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A Very Merry Vilkmas

Vilk Christmas Montage 550

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By Phil Hecken and Jimmer Vilk

Earlier in the week I chatted with my buddy Jim Vilk (that’s him, above, in various Christmas reposes) who is one of the sweetest, most generous guys you’ll ever get to know, and despite my goofing on him over the years, it’s all in good fun. I swear, he’s my brother from another mother. Jimmer mentioned he was in a particularly jolly mood this holiday season and wondered if I could help him clean the crap out of his basement distribute some of his most cherished and collectible items to the Uni Watch readership — kind of an extra UW raffle, on top of the most generous one Paul runs every year. So, today, we’re going to do just that.

This is going to pretty much work exactly the way Paul’s raffle does, except Jim doesn’t have quite so much to donate (and he’ll cover shipping too!), and the raffle address is going to be MY regular e-mail (good thing I bought that increased storage from g-mail a while back). But other than that, it’s basically the same deal.

I can’t thank Jim enough for his incredible generosity, and I’ll turn the next section over to him now where he’ll describe the particulars and the items. OK? OK! Here’s Jimmer (you can click on the photo[s] below to enlarge):

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Seasons Greetings! Hopefully everyone gets what they want from Paul’s Fan Appreciation raffle. If you don’t, hold on tight because now you have another chance to score. I have stuff to give away from my collection, and I think the best home for these items is here among my fellow Uni Watch readers.

Before I start, let me ask something of you first. If you’re reading this and you normally pass by your local bell ringer, put a buck (or a loonie) in the red kettle for me. If you normally give a buck, put another one in for me. And if you win one of today’s giveaways, give a little something extra to your local food bank for me. Jimmer Claus doesn’t have time to check if you’ve been naughty or nice…we’re on the honor system here. Thank you, and now, let’s see what’s in my bag of goodies.


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1. We begin with my first love, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here’s a canvas reprint of Bill Mazeroski celebrating his 1960 World Series walkoff homer, along with a big Topps card of Willie Stargell and a 2001 pocket schedule from the first year at PNC Park. Stargell Starting Lineup figure is shown for scale…and included. Yinzer gonna love it!


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2. A Major League Baseball sticker set. This came with an ad for some sports magazine. You were supposed to put your favorite team’s sticker on the order form for some reason or another. Anyway, trim off the coded letters or numbers and enjoy the stickers. Great for crafting.


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3. Back in 1982, KMart celebrated its 20th anniversary with this set of baseball cards. They’re replicas of every league MVP’s card from ’62 to ’82, plus a few extras. Sorry, stick of bubble gum not included.



4. On to football with a 1984 Herschel Walker “rookie card.” Yeah, it was his second year, but they didn’t make USFL cards for the ’83 season. They also didn’t make cards for the ’86 season, because Trump. Anyway…



5. A Pittsburgh Maulers souvenir button. Anthony Carter electric football figure shown for scale…and included.



6. Pittsburgh Maulers electric football team. No platooning here…I have a mix of offensive and defensive players, hand painted by yours truly.




7.Relive the 1984 USFL championship on your electric football board with my hand painted Wranglers and Stars teams.



8. Here’s the inaugural set of World League football cards. One of the best things to come out of the ’90s, at least uni-wise.


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9. A 1994 Baltimore CFL (I pause here while you yell “Colts!”) Matchbox truck. Got it at a flea market, so pardon the little dings.


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10. A complete 1991 set of CFL cards
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…en francais! Tres neato, eh?


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11. A CFL magazine celebrating the (now former) all-time passing leader Damon Allen, along with a photo of former Notre Dame and Tiger-Cat kicker Nick Setta.


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12. What may be the last sheet of Cleveland Thunderbolts stationery (scan it and make plenty of copies for future use), along with the only known photo of an Arena Football exhibition at the Richfield Coliseum between the Detroit Drive and the Pittsburgh Gladiators. Actually I took some others, but this is the only one I had developed into a 5×7.


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13. The ABCs of NFL Football book. Lots of cheesy 70s art, most of which should stay in the 70s. But one page has a neat spread,
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with a different take on the teams’ mascots.


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14. Soccer fans, I didn’t forget you. Here’s a poster showing the surprising number of University of Akron players in the pros, along with a team photo of the Cleveland Force 2.0 (formerly the Cleveland Crunch) and Franklin Foer’s bestselling book “How Soccer Explains The World.”


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And finally…

15. A Uni Watch Jackie Robinson Day shirt, size XL. Note the collar is still on, meaning it didn’t get the Jim Vilk treatment. Worn once to try it on, otherwise it’s mint condition.

Well, there you go. We’ll do this like Paul’s giveaway, so I’ll give you back to Phil for more on that. Good luck, and may all of you and all of yours have a peaceful and wonderful season.

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Thanks, Jimmer! How awesome is this??? Incredibly awesome, that’s how. OK, this is very similar to Paul’s raffle so here is how you enter:

1) Send an email to and put in the SUBJECT “Vilkmas Raffle”

2) In the BODY of the email, please indicate (a) your name and shipping address and (b) your top 5 prize choices, in order of preference, by number. If you’re only interested in, say, two or three items, then just list your top two or three choices; if you want to list more than 5, you can do that too, but I don’t really expect anyone to go that far. Jim will do his best to accommodate all the winners’ choices.

3) One email per person. Entry deadline is next Sunday, Dec. 27, 7pm Eastern. The winners will be announced on January 2.


And please, everyone — give Jimmer a nice round of thanks in the comments below. You can also do that Santa bell-ringer thingy (and we hope you do), but you’re on the honor system for that one. Thanks, Jimmer…you’re the best.

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UW Xmas

Uni Watch Holiday Memories…

About a week ago I put out the call for readers to share their “uni-related” Christmas traditions. I thought I’d get a better response, but I did receive some photos and wonderful stories from six of you, which I’ll share below. For any pictures, you can click to enlarge.


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Travis Taylor

Travis Taylor

Travis Taylor

Travis Taylor Travis Taylor Travis Taylor

Good morning from Gorham, Maine!

Happy holidays, Phil. I’ve been reading uni watch for quite some time always look forward to a new article. Just wanted to send you a quick note and some pictures of our family Christmas tree:

It all starts with my mother who is a HUGE patriots fan and has been ever since the early days of the franchise. Every year growing up she would have all kinds of patriots ornaments to place on the tree, which now I have followed suit. I was born in 1985 and thank god I don’t remember the beat down of the pats by the bears in Super Bowl 20. I was very fortunate to be born when I was, because I got to experience the miserable early 90’s of the patriots. Makes me appreciate what they’ve accomplished the last decade or so more special. Now I have two kids of my own, my mothers love of the patriots has spread to our house and tree. I hope you and yours have a merry Christmas and happy new year. Cheers!

Travis Taylor

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Jerry Kulig

Jerry Kulig


We always put the Cubs ornament above the Cardinal (even though they’d rarely finish that way in the season.). This year’s placement shown…

(Mom grew up in a north side orphanage, near Wrigley, and remembered when the Cubs hit the Series Three times – 1932,1935,1938. Still waiting for my turn)

Jerry Kulig
Director of Sales

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Ben Traxel

Ben Traxel

Hey Phil,

Haven’t corresponded in a while. I hope all is well up your way. Here is my addition to the uni Christmas décor. My wife puts it up every year, of course it is relegated to the basement. Nothing big other than it is our alma mater. Headed to the Liberty Bowl in a few weeks. Go Cats!

Take care,

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John Gworek

John Gworek

John Gworek John Gworek

John Gworek John Gworek John Gworek

John Gworek John Gworek

John Gworek John Gworek John Gworek


I have all kinds of Buffalo sports ornaments, but I think these others are far more interesting: When I was a baby/toddler, my grandmother put Christmas ornaments on all my gifts, sort of like a bow … many of them have survived and I still use them.

The boxing gloves and a couple cars are from my first Christmas when I was just a month old in 1970 … I have a couple from 1971 but they are animals, not sports-centric … but in 1972 she found some cool sports guys – baseball, football and bowling …

Last year we got a hockey guy and a baseball guy for my son, who is 7 and plays those sports … hopefully he will still be using all these in 35 or 40 years.

Happy holidays!


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Arthur Savokinas

Arthur Savokinas

Arthur Savokinas

Arthur Savokinas


I am a school principal and in 2008 one of my teachers attended the Pennsylvania Society where they were honoring Daniel Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers. All people in attendance at the event received this neat Steelers ornament which I treasure and put on my Steelers holiday tree. Attached are the pictures of the ornament (front and back) and the ornament on the tree. Have a great holiday. Keep up the great work on Uni Watch.

Arthur J. Savokinas
Primary Center Principal

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Jonathan Hubbs

Jonathan Hubbs

Jonathan Hubbs

Hello sir,

Here are a couple of uni – related Christmas items. I have an old Joe Montana ornament and my St. Louis Cardinals stocking from the mid 90s.

I hope they help.

– Jonathan Hubbs

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And there you have it — a sampling of some uni-related holiday cheer from the Uni Watch family.

Thanks, guys — this was great!

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Uni Watch News Ticker

Baseball News: Yesterday was Detroit Slugger Al Kaline’s 81st birthday. Bruce Menard tweeted this playing card of Kaline showing a green “D” for the Tigers’ cap. Obviously, they never wore a cap with a green D, but it’s still jarring to see, even on a baseball card.

NFL News: The Buffalo Bills will be wearing all white uniforms in their game today versus the Washington Football team in D.C. (via Buffalo Bills). … “Saw beauty this on Antiques Roadshow, managed to get a screen shot,” writes Stephen Volkman. “Sam Huff, of the George Preston Marshalls. I didn’t get a pic of the tag, but it was Sand-Knit, from Berlin, WI. The appraiser told the woman to insure for $30,000. Previous auctions yielded $39,000. That would be one polyester shirt I would like.” … Jersey rip in last night’s Jets/Cowboys game (via Jared Sloan).

BOWL ROUNDUP: The New Mexico Bowl had New Mexico in gray/red/white & Arizona in white/white/red. … The Las Vegas Bowl was a color vs. color affair. … The Camellia Bowl featured a mono-black App State vs. mono-white Ohio. … The Cure Bowl had a white/white/blue Georgia State vs. a blue/blue/gold San Jose State. … And the New Orleans Bowl featured a white/blue/white La Tech vs. red/white/red Ark State.

College Football News: “One of my colleagues brought this into the office this week: it’s a jacket patch for the university prep school associated with Ohio State University, ca. 1930s,” says David Barndollar. “I love the ‘O’ doubling as the border for the whole patch. This was my colleague’s grandfather’s patch, still in great condition (felt, I believe, is the material).” … Here’s the jersey Notre Dame will wear in the Fiesta Bowl against THE Ohio State University (thanks to Warren Junium). In an interesting switch, they’ll be NNOB. Traditionally, ND goes NNOB during the season, but as a reward for reaching a bowl, they add Names. Not this time around — here’s why. … Here’s a look at Louisiana Tech’s uniform for yesterday’s New Orleans Bowl (h/t House of Uniforms). … We’ve seen these before, but here’s a look at the MSU jerseys for the “Bastard” Cotton Bowl. … Yesterday’s first bowl (“New Mexico Bowl”) between New Mexico and Arizona was actually the renewal of a really old rivalry. Here’s more on that. … North Carolina will be wearing all white uniforms for the Russell Athletic Bowl against Baylor (h/t James Gilbert). … As Interstate44 points out, BYU wasn’t interested in trimming the tape that covers the opening in the Speed Flex helmets. … Really Pale Guy asks, “are those zip ties instead of the normal clips?” on the Ohio Bobcats’ helmets. … Looks like one of the coaches for last night’s Ark State game was wearing an ugly x-mas sweater (nice spot by Perry Huff). … “We all know LA Tech has a tough time with numbers…but this is brutal,” says Patrick Thomas). … Yeah, there were a lot of problems with La Tech’s unis. A LOT. And, now they’re gone. Poor guy set a touchdown record without front numbers. Yeah, I think you’re gonna need a bigger boat. Dixon would later end up wearing a #1 “blood jersey” — they took his nameplate from the “destroyed” jersey and affixed it to the #1 jersey. Perhaps they should hire Wafflebored!

Hockey News: “I was looking through some pictures I took at a hockey game many years ago and was reminded that I had a pic of a Minnesota North Stars prototype jersey, or at least an advertisement that appears to be a prototype,” says John Hixon. He goes on to explain: “The game took place in the 89-90 NHL season, featured the Minnesota North Stars hosting the Winnipeg Jets and also featured an autograph session on the lower level after the game. It was behind the players sitting at the table that two large cardboard pictures of players wearing the ‘prototype’ sweater were placed. The players signing were Mike Modano (rookie year), Bobby Smith, Stewart Gavin and Shawn Chambers — Modano and Smith appear in the picture. The jersey is interesting to me for two main reasons: the appearance on the sleeves of the new Stars (minus ‘North’) logo that the team was already beginning to put on the ice surface (causing suspicious thoughts to run through the minds of diehard fans), and the design of a black jersey with the classic North Stars logo (something that never ended up happening).” … Dustin Semore writes, “Love my Predators hate the digicamom at least it’s green. I also think the players name on the front where soldiers’ name goes.”

Basketball News: Yesterday, for the first time in their history, the UNC Tar Heels wore BFBS unis. They didn’t look bad, as far as, ya know, BFBS unis go. … Cool display showing some of the jerseys in the Washington Wizards/Bullets/Baltimore Bullets history (h/t Robert Hayes). … Here’s an interesting Lakers jersey (Front and back, from MJ Son).

Soccer News: Hey soccer football fans, do you want to vote on the new Queens Park Rangers Club Crest? You’ve got four choices. Details and more here (thanks to Tim Cross).

Grab Bag: Here’s a pretty interesting article from Business Insider (a good magazine/website to read/follow, btw) on the evolution of the United States Army uniforms over the USA’s 240 year history. … Some racing items from David Firestone: 2015 Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 1-Chevy, Part 2-Ford, and Part 3-Toyota. … The New England Black Wolves (a lax squad) wore these jerseys last night (those are the jerseys of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a hockey team), since they were playing in a hockey arena. From Thom D.. … Starting in January, there will be only one N that represents the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Iron N. (thanks to Jason Johnson). … Chris Gayle used a golden colored bat in the Australian T20 Big Bash match for the Melbourne Renegades against the Brisbane Heat (from Graham Clayton).

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And that, dear readers, is my final post before Christmas. So, a bit early — to all those of you who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas. I’ll be back on Boxing Day, so everyone have a great holiday week and a swell Christmas. And to those of you who are celebrating Festivus: I got a lot of problems with you people! And on Wednesday you’re gonna hear about it!

Huge thanks to Jimmer Vilk for his great generosity of spirit. Also big thanks to all those who shared their holiday ornaments and stories. Wish we could have had more, but I’m sure there are many more uni watchers out there who are just as festive.

I want to thank each and every reader and everyone who tweets at me as well. You guys are the best. And of course, my greatest thanks of all go to Paul, who provides us with the wonderful vehicle in which we can share our uni related obsessions. A better friend and “boss” (and I use that in the loosest and nicest of ways) there is not. Thanks for being our leader and for all you do for everyone, especially me. And thanks for being my friend all these years.

Merry Christmas, Joyous Festivus and Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice Day, or whatever it is you celebrate (or don’t) — well, enjoy that too!


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“Akron (oh look, another three-striper!) should be demoted to the NAIA for wearing that…stuff. I can’t even think of a derogatory term fitting enough for the Zippers.”

— Jakob Wolf

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Comments (41)

    Such awesome ornaments! My favorite sports ornament has to be my Civic Arena ornament, made from the roof of the dearly departed arena. It’s Penguins branded (and I’m not a Pens fan) but, I have so many awesome memories in there. It’s one of my most cherished sports items in general.

    I’m a Pittsburgh fan in other sports (Panthers, Pirates) and my family are all Pittsburgh fans in all sports so yearly I have been buying my father these from the collection. I hit the sad mark of now buying everything in the collection he would want/need. I even ordered myself a few of them since when I was still a hockey fan I was also a Pens fan. I miss the Igloo but being 6’2 & 205 pounds it was not a very fun place for me to watch anything at. The new Civic Arena is much more comfortable.

    On that 1956 Topps Al Kaline card, I guess when I edited the image, the “D” turned greenish. I really didn’t notice it until Phil and some other folks on Twitter mentioned it – here’s a corrected version I just tweeted: link

    TBH I’m not the biggest fan of this new layout with the first paragraph and then ‘continue reading.’ Might just be me though.

    TBH, I’m not either, but (at least in theory) it speeds loading times for the front page.

    Hhhmmmm…. I saw it like it always was on mobile and on the home Mac. Was it (hopefully) changed back or should I just never want to flush/reset everything so the changes never show up. I sort of like it the way it was as well. Then again when it comes to web site changes I’m a traditionalist. I still flip off the “new” separated ticker.

    I don’t know why Arizona chose to wear only red and white, when they know that those are colors of their opponent. Why didn’t they wear blue helmets and/or pants to create more contrast and distinction? Looking back at Phil’s post yesterday, it appears that this is the first time this season they’ve gone white/white/red. I think the blue/white/blue would’ve been a better choice.

    So… at the beginning of the season when we only knew that some Thursday games might be color vs color, we all wondered how they’d deal with the black vs purple of the Steelers/Ravens game. Now we know.

    I could see the Ravens getting purple pants and the Stillers getting a gold jersey for that one. Don’t think this is necessarily a trial run for the Color Rash for the Ravens.

    I think it looks pretty good on the field. It might look slightly better with purple socks instead of black, but this is a good look for them.

    I’d rather see them go black jersey/purple pants or standard purple over white. These don’t look bad but my first thought was “why did they steal the Steelers pants?”.
    And I know the players like them but the Chiefs REALLY need to go back to only wearing the red pants on the road and never wear white over white on the road ever again.

    I can give KC a pass because they at least have the red socks to go with the white over white. when they wore the white socks and white cleats with the white-white, they disturbingly looked like mummies.

    They were terrible in person, and a total shock. If they wanted to go with gold pants like the 9ers or Saints that would go with the metallic gold in the logo.

    They looked terrible on TV. I can just imagine the shock of seeing them in person. Especially if you weren’t prepared beforehand for it. It was not a very good looking shade of yellow.

    Cheers to Vilk for sharing his collection with us via a Raffle!

    Jeers to UNC for doing BFBS.

    here is the warmup top that god intended they wear

    and this is the uniform they should sport

    Coincidence that today’s post is features the Jimmer and that yesterday’s bowl games could very well be the 5 of a bowl season 5 &1. An absolute gorgeous uni line up yesterday.

    End of hockey section typo – “digicamom.” Wondered if that was slang for a Uni Treatment or Alteration by Mommy…

    Re: LaTech player – thank you Mom for teaching me how to sew!

    from the ‘one “N” for UNL’ story:

    “Despite the move to the Iron N, Smith noted that the narrower, “stick N” on Husker football helmets will not change.
    “The helmet is an icon that needs no improvement,” Smith said.”

    To which I say “Amen!”

    I worked at Kmart from 10-14. I have a few cards from a long time ago (born in 91) somewhere and I can’t believe they missed a fabulous opportunity.

    Early Happy Festivus, Phil!! I’m betting you’ll be able to fill a whole day’s blog just on my likes/dislikes! Go ahead and fire away. I’m a big boy. I can handle it. It always makes me chuckle.

    Hah! And a Happy Early Festivus to you too!

    It’s funny — you, THE (although we do agree on some things when there is a disturbance in the Force) and a couple other readers either deliberately (which I doubt) or coincidentally (which I believe) will, WITHOUT FAIL, hate a uniform I like and like a uniform I hate. Like clockwork. Today’s Ravens pants are just one example. I love the color AND the fact that they’re not a shiny, sheeny shitty pair of pants.

    It’s funny how two people who have such divergent tastes can all enjoy this one fantastic website, and converse in a (mostly) adult and civilized manner.

    It’s all good though, since about 99.9% of what we disagree on is simply matter of opinion. The other .1% you’re just wrong on ;-).

    But I do love those Raven pants. I hope they wear those with their black tops the next time the Stillers come to Maryland.

    Haha. I can say with confidence I don’t even need to read the days postings to know what stuff I will like or dislike for that day. All I need to do is check the comments or see who on here likes or hates something to know what my opinion of it will probably be.
    We do disagree on the Ravens pants. I do wish they were made from the older shiny material or a color a bit more flattering to them. But we do agree that it would be a great thing to see them wear them next year with the black jersey when they play Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t even be upset seeing them wear them with the white jersey when they go TO Pittsburgh next year as well.

    Jim, not sure how you can part with those, but thanks. Being an old USFL fan and WLAF Sacramento Surge fan, those are some nice gifts to give. Merry Christmas !!!!

    Reading this a day late due to being out of town…

    Housekeeping issue: There is an NCAA logo next to the soccer entry in the ticker.

Comments are closed.