Skip to content

Steeling The Show

Steelers helmet1 - Leo -- 550

By Phil Hecken

Uni Watch readers should be familiar with the name Leo Strawn, Jr., for his many ‘unique’ submissions to the ticker — which are usually placed in the “Grab Bag” category — since they mostly entail non-U.S. (and non-major) sports. I also featured Leo in a recent column detailing his fantastic “Thank You” cards, and Paul featured his photos from Wrigley Field’s 100th Birthday.

Leo, as it turns out, is also a DIY-er. I’m sure he has much more in store than what you’re about to see today, but I’ll turn the rest of this lede over to Leo, who has undertaken a project to create a pretty nifty Steelers helmet. So, here he is with his …

. . .

Steelers DIY Project
By Leo Strawn, Jr.

I’ve had this idea for a Steelers helmet since I was a kid. And I’ve always understood the history and meaning attached to the Pittsburgh Steelers logo, as described on the team’s website. Nevertheless, it always bugged me that there are red and blue diamonds (hypocycloids) but no red or blue anywhere else on their iconic uniforms. I always thought one of two things should be done; additions of red and blue to the trim (tastefully placed) on the uniforms or (preferably) eliminate those two colors from the only place they appear which is the helmet logo.

So, I stumbled across this helmet last year, ideally suited for a quick transformation into the helmet I envisioned for the Steelers many years ago (click on this, or any images, to enlarge):

Steelers helmet2 - Leo

I didn’t intend to create a “perfect” helmet because I had tried this first on another shell, trying to re-create a Breakers helmet, and the results were less than stellar.

This helmet had been game worn (or at least practice worn, not by any Steelers, of course), and I wanted to leave the marks in the helmet to give it personality.

Steelers helmet3 - Leo

The Steelers had a rough-and-tumble image throughout their heyday (which is when I had developed this idea, during the ”˜70s) and the helmet being banged up a bit seemed to logically portray that image. So, there was really no repair work to be done. The ear pads were missing, and that was fine by me since I wouldn’t suggest anyone actually wear this and try to play in it; this is for display only. Once having disassembled the helmet I put a black spray on top of the existing shell to eliminate distracting white scuff marks. The facemask was already yellow, and pretty close to the color I was using, but I sprayed it anyway.

After the shell was dry, I masked the diamond shape. I decided there was no reason to change the tradition of using just the right side of the helmet for the logo design.

Steelers helmet4 - Leo

I had a sign maker cut the stencil font lettering out of self-adhesive vinyl. (I had him cut two sets in case I damaged one or more of the letters.) I then pulled up pieces of the letters with the tip of an X-acto, placing them, lifting, re-spacing and replacing them, over and over, until I had the spacing and placement I wanted and which fit with the size of the diamond as well as the curvature of the shell. Once they were in place, I masked the rest of the helmet, inside and out, and sprayed the diamond.


I have no indoor spraying facilities so I was slowed way down by winter. This then added another dimension to the helmet, literally. The spray must be slow and light, not heavy and fast (which would cause drips, of course), and by trying to accomplish this over the course of winter I had lots of time to think about the design. I decided I wanted to keep layering the paint, little-by-little, slowly building up the layers (something I would never have thought of had I been spraying this over the course of a couple of days in summer). I sprayed whenever we got a decent enough day, then put the helmet up for the next opportunity. Once I was satisfied, I cut the outside of the letters with an X-acto knife, carefully, to separate the paint from the mask without cutting too deep and damaging the shell, and I pulled up the lettering, which left a rough design.

Steelers helmet5 - Leo

I then touched up the paint and edges as best I could, and this was the result. The paint is about 1/64” to 1/32” deep, creating a shadow and a cool 3D look.

Steelers helmet6 - Leo

As you can see up close, the edges are rough in spots but I think that works well with the rough Steeler image.

Steelers helmet7 - Leo

The final steps were to spray a clear coat over the entire shell and reassemble the helmet. Here are several photos of the finished product. From a distance, it looks pretty nice overall, I think.

. . . . .

Thanks, Leo! Nice job with that. Thanks for sharing your project and experience with us!

On a side note — I can attest (as can any of you who’ve tried) to the difficulties of trying to paint (especially spray paint) anything when the temperature is below a certain degree. When I was maybe 12 or 13, my pop bought me a blank plastic hockey mask (I was into roller hockey at the time — and we’re talking around 1979-ish, so we’re talking this kind of roller hockey). Anyway, I was so excited to try to paint my mask like a real goalie, I attempted to spray paint it in sub-freezing temps. Needless to say, it was a huge fail. So, kudos to Leo for overcoming time and temp in this project!

And, as an added bonus — if you’re interested in purchasing the helmet, Leo has offered it up for sale on eBay. So, if you’re interested, you know what to do!

Green Line

all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks Concepts

We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.

So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.

Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.

Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.

And so, lets begin:


First up today is Hiatt Werling, with a fun jersey submission:

Rainbow Apple Tequila Sunrise - Hyatt Werling

Hello Phil,

I enjoyed the article about what Apple employees wear that ran on April 14th, and I especially liked the shirt that was inspired by the old rainbow Apple logo, and it got me to thinking, what if Apple employees wore a Tequila Sunrise-type uniform inspired by that same logo?

Hiatt Werling

. . .

Next up is Marc Hammill with a new concept for the Toronto Basketball team:

Toronto Basketball Rebrand - Marc Hammill


Last (month) you made reference to the Raptors video where there was a brief shot of a wolf and how this could be a hint at the re-branding the Raptors have been discussing. I came up with a uniform concept for the Raptors (maybe Huskies) which is simple. I went with an ivory and blue home jersey and blue and white for road jersey (in keeping with Toronto’s blue and white color scheme for their sports teams). Are there any basketball teams that have an ivory (off white) jersey?

Anyways, here’s the concept. Would like your thoughts.


. . .

And we close today with Clint Glaze who has a reworking of the San Diego Padres:

Bring Back Brown - Clint Glaze


Here is my submission to the “Bring Back the Brown” movement: a very tasteful implementation of the Padres’ classic brown and yellow based on their current logo set and uniform design. Also shown is the historical inspiration for each design.

Clint Glaze

. . .

And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.

Green Line

Uni Watch News Ticker:

Baseball News: Reader Eric Baugh was impressed with “my fellow Astro fan, and good friend Clayton Waddell’s ‘Stros hat collection.” So Eric sent in a photo of his own. “Note the difference in logo thickness between the top two (left to right) from the same era,” he adds. … In yesterday’s comments, it was noted during NCAA softball Thursday night one of the pitchers wearing what could best be described as a modified catcher mask as she pitched (thanks to “Too Tall” Paul Deaver for the link). Yesterday, against Baylor, she was again wearing the device. … “Picked up a t-shirt with this retro looking mascot on it at the Royals clubhouse store,” says Mark Shipman. “Clerks knew nothing about it. I thought it was from the ’70’s but can’t find anything about it on the net. Any ideas?” [Side note: I posed this question to Todd Radom and Chris Creamer — Todd isn’t sure and I didn’t hear back from Chris — PH] … Check out this photo from the home opener this past Wednesday of the Eau Claire Express (Northwoods League, summer collegiate baseball). Submitter Lukas Hoffland notes that (besides the awesome striped stirrups and the new white-paneled cap) the catcher (Brent Gibbs) is wearing his Indiana University helmet for catching (and he did wear it during the game). … Here’s an Eric Hinske number font mistake, spotted by Bob Gassel, who writes, “I just noticed the Cubs first base coach has the wrong number font on the back of his jersey – that font is what’s used on their alt grays.” … On Friday might, the Toledo Mud Hens wore their Ghostbusters uniforms (h/t Jamal Wilburg). Yesterday, the Hens introduced Spiderman jerseys they’ll wear on June 28 (via @Chwinam). … @j_tasca thinks he knows where the Mud Hens got the idea. … The new FSU logo is now on softball helmets as a front decal (nice spot by Kyle Wooster). … On Friday night, the Peoria Chiefs wore tie dye jerseys, the same color as Jim Vilk’s vomit after he sees those (sent in by Bryce Starkey). There’s actually video proof of this event. … Louisville baseball got some new unis for their regional; they wore the red version yesterday against Kansas, all of whom wore stirrups, and perfectly bloused pants (h/t Coleman Mullins for the tip). … In yesterday’s Mets/Phils game, Dice-K went low-cuffed and wore an orange undershirt (a la David Wright) (thanks Paul). “Haven’t seen his last few appearances,” says Paul, “so I’m not sure he’s done either of these things before, but they’re both new to me.” … Also yesterday, the White Sox wore their “batterman” caps with their throwbacks — have they worn those yet this year? … Here’s a cool look at how the Diamondbacks get the “A” on the pitching mound (from Adam Vitcavage).

NFL News: The newest NFL rookies were out in their new gear for the first time yesterday. Here’s some video of the event, some more photos of rooks, and there’s even a shot of #1 pick, Jadeveon Clwoney in his Texans gear. … David Arnold asks, “are the numbers on @JManziel2’s shoulder pads facing the wrong direction?”

College Football News: Looks like Michigan State has a new white jersey for the 2014 season (great find by @SpartanJerseys). Also spotted on MSU dummies was an all-green number and what looks like a past Pro Combat version. Wonder if they’ll bring that back for the fall.

Hockey News: The New York Rangers will wear the Stanley Cup Finals patch on their left shoulder this year (thanks to Matt Harris). Not entirely sure why, but they did the same thing in 1994, so maybe it’s a superstition/tradition thing.

Soccer News: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Even better for World Cup kit history this site shows the kit worn in each game (big thanks to George Chilvers for sending us all down a rabbit hole). Vann Holden writes, “West Ham United are set to reveal their new away kit on June 5. In anticipation of the kit reveal, they launched a scavenger hunt, leaving flyers with partial images of the new kit in the club’s stores. They also created a hashtag, #awayreveal, for fans to share the flyers, mock-ups of the shirt, and their thoughts. The announcement of the flyers can be found here. All three flyers can be found in this link.”

College Hoops News: Point Guard U is reporting (on Facebook, according to submitter Michael Wach) that the University Of Arizona will no longer sell jerseys with player numbers but instead the numbers will be the year. “So this year the basketball jersey will be number 15 and next year 16 and so on.”

Grab Bag: Apropos of the “Rising Sun” flag discussion we had in the comments the other day, check out this wacky backstop in Denver Gregg‘s neighborhood. “No one was around to ask about it though,” says Gregg. “Wonder if anyone else has seen such a thing.” … Our Aussie rules football guru Leo Strawn, Jr. sends along this clip from Cheers where George actually mentions Australian Rules Football. … Here’s an article from the Columbus Dispatch on how golfers pick their clothes (or have them picked for them). Nice find by Darrell Dawson.

Green Line

And that’s going to do it for this first Sunday in June. Heat vs. Spurs in the NBA Finals, Rangers (one O6 team) in, with the Blackhawks & Kings playing Game 7 tonight. If the ‘hawks win, that’s going to be an OUTSTANDING looking final, uni-wise, and Spurs/Heat ain’t too shabby either. Even if you’re not a hockey fan, you might want to tune in tonight (8:00 EDT/7:00 CDT, NBCSN or CBC).

I’ll be working off-site for a good portion of the day, so everyone play nice! I’ll be back next weekend with more stuff. Thanks to Leo for the wonderful DIY project he shared, and to the concepters as well.

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.


.. … ..

“There’s one big difference between MLB teams wearing uniforms with camouflage print and Negro League throwbacks. The Negro League uniforms don’t suck.”

More on Uni Watch
Comments (43)

    Great work on the DIY helmet! I’ve been making them for a couple of years now, but haven’t painted one with multiple colors like yours. Well done.

    I’d imagine the Rangers are putting the Stanley Cup Final patch on the shoulder because the upper-right chest of the jersey already has an “R” occupying that space and the 3 alt captains have an “A” in the upper-left of theirs so putting an extra patch next to them would look terrible.

    The Rangers did have the NHL 75th patch in the usual place in 1992, and link. So for the Stanley Cup Centennial in 1992-93, they link.

    The Stanley Cup Championship patch then appeared on the <a href="link;left shoulder in 1994, while the Rangers’ 75th anniversary patch was link.

    That “Apple” jersey brought back memories of the uniforms worn by a women’s professional softball team in the late 1970s. The San Jose Rainbows played in a short-lived league that included Buffalo and St. Louis. The uniforms weren’t “Tequila Sunrise” but did have the rainbow trim on the sleeve ends, the neck and on the waistband. The whole package looked pretty sharp. The uniforms were manufactured by a company in Knoxville called “Ladies First.” The company made the unifors for Pat Head Summitt’s Lady Vols for a couple of years.

    The softball defender’s mask is a common piece of equipment at the youth level. 10U teams in our area (DFW) typically have 2-3 girls who wear these. They are usually worn by infielders. All of the sporting goods stores carry them:


    Most girls quit wearing them by the time they are playing high school ball. It is very unusual to see one at the college level.

    I think the trend will be to see more of this as it seems they are becoming more popular at the lower levels.

    That little guy was an unofficial mascot of the Royals in the late 70’s. He was never a costumed mascot but he appeared in print media for the team. I assume he was supposed to be KC’s answer to Mr. Redlegs or Mr. Met. link

    Good find! I have to say that the seams on his face make the logo look a bit clunkier.

    Yes, first time wearing the batterman cap for the White Sox. Theyve worn the 83 alts on Saturday and Sunday home games this year, and only the black alts twice so far.

    They’ve definitely worn the black alts more than twice. They wore them for all three games in KC last week or the week before.

    They just haven’t worn them at home at all.

    Also, the ’83 fauxbacks have been worn for at least one mid-week game. They’ve also worn the regular pins for weekend games.

    Also, note that the batting helmets on Saturday were the “normal” alts, link instead of the batterman.

    And on Sunday they wore link.

    Marc Hammill’s concept for Toronto NBA is awesome! I have always HATED the Raptors’ name and logos (Hollywood cash-ins are so 1990’s, and I hated them even back then). The simple but elegant blue and ivory designs fit wonderfully with T.O. sporting traditions. Well done, Marc!

    Interesting take on a Steelers helmet, I have a radical concept which has has both a Boise State and Jacksonville Bulls influence.

    The helmet would be black with gray facemask with the three yellow, red, and blue hypocycloids enlarged on each side of the helmet. The alignment of the hypocycloids would be the same on both sides, allowing two hypocycloids pointed towards the back of the helmet.

    This design would allow a gap in the back of the helmet, which would have the placement in white, of the team nickname.

    that sounds cool…i loved the old usfl bulls (which is why i like the seahawks new helmets too)…the back of the helmets are nearly always ignored by designers!

    The catcher wearing the Indiana helmet is odd. He obviously plays for Indiana, which is currently in the middle of hosting a regional in the NCAA tournament. Why would the player not be with his team in the postseason?

    I was thinking the same thing when I saw the helmet, but according to the press release when he was signed, he hadn’t played with the Hoosiers this season (he’s a freshman), so IU probably figured it’s better to give him playing time in summer collegiate ball instead of riding the bench in the playoffs. Almost like a minor league for college baseball.


    The “modified catchers mask” is actually a very common piece of protective equipment worn during girls softball games. Go to any high school game and you will see almost every player wearing one. Go to your local sporting goods store and you can purchase one.

    I don’t like Louisville’s new white baseball jerseys with the sublimated diagonal “L” across the front. But I don’t mind the red version. The sublimation is subtler on the red jerseys and doesn’t overpower the rest of the design elements. I’m almost surprised at myself for liking them!

    I was 12 or 13 when I decided I was capable of updating my Padres souvenir helmet, after they switched from brown/gold to brown/orange. I meticulously found the right shade of spray paint… and ruined what would now be a collector’s item. Hand-painting the SD didn’t help. I left the rest of my outdated helmets alone and replaced them as teams changed designs. I now have a decent collection of ’80s helmets and one disaster.

    Question of the day:

    I’m interested in why NHL teams wear white jerseys on the road. At one time, they wore white at home, then switched to white on the road, then switched back, then switched back again. What gives?

    Anyone know the answer?

    Since most teams’ alts are colored, and teams want to show them to the home crowd who are most likely to buy them, it’s easier to just tell visitors to bring their white sweaters.

    I’m not 100% certain on why they switched from color at home to white at home, but I believe it was done at the time of expansion. Some teams pre WWII (Rangers for example) only had one sweater, and it was dark, and there were color vs. color games. By 51 (I think) each of the O6 teams had a white sweater, but pretty much always wore dark at home. I’m not sure how many games were televised in the 50s-60s, but I’d imagine every team went to dark vs white at that time because of tv coverage (like the NFL did in 1957 [I think]).

    The current dark (color) at home allows teams to introduce a third jersey, which allows for more merch sales. Not saying the color at home is entirely due to merchandising, but I’m sure it’s due in no small part to it.

    I’m the one who made the Apple Tequila Sunrise jersey. I’m very happy to be featured in the Uni Tweaks section again, but I have to say, sometimes it seems like Phil goes out of his way to spell my name wrong (it’s Hiatt with an I).

    Oh, shit — sorry — I’ll make the correction now! Not sure what mental block I have that causes me to do that.

    Not a problem Phil, and I appreciate the correction. I actually get that all the time, because when people hear “Hiatt,” they think of the Hyatt Hotels. But as it happens, I’m actually named after singer-songwriter John Hiatt. Thanks again!

    “But as it happens, I’m actually named after singer-songwriter John Hiatt.”

    Cool. Love his music!

    Bridgeport Bluefish in autism awareness uniforms today:


    New Britain Rock Cats in jack o’ lantern uniforms Saturday night (with “BOO” as the NOB for all players):


    Anybody watching bits and pieces of the Arkansas/Virginia game right now? Wonderful uni-matchup going on right now. Arkansas in cream unis with striped stirrups and Virginia in simple grey uniforms with some sort of artificial flannel pattern (the same thing that Under Armour did for Mizzou some years back).

    Much to my chagrin, GI Joe look is now showing up on the golf course. Golf Digest even has an article on it on their website and I saw several guys in the GI Joe polo shirts on the course this weekend. When will this trend die?

    Pitchers wearing masks in softball is required in many girl youth leagues and high school and not unusual in the NCAA

    I pointed out the Hinske jersey issue in the comments a couple weeks ago. I speculated he might have had the wrong jersey on but I had no screen caps.

    His Name is Mr. Royal, he also was on a lunch box give away a few years back.

Comments are closed.