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History Lesson via Nameplate

Photos by Tim Haney; if slideshow doesn’t work, click here

Thirty years ago, when I was in college, we had an on-campus nonprofit record store that was staffed entirely by students — the Slipped Disc Record Co-op. When I was a freshman and sophomore, the guy who ran Slipped Disc was this dude named Jeff Katz, who was two years older than I was. He kinda took me under his wing and groomed me to become one of the store’s managers, which I became for my junior and senior years.

Jeff and I lost touch after he graduated, but he tracked me down on Facebook five or six years ago, and our friendship picked up right where it left off. He’s had an interesting life, and at the moment he is the Mayor of Cooperstown, New York, which as you might imagine is a very interesting gig if you happen to be a baseball fan, which Jeff definitely is (he’s already written one baseball book and is currently working on another).

Jeff recently flexed his mayoral muscle to create a very cool initiative involving a largely forgotten ballplayer named Bud Fowler and Cooperstown’s local high school baseball team (plus I had a very small role in it myself). See those “Fowler” NOBs in the photos at the top of this entry? Here’s the scoop behind them:

Uni Watch: For those who don’t know, who was Bud Fowler?

Jeff Katz: Bud Fowler is generally recognized as the first black player in organized baseball. And he grew up in Cooperstown — his father was a barber here in town.

UW: How and when did you get the idea to have a Bud Fowler Day?

JK: About a year ago, Tom Shieber [curator at the Baseball Hall of Fame, which of course is in Cooperstown] was talking to me, and he said, “What would you think about renaming a village street for Bud Fowler?” It was an interesting idea, but it’s very difficult to rename a street in a village as traditional as Cooperstown. So then we started talking about a small park, called Pioneer Park, which is very close to where Fowler lived. But renaming a park turned out to be difficult too.

Then one of our village trustees started looking at some of the county survey maps and found that the entranceway to Doubleday Field, which we all assumed was just a driveway, was actually an unnamed street. So we decided to call it Fowler Way.

We originally wanted to do it in February, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his death, but we didn’t have enough time. So instead we did it in April, when SABR’s 19th Century Committee was meeting here in Cooperstown. And that gave us a few months to circulate the story. We got a nice article in the New York Times, we had some coverage from NPR. It’s all worked out really well.

UW: And then you got the local high school varsity baseball team involved, right?

JK: Right. As a Uni Watch reader, I’ve seen the tributes that various teams have done, like when the St. Louis Blues wore Stan Musial’s name and number for pregame warm-ups after he died, and what the Canadiens did for Gary Carter, I thought we could do something similar.

So I went and spoke to the team and the coach about it, and everyone was very excited, and the coach said they were honored to be part of it. Then I asked you how I could get some “Fowler” nameplates made, and you sent me to Joe Hilseberg. Some of the parents and I put together the money to pay for it, along with a fundraising group for Doubleday Field.

And my hope was that they’d wear the nameplates for, like, a day. And instead they wore them all season long, which was great.

UW: Did the team already have nameplates, which had to be switched out, or did they normally go without player names?

JK: They didn’t normally wear player names.

UW: Are there any black kids on the team?

JK: They’re almost all white kids, except for this one Guatemalan kid named Nico Knull. So you had this mostly white team, going from town to town, all as Fowlers. Which I’m told led to lots of people asking, “Are they all related?” Anyway, they made it to the Sectionals, and they did Fowler proud.

UW: One of the photos you sent me shows a few players without nameplates. What happened there?

JK: I’m not sure — I noticed that at the last game. I think maybe they had some JV guys who were called up.

UW: So it’s not like some of the kids refused to participate or anything like that..?

JK: No, no.

UW: Were the kids, like, into it?

JK: It was interesting. Nico was definitely the most informed. And there was one other kid, named Sawyer Haney — his parents own the Cooperstown Bat Company, so he knew a lot. In fact, they made this really nice Fowler bat. For the other kids, there was certainly more awareness at the end than at the beginning. And the coach really made it clear to them how important the story was.

UW: You realize Uni Watch readers are gonna crucify you for using a nameplate on a pinstriped jersey, instead of direct-sewn lettering, right?

JK: Oh, geez. I can understand that, but hopefully they can see, you know, the beauty of the story.

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ESPN contest reminder: Today’s the last day to get your entries in for the Hornets-redesign contest. Details here.

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Knish update: I was curious to see how those knish T-shirt concepts would look for real, so I made one for myself. Do you wish I’d made one for you too? Can I see a show of hands?

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Slate has published a pretty awesome interactive guide to NBA tattoos (from Yusuke Toyoda). … Also from Yusuke: a slideshow of 2013-14 soccer kits. … James Madison is soliciting fan input to help choose a new basketball court design (from Todd Lowman). ”¦ New away kit for Chelsea. “The tag line, ‘It’s not white, it’s blue,’ is proof positive that marketers from lifestyle companies like Adidas truly think they can get customers to believe the sky is green if they say so with enough flashy ads and press releases about the shirts being 10 percent lighter than last season,” says Patrick Runge. … Terence Kearns stopped by Uni Watch HQ the other day to pick up a T-shirt and proudly showed me his super-cool Mets road jersey lettering tattoo. Naturally, I was disappointed in the black drop-shadow, but it’s still a great tat. … New football helmets for Wake Forest (thanks, Phil). … Hit this sign mechanical bull, win a free steak dinner (from Mike McBride). … Yesterday I linked to a page of old minor league and college hockey program covers. Turns out that was just the 1977 page. To see literally thousands of additional cover designs dating back to the 1920s, look here (from HHH). … ’Skins receiver Pierre Garçon will be wearing custom-designed shoes this season to help manage a past foot injury (thanks, Brinke). … Also from Brinke: More chatter about the Raptors possibly changing their name. Dan Snyder was unavailable for comment. … What if New York’s new soccer team had a logo based on the old diamond jubilee subway token? (From Matt Harris.) … Here’s what 10 Nike-outfitted golfers will be wearing at the U.S. Open (from Walter Ford). … Rugby players are now having their movements tracked by GPS thingies in their jerseys (Brinke again). … New field being installed at Husky Stadium in Washington. “Apparently they’re actually using purple blades of turf for the ends zones,” says Kyle Hanks. “This is an interesting way of dealing with an issue they’ve had for a few years, namely, end zone paint adhesion to FieldTurf. In 2009 they tried gold end zones and had to repaint them every week because the paint would wear visibly during games. Since then they’ve used purple or black end zones and haven’t had as big of a problem.” … The Blue Jays have issued an official explanation for why they didn’t wear G.I. Joe caps on Memorial Day. Unfortunately, the explanation isn’t “We were too smart to participate in that idiocy,” but whatever (from Mike O’Connor). … Nice striped stirrups for Mercer County High in Kentucky (from Josh Claywell). … Charles Pritt had an email back-and-forth with a Nike customer rep, the upshot of which is that the Bills jerseys sold at retail will still have the neck roll but the on-field version will not. … Some very interesting info about U.S. soccer captaincy armbands at the bottom of this page (from Britt Jackson). … Lance Smith, knowing my love of all things meat- and butchery-related, sent me this great 1947 photo of a Reading, Pennsylvania butcher shop. Thanks, man! … The Heat had new warm-ups for last night’s Finals opener (from Cork Gaines). ”¦ David Goodfriend notes that O’s skipper Buck Showalter has been wearing stirrups. Has he been doing this all along with the Orioles and I just never noticed..? ”¦ Jonathan Quick has some lettering stamped into the vertical bar of his goalie mask, although I can’t make out what it says (from Kyle Martinek). ”¦ Here’s a shot of Deacon Jones wearing the Chargers’ odd “surname, initial” NOB style from the early ’70s (screen shot by Greg Scholand). ”¦ “Unknown to probably most of the outside world, a promoter in Australia has attracted enough C-list NHL players to stage a USA vs. Canada three-game series in Sydney and Melbourne,” says Evan Stewart. “I looked up the uniforms for this, and also for the previous tour they did in New Zealan in 2011. Pics found here.” ”¦ Counterfeit Penguins merch is boffo business during the playoffs (from Mike McLaughlin). ”¦ New kits for Plymouth Argyle (from Bob Williams). ”¦ The Tennis Channel has changed its logo color to match the clay of Roland Garros — except on the microphones, as you can see (Cork Gaines again). ”¦

Comments (90)

    Jonathan Quick’s (product of UMass!!) mask is stamped with “Sportmask,” the company that apparently supplies his helmets.


    and his link is even better.

    But the nitpicker in me compels me to post this.

    It’s not a knight design, since, y’know, he is a King.

    I see your point about being a King. But I was just referencing the generic version of the helmet. As in wearing a helmet with the face shield up.


    I guess the use of ‘knight’ was the wrong term.

    If the Chelsea road kit is really blue and not white then why did they put any red on it at all?

    A year or two ago, Chelsea had red collars on their primary kit to represent the Chelsea Pensioners. On this shirt, I’d just say it’s a nice contrasting color.

    I actually like the campaign.

    It’s a sad reality that most clubs derive a tremendous amount of income from the sale of replica shirts. Change kits are meant to be completely different than the club’s standard kit. Chelsea supporters call their club “The Blues”.

    If you’re trying to induce people to buy a replica change kit, and your club is The Blues, and the change shirt is white, you can do a lot worse than “It’s not white; it’s Blue.”

    Yeah, I think the tagline is quite clever, and whatever you think of the marketing, it’s an attractive uniform.

    PL: did you watch the draft last night? If you did, you’ll notice that those in attendance who got picked (sorry Jon Denney of Yukon HS in OK) were given MLB draft hats with the team’s cap logo on the side. Dominic Smith, who was chosen by the Mets, had a noticeably thin Mets logo.


    (Skip to the 5 second mark)

    Oh, and Mark Appel got picked first overall by Houston, which has no stirrups. RIP Appel Bottoms, unless he chooses to go with team ‘rups.

    I think the drop shadow works really well for link. It provides depth/dimension that really make it pop. Bad for jerseys, good for ink.

    It’s his Debbie Gibson sunglasses that I have a problem with. ;)

    bull = kearnsie
    china shop = UW HQ

    must have been hell keeping the big guy from getting his paws on everything! hahaha

    really great tatt though, TK!

    Kinda interesting…if you click through to the Plymouth soccer kit, in the background image on the right there is an individual wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey…Weird that for a European team that would somehow sneak in there…

    If you widen your browser window, there is a background image of a crowd scene behind the main column of the page layout, and a fan is wearing a Packers jersey in the picture.

    It’s pretty common for American sports apparel to show up in Europe, though the wearers often treat them as standard fashion gear and don’t recognize the team (i.e. a lot of European kids wear Yankees hats, mostly because Jay-Z popularized them). And it kinda makes sense here, since the colors match.

    Also, colored shirts matched with white shorts/white socks are classy.

    Love the new NYC soccer team mock up. That would be a great logo if they went with something like that.

    I like referencing the subway token, but would the pentagon read to most people? The previous Knicks logo was an obvious nod to the tokens, and I get the reference to the five boroughs, but it’s not as obvious to me.

    It could also be that I’m still in love with the pigeon logo from the contest.

    Had this discussion with a designer friend who passed that along. I know they’re going for the token/soccer ball panel but all I see is “The Pentagon.” I wonder if rotating the shape slightly (like on a ball or on the token) would remedy that.

    Yeah, it works a lot better on the primary logo, where there’s other stuff going on besides the pentagon. On the secondary logo, it doesn’t read as a token or a soccer ball.

    Here’s a clear shot of the “FAMOUS AS FUCK” t-shirt, though it’s actually “FAMOUS AS F**K”, unfortunately:

    Love love love the proposed design for the kit and the explanation behind it . Man City + Yankees+…well you get the picture and it was an info graphic in the article. And this coming from a Red Sox fan so it’s really hard for me to admit I like something that is connected to the GD Yankees.

    I noticed the team Canada women’s soccer team was wearing the gps things same as the rugby players. No slacking on the pitch for them. You’d think in this modern age they’d be able to have something a little smaller or built into the fabric.

    Heat mapping has become pretty much standard in international soccer, so yeah, you’d think they’d have something less noticeable.

    As a fan, heat maps and the “distance run” stat are two of the more enjoyable innovations in sports.

    Just so we’re clear – they’ve got a device sewn into their jerseys that communicates with at least 3 satellites in outer space, uses relativistic physics to determine their speed and position, keeps track of their heart rate and (sometimes) body temperature, and relays that information to coaches. And you think that device looks LARGE.

    By the way, I’m speaking in jest. As someone who owned a brick cell phone in the 1980s, I just like to be reminded of how truly amazing today’s devices (like mobile gps and smart phones) are.

    I hear ya mike2 and i agree with how far technology has come. But don’t marathon runners have similar data recorded and have the chip in their shoe?

    Yes and no.

    There’s a bunch of devices that record and report position, speed, heart rate. Garmin makes a bunch, so does Nike. That’s not the same as a timing chip for a race.

    The timing chip records nothing – its just an unpowered RFID chip that is triggered when you go over a timing mat and is recorded by sensors at the mat. The records from those sensors are usually just downloaded later by race organizers, but in bigger races they’re frequently internet connected to upload live results to the internet. But the telemetry is from the sensors, not the runners’ chips.


    Did anyone notice the jerseys for the hockey game in Australia? The US jerseys are a nice ’06-’07 New York Rangers alternate rip-off

    Also notice that the players are wearing their NHL team’s pants. Pretty bush league look.

    “Counterfeit Penguins merchandise a burgeoning business”

    coincidentally, i made this SUPER-simple, really quick DIY just this past week:


    here it is from behind (don’t yell at me Joe H!):


    bought the patch off of ebay for $15, bought the hooded for about $15. i can assure you, you won’t find this quality (or simplicity) in “authorized merchandise

    it’s for the adult that doesn’t want to wear a jersey quite as much as he used to.

    I’ve always wondered: What is that stitch called that you used there, and that you usually see when tackle-twill is sewn onto jerseys?

    It’s colloquially known as “Z-stitching” in the industry. I’m sure there’s a specific name for it, but the couple of places I work with when customizing a jersey just call it “zed-stitching” (zee-stitching in the USofA. ;o)

    “it’s for the adult that doesn’t want to wear a jersey quite as much as he used to.”


    Yes, but you fit neither category ;)

    If the Raptors are considering a rebrand, it’s helpful to recall raptors are predators of any species, not just dinosaurs. Their mascot could be an eagle, for instance. But I say an opportunity is being missed. The team should be called Torontosaurus, at least as an alternate nickname like Bronx Bombers or the Amazin’s.

    Owl. I’ve been saying it for years. They can keep the name but they should switch from a dinosaur logo/mascot to an owl.

    Woodland owl, arctic owl as in the cover of Rush’s Fly By Night…yes. That could be very good!

    Interesting pic of Buck in stirrups. It’s a home game and the game I saw yesterday was a road game in Houston. So he has worn them at least twice.

    Buck typically wears stirrups, here’s a posted in Sepetmber, 2012, that I assume was taken during the May, 2012 Orioles at Nationals series: link

    Showalter’s a long-time stirrups partisan. Shortly before the Diamondbacks’ inaugural season, he boasted that he was going to enforce a “no pajama pants” rule for the team. Obviously that didn’t come to pass, but I have no idea what derailed it.

    Buck has always worn stirrups. When I worked for the Texas Rangers and he was the manager he had them on in the team photo with the front office employees.

    I love the little kid inspecting the jar of pickles in the lower right corner of that 1947 butcher shop pic.


    The Deacon Jones jersey photo looks like it was taken from a preseason game, the Jets also wore plain jerseys during that era in the exhibitions.

    I get that the name Raptors screams 1990’s, but I like the idea of a dinosaur mascot and the footprint logo they use is pretty cool. Is there a dinosaur related nickname they could use that’s a little more professional and scientific?

    I was under the impression that all FieldTurf was made out of colored strips of plastic. I’m actually kind of surprised that someone thought it would be a good idea to try to paint that stuff.

    Depends on the stadium in question. For example, in Seattle and Foxboro, they want to be able to erase the football markings for when they play soccer. Other stadiums are football-only; they’ll go for the sewn-in lines and markings, and the team-colored turf for the end zones.

    The issue with the softball tops isn’t the usual lack of high cuffs, though they aren’t a bad thing… it’s the damn gray pants that end up matching nothing on the rest of the uniform. If the whole uniform is gray, then it sorta works as a neutral color. When the teams wear colored jerseys, it doesn’t. Take the Oakland A’s for example – green/white/yellow cap, green/white/yellow jersey… and stupid out of place gray pants. They’d look 10 times better wearing white, green or yellow pants instead. If the Mets have done anything right recently, it was putting silver/gray numbers on their road blue alt so the pants looked like they belonged.

    I love the tribute to Bud Fowler — now that that street in front of Dobleday Field has a name, will the address of the stadium now be 1 (or 2; which side is it on?) Fowler Way?

    Also — this has to be said, and I’ve gotta say it — the Fowler nameplates look pretty good, but if the jerseys weren’t originally supposed to have nameplates, why was the number so far down that there was room for a nameplate?

    That will be remedied next season when the team formerly known as the Redskins receives new jerseys, courtesy of the Oneida tribe?

    The Twins drafted a pitcher out of St. Pious in Houston. Look at the repurposing of the white sox logo!


    Another St. Pious X school (or at least I’m pretty sure it’s not the same one) has been in the news for a completely different reason:

    The gawker bit is from Nebraska and the other is in Houston.

    BTW it’s St. Pius X not St. Pious X.

    I wonder if it’s a sin to use the Sox logo like that. The same exact jerseys and everything. That’s extra penance.

    I assumed the Jays didn’t wear the camo caps because they weren’t available in Canada yet -___-

    Seriously, the retailers here have a ridiculous delay for new stuff. We still don’t have low crown caps (re-released in November by New Era/Lids), & they don’t even know what they are…

    I’ll check the mall today if the camo hats are even available…

    I was wrong – Lids did have them, but only a couple…

    If I were the Blue Jays, I wouldn’t want to promote products that may or may not be on the shelf in time for the promotion date either (I’m certain this was an internal factor, along with their public statement).

    The BP caps were in the stores on time with the press releases…

    Couple of notable-ish kit launches:

    * Bolton Wanderers, with a new crest and without the predatory lender logo: link

    * PSV centenary shirt, which is not too shabby: link

    “… … Yesterday I linked to a page of old minor league and college hockey program covers. Turns out that was just the 1977 page. To see literally thousands of additional cover designs dating back to the 1920s, look here (from HHH). … ”

    What a trove!

    Is the Dan Snyder remark in the Ticker an accident, a joke, or does it have relevance to something I don’t know about? (it comes right after the Raptors name change link).

    “We’ll never change the name,” he said. “It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.”


    I’m aware of his comment but that was in response to his team. How is it related to the Raptors, did Paul do the same comment when Charlotte announced their decision? (the answer is no).

    Has he made that comment whenever he has noted a high school changing their name? I mean there have been times when he has mentioned a story about schools going by the Redskins changing their names. If you aren’t going to put it in then, then you should never put it in.

    I think it was included because, you know, the Raptors history and tradition pretty much parallels that of the Redskins. That or the author was making a political statement. One or the other.

    these are the diamond jubilee subway tokens:


    these are the five boro tokens:


    either way, I love the idea of using token iconography in a sports team logo!

    North Carolina and South Carolina will play a best of three Super Regional baseball series this weekend. I wonder if we’ll see games with both team’s jerseys reading simply: Carolina.

    “Owl. I’ve been saying it for years. They can keep the name but they should switch from a dinosaur logo/mascot to an owl”.

    Makes sense. There are a number of owls loving the winter months in Southern Ontario(Toronto). To name a few: Barred Owl- Great Horned Owl- Snowy Owl.

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