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Back, Back, Back – (Throw)back, (Throw)back, (Throw)back

By Phil Hecken

Fans of throwback uniforms were in for a triple-treat yesterday, as the Seattle Mariners (shown in the “vintage camcorder” effect video above) and the St. Louis Cardinals met in Seattle for a 1984 throwback game — and the Milwaukee Brewers hosted the Washington Nationals, while the Atlanta Braves hosted the New York Mets — who both played Negro League Tribute/throwback games. To my knowledge, all teams have worn said throwbacks before (certainly in the case of the Negro League throwbacks), and I’m fairly positive the Mariners and Cardinals have worn throwbacks in either they exact year or same style as those worn last evening. Lets look at some pictures!

We’ll start with the earliest of the games, Milwaukee vs. Washington. The Brewers always do Negro League tribute games right. It was their 11th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game, the Brewers wore the uniforms of the Milwaukee Bears, who called Milwaukee home for one season in 1923, while the Nats donned the uniforms of the Homestead Grays, who played in D.C. from 1940-50. (Click any photos below to enlarge.)



These are not my most favorite Brewer/Bears throwbacks (that would be these), but they’re still great looking. The pinstripes are solid, the caps with matching pinstripes are a good look, and who doesn’t love the two-tone socks and solid, contrasting pocket flaps? No one, that’s who.


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I’d really love for the Nationals to adapt that uniform into one of their own during their next redesign (like our own R. Scott Rogers concepted years ago in a Uni Watch contest). But failing that, I’d love to see the Nats wear these Grays throwbacks as often as possible. Love them. My only, extremely minor quibble: Nats used their current batting helmets. Yes, the helmet wasn’t really invented back when the Grays wore those unis, so retro-fitting one would be almost as bad as wearing the Nationals’ helmet, but still. Creating a helmet would have been the icing on an already delicious throwback cake! You can see more photos here.

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Moving to the next, chronologically, game — the Atlanta Braves played host to the New York Mets. The Braves played, as they have many times before, as the Atlanta Black Crackers, while the Mets played as the New York Royal Giants (this is now the third consecutive season the Mets have worn these throwbacks). After I initially did not like them, I have to say they have grown on me tremendously — it didn’t hurt that every player wore socks (something you REALLY need to do with a solid blue uniform), and, as you’ll see below, Mets first baseman James Loney wore blue stirrups with ORANGE sanis! Anyway — lets look at some photos:







Regrettably, most (all?) of the Braves chose to wear their pants in pajama-style, which affected the visuals somewhat, but both teams did go the extra yard to create batting helmets that approximated what those teams would have worn, had there been helmets to wear. The Mets pulling off the all-royal look with aplomb also reinforces my contention that one or two teams should ditch the gray road pants and wear a dark-monochrome look if they’re going to go with a softball alternate top. If done well (and by that I mean properly tailored and with socks or stirrups), it would certainly work on a diamond.


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Another well-done Negro League tribute game! More photos available here. You can see many Mets photos here, from our buddy Shannon Shark’s “Mets Police” website.

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The final throwback game, between the Mariners and Cardinals, didn’t begin until 7:10 Pacific Time, so it was still going on when I put this post to bed. But there were plenty of photos and video available. The Mariners wanted to really give the evening a “retro” feel, so they tried to get folks in the mood by posting this video on social media prior to the game — there’s some great vintage Kingdome and Mariner footage here — worth the look!

And as you can see from this early-game video — the Cards were in their powder blue roadies (unfortunately most players were pajama-pantsed) and the Mariners were in their 1984 homes. Safeco (for better, not worse, although Jimmer Vilk would probably disagree) is not the Kingdome, but they did try to use retro graphics for the scoreboards and such:


The Seattle announcers also got in the throwback spirit, as it were:


Even the Cardinals played along…on social media


So, with that setup, you’d expect the teams to knock it out of the proverbial park, uniform wise. And to the extent that they got the unis correct — they did. The Cards had powder blue pullovers and sansabelt pants, and red caps; Likewise the Mariners also pullover and sansabelts. The only problem, sadly, is that the players of today (and I won’t begrudge them comfort) wore the uniforms in the 2016 style — baggy and pajama-isted — which look nothing like the style of uniforms worn in 1984. For those of us for whom this was a seminal uniform-watching time, the effect is jarring. Millennials may laugh and point fingers at us older folks for fondly remembering powder blue, pullovers and tight fitting sansabelt pants, hiked up so that 9″ stirrups were fully exposed. Fine — but if you’re going to wear powder blue, sansabelt & pullover uniforms, you better damn well at least wear hosiery (even if you don’t wear your pants like Ron Duguay in a Sasson commercial). It’s VERY difficult to pull off a uniform that’s already close to pajamas/track suits if you wear it like one.

Anyway…some players showed sock and not everyone wore their uniform extremely baggy, so the game came off looking…well, almost like a game between the Mariners and Cardinals would have in 1984…had there been interleague play (or both made the World Series). As it was — this was a “what if” matchup.





Yes, the pajama-style looks bad. See how much better it makes even baggy(ish) unis look when hosiery is worn.




As you can see in this bench-overhead shot, more Cardinals went with long pants, but a few guys did wear stirrups (or at least striped socks, it’s hard to tell)


All things considered, I’d still rather see throwback games (even if the players can’t seem to get into the spirit, uni-style-wise) than not. I find it interesting that for Negro League throwback games (the Braves, excluded, apparently), most players seem willing to cuff their pants and wear socks than in “regular” throwback games. This is merely an observation — but every time there is a throwback game, I do see who goes pajama-pantsed — and it seems far more will hike up their pants for Negro League throwbacks.

You can see more photos from the M’s/Cards game here.

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Leo's World 500

Leo’s World
“Leo’s World” is a new, semi-recurring feature here on Uni Watch weekends, featuring some excellent uni-related finds from Leo Strawn, Jr.. Each installment will feature a new, unique or just very cool collection of related uniform observations and research. You can click any images below to enlarge. — PH

The First NFL
By Leo Strawn, Jr.

The American Professional Football Association was formed in Canton, Ohio. The first season was 1920. In 1922, they renamed the league: NFL.

But that wasn’t the first NFL. Twenty years earlier, in 1902, the first NFL was born. It was made up of three teams.

The Philadelphia Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies were funded and operated by the owners of the baseball teams bearing the same name, Ben Shibe and John Rogers, respectively. Both teams played at the home field of their baseball counterparts, Columbia Park and Baker Bowl.

The third club was known as the Pittsburgh Stars (a.k.a. Pros). On paper, the Stars were bankrolled by GM Dave Berry, who also served as league President. However, some historians suspect the Pittsburgh Pirates actually backed the team. The Stars played at Pittsburgh Coliseum (later known as Recreation Park) which was owned by William Chase Temple and Barney Dreyfuss and had been the home of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys several years earlier.


These two men also owned the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team formerly known as the Alleghenys. Additionally, Temple had been the first individual owner of a professional football team, first Duquesne C & AC, and then Homestead L & AC, collectively from 1898-1901. The Stars roster consisted mainly of holdovers from that 1901 Homestead club.

Here are team photos showing the uniforms of Homestead from 1900 (top) and 1901 (bottom)


Due to the ties with baseball clubs, it’s no surprise that players from the Major Leagues also played in that NFL. For example, NY Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson played fullback for Pittsburgh with halfback Fred Crolius who was a Pirates OF in 1902. Rube Waddell pitched and played fullback that year for Connie Mack. Also playing for Mack was QB Jack Hayden who had been in the Athletics outfield in 1901. Because of the baseball connection, the season was scheduled to start a week after the end of baseball season.

Due to the lack of organization within the league’s operations, there was a controversy with the NFL championship, an issue which would continue to plague pro football for decades in different leagues. The first attempt to crown a league champion was Thanksgiving Day in Pittsburgh. That game between the Stars and the Athletics and ended in a scoreless tie.

A second championship game was played between the two squads two days later. I have seen three different scores for this game, two of which say the game was won by Pittsburgh, by a score of either 11-0 or 17-6, while another says Mack’s squad won, 12-6.

After the NFL title games, both Philly squads played for the city championship. Mack’s team won, by a score of either 17-6 or 11-6.

A couple of historic events are connected to these NFL clubs. First, in preparation for the first NFL’s title games, the Athletics played the first pro football night game on November 21 against Kanaweola AC in Elmira, New York. Philadelphia won handily, 39-0.

After the championship games, some of the 1902 NFL players combined to form a team known as New York Philadelphians (also known simply as “New York”) and played the first professional indoor game v Syracuse AC on December 29 at Madison Square Garden in a 5 team tournament known as the 1902 World Series of Football.

The Syracuse AC (a.k.a. All Syracuse, featuring Glenn “Pop” Warner pictured here, third from right, top row) defeated the NFL “New York” team in that game, either 5-0 or as some sources report it, 6-0.

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Here are photos of and info on, the first professional football league uniforms and the 1902 NFL season:


This is the 1902 Philadelphia Athletics team photo (Mack is wearing a bowler in the center)


They wore navy and white like their baseball counterparts. Player/coach Blondy Wallace also played and coached for Philadelphia AC, a professional independent club, in 1901. The Athletics 1902 results can be seen here. They continued as an independent pro club the following year, playing two games in 1903.

The Pittsburgh Stars possibly wore blue and gold and are shown here practicing for the first championship game. (That comes from the “Illustrated History of Pro Football” and I could not get a complete scan of both pages, thus the division in the middle of the photo.)


This is a team photo of the Stars (a.k.a. Pros) with the players all sporting the “P” monogram as seen on the player on the left side of the photo of the team practice.

Christy Mathewson can be seen in that photo. The Stars 1902 season results can be found here. A number of the Stars went on to play for Franklin AC, who went undefeated and won the 1903 World Series of Football in that club’s final season.

The Phillies reportedly wore red, white and blue. Sadly, I have yet to find a photo of that team. (If anyone ever locates a photo of the 1902 NFL Phillies, please let Phil know so he can pass it along to me and the rest of the UW readers!) They may have had some ties to the Philadelphia AC (a.k.a. Philadelphia FC) pro team that played in 1901, with some players on roster of both squads. The results for the 1902 Phillies can be seen here.

Lots more info on that first NFL, compiled by the PFRA, can be found here.


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UW Friday Flashback

UW’s Friday Flashback

The clipping you see here, announcing the release of the Cincinnati Royals’ new logo ”” the same logo that was recently revived by the Royals’ current incarnation, the Sacramento Kings ”” appeared in The Cincinnati Enquirer on April 2, 1971. As you can see, it mentions that the logo was designed by a graphic designer named Bob Grove.

Grove’s name has been lost to history, and his story has never been told ”” until now. Paul had an exclusive interview with him for his Friday Flashback column this week on ESPN. Check it out here.


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Uni Watch News Ticker

Baseball News: The Lowell Spinners are doing their Star Wars-themed jersey night on July 9. Their jersey is Yodalicious (from OT Sports). … The Lima Locos (in a Summer Collegiate League), have unis that feature a camo-brimmed cap (from Paxton Rembis). … And when teams aren’t doing Star Wars-themed jerseys, they seem to be doing Ghostbusters-themed jerseys — that’s the BG Hot Rods and they wore those last night. … “My son sent me this card for Father’s Day,” writes Peter Piroso. “He pointed out that the San Francisco logo/script was trade-marked (see the tiny “TM” near the “o”), yet, according to the Uniform Database, the Giants never used this on any of their uniforms. (And the other teams’ logos on the card ((except, possibly, for the Tigers)) are the more “conventional” ones.)
Any ideas why?” … This is “Pete Rose Weekend” in Cincinnati, and the Reds used these baseballs with a “14” logo for yesterday’s game (h/t Christopher Overholt). … Whoa — check out the “sweaters” worn last night by the Tennessee Smokies, who were celebrating Halfway To Christmas night (from Justin Rocke). … Bringing back memories of the 1970s As (OK, maybe not), yesterday a Tampa Bay Rays coach had a different cap than the players (from Tyler Stern). Apparently all the coaches’ caps were different. … Leo Strawn, Jr. was checking out photos of the Indians numbered uniforms from 100 years ago and “I ran across this photograph showing the sleeve number with players wearing caps that Okkonen says they didn’t wear until 1917. My guess is either they did wear these caps in addition to the ones shown for 1916 or they wore these jerseys in spring training in 1917.” … The Kansas City Royals celebrated Latin Heritage Night yesterday by wearing their Los Reales jerseys. … Look at Brandon Crawford rocking the old school warmup pullover (from Fletcher Keel). … Unconfirmed James T. Huening sighting: dude in a Phish/Cubs jersey at last night’s concert (from Eric Lovejoy). … The Springfield Cardinals and Arkansas Travelers hooked up in a camo vs. camo game yesterday (from T.j. Patton). … The Albuquerque Isotopes are doing “Blackout Saturdays, featuring all black uniforms (from Minor League Promos). Hope they’re playing a lot of night games. … Cassian Wykes asks, “are crazy long glove strings now a thing? This is a pitcher for the Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.”

NFL/CFL News: Yesterday’s ticker noted the Montreal Alouettes wore white helmets Friday night. Wade Heidt says, “The Montreal Alouettes brought white helmets to their road game in Winnipeg, instead of their usual silver helmets. The Als have worn white helmets a couple of random times in years past. Not certain if this is another rare event or if the white helmet is becoming their primary road helmet.” … Here’s a pretty awesome Iron City/Steelers beer can, found by Brian Sullivan yesterday. … Speaking of Iron City and the Stillers, check this out (from David Taub). He mentions this was “Found at Schuyler’s River Bottom ranch in Lompoc, CA.” … QB Russell Wilson is now with Nike. Because of course he is (from Trevor Milless). … Check out this blog post by John Turney on the uniform oddity of the 1972 Los Angeles Rams.

College Football News: Check out the North Carolina State College marching band during halftime of game against University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — performing a diamond “NCS” (or NSC if you prefer). Submitter James Gilbert notes the formation “pre-dates Dick Sheridan.”

Hockey News: Tweeter Rod Kimble asks, “are all teams putting the apostrophe on their draft day jersey?” He adds, “It’s even on the sleeve number.” Steve May thinks it might be because the number 16 is retired for Bobby Clarke in Philly. … But — the Sabres also did it for their picks. Submitter Oli Duino notes that “16 is retired in Buffalo for Pat Lafontaine.” Interesting. It appears, then, that teams who’ve retired the number 16 used jerseys with the ’16 designation for their draft picks. … Check out the very cool graphics on this Eichel vs. Matthews poster (from Aaron Husul). … I have no context for this new Edmonton Oilers patch, but I assume it’s for their new arena, “Rogers Place” (tweet from Liáµ±schitÉ€ ®).

NBA News: Here are some galleries of NBA players photoshopped into different teams’ uniforms (from Mike Chamernik). Interesting: LeBron James has been photoshopped into every NBA team’s jersey, except for the New Orleans Pelicans. Also, Kevin Durant has been photoshopped into 20 different teams’ unis — so if you’re hoping he’ll play for your team — chances are he’s probably already been photoshopped in your teams’ uni. … Rich DeMarco found this photo of Spud Webb and Muggsy Bogues, which is notable because they’re two of the shortest players ever in the NBA, but also asks, “Were those Bullets NOB’s one appliqué, or were the letters individual and looked like one patch?” … Speaking of old Hawks, Generic Pro Athlete says, “first time I’ve seen this Hawks logo from 06.” … Mike Chamernik thinks “The Hawks could lure Kevin Durant to Atlanta if they change their logo to a picture of his face.”

Soccer News: Tweeter The Lupine One notes “Once again, new Arsenal home kit makes its on-field debut in the Women’s Super League.” … Lots of new soccer kits are being released, and Josh Hinton has the scoop: Coco-Colo third kit, Man city (EPL) away kit leaked, Valencia (la liga) home leak, Union Berlin (bundesliga 2), and PSG (Ligue 1-France) away leak. … In yesterday’s Euro2016 action against Portugal, Croatia’s Ivan Perisic got an awesome checkerboard pattern in his hair to match his team’s uniforms. … More from Josh Hinton who writes, “I was looking thru my Copa America stickers when I came across this Paraguayan keeper’s jersey (made by Reebok). Thought this might be good on ticker.” … Check out this beautiful game poster for yesterday’s Philadelphia Union/Vancouver Whitecaps match (nice spot by Thom D.). … I’m pretty sure this is not how you spell “GERRRAD” (or perhaps it is, but it’s not the way Steven Gerrard does). Several folks sent that in.

Grab Bag: “A new era in Wisconsin Athletics begins on July 1,” reads this article on the Wisconsin Badgers celebrating their Under Armour launch party (from Nate Neumann). The new uniforms for all teams will be revealed at midnight (of July 1), after the “launch party” gets started at 10:00 pm on June 30th. What are the odds this might receive scant coverage on July 1 (the Friday of a holiday weekend)? If Paul’s not up for covering the late night reveals, I’ll do a full rundown for Saturday’s post. … Batman has been throwing punches onscreen for 73 years. Here is a quick rundown of the live-action Batman costumes (thanks, Brinke). … “I remember you posting about the uniforms on display in those ‘competitive endurance tickling’ videos,” writes Caleb Weaver. Here’s a bizarre follow-up story about them.

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And that’s all for today. Thanks to Leo for another installment of Leo’s World, and to anyone who tweeted or submitted via e-mail to the ticker.

I’ll be back next weekend, but until that time…

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.


.. … ..

“Complaint: Phil referred to the new Maple Leafs uniforms as “kits””¦

Let’s keep that goofy term where it belongs: in Europe.”

— Dan T.

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Comments (27)

    Leo, great info today. I never knew Christy played football too.

    Can you imagine that today. Also fun seeing colors of unis they wore.

    Odd coincidence that Paul was researching a story on Grove about the time I came up with this logo, but no, he didn’t. :)

    He created the other Royals logo, the one that was tweaked to become the Kings logo in KC-Omaha and later just KC, and recently modified by Sacramento.


    His logo replaced the cartoon logo I modified for Leo’s World. As a kid, I was disappointed to see the one Grove created replace the cartoon logo. It still ranks among my all time favorites and it was my first choice for Leo’s World and worked out pretty well, I think.

    Pittsburg Press, 11/28/1902 (day after Thanksgiving): link

    From the Press on the 30th: link (There’s even a photo illustration with it.)

    Greensburg (a Pittsburgh suburb) beat the Athletics 11-0.

    “The Kansas City Royals celebrated Latin Heritage Night yesterday by wearing their Los Reales jerseys.”

    And their opponents, the Astros, played along with “Los Astros” jerseys. Oddly, this isn’t the first time they’ve hooked up for a Latin Heritage Night. They did it last year, too (note the Astros’ 50th anniversary patch on Jose Altuve’s sleeve).

    2016: link

    2015: link

    Actually, my 2016 photo above was not from 2016. Here is a link to the game story from last night’s game, which shows a couple of the Astros in the “Los Astros” jerseys. Wish there had been a good shot of both teams in the uniforms at the same time.


    ““He pointed out that the San Francisco logo/script was trade-marked”

    The Giants wore these on BP jerseys in the ’90s.


    You must be a very loyal Giants fan.
    It was interesting that they would use such an esoteric logo on the card.

    It’s not that esoteric, they have used that wordmark on their official team jackets for as long as I can remember (at least 15 or 20 years)

    I should mention as someone who loved the old Washington Senators and waited patiently for all those decades for baseball to return to D.C., I love the Nats uniforms (except the terrible “softball” tops) and especially how it creates a link to the Senators of the 1960s. The home whites and their road uniforms with the “Washington” script are to my eye two of the best uniforms in baseball, independent of the joy they bring to longtime Senators / Washington fans. I certainly don’t mind the occasional alternate / throwback, but here’s a vote to keep their current white and gray uniforms for a good long time to come.

    Here is a link to a fairly high resolution image of the 1975 Steelers Iron City Beer can. Something I noticed about that picture many years ago (and can’t recall seeing mentioned anywhere else) is that if you look at Jack Lambert (#58), he is making a rather obscene gesture with his hands and “midsection”. I can’t be the only one who has noticed this over the years, considering that thousands (if not millions) of chips of this image exist on the beer cans, and various Super Bowl memorabilia items (I’ve seen copies of this same picture, but without the background whited out, which suggest that the picture was taken at Tulane Stadium prior to Super Bowl IX.).


    I suppose either term can be used, but I think of baseball using old-style jerseys as “turn back the clock” games, while football games using old-timey uniforms are “throwback” games.

    The Mets looked infinitely better wearing blue jerseys and blue pants than they do wearing blue jerseys with white or gray pants.

    A couple of notes:

    1. The Brewers will be the 2nd team this weekend, to wear three different jerseys, as today is ’90’s day at Miller Park. Can only hope they wear the Notre Dame cap(I love it, even though many loathe it).

    2. Ah 1984, and the Mariners sweep of the Tigers. I remember it well, because the Tigers were so good that year, and the M’s, were well the M’s.

    The Pirates will be wearing their third jersey of the weekend tonight, as well. (White, black, gold.) Add Thursday’s camo, and it’s four in four days.

    The Reds also wore 3 different jerseys this weekend: 1976 throwbacks on Friday, home whites on Saturday, and red softball tops on Sunday.

    The Canucks didn’t opt for an apostrophe on their draft jersey even though 16 is retired for Trevor Linden.

    Watched some of the Nats-Brewers game yesterday (mostly listened to it while working in the garage). Beautiful game! But I couldn’t tell, and still can’t from the pix here: Were the Brewers wearing dark navy or black caps and accents?

    The Bogues/Webb photo is not only interesting for the style of NOB that the Bullets used, but also because they are wearing Pony and Converse shoes…when was the last time you saw either of those on NBA players?

    That I didn’t know.

    Strange to think that in the pre-“Air Jordan” days, a lot of the biggest NBA stars (Magic, Bird, McHale come to mind) wore Converse, as did many college programs like UNC.

    Of course, Larry Johnson’s famous “Grandmama” ad campaign was also for Converse. I recall Dennis Rodman wearing them at one point as well.

    Braves did not wear Black Crackers helmets, as Phil said. For whatever strange reason, the Braves wore their standard home helmets and the Mets wore Royal Giants helmets, which I found odd, because it’s usually the home team that wears throwback appropriate helmets while the road team wears their standard lids. Wonder what happened?

    I don’t know why (particularly if a current helmet closely matches what a throwback helmet would resemble) they don’t. My only thinking on the matter is that because the Negro Leagues didn’t use batting helmets, the teams feel no need to recreate one just for the occasion. The Mets simply swapped decals from their current lids, but other teams seem to forgo such treatment altogether. Guess it depends on how much teams want to $$$ and how much of a nut (in a good way) the equipment manager is.

    Braves would have looked better if they at least swapped the logo decals on their helmets. The fact that the Mets did made the Braves took cheap, and it was their event.

Comments are closed.