By Phil Hecken
Some of you may have noticed that I tweet a lot — and I’m sure I interact with a good number of readers (some of who I *know* outside of twitter), but mostly my interactions are in the context of having a uni-related article picture tweeted at me (which I’ll almost always R/T). I already follow far too many accounts (2,300+) and have a fair amount of followers, so apologies if you’re one of my frequent interacters but I don’t actually follow you back.
About a month ago, I noticed a new follower, Bill Hetrick. He immediately became a fount of knowledge in my timeline, and while a bunch of it was Dolphins-related, there were some gems in there as well (that’s but a tiny sampling of what turned out to be…well, an amazing collection of sports ephemera and memorabilia). If you really want a treat, check out Bill’s tweets with replies.
I decided I needed to talk to Bill and find out the breadths and depths of his collection and what made him tick. As I already alluded to, and which today’s splash shows, Bill has an amazing collection of Dolphins stuff — but he’s got a lot more non-Dolphins in his collection too. I interviewed Bill about this, and there is so much in the collection, I’ve decided to break it down into separate parts. Today will focus exclusively on the Dolphins portion. Without further ado, let’s meet Bill, and then we’ll get to the Dolphin collection:
Uni Watch: I noticed you started following me on twitter a short while ago. Are you a Uni Watch reader? If so, how long have you been reading the blog?
Bill Hetrick: Well, I’m newer to twitter than to Uni-Watch. I’ve been a reader of the column on ESPN and a follower of the website for many years. Once I discovered what y’all are doing — given my interest in memorabilia and sports history, I’ve followed you regularly
UW: What do you do for a living, and how did you become a Dolphins fan? Were you “born” a Dolphins fan or did you have other professional football rooting interests?
BH: I’ve been a real estate agent for the past 20 years, but my first job was as the Visiting Clubhouse Manager (1980) and then the Assistant General Manager (1981-86) for the Jackson (MS) Mets, NY’s AA team in the Texas League. From there, I moved to layout and design and writing for the Sports Department of Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger newspaper (1986-1990).
UW: You said you were a real estate agent (actually an award-winning real estate agent) in real life, but you’re also the co-founder of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Can you tell me a little about that?
BH: When I left the Clarion-Ledger, I was hired by the Mayor of Jackson, Kane Ditto, to be a part of his staff. Along the way, the City and Hinds County collaborated on a bond issue to renovate Smith-Wills Stadium, the home of the Jackson Mets and then the Jackson Generals (Houston Astros’ AA team) after the Mets moved their AA team to Binghamton. The Mayor appointed me in 1991 as chairman of the joint task force to oversee the renovations to the stadium, due to my background and knowledge of the Stadium, its tenants and their needs.
UW: That’s obviously where the photo of you in a Jackson Mets mascot costume comes from.
BH: At the time, the City of Jackson operated the Dizzy Dean Museum near the grounds of Smith Wills. It was poorly run and poorly promoted and falling into disrepair. Long story short, as we planned for the Smith Wills renovation, the Dean Museum came up, and after deciding not to incorporate it into the Stadium renovation (a brilliant non-move in retrospect), the committee began a discussion of actually building a Mississippi Sports Museum, with a “Dizzy Dean Gallery” as a centerpiece of the Museum. That project came to fruition a year later, as several of the members of that committee and others founded the non-profit Mississippi Sports Foundation, and in 1996, we opened the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, across the parking lot for Smith Wills Stadium. The history of the Hall of Fame and the facility is a story unto itself.
UW: Awesome — we’ll get into that another time. Back to the J-Mets. You worked for the AA Jackson Mets in the early to mid-80s. What did you do there and did this start (or merely add to) your collecting?
BH: As I mentioned, I started as the Visiting Clubhouse Manager (I was named VCM of the Year for the Texas League by the players btw!) in 1980, where I washed uniforms, underclothes, cleaned shoes and cleaned the clubhouse after the games. Some Manager. I was the gofer of the year in a cinderblock hot box with no AC . But man, the folks I met. My first day in the visiting clubhouse, I walked into the dugout and there stood Warren Spahn. The San Antonio team that year featured Mike Marshall, Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela, who spoke no English at all. Not a bad lineup. Most amazing year of my life. I met so many people who went to major league careers. That was where I started collecting autographed baseballs.
UW: You must have seen quite a few of the “raw” stars the Mets had in the early 80’s coming through.
BH: In 1981, I moved into the 3-person front office as the assistant GM (Mike Feder was the GM) and filled that position during the season while I attended college during the off-seasons at Millsaps College in Jackson. I was with the Mets during their minor league heyday and worked with Darryl Strawberry, Billy Beane, Roger McDowell, Lenny Dykstra and a host of others. 13 of 25 players on the 1986 World Series Champions played in Jackson while I was there. I went to the 86 NL Playoffs in Houston and attended Spring Trailing for 6 years in a row. I picked up a ton of autographs through the 80s with the Mets.
UW: OK. Let’s get back to the Dolphins. Were they the closest football team to you? What appealed to you about them, and what led you to want to start collecting Dolphins’ items?
BH: My grandmother gave me a Bob Griese poster for my 9th birthday in 1971 when I turned 9, and the rest is history. I was hooked on football and the Dolphins. Living in Mississippi, I am surrounded by Saints fans, but they’ve never been “my” team. I’ve also been a NY Giants fan since Eli became their QB, and appreciate their history because of Charley Conerly having played there in the 50s and 60s.
UW: As the readers will soon see, your Dolphin collection is incredible. How long have you been collecting?
BH: Well, I guess since I was 9, technically, but really, I got serious about it during the late 80s during the Marino era. I was a huge fan of the 70s Dolphins ”“ Griese, Csonka, the No-Names — but the Marino years were really amazing and I started seriously collecting in those days.
UW: Do you remember the first item you got or purchased?
BH: I bought a signed Marino helmet from a friend who was narrowing his collection.
UW: What’s your favorite Dolphins item?
BH: I’ve got a satin while Starter jacket that Don Shula singed for me in New Orleans in 1986 or 87. He signed it with an aqua sharpie while I was wearing it, so it is both my favorite item and an awesome memory.
UW: Besides Dolphins paraphernalia, what other items are in your collection? What can we expect to see next time?
BH: Well, due to my background with the newspaper and the Hall of Fame, I collect Mississippi memorabilia ”“ lots of Walter Payton ”“ who I spent some time around ”“ Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Steve McNair., Archie and Eli Manning. I collect Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning quarterbacks on mini helmets and baseballs. I also have over 100 signed Hall of Fame baseballs. I have 7 US Presidents on baseballs.
UW: We’ll take a look at those in Part II — but what led you to create your “mancave”? Does your wife mind? Is she a collector too or does she kind of roll her eyes?
BH: Well, I used to have a “Dolphins Closet” before I got my “Dolphins Den.” Once my daughters grew up and moved out, I commandeered a room, and the rest is history.
UW: Your wife must love you very much.
BH: My wife, Marilyn, is AMAZINGLY tolerant of my habit and the room. I would call her supportive, even. She knows it makes me happy, so she’s cool with it. She’s proud of it for me, because it is so unique and unusual. I have friends tell me all the time, “Wow, I wish my wife would let me do this.” But we both know there is a financial line I just can’t cross, so Babe Ruth will probably never be a part of the collection. She’s great. Obviously, it would not exist without her blessing.
UW: That’s amazing Bill. Thanks for sharing. Now, let’s look at your Dolphins’ collection!
Bill’s collection is quite extensive — what I’ve done below is broken it into “sections” — I’ll post at least one inline photo for each section, and then add a slideshow with more photos from that segment. You can click on any images below to enlarge.
Don Shula Autographed Helmet
Shula signed the helmet in Jackson, where I live, at a Boy Scout banquet. Shula’s been a hero of fine since the early 70s. There was a small crowd and he entertained about 6 of us for nearly an hour with stories. Amazing evening for me. I’m also hoarding 1972-73 era Dolphin zippos
To view this album, click here
Larry Csonka Jersey
I have a backchannel connection to Csonka, and he will sign items for me for a contribution to St. Jude’s, so every now and then I send something. My first connection to sports was the 1971 Dolphins. My grandmother gave me a Bob Griese poster that she had gotten from a cigarette promotion, and I was hooked. Still have the poster.
To view this album, click here.
Miscellaneous Dolphins Collection:
The pennant is also a treasured possession. I sent it back and forth to a promoter is SoFla several times over the years when he was having “Perfect Team” autograph shows.
To view this album, click here.
Shula signed this jacket for me outside the team hotel in New Orleans, while I was wearing it, before a game with the Saints in the early 90s. I had an aqua sharpie with me, just in case. This was back when sports teams weren’t hidden behind security forces or shuttled out secret entrances. One of my prized possessions.
To view this album, click here.
More Random Dolphins Collection
To view this album, click here.
Broad Views of the Dolphins Collection & More:
[You’ll note these include some non-Dolphins items. Lots of them, actually. It’s an AMAZING collection — PH]
To view this album, click here.
Functional helmet phone, use it daily. Original smooth top design. This is important. Most others have a replacement handset that protrudes from the top of the helmet and takes away the roundness. I had the shade custom made for the lamp. Bought the material off ebay. NOTE: I am a dolphins logo purist. Pre-1997 logos only.
And there you have it — or at least the Dolphins portion of it. There’s lots more from that phan-cave, that’s for sure, but the rest will wait for another day.
I want to thank Bill for sharing (and his patience). I’ll have more of Bill and his collection shortly. I hope you enjoyed the first look. Please let him know your thoughts in the comments below — and if you have any questions about anything, I’m sure he’ll be reading today and will respond, so fire away. OK? OK!
USA Baseball Jersey Contest Raffle:
And The Winner Is…
I received Three Hundred and Ninty Five (395!) raffle entries for this contest, and Drew Solka was randomly selected as the winner. I used a random-number generator, and Drew’s entry corresponded with the number chosen. So congrats to Drew!
What you see above is the jersey of original contest winner Dan Kennedy (who selected his road version), as well as that of the raffle winner. So…why does the second jersey say “Lucroy” you may ask?
Most of you (as I likely would have) chose your own NOB and probably your favorite number. Drew went a different route and chose the following:
Hopefully both Dan and Drew will take photos of their jerseys when they arrive and will share those with us.
I want to again thank Steve Rosenbeck of Garb Athletics for partnering with Uni Watch to create these great jerseys. As an added bonus, Steve made a short video showing the process of making Dan’s jersey. Check it out:
How awesome is that?
We’ll announce the next jersey contest soon, so make sure you keep checking back.
In Case You Missed It…Paul’s Latest ESPN Piece
With the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas, Paul asked readers for their concepts on how they might look “after getting a facelift” for their relocation to the desert. Tinkering with the Raiders’ look is a dicey proposition because most fans like the team’s uniforms just the way they are. How can you mess with the iconic silver and black? Still, there were some interesting entries!
If you didn’t read Paul’s latest piece, here ya go. Totally worth the read if you’re at all into redesign contests (or even if you’re not).
for the Ticker
Got an e-mail yesterday that’s too long (and too good) for just the ticker. It comes from reader Charles Rogers and it looks back at the “gray” Cardinals
I’ll let Charles explain (you can click on the images to enlarge). Here’s Charles:
I’m guessing Uni Watchers may be familiar with The Image of Their Greatness, the extensively illustrated history of baseball by Lawrence S. Ritter. I discovered it in high school around the same time I started following baseball and it was a seminal influence. My copy is somewhere in a box in my dad’s garage, but for years I seemed to recall a photograph of a Cardinals player from the thirties or forties in a grey hat with their familiar logo. (In my mind, I assumed the logo was red.)
Now, grey is my favorite color and the Cards are my second favorite team, so I’ve looked high and low for a Cooperstown Collection (or whatever) version of this hat. I also couldn’t recall the name of the book in which I saw this photo, so I wasn’t entirely sure I remembered correctly. Anyways, to come to the point, I remembered the title last week, got the book from the ever-reliable L.A. public library, and found this:
That’s William Walker Cooper, who played for St. Louis from 1940 to 1945.
That’s Harry Brecheen, who played for the Cardinals in 1940 and from 1943 to 1952.
Now, of course, these are black and white photos and those caps could be faded, so who knows! But I wondered if anyone out there has noticed these and/or had any thoughts and/or opinions. I’ve attached a few more photos I found online. Please help! I’m dying to have some refutation or corroboration! Thanks.
Charles Edward Rogers
Thanks Charles. As he noted in his e-mail, Charles also included three more images, one of which is obviously colorized, that show the period in question:
Here’s the book of which Charles spoke — Image of their Greatness by Lawrence Ritter.
I happen to love that style of St. Cards uni (it may in fact by my most favorite of ever)…and the Cards wore it from 1940 through 1950. According to Okkonen, it looks like the Cards did wear a gray cap (for at least some games) in 1941. However, I can’t quite make out the cap logo — I’m not sure it’s the classic interlocking StL. In all the other seasons, it appears the Cardinals are wearing the blue crown/red brim caps. But I’m far from an expert on either the Cardinals or this era. Can anyone confirm (or deny) or corroborate if the Cards did indeed ever wear a gray crowned cap?
OK. Now, on to the ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: It looks like the Clemson Tigers are using a raised 3-D logo on their batting helmets (from Greg Isaacs). … “I recently wrote a piece about the roots of my passion for design beginning with the 1989 upper deck series, along with the mysterious case of Kevin Mitchell’s painted jersey in his 1988 Topps card,” says Ka Wai Cheung. … This bit is kinda cool (from Mike Engle): “We know about the ball that stuck to Yadi Molina’s equipment. I didn’t know it went to game used market. But check out that sticker — that Cards logo is quite vintage and not in use today, no?” … For those of you who find stats like this interesting (as I do), the Oakland As are 4-0 in their Green jersey at home this year, while the Mariners 0-5 in road grays (from David Taub). … Tweeter Jorge Cruz noticed these old time baseball logos and pennants on a Two Boots Pizza promotion sign. I’m thinking Paul may be interested in the one that reads Meat the Mets, which is reminiscent of a theoretical t-shirt that may possibly be available for purchase. And of course, there’s always the great Larry Torrez graphic. … “A page out of Rajai Davis’s book and stirrups I didn’t know about? Orange stripes on black stirrups, over white Trusox,” writes Mike Engle. Damn those are some nice hose. … Holy crap — check out the Yokohama Bay Stars 2017 Star Night jersey (from Jeremy Brahm). … So — which side are you taking in the Iron Pigs (bacon) vs Fresno Grizzlies (taco) war? You can wear your preference on your feet. Check out the links in the tweet. … Nice rups for the Bowling Green Hot Rods yesterday (from Monkey Pandemonium”). … The BFBS Mets uniforms of the late 1990s/2000s were bad, but this fashion jersey missing all orange elements is the worst (from Jorge Cruz). I bet Jimmer Vilk is a big fan of the ghost wordmark. … On May 7th the KC Royals and Cleveland Indians will become the Monarchs & Buckeyes and wear these glorious Negro League throwbacks (h/t Robert Hayes). … Andrew McCutchen wore spikes yesterday with the Ken Griffey logo (from Jorge Cruz). … I kinda like this look the Florida Gators Softball team broke out yesterday, wearing yellow caps and stirrups in honor of all those battling Pediatric Cancer (from Gators SB Equipment). … Check out this Red Sox Fenway Park Green Monster “BSTN” artwork by @timscapes (from 70s Logos). … This is a really nice Garrett Popcorn tin found at the new Comiskey Park (from Devon Kuckenbecker). … Linfield College baseball has some pretty solid stirrups (from Sean Pellatz). … Looks like Rutgers has both matte and shiny hats, and apparently they wear them both in the same game (from Jay Wright). … In 1990 (and other years around that time) the Auburn Astros had “A-Star” caps (from Nick Lineback). That’s Bob Hurta (great name for a pitcher, no?) and if you want to know more about his short-lived MLB career, check out this website–Greatest 21 days. … What happens when opposing team “fans(?)” show up in your ballpark in their squad’s “gear”? Check out what the Reds did to some Cubs fans during a game in Cincinnati (from Patrick O’Neill). First comment: “Rizzo trolled the reds with a 3 -run homer in the 9thï»¿.”
NFL/College/High School/Football News: I’m not quite sure what’s going on here (or even if this is legit), but “The Kentucky Buckets discontinued the use of this helmet after the opposing team the ‘Kingpin chicken eaters’ had a similar helmet.” (from Timmy C.). … For their Spring Game, Virginia Tech broke out orange, maroon and white jerseys (from Andrew Cosentino). … Other than the fact the author of this article actually likes the Lions wordmark on the sleeve, I pretty much agree with his assessment of the new Lions unis. … During the UGA Spring Game, the officials were wearing caps with the SEC Logo (from Chitty ²Bang ²”). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Color video of 1965 Playoff Bowl (from Kurt). … Oops! “Nice of Sports Illustrated to put a Dolphins uni on Drew Brees,” says Bob Gassel, “but the sleeve logo is facing the wrong way.”
Hockey News: This one’s not really uni-related (and it’s barely hockey-related…seems more like something that should have been in The Office) but, “I feel like there’s some irony here,” says Dustin Perez. “Saw this at a hospital in Odessa TX.” I almost feel it should have been accompanied by live action shot. … There are decent replica jerseys, and then there are cheap knockoffs (from Tony Tengwall) who adds, “I feel like the Brodin guy got ripped off…” … I’m pretty sure this isn’t a hockey jersey, but since it comes from Wafflebored, I’ll put it here: Vintage Sand Knit jersey with interesting drop shadow western font. … And I KNOW this one isn’t a hockey jersey (but it’s also from the Waff): check out this Presbyterian Tequila Sunrise!
NBA News: After arriving in Kenosha on 4/18, Wisconsin Gov. Walker gave President Donald Trump a “Make the Bucks Great Again” hat & jersey. According to Josh King, Trump didn’t want to put the hat on. … Tweeter Ty Tamlin is back with his “jersey choice for each franchise,” this time with his selections for the NBA.
College Hoops News: “Never mind the kicks, Coach Cal is still rockin the old UK logo,” noticed Chitty ²Bang ²”, of this tweet from John Calipari, coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. … Yesterday’s article on “Championship Looks” prompted reader Matt Privett to suggest one from the college ranks: The 1993 NCAA Championship Game featuring the Wolverines vs. the Tar Heels. (This was also mentioned by Dan Tarrant in yesterday’s comments).
Soccer News: Here’s something I did not know (until yesterday)> Manchester City’s practice turf is a Carolina/powder blue (from Christopher Jaques). This, of course, makes total sense when you consider the color of their primary kit. … Looks like Daniel Salloi’s nameplate was askew last evening (h/t Jon Arnold and Jay). Here’s another look (from Amanda Vermilyea). … FC Cincinnati of the USL wore their black kits last night against Louisville City (from Brian Henke).
Grab Bag: Ooooohhhhh — check out this Marshall Thundering Herd sweater vest that Coleman Mullins found in some sort of thrift or consignment shop. Since he’s a Mountaineer fan, he adds, “Too bad its a Marshall one!” … OOOooohhh — check this out: “The stories behind some famous logos, many I’ve never heard before,” says 70s Logos. “VERY interesting stuff!” of this site showing 15 famous logos with hidden meanings. Some of them we have seen before, but it’s still pretty cool. … Eric wins the Pennant(s): Eric Lovejoy simply writes, “that feeling when you find these in your childhood closet at your parents old house!” … “What has the world come to?” asks Ken Traisman. “The Chicago Flip Cup Tournament logo resembles that of MLB. Shocking.” … Villanova lax debuted new helmets yesterday (from Michael Geddes).
And that’s it for today. Big thanks to Bill Hetrick for sharing (just a portion of) his tremendous collection, and congrats to the USA Jersey Raffle winner Drew Solka. Thanks also to Steve Rosenbeck for partnering with Uni Watch to create the jerseys for both Drew and Dan Kennedy.
You guys have a good Sunday, and a great week, and I’ll be back next weekend. But until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Cardinals never looked good in navy caps. Traditional schmaditional — the red caps were a massive and overdue improvement.”
— Jim Vilk