Uni Watch DIY Project: Turf-o-rific!

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[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Greg Allred, who’s going to tell us about a very unusual project he recently undertook. Enjoy. ”” PL]

By Greg Allred

I collect sports memorabilia but am really collector of sports history when I can find it and obtain it. I was lucky enough to find some history in February of 2010, when I went to run an errand at the old baseball stadium here in Birmingham, Rickwood Field. While I was there I noted several pieces of turf lying around that had obviously come from an old football field. I inquired as to their origin and was told the history: The turf was originally installed at Legion Field in 1975 (when the Birmingham Vulcans of the WFL played there), removed in the mid-’80s and placed on a high school field for a few years, and then removed again, with most of it brought to Rickwood.

I asked about the possibility of obtaining a small piece and was told to call back in a couple of weeks. When I called back, I was told to stop by when I was back in the area to discuss it. When I returned a couple of weeks later, I was taken to a different area in the complex, to a building that was used for indoor batting and pitching. The floor of the building was covered in long strips of turf. When the gentleman showed me the turf, he informed me that the building was being razed soon and asked how much of the turf was I interested in. I replied that I wanted all of it, to which he responded, “Okay, but I don’t know how long it will take to get approval for you to remove it. It may take a few months.” I was fine with that and promised to follow up with him regularly.

Well, regularly turned out to be an understatement. For two and a half years I would regularly check in with him to inquire about the turf. Finally, in early June of this year, I received the green light. So with the help of six friends — two of whom actually played on this turf — we cut the turf into smaller strips, rolled it up, and loaded it onto a flatbed trailer, all of this in 105-degree Alabama heat:

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I hauled the turf about an hour north to my farm, where I stored it in a building. Then I would take a roll and move it with my tractor to another area where, with the help of two of my sons, I’d unroll it and cut it into smaller pieces, which I then stored in my barn. I cut this piece from the first roll I brought out, cutting the “2” and trimming it up for a frame that I built:

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I took the piece to a local car wash, where I stretched it out and pressure-washed it thoroughly. Then I allowed it to air-dry in the sun:

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I returned to wash it a second time and allowed it to dry again before stretching it over the frame and securing it:

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I then used “gorilla hooks” to mount it to the wall of my study, beneath Legion Field seats that came from the old East upper deck that was removed in 2005:

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I have had several comments about how unique the piece looks. I’m making a somewhat larger version of the framed turf for my office, using a piece from the sideline with hashmarks. I’ll send along some pics from that frame once I finish it.

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’Stros news: Chris Creamer, citing an inside source, has published some exclusive details on the new Astros uniforms, which will be unveiled in November. Mostly it confirms all the hints that have been dropped over the past half-year or so, but it’s still good to have something a bit more concrete. Details here.

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Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

The U.S. Open is underway this week in New York City, so we’re featuring tennis in this week’s edition of Collector’s Corner.

Bjorn Borg is my favorite player ever, and his look is pure class. The styles here were my favorites. Pair it with a jacket like this or this, and you’re set. Guillermo Vilas was the other big Fila dude back in the day, and he wore this style jacket on court, before he switched to Ellesse (pronounced “L S,” by the way). Bonus points if you know what their logo stands for.*

See these shoes? The story goes, John McEnroe was looking around the Nike lab one day, saw these on the shelf, and took ’em. They were designed as cross-trainers, but Mac made them famous on court. My favorite shoes ever. Mac’s initial Nike line in the mid-1980s had a checkerboard theme.

Ivan Lendl had a long-term Adidas deal, and his look changed every so often. This “IL” look was my favorite, but this one was just plain ugly. Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf also had their own Adidas lines.

Actually. lots of other players had their own lines back then (not so much now). Jimmy Connors was mostly a Robert Bruce guy, and wore Converse, among other brands. Martina Hingis, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, and Gabriela Sabatini were all with Sergio Tacchini at one point, and in the 1980s Boris Becker was with Ellesse, Fila, and Puma.

Rackets? For me, none better than the Fila Wud1One, the Head Vilas, and the Prince Woodie.

And we leave you today with this pair of Nike Agassi shorts. Yes, I wore them, and yes, they were comfortable. Remember…Image … Is … Everything.

*Ellesse logo = tennis ball, and either side of the center are the tips of skis.

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here, and you can follow Brinke on Twitter and Facebook.

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Question Time: As you may recall, back in June I invited readers to ask me questions — uni-related, non-uni-related, whatever — and then answered as many of them as I could a few weeks later. Let’s do that again, shall we?

Same rules as before: You can ask me anything at all. Personal questions are fine, although I reserve the right not to answer if they’re too personal. Only one question per person, and I prefer that you sign your real name (although that’s not a requirement).

Send your questions (again, only one per reader) here, and I’ll address them soon-ish. Please do not post questions in the comments. Thanks.

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PermaRec update: An awkwardly written inscription in a 1963 copy of Gulliver’s Travels, shown at right, is the starting point for the latest entry on the Permanent Record Blog.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Rangers pitcher Derek Holland was once again wearing some serious stirrups last night. ”¦ Speaking of stirrups, Dave Rakowski reports that Yankees broadcasters Michael Kay and Al Leiter were discussing hosiery protocol during last night’s Yanks/Jays game. “They first mentioned that Blue Jays pitcher Brad Lincoln socks seemed lighter in color than the others. They continued their conversation and Al Leiter mentioned how the modern tube sock is more convenient, but both agreed that the old-school stirrups worn by Raji Davis look better.” ”¦ New football uniforms for UAB (from Jeff Hunter). … There’s a steakhouse in Lynchburg, Virginia, that uses the Lions’ helmet logo. “The old sign definitely did not feature that logo, or any kind of lion,” says Edward Lindsey Hall III. … Here’s a good site devoted to college football skeds (from Mike Hersh). … “I started wearing stirrupts in 1968,” says Don Conrad. “Now, at age 50, I play in an adult league here in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I still wear stirrups. By the way, wood bat and single to left!” … Interesting article on the current state of moisture-wicking technology (from Tom Mulgrew). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s a rundown of 10 unusual facemasks, most of which you’ve probably already seen. … Tillamook, Oregon, is a big cheesemaking town, so the local high school teams are called the Cheesemakers — which explains this awesome shot of their 1930 basketball team (great find by John Kimmerlein). … New alternate football jerseys for Penn (from Walt Mankowski). … I’m quoted in this article about Duke’s football helmets and in this piece about that company that’s making all the chrome-finish helmets. ”¦ People in my neighborhood are confused by the exterior of the new arena, which looks rusty. Personally, that’s my favorite thing about the place — I like that rugged feel of industrial decay. Much better than the shiny/gleaming approach. ”¦ Speaking of the new arena, here’s a leak of the nets’ new floor design that began circulating yesterday. … “It’s common for college rosters to have multiple players wearing the same jersey number,” says Matt Mitchell. “But here’s a twist: Texas senior Luke Poehlmann has two numbers. A tackle for two seasons, he was pressed into action at tight end in 2011. This year he’s listed at both positions as Nos. 77 and 82.” … After all the jokes about the Mets wearing the Domino’s-style stadium patch a few years ago, it’s now come full-circle: This Thursday the Mets’ single-A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, are giving away a jersey with a real Domino’s sleeve patch (from Dan Cichalski). … New matte-finish helmet for Ohio. … Fascinating piece on a study that revealed subtle but significant bias against foreign-born players by MLB broadcasters (thanks, Kirsten). … The White Sox did the travel dress-up theme thing the other day, and the them was bad golfer attire. “John Daly would be proud,” says Ryan Lindemann. … Lots of Maryland’s flag-based gear, in many different sports, is linked in this article (from Scott Leighty). … Did you know I’ve been cited as a reference source on the back of a baseball card? Well, it’s not truly a card — it’s this sticker. I had no idea about this until Alec Jokubaitis brought it to my attention. … Some design students at Kansas have won an award for their police car livery design (from Adam Jackson). … The Princeton hoops team will wear “Los Tigres” uniforms for an upcoming trip to Spain (from Andrew Borders).

Tomorrow: My annual college football season-preview column on ESPN. Biggest one yet!

There's No Service Like Wire Service, Vol. 40

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It’s been a long time — over five months! — since our last roundup of wire photos. These are all baseball-related and all but one are from Bruce Menard, who’s one of our most astute photo archivists. Let’s take a look:

• When a new baseball manager is introduced at a press conference, it’s common for him to put his jersey on over his suit. But I didn’t know that was happening way back in 1943.

• Speaking of managers mixing a jersey with civvies, who’s this? None other than Walter Johnson, during his stint skippering the Newark Bears. Love the textured look of his undersleeves, and his suit pants look nice to boot!

• Awesome find here: In 1967, the umps were given new lightweight shirts for hot weather.

• I absolutely love this shot of uniforms being issued to kids in Chicago.

• I wish teams would do Kids Day again. Kinda bogus that the Reds called it “Father-Son Day,” given that two of the kids in the photo are girls! And why no uni for Barby Ruiz?

• For a second I thought this was the Babe. But the gent in the uniform is actually comedian Jonathan Winters, and the one in the suit is Leo the Lip.

• At first glance, there’s nothing uni-relevant about this 1954 shot of Tigers infielder Fred Hatfield. “What caught my eye was the bobblehead behind him,” says Bruce. “This would be a very early bobblehead sighting.”

• Here’s St. Louis Browns manager Dan Howley in 1927. “What’s up with the different ‘StL’ logo on his jacket?” asks Bruce. “Almost looks backwards (but it’s not).”

• In 1959, the Denver Bears wore centennial throwbacks.

• You think Pete Rose put down a bet on this game? (Here’s the full episode that shot is taken from.)

•  Everyone looked good in an Astros shooting star uni, even comedian Jerry Lewis.

• Chew Red Man, get a free baseball cap. (Okay, so that isn’t a wire photo, but it’s still interesting.)

•  And here’s the one shot that isn’t from Bruce: Ron Santo’s fan club sure had some my-t-fine jackets! Big thanks to Scott Sidor for sending that one in.

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Culinary Corner: Remember my recent fascination with blow-torching a steak? As you may recall, it involves freezing the steak, torching the exterior to achieve a nicely charred crust, and then putting the steak in a very low/slow oven.

Recently something occurred to me that I should have thought of sooner: If the frozen/torched steak can be finished in a slow oven, why not finish it in the smoker? After all, I usually keep the temperature in the smoker down around 200 º, which is about how low my oven goes. And the smoker has the added benefit of smokiness (duh), so I figured it’d be a win-win.

I tried this on Saturday, and it was a big success. The steak came out uniformly red throughout, with no interior color gradations, just like when I use the torch method indoors. But it had a distinctly smoky aroma, which is something I’m always a sucker for. I’ll definitely be doing this again soon.

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U.S. Open Uni Preview

By Brinke Guthrie

The U.S. Open gets underway today in New York. It’s the last chance for the apparel and gear manufacturers to show off their stuff until next spring. (Yes, the Aussie Open is in January, but who can ever watch it given the time difference?) Here’s some of what you can expect to see.

Nike’s big guns are always well turned out. Check out Sharapova, Serena, and Fed. Speaking of whom, this tennis fan thread seems to think that Fed’s classy “RF” Nike line will morph into its own stand-alone brand like Jordan’s, once he retires. You’ll also want to see this series of Head racket spots with Sharapova.

Kim Clijsters is hanging it up at years end (again,) and she’ll say so long in this Fila look. Djokovic’s “replica” line from Japanese maker Uniqlo is here, and here.

Wozzy’s Stella McCartney/Adidas line is usually made up of bright colors owing to her “Sunshine” nickname, but this year, it’s — wait for it — black. More Adidas looks for Ivanovic, Murray, Kirilenko, and Verdasco here.

Did You Know Dept.: There are official ball boy shoes. Curiously, they’re made by New Balance, but with the Polo logo on the sides.

Finally, you might not know the name Camilla Giorgi. She wears Adidas shoes and uses a Babolat frame. Both of those companies have clothing lines, but she prefers to have her mom make her tennis attire for her. [That’s awesome! I’ll root for her on that basis alone. ”” PL]

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Paul here (thanks for that piece, Brinke!). You know, I’ve lived in New York for 25 years but have never attended the Open. Part of it is that it can be really expensive, part of it is that the Skippy and Muffy factor gets to be a bit much, and part of it is that I just don’t follow tennis as closely as I once did. But this Thursday I’ll be joining one of my ESPN editors for part of the daytime session, and I’m really looking forward to it. Full report to follow (well, if I spot anything uni-notable, that is).

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Stanford’s volleyball team will wear a memorial on their shorts for a teammate who died back in March (from Jeremy Brahm). ”¦ Here’s a page covering Marshall football uniform history (from Jake Keys). … Douchebags of the Month award goes to the clowns at the Collegiate Licensing Company, who have bullied an Alabama bakery that was putting a script “A” on some cookies (from Andrew Hoenig). … Good article on what the Notre Dame equipment staff is doing for that one game in Ireland (from Joseph Lombardo). … “Morris Brown College, a historically black college in Atlanta, is experiencing extreme financial difficulties and may have to close,” says Austin Gillis. “I wanted to find out a little more about the history of the school, so I went to Wikipedia and found this pretty amazing photo of the 1900 Morris Brown baseball team.” … Everyone likes stories about weird college mascots, right? (From Kurt Esposito.) … Some high school in St. Louis is now in the running for the world’s silliest-looking football helmet (from Ronnie Poore and Andrew Edwards). … New third kit for Chelsea (from Leo Thornton). … The single-A Lowell Spinners put their logo on a Bruins-style pullover as a fan giveaway (from Dan Cichalski). ”¦ The Mets wore blue “Los Mets” jerseys on Friday. ”¦ Interesting piece on the retailing of college football jerseys. ”¦ Here’s Oregon’s “You should wear this color” schedule, which usually matches up with what the Ducks are wearing, for the upcoming season. ”¦ Pflugerville High in Texas uses some very interesting protective headgear during football practice. “Not all of the kids wear it, so it must be optional, but it’s good to see people taking concussions seriously,” says Jaime Galindo. … Someone on eBay is selling a bunch of Fleer MLB jersey stickers. … Hosier hijinks at Booker High in Florida, where a football player was wearing Stewie Griffin socks the other day (from Nick Hanson). ”¦ You already know that Penn State will wear a blue ribbon patch this season, in support of child abuse victims. Now their opponent for the season opener, Ohio, has announced plans to wear a blue ribbon helmet decal for that game. It’ll be interesting to see if Penn State’s subsequent opponents end up doing this for the rest of the season (from Johnny Bruno). … Good article on Oklahoma State’s equipment staff (from Darrell Hatfield). … “It’s breast cancer awareness time for the WNBA again,” writes Kevin Brown. “The Atlanta Dream used unis with pink numbers, but the uniform for No. 22 Armintie Price was mistakenly printed as No. 20. Since Atlanta already has a 20 (Sancho Lyttle), Price’s 0 was peeled off and she played as No. 2 with a very off-center number.” … Longtime lacrosse, hockey, and soccer outfitter Warrior is now getting into football (from Christopher Drouin). … The St. Kilda Saints — that’s Aussie football — recently wore a special kit in which the black and red panels of the home jumper were made up of names of their longest-serving members (from Leo Strawn). … Whoa, look at the hairdos on the 1964 Texas women’s track team. Full story here (from James McClure). … Good question from William Barker, who writes: “While I was watching the Redskins/Colts game in Washington, the Colts challenged a call and, as always, the television coverage followed the ref to the replay hood. The security guys helped lift the cover and stood guard. These security guys were wearing the same shade of burgundy as the Redskins and had matching hats with NFL shields. Are they supplied by the home team and therefore attired to match the team, or does the NFL supply and attire these guys? Does this protocol apply to all of these individuals that work the games?” Anyone know more about this? … New beach-themed basketball court design for Long Beach State (from Bill Radocy). … Pretty funny piece about Liverpool fans who run around town wearing the team’s full kit (from George Chilvers). … Soccer mystery from Gregory Koch, who writes: “When I got to the stadium for Saturday’s UConn/St. Francis men’s soccer game, I noticed the Terriers warming up in red, with numbers on the front but not the back. This struck me as strange, because I distinctly remembered them wearing blue when we played them the last two years. However, a few minutes before the game, St. Francis went into the dressing room and reemerged wearing blue uniforms, with numbers on the back but not the front. Both those and the warm-ups appeared to be legitimate uniforms for game use. My theory is that the red uniforms are alternates, and they wear them as warm-ups when not wearing them for the game. Can any St. Francis fans shed light on this?” … I’ve seen photos of Frank Sinkwich’s unusual faceguard rig before, not this photo (nice find by Greg Trandel). … Phil has spotted something disturbing: The Saints’ maker’s marks are positioned unusually high, so they crowd the TV numbers. In some cases they’re actually positioned north of the sleeve/shoulder seam, which is seriously bad news. … Chet Miller was helping his parents clean out their basement and came across a bunch of sports-related stuff, including a Jr. Charlotte Hornets membership card, a Bengals ice cream tub, a 1988 MLB All-Star Game pillow, and two jigsaw puzzles. You can see it all here. … Great article about some folks in Detroit who break into Tiger Stadium to care for it (big thanks to my buddy Jon Hammer). … New logo package for the U. of San Francisco (from Ed Wright). ”¦ We all know the Raiders wore striped socks in their early days. But look closely at this photo from 1960 — looks like the white crew sock has an “R” on it! “I thought it was stickum at first,” says Willie Gabel. … I think I linked to this last month, but just in case: Here’s a good infographic on MLB team colors (from Kurt Esposito). ”¦ Speaking of infographics, move your cursor along this Champions League timeline (nice find by Jay Gallagher). ”¦ Here’s something you don’t often see: Kobe Bryant in a Bulls jersey (from Will McGillis). ”¦ Many of the Cardinals have been going high-cuffed on Sundays, so outfielder Jon Jay had these T-shirts made (should say “high-cuffed,” not “high sock,” grrrr). That inspired reader Thomas Qualls to create this Twitter account. “The plan is to send out a pic of myself every Sunday doing ordinary tasks — in stirrups,” he says. Everyone should sign up to follow that, yes?

The Battle of the Space Suit

By John Ekdahl

The story behind the Apollo space suit is a bizarre one, as highlighted by Wired last year. There are some great pictures of Aldrin, Collins, and Armstrong testing out the new suits there, so make sure to click through.

Neil Armstrong’s first footfall on the moon was one small step for man, but it was one giant leap for a maker of ladies’ girdles. He wouldn’t have had such a snazzy spacesuit were it not for an epic struggle between a by-the-book defense contractor and a lingerie company run by a car mechanic and a TV repairman.

MIT called it “a triumph of intimacy over engineering“. The Apollo space suit was much different than the suits previously developed, because they had to be able to walk on the moon without a connecting hose.

For walking on the moon, the space suit was supplemented with a pair of protective overboots, gloves with rubber fingertips, a set of filters/visors worn over the helmet for protection from sunlight, and a portable life support backpack that contained oxygen, carbon-dioxide removal equipment and cooling water. The space suit and backpack weighed 180 lb (82 kg) on Earth, but only 30 lb (14 kg) on the moon.

NASA has a nice interactive site to learn more about the current space suit.

Rest in peace, Neil.

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Don’t forget to pay your bills. This goes for baseball teams, too.

The Worcester Tornadoes played the Quebec Capitales before a good crowd at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field last night, but fans had trouble recognizing the home team.

That’s because the Worcester players and coaches took the field wearing Can-Am League-issued uniforms after the lawyer representing local businesses owed money by the team confiscated their Tornadoes jerseys.

The legal maneuver came hours after the Hilton Garden Inn joined the list of creditors filing suit against the Tornadoes and the independent baseball team’s owner, Todd Breighner.

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Benchies now returns to its regular weekend placement.

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Funny, all HE ever glimpsed through the trees was the loading dock at Formica World…

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Uni Rankings

By John Ekdahl

Since this consumed so much of Paul’s time over the past month, please check out the top 25 uniform rankings that was published over at ESPN yesterday.

The rest of the rankings are here:
Nos. 101-122 | Nos. 76-100 | Nos. 51-75 | Nos. 26-50

Yesterday’s chat roundup is available here.

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New Mexico State unveiled new football uniforms yesterday. Outside of the large and distracting Adidas logo, it’s a big improvement from last year’s clunky design.

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The New York Mets broke out their “Los Mets” jerseys for Merengue Night, and promptly lost to the worst team in baseball. It was the second time they wore the jerseys this season, having previously worn them on July 6th.

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Benchies now returns to its regular weekend placement.

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The Commissioner, Cousin Bubba, evidently wields incredible power…

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