one.)

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ITEM! Another mask raffle: Although our Uni Watch Tequila Sunrise Masks are sold out, reader Jeff Link has two extras — both in the M/L size — that he’s generously letting me raffle off, so that’s what we’re going to do today.

This will be a one-day raffle. USA addresses only, sorry. To enter, send an email with your mailing address to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. I’ll announce the two winners tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the winner of last Friday’s raffle is Dan Matkowsky, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks to reader Chris Meisse for sponsoring that one.

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Click to enlarge

Coasters reminder: In case you missed it on Friday, I once again have a few sets of Uni Watch Coasters available. As of this morning, just six sets left now down to four sets — these won’t last long, so move fast if you want a set. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Interesting stat from Twitter-er @attorney_troy: The Cubs’ no-hitter yesterday was their fourth in a row for which they wore their blue alternate jerseys.
 

Football News: Washington owner Dan Snyder said he could possibly keep the “Washington Football Team” name (thanks, Brinke). … Some websites and apps have not yet updated Washington’s logo, including theScore and Twitter (from Scott Gilliland and @KKane_27). … Meanwhile, Fox ads still use pictures of Tom Brady in the Bucs’ old uniform (from Matt Brooks). … A commercial that aired yesterday features a truck with 49ers logos and flags, including the infamous one-day logo (from Mike Fudge). … Clemson RB Travis Etienne is apparently on his 12th helmet model since starting college (from Austin Pendergist).

Hockey News: A longtime AHL linesman has commissioned a very cool-looking Hershey Bears pinball machine (from William Yurasko).
 
 

Soccer News: Germany’s VfL Wolfsburg wore a 75th-anniversary shirt and shorts on Saturday — the actual anniversary of the club’s founding — but not matching socks, resulting in two different shades of green. … The Netherlands’ Vitesse replaced their ad with a message thanking healthcare workers. … New kits for English League Two’s Salford City and the Spanish third-tier team FC Andorra. … The USL Championship’s Loudoun United added a patch for the rest of this season thanking healthcare workers (from my brother Nate Rathjen). … NWSL teams playing this weekend wore a variety of messages on their warm-up shirts, either the names of Black victims of police violence or associated phrases of support. … English women’s team Durham moved to their own stadium, Maiden Castle, named after a nearby fort. … Liverpool’s new second kit made its competitive debut in the Women’s Championship with plain cyan shorts, which don’t match the pattern on the shorts and socks.

Grab Bag: The first two items are from the Australian Football League: Melbourne wore a one-off guernsey including the names of fans who donated to a club fundraising campaign to offset the financial impact of the pandemic. The design originates from one worn in preseason, where AFL teams sometimes experiment with their looks, in the late ’90s. … Sydney also wore throwbacks from their time as South Melbourne. … New shirts for the Polish men’s volleyball team MKS Będzin (from Jeremy Brahm). … The Pringles cannister is apparently one of the hardest individual items to recycle, so it’s being redesigned (thanks, Brinke). … Some New Mexico teenagers designed the badge for a NASA mission that’s taking New Mexico chile peppers to space (from Timmy Donahue).

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