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Uni(tard) Watch: Hawkeye Edition

When I recently wrote about Oklahoma State basketball’s 1989 unitards, I mentioned that reader Dave R. had said he remembered seeing Iowa wear unitards, but that I had checked with Iowa and they said, “No, we never wore anything like that.”

That might have been the end of that. Fortunately, two Uni Watch readers have come to the rescue. Let’s start with this:

That’s reader Mike Franzman. He’s wearing an Iowa unitard that he picked up at a Goodwill in Iowa City about 15 years ago. Since the uniform was presumably produced in 1989 (the same year NC State and Oklahoma State wore their unitards), that means the uniform knocked around for about a decade before Mike found it at that Goodwill.

Here’s a look at the uniform by itself:

The NOB refers to Brigg Tubbs, who played for Iowa in the late 1980s. You can see him in this team portrait — back row, fourth from the right, wearing No. 43.

And that’s not all. Another reader, Michael Homan, came up with this:

Michael explains the story behind this one:

A friend of my dad’s, Jerry Strom, used to be the Iowa Director of Basketball. He would help us out with tickets, autographs, and occasional gear. When I was in high school, we were at the Amana Hawkeye Classic (an old-school early-season, Iowa-hosted four-team cupcake tournament). I believe Jerry hooked us up with the unitards at that point.

This one was made for Michael Ingram, who currently coaches an AAU team.

So the Iowa unitards definitely existed. But were they ever worn?

The answer is sort of yes, but mostly no.

I recently spoke with former Iowa players Brigg Tubbs (yes, the player whose unitard ended up at the Goodwill) and Wade Lookingbill. Both very nice guys, and both still live in Iowa. Tubbs works at a bank, Lookingbill as a pharmaceutical rep.

They both remembered the unitards and were rather amused to be talking about them again after all these years. Although their memories were a little fuzzy, they agreed on the following points:

•  The unitards were supposed to be worn for a game in Nevada against UNLV. The game was part of a package of games being promoted as “the Duel in the Desert.” Several or perhaps all of the schools involved were outfitted by Nike, and some of those other schools may have been supplied with unitards as well.

•  The Iowa players definitely wore the unitards for at least one practice, and probably for two.

•  The players didn’t like the fit of the unitards, and also didn’t like how the form-fitting fabric didn’t leave much to the imagination in the crotch area. Many or perhaps all players ended up wearing shorts over the unitards.

•  The players decided they couldn’t wear the unitards in a game, and coach Tom Davis (who apparently never liked the unitards to begin with) gladly backed them up. So these uniforms were only worn in practice, never in a game.

And there you have it. Major thanks to Mike Franzman and Michael Homan for sharing these items from their collection and adding a piece to this puzzle.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that I now have solid info on yet another school having worn the unitards around this same time. I’ll tell you about that one in an upcoming post, probably later this week.

• • • • •

Click images to enlarge

Completely, totally, 100% awesome: I’m pretty sure most Uni Watch readers like specificity-driven classification systems. Many of you also like interesting visual projects. Those two things come together in the most spectacular way imaginable in Dear Data, an absolutely amazing project involving two information-visualization artists who traded data-illustrated postcards with each other for 52 weeks (like the one above about one of the participants’ cell phone use). Super-impressive, super-inspiring, simultaneously geeky and artistic — Uni Watch’s highest rating! Not to be missed.

(Big thanks to the Tugboat Captain for tipping me off to this one.)

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Marlins SS Adeiny Hechavarria wore the team’s BP cap yesterday (from Richard Paloma). ”¦ Cross-sport move in Toledo, as the Mud Hens wore Toledo Walleye-themed jerseys (from @therms1999). ”¦ The Braves announced back in February that they’d be wearing a memorial patch this year for longtime coach Bobby Dews. The first weird thing is that they haven’t worn it; the second weird thing is that their Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Braves, has worn it. ”¦ Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig’s helmet logo broke again yesterday, although they quickly got it fixed. Meanwhile, Puig switched from high-cuffed to pajama-pantsed in the space of a few innings. ”¦ Cleveland P Bryan Shaw apparently wears one of those Qalo wedding bands, which prompted a complaint yesterday from Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. ”¦ Dwayne White sent in a buncha stuff, including a 1978 St. Petersburg Times article about the Reds’ original St. Paddy’s Day uniforms; a 1978 photo of Pete Rose helping his son with his St. Paddy’s Day uni; and photographic proof that the 1976 National League All-Star team’s pillbox BP caps were snapbacks. ”¦ Oooh, check out these softball pants with side piping based on the Chicago flag! (Nice find by Brian Crago.)

NFL News: With the NFL Draft fast approaching, it’s time for the annual run of articles about the company that puts the NOBs on the jerseys as the picks are announced. Expect to see more stories like that one this week. ”¦ I loooove NFL dickies. Anyone know who those Colts players were? (From Dwayne White.) ”¦ Here’s a look at the uniforms that were originally announced — but not worn — for the Jaguars and Panthers.

Hockey News: NHL teams — most notably the Sharks — are increasingly concerned about players’ sleep habits. Among other things, San Jose players are encouraged to swallow chamomile, lavender, and tart cherry juice every night.

NBA News: We’ve seen this type of thing before, but it’s still annoying and depressing: “Before Saturday night’s Mavs/Thunder game in Dallas, the Jumbotron was shaming people into putting on the giveaway Mavs T-shirts, lingering on anyone dressed otherwise, with a fuming Mark Cuban cartoon appearing on the screen when anyone was delaying,” says James MacNeil.

Soccer News: “Saturday night was the French League Cup Final,” says Eric Falcon. “Both teams, PSG and Lille, had gold uni numbers and NOBs to mark the occasion. Don’t know if they’ve done this in years past. Hopefully this doesn’t get picked up by U.S. sports leagues.” ”¦ Impressive-looking pitch design yesterday for Leicester City (from Tim Cross).

Grab Bag: With concerns running rampant about athletes contracting the Zika virus during the upcoming Rio Olympics, South Korean uniforms and casual attire at the games will reportedly feature long-sleeved shirts and long pants. The designs will be officially unveiled on Wednesday. ”¦ Faaaascinating story about how the Confederate flag has become an enduring symbol in a town in Brazil. Highly recommended (big thanks to Trevor Williams). ”¦ This is cool: a guide to the secret language of manhole covers (from James Gilbert). ”¦ Great slideshow and accompanying article on “Post No Bills” signs around NYC. ”¦ Anzac Day jumpers for six Aussie rules football teams (from Jeremy Brahm). ”¦ Here’s your chance to vote for this week’s NASCAR paint scheme of the week. ”¦ After the original logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was scrapped due to concerns about plagiarism, a new logo has been unveiled.

Comments (51)

    Found the photo on and it is Curtis and Morrall from December 1968. Wonder which flavor of Nehi Earl is drinking?

    To this day I still do not think the original Jags logo was too similar to the car logo.

    Yes, they were both leaping, but can the carmaker put the kibosh on ALL leaping Jaguar art? Cats leap!


    Here’s a link to the What’s the Point podcast featuring Dear Data. It was a pretty good listen, and I’m glad to have now seen some of the visuals to go along with it.


    I’ve never seen anyone shame their own fans like that…and then follow it up with an angry caricature of their owner on it. Odd indeed.

    Just because you give me a shirt does not mean I have to wear it at that moment. I usually wash a shirt before I wear it for the first time because I don’t know where that shirt has been.

    But honestly, I will not participate in “(insert color here) out” gimmicks. Every football season, LSU has a “wear gold” game, to which I wear purple, white or gray. If everyone wears the same color to a game, it’s cool if it happens organically, such as to a St. Louis Cardinals or University of Nebraska football game. If you have to tell people to wear a color, it’s forced and stupid.

    I really don’t understand people’s objection to color out games.

    People choose to be fans, and being a fan is one of the most collective aspects of modern American society. There isn’t anything wrong with a team saying, “Hey, lets all wear the same color to appear unified and potentially contribute to the atmosphere of the arena/stadium.”

    If the arena/team/staff FORCE the issue by trying to coerce people who are not wearing the correct color – that’s douchey and should be called out, but simply suggesting a color for the game, and giving away a shirt to help fans join the effort shouldn’t be the least bit objectionable. To intentionally wear a different color (but still “submit” to the team by wearing a team color) just seems like you are trying to be contrarian in a really petty way.

    You have hit upon the very American (or maybe just very human) conflict between wanting to belong and wanting to be an individual.

    Let’s not forget there are folks who can’t wear t-shirts. Not just because of size either – though that would be the issue for me. I know a few people who couldn’t wear them for several weeks after shoulder surgery because the position to don or doff the shirt would injure them.

    Even if every single fan in the arena were able-bodied and had been provided with a T-shirt custom-tailored to their body size/shape, the whole “You must wear the T-shirt” thing would still be total bullshit.

    Some nice investigation Paul! And thanks to everyone else in the information chain. A big raspberry to the bureaucrat in the Iowa AD, who’s now been exposed :P

    Agreed! As a native-born Iowan, I appreciate that the Hawkeyes rarely come up for discussion here – it generally means they’re not doing anything wrong enough to be worth notice. (A comment on the current state of collegiate uni design, not on Paul’s editorial approach.) But this is a fun bit of history. A unitard just seems ridiculously impractical for basketball. But kind of appropriate for a school that’s renowned for its wrestling program.

    As a life long wrestling fan, I find it amusing that the Hawkeyes basketball team came close to wearing a wrestling singlet on the court.

    Minor spelling note: I believe the Marlins SS is named “Adeiny Hechavarria.”

    Little bit of messed up wording in the Hockey section. It says: “San Jose players are Sharks are encouraged”,].

    Maybe I will just show up at a playoff game in opposing team’s gear – oh, that will kick me out of the club section and whoever sold the tickets to me becomes banned…

    I coulda SWORN I got the link to the London manhole cover article from UW. I read that one a few weeks ago. Shame on me for not sharing!

    That is without question Mike Curtis on the left and Earl Morrall on the right. For those who don’t know, but might care, Curtis, #32 was a middle linebacker for the Super Bowl V Champion Colts. Morrall, #15 was the back-up quarterback to John Unitas. He started for the Colts in ’68, won the NFL MVP that year, and brought them to Super Bowl III, where he threw 3 red zone Int’s and the Colts lost to the Upstart NY Jets. He backed up Unitas in Super Bowl V and held the ball for the winning Jim O’Brien Field Goal!

    Also remember, Morrall started and won 9 games for the ’72 Dolphins helping them to that perfect season.

    And Curtis leveled some drunk who ran onto the field (Memorial Stadium) and picked up the ball between plays.

    I met EM at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. He and his grandkids (?) rode the log flume ride that I was operating.

    I had his autograph on a tiny piece of paper for the longest time – it’s probably still in a drawer somewhere.

    Technically (and this is dumb) The Jaguars have NEVER had a Jaguar on their helmet, but rather a Leopard… In the wild, Jaguars are slightly bigger, much stockier and muscular and have a shorter tail… but the ONE easy to SPOT characteristic is their SPOTS. Leopards have solid spots (like on all the Jags logos) and Jaguars have a spot inside each spot.

    Interestingly enough, a Panther IS either a Jaguar or a Leopard but with a gene mutation that makes them black and not spotted… So in 1995, the NFL got two teams with technically the same mascot… and the team in Florida still hasn’t gotten the logo “technically” correct.


    The spots on jaguars’ heads are much smaller and don’t have the “spot in a spot” look like their bodies have.
    While, yes, the original full-body jag helmets didn’t have the correct spots, the head-only helmets aren’t necessarily incorrect.


    Resemblance to an actual jaguar notwithstanding, the Jags had an excellent spot-in-parentheses pattern which could have been used more generously. An opportunity missed, if you ask me.

    Uh, while I hate to be the guy who throws a bucket of cold water over things, but I think it’s understood that the logos on football helmets are SYMBOLS of the team nicknames, so of course the Jaguars are not going to have a photo-realistic image of a Jaguar…just like the Panthers, Bengals, Falcons, Eagles, etc.

    The original Jaguars uniforms had too many colors.Unless you’re Yukon Cornelius, silver and gold to me are a no no.Teal,silver,gold and black? Pick 2.

    EVERYONE wishes for silver and gold.

    How do you measure its worth? Just by the pleasure it gives here on Earth.

    Anyone know what’s up with the ads on the ESPN homepage that show players as if they’re wearing yellow pants? Today it’s Prince Fielder in a blue Texas Texas jersey.

    Looks like bad photo editing, nothing more. A yellow screen is applied across the bottom of the image, a red one along the top. But the yellow is disproportionately thick, and inconsistently applied left-to-right. It’s not just Fielder’s pants – the bottom of his jersey is also turned greenish by the yellow. I assume the intent was just to add splashes of color to make the still image more vibrant and eye-catching.

    That looks like Robin Roberts. I think they cobbled together a Phillies’ uniform out of 1951 and 1976 elements.

    Just checked the Dear Data article, and discovered a use for my huge collection of magic markers!

    Those prototype Jaguar uni’s were just plain weird. How did silver work its way into Gold and Teal? As horrible as their current duds are, silver would have mucked them even more.

    BTW, Paul, either you’re starting to rerun material or you are developing some traces of Alzheimer’s because I think Uni-Watchers have seen the original Panthers and Jaguars uniform photos about twenty times now…

    I’m pleased to know that you’re so up on things, Dan. So when you see a link like that one, you can feel free to skip over it, secure in the knowledge that you won’t be missing anything you haven’t seen 20 times already.

    But believe it or not, there are some other readers who haven’t seen everything as often as you have. And then there are the readers who enjoy seeing things even if they’ve seen them before. And then there are — well, you get the idea.

    Would I go out of my way to link to these photos? No. But when a good blog like NFL Football Journal gathers all those photos together for a blog post, I definitely think it’s worth linking to. At least a few Uni Watch readers apparently agree, because we had some chatter about the Jags prototypes in the comments today.

    But maybe I just have Alzheimer’s.

    I only brought it up because you once gave me hell for referencing the infamous Seinfeld quote about “cheering for laundry” because you had heard it so many times.

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