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A Patch for Hammerin’ Hank


As you can see at right, the Braves unveiled a sleeve patch yesterday to mark the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run (click on the photo to enlarge; further info here). I wouldn’t normally devote a main entry to a patch, but there are several aspects of this one that I find interesting:

1. The event: You don’t often see a patch celebrating an individual’s achievement. And although this particular achievement set a new record, that record was erased (by Aaron himself, of course) just days later, and Aaron’s eventual career total of 755 was ultimately eclipsed by Barry Bonds. Of course, many observers consider Bonds’s total to be tainted and view Aaron as the more legitimate home run king. So it’s worth asking: Would this patch still have been issued if Bonds had never been tied to steroids, and if he’d been admired instead of reviled?

Yeah, I think it would. I was 10 years old when Aaron hit No. 715, and I was watching on TV when he hit it. It’s hard to overstate what a big deal it was. Eventually someone steroid-free may come along and hit more homers than Aaron or Bonds, but the events of April 8, 1974 will endure as a milestone moment in MLB history.

Have there been other individual achievements that have been commemorated by patches? Probably, although I’m drawing a blank. And what other individual achievements might merit a patch — Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game? Tom Dempsey’s 63-yard field goal? Mike Bossy’s 50 goals in 50 games?

2. The ordinal: I don’t usually like patches or other gestures for 40th anniversaries — 40 just doesn’t have enough oomph to feel like a notable number, not like 50, or even 30. So when a team comes out with a 40th-anniversary patch, I often think of it as the patch version of grade inflation. But in this case I think we can cut the Braves some slack, because Aaron is now 80 years old (he turned 80 just last week, in fact — I’m surprised the Braves didn’t unveil the patch then as a birthday present for him), so he may not live to see the 50th anniversary of No. 715. Given the circumstances, this is the right time to commemorate this event.

3. The autograph: Interesting that they chose to put Aaron’s signature running across the patch design. The Cardinals did the same thing last year with their Stan Musial memorial patch, and in both cases I think the signature clutters up the design and detracts from the impact of the numerals. Also: Thin, curvy lines are precisely the sorts of things that don’t reproduce well on embroidered patches. I understand that the signature makes the patch feel more personal, but there are other things they could have done to achieve that, like incorporating Aaron’s silhouette. Here’s hoping this signature-based approach doesn’t become a new trend in patch design.

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Uni design contest reminder: In case you missed it on Sunday, Phil announced a new baseball uni design contest — and this one is for uniforms that will actually get worn on the field, not just featured in an article. Get the full scoop here.

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Baseball News: Someone on eBay is selling an amusing Seattle-themed jersey (from Jack Phuapradit). … Brett Crane is the equipment manager for the Angels’ minor league system. He’s arranged for each of the Angels’ affiliates to have logo-emblazoned bat weights. … New uniforms for the U. of New Orleans (from Chris Mycoskie). … For those who care about such things, all of this year’s BP jerseys are now available for sale. … New spring training uni numbers for the Cardinals and Mets (Cards link courtesy of Patrick Walsh).

College Football News: Under Armour supposedly has something big in store for Maryland’s move to the Big 10, whoopee (from Tommy Turner).

Hockey News: Good story on a design operation that has made masks for many NHL goalies (from Tom Mulgrew). … Whoa, check out the jerseys for the Ford Motor Company pond hockey team. “The front logo is very old-school Mustang (check out 1972 models, for example, and you’ll find that exact prancing pony on the tri-color stripe), and you can also see the rearing snake of the Shelby Cobra on the shoulders,” says Ben Hendel. “Can’t say I dig the blue Ford ovals circling the bottom of the jersey, though.” ”¦ Small item in the middle of this article indicates that the Iowa Wild will be wearing Pink in the Rink jerseys on Saturday.

Soccer News: Here’s a tease of the new DC United jersey (from Brian Bittner). … New stadium name for the Portland Timbers. … New kits for Croatia, Bayern Munich, Botafogo, and Boca Juniors (from Trevor Williams). ”¦ Also from Trevor: Here’s more about that Egyptian goalkeeper who recently had to wear a Liverpool jersey. ”¦ Here’s a shot of Abby Wambach from the US women’s national team wearing tape over — or instead of — her wedding band (good spot by Carl Anderson). ”¦ Yesterday’s Ticker included a link to Man U’s new Chevy-sponsored kits. That prompted the following from Stefan Schubert: “Interesting sponsorshp, as GM recently announced that they would pull the Chevrolet brand from the European Market. That must be an unique situation, advertising for a product that is not available on your continent. I would not be suprised to see them switch to a different GM brand, such as Vauxhall. GM already made an early exit as car sponsor of Liverpool FC and let their Vauxhall brand finish the contract.”

Basketball News: This is great: Thomas Foote was at a Springfield Armor (D-League) game and spotted his own name formed by two players’ NOBs. ”¦ Last item on this page indicates that Boise State will be going BFBS tonight (from John Barnes).

Olympics News: Good story on a guy who’s designed several USA luge helmets (thanks, Phil). … Kevin Dugal notes that short track speed skaters often wear baseball batting gloves. “Most of those photos are of JR Celski, who has worn many different versions of Nike batting gloves over the years,” he says. “What’s interesting is that some of them are not widespread retail releases. For example, the all-red pair was a Shane Victorino exclusive that was sold online at select retailers.” … Speaking of speed skating, here’s another article on the USA’s suits. … Two of the three Peruvian athletes at Sochi refused to wear their designated uniforms at the Parade of Nations (thanks, Phil). ”¦ The Norwegian curling team is upping the ante: No longer content to wear crazy pants, they’re now going high-cuffed, exposing some very nice striped socks. ”¦ Uni Watch mascots Tucker and Caitlin got into the Olympic spirit last night by engaging in an impromptu tug of war. ”¦ Memo to NBC: It’s now very apparent that all your broadcasters were coached to use the word “podium” as often as possible. We get it. Please make it fucking stop already.

Grab Bag: Here’s something you don’t often see: a dress with a bowling theme (from my pal Robin Edgerton). … How about this: Adidas’s standard sponsorship contract with athletes includes a clause stipulating that the contract will be terminated if the athlete becomes a Scientologist (fascinating find by Brian Bittner). … A court has ruled that AT&T’s Aio Wireless brand infringes on T-Mobile’s signature color scheme (from Paul Lee). … The trophy for the Dubai Tour — that’s a cycling event — is a big hoop (from Sean Clancy). … Also from Sean: “Teams displayed all sorts of camo gear as a military tribute at Saturday’s Supercross race in San Diego. Most of it was about as horrible as you’d expect, but the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team did a neat thing with decals from each branch of the armed forces on the crossbar pads of their bikes.” An Iditarod musher who’s recovering from a head injury plans to start wearing a helmet. ”¦ New Anzac Day jumper for the St. Kilda Saints. “It’s a traditional Maori design, as the Saints will be playing a de facto home match in Wellington, New Zealand, rather than in the Melbourne area,” says Leo Strawn Jr. “There will be more jumpers announced as Anzac Day approaches.”

Comments (87)

    Came here to post Ripken’s 2131st game.

    I think commemorating lifetime achievements like Ripken’s and Aaron’s are more appealing than those for a sudden, single-day feat like Chamberlain’s 100 points. The latter is amazing, sure, but I vastly prefer monuments to diligence and perseverance over a long stretch, creating shared memories for an entire generation of fans.

    Why Bossy? Maurice Richard did 50-in-50 way before him.

    At some point, I could see a patch for Gretzky breaking Howe’s NHL points record – that was a big deal – but maybe as a one-night thing.

    The NY Rangers might as well permanently wear a “1994” patch since it’s the only they can repeatedly celebrate from the last 75 years (this coming from a Rangers fan).

    So… what’s the deal with the weird black & silver spiral covered bowling pin in the background of the cat picture?

    (Yes, that’s the one thing that stuck out for me out of all the content on the site today)

    RE: advertising for products not available on your continent: I don’t know if this counts, but Barclays Bank doesn’t have a location anywhere in the US, and yet their name is on the Brooklyn Nets’ arena. And no, there aren’t any Barclays ATMs in the Barclays Center.

    Barclays does list 14 US locations for their investment banks, and they are now offering credit cards in the US.

    I wouldn’t find it odd at all if Man Utd were to keep the Chevy bowtie on their shirts. At this point, they’re more than just a European brand. They’ve made numerous pre-season trips to North America & Asia in recent years, and seem to have a large following in both places, so why wouldn’t GM want to keep it? Looking at GM’s sales over the past few years, China is now their 2nd largest market for Chevys, having recently surpassed Brazil, and with a far greater amount of room to grow.

    i like the 715 patch. the inclusion of the sleeve feather element from the Atlanta uniform of 1974 is an interesting touch.

    I needed to read the story for the explanation of that element. It’s a good element in theory, I wonder if it could have been executed differently/better.

    It’s the redeeming feature of the patch design for me, though I think it would have been better with royal blue instead of navy, both to set it off more from the navy background and to match the uniform of Aaron’s day.

    I’d love to see the Braves bring the feather back into their uniforms somehow.

    I think the appropriate anniversary marks to celebrate would be at 10 years, 25 years, 50 years, and 100 years (or seasons as well).

    That’s so unlike Germany…. If there’s anything Germany is known for, it’s religious freedom

    “Diversity and tolerance are among the Adidas Group’s core values,” but I guess diversity and tolerance don’t cover religions you don’t agree with.

    “And although this particular achievement set a new record, that record was erased (by Aaron himself, of course) just days later…”

    I don’t like saying that Aaron “erased” his record. Yes, he set a record with 715. But I wouldn’t say that he “broke” it days later. In my opinion, he merely “extended” his record. His 715 is part of his 755 as a singular record.

    Now, if he set a record of hitting 5 home runs in a single game, then the next day hit 6 home runs in a single game, then he would have broken his own record. They’re separate events.

    Details are a bit fuzzy (will have to delve into The Google when I get the chance) but I recall NFL kicker Mark Moseley having a dispute along these lines. IIRC, he had a clause in his contract that gave him a bonus for breaking a consecutive FG or consecutive PAT record. Once he broke the record, he (or his agent) claimed that every subsequent make constituted another breaking of the record, thus entitling him to another bonus.

    Or maybe I just dreamed all this. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t.

    I look at Aaron’s 715 as THE seminal moment in Braves history. Considering the times, the prejudice he faced in the run-up to the record, etc, I think it stands head and shoulders above their World Series Wins as the greatest moment in Braves history.

    716-755 serve as denoument, but 715 is a moment in time.

    …and I also agree with the 40th patch to honor him while he’s still alive. In my book, Aaron is an underappreciated megastar. Kids don’t learn about him like Jackie Robinson, but they should. A true gentleman who excelled to the highest degree in sport, and did so with class and dignity in the face of changing south of the 60’s and 70’s.

    Totally agree. We all know that 755 is the record*. But 715 was The Moment and the record breaker and was significant for myriad reasons. The Braves had that marker in the outfield in the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium marking where he hit 715, not his last one.

    Unfortunately, the stadium he hit his 715th in will be two stadiums ago real soon for the Braves. But that’s a whole other issue.

    Aaron was in DC this past weekend for a couple of events, got to listen to him talk at the Nat’l Portrait Gallery as part of what they called a “Living Self Portrait.” Actually got to shake the man’s hand. Was a little giddy afterwards.

    Most interesting anecdote: up until the mid 60s the smart money was on Willie Mays to break the record, but he started getting hurt while Hank kept “hammerin” away. (I’m sure playing 1/2 his games at Candlestick While Aaron was in Hotlanta didn’t help either.)

    Good point…I remember that. Willie was probably the better all-around player, but Hank was consistent and in the right place to break the record.

    I was doing homework in my upstairs room, had the game on, and wrote down in the front of my dictionary for some reason “Al Downing/Hank Aaron/715/4-8-74” along with the time. He had hit 714 against the Reds a few days earlier when he was in town- signed by Babe Ruth baseball- and that was also the Xenia tornadoes. Big week.

    Interesting that you wrote Downing first…I recall that since it was a foregone conclusion he would break the record, the main intrigues were for the Braves to try to get him to do it at home and even more so, who would be the victim he hit it off. I believe some pitcher even came out with a song “don’t hit it off me” or something like that.

    Not quite a patch for a single event, but after Dwayne Wise’s leaping grab at the wall in the 9th saved Mark Buehrle’s perfect game vs the Rays, the White Sox labeled the spot on the wall with “THE CATCH”

    In the Olympic News section of the ticker is there supposed to be a picture? It has not displayed on my screen since day one, an “x” is present..just wondering.

    The rings are in an svg file format…after googling it, IE seems to have problems with svg. I bet if Paul put the image using a different file format (png, jpeg, bmp, etc.), IE would show it.

    I’m curious whether the inclusion of the feather on the Aaron patch will trigger any discussion of the use of Native American iconography.

    While the name “Braves” and the feather are nowhere near as offensive as “Redskins”, it’s a sensitive subject right now. Don’t know if anyone on this site has noticed that… :-)

    I like Native American iconography in sports, when it’s done with respect rather than rooted in racial tropes. A feather, a tomahawk, an osprey mask – I’m cool with those things. They’re all part of America’s general cultural heritage.

    But things like “Redskins” or Sambo-esque cartoon faces or the idiotic cowboy-movie rhythm of the tomahawk chop, those are all disrespectful and ought to go.

    Just my $0.02, of course.

    I have a feeling that those aren’t the new Man U kits. I don’t think it’s like Nike to use the same exact template for such a big club. Probably just a fan mock-up.

    Plus the fact that they’ve put Cantona on it. If you’re showing a new jersey, you don’t put the name of a player that retired 15 years ago on it.

    It will be interesting to see if Man U keeps the Chevrolet name or moves to a different name. You can still buy Chevrolet brands here in the UK (and other parts of Europe) for a bit longer. One thing that will dictate whether or not they can switch to another name is what is in their contract with GM. Too bad it isn’t filed with their public information…

    I watched the Olympics for about 10 minutes last night & heard this “podium” thing going on. I guess it’s part of the newspeak, like “putting the ball on the ground”, “getting off the field”, “high pointing the football”……

    I’m not so put off by the mention of getting on the podium, etc. What really annoys me is that they call the bobsled/luge runs the “sliding center”. That’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.

    I quite like “sliding centre”. I think there’s a quaint sort of undersell about it. Besides, it seems wholly justified that people would want to find a less cumbersome way of saying “bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track”.

    I don’t have a problem with finding a less cumbersome name, agreed. However, I think sliding center overly undersells the violent (for lack of a better word?) nature and high speeds that take place there.

    “The track.” Not much risk of confusion there, but I guess they get paid by the word with bonuses for mentions of those special words like “podium”.

    But there are a bunch of different tracks. Speed skating, alpine skiing, cross country skiing etc. I’ll grant you, for the most part we could probably do without there being any vacuous halfwits explicating what should be obvious to anyone with half a brain (sure, there are some useful experts in there but the majority is just contrived drama and inane filler) but as long as they are there, I don’t see what problem there should be with a perfectly valid, not cliched and generally useful phrase like “slide centre”.

    My nails on a chalkboard phrase is when they refer to an athlete being “x years of age,” instead of “x years old” or just “x”.

    Interesting that of all the BP jerseys, only the Astros still have the full side panel, rather than the armpits. I assume it’s because they wear these as game jerseys for home Sunday games, plus it’s easier to incorporate the stripes if given more room.

    My batting gloves never had little finger tip thingies that slid on the ice. Maybe that’s why I never used them for speed skating.

    There are gloves made specifically for speed skating. In fact, it is required that they be worn and that they are cut-resistant.

    In reference to the speed skaters wearing batting gloves. It looks like they all have some sort of fingertip covers on their left hands. Obviously these are the fingers they put down in the corners, but what are they? They look custom, as some of the skaters have yellow or bright green colored ones?

    Paul, what’s the problem with the use of the word “podium”? I really have not been listening to the commentary much, but isn’t that what they stand on when receiving their medals? Are they using the word for something else, or just too often? What should they say instead? Just curious about what you are hearing.

    Over and over again:

    “That should be good enough to get him on the podium!”

    “A great performance, but his time is just shy of what he needed to reach the podium.”

    “He’ll definitely be on the podium — the only question is which medal he’ll be receiving.”

    And so on. Over and over and over and over again — it’s become a lazy rhetorical crutch. Enough!

    Thanks for clarifying. Of course, now I’ll be ruined! All I’ll hear is “podium, podium, podium”! Much like I can’t listen to Troy Aikman anymore without cringing every time he says “no question” thanks to Bill Simmons. I was in Toastmasters a number of years ago, and I’m similarly ruined when listening to anyone in an interview or public speech. All I hear is all the “ahhs” and “umms” and “you know”s. Shit!

    At least all those examples are all nouns.

    “It looks like he’s going to podium” = nails on a chalkboard.

    Derek Jeter has announced this is his last season…patch to follow later this year and, I presume, no Yankee will ever wear a single digit again.

    I’m hoping that the Yankees will honor Jeter by retiring reproduction jerseys with NOB. JETER 2 jerseys might be the single worst thing in the world.

    Given the slobbery nature of the Yankees’ disproportionate worship of Jeter, anything less than retiring all numbers divisible by 2, as well as all primes, must be seen as a slap in the face of Jeter’s legacy.

    “Would this patch still have been issued if Bonds had never been tied to steroids, and if he’d been admired instead of reviled?”

    “Have there been other individual achievements that have been commemorated by patches?”

    Yes and yes. The Braves themselves honored this exact individual achievement 15 years ago.

    Of course, it makes it easy for me to remember since this is hanging in my living room :)

    Another reason not wait for 50 (as someone pointed out above) is at least now Aaron can be honored at (basically) the same site at which he hit the HR (ok, across the parking lot), as opposed to across town, when the Braves move up the highway in a few years.

    And as was also mentioned previously, Aaron’s HR record is a huge part of the Braves identity.
    1. The address of Turner Field is 755 Hank Aaron Dr.
    2. The club in the outfield is named the 755 Club. (Delta has taken over sponsorship, so I think the official name is the Delta Sky Club, but if you get a ticket up there, is still says 755 Club printed right on the ticket.)
    3. There is a HUGE image of the 715th HR ball towering over outfield pavilion at Turner Field.

    Especially since the 755th actually happened in Milwaukee (Aaron finishing his career as a Brewer), the 715th becomes the seminal moment of Atlanta Braves history. I’m not at all surprised by this patch. In fact, I’m more surprised they didn’t wear a patch for 30 or 35 years (not that I’m saying they should have).

    I was thinking exactly on the 25th anniversary Aaron patch.
    Patches of team anniversaries are great…events (all-star or world series games), stadiums (opening and closing), celebrations (home runs, milestones, etc) has really muddied it up a bit. Keep it to memorial patches (Musial, Weaver,etc) and 25th-50th-100th anniversaries.

    I think the eBay auction for Seattle-themed jersey might be from one of the teams in the Celebrity Softball Game, when the MLB All-Star Game was in Seattle in 2001. Teams were managed by Harold Reynolds & Kenny Mayne, and I believe were called the Lattes and the Espressos. Can’t find any photos to back up my faded memory, though. :P

    fun observation with the tigers bp jerseys, the home (white) one has the cap old english d, while the away (orange) has the traditional jersey style D

    I think the Hank Aaron 715 patch is outstanding. I especially like the ’70s era Braves feather element that has been incorporated into the design. Those were pretty radical unis. I also have a sentimental attachment, as I grew up a Braves fan and remember my dad calling me from a business trip the night Hank hit 715. The season before we went to Atlanta near the end of the season and I saw him hit #700. It was a magical time.

    Seth Green’s character Eli Sachs was wearing stirrups with his softball uniform in last night’s “Dads”.

    Side note: Martin Mull is a national treasure, right up there with his old Fernwood pal Fred Willard. It’s such a pleasure to see him in a sitcom every week, just as it was a pleasure to see Willard in the Kelsey Grammar sitcom “Back to You” a few years ago.

    I hope that the very well done “Dads” will be coming back for a second season. Unfortunately “Back to You”, which was even better, was axed after only one season.

    Fun little article and comments on (, asking for nominations for the MLB Hall of Interesting, a hypothetical counterpart to the HoF. Players there would not necessarily have career numbers for the big hall, but may be well recognized by fans for different things (Kerry Wood’s 20 strike out game, players with 2 grand slams in one inning, etc.).

    The article and comments are often Cub-focused, but it should be an interesting read for anyone who follows baseball nonetheless!

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