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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Larry Brown

Happy Halloween, kids. I laughed when I saw this vintage magazine cover in a friend’s Facebook feed the other day — in part because it’s goofy, but also because it’s so obvious that they based the illustration on a photo of Washington running back and former NFL MVP Larry Brown:

Embed from Getty Images

I mean, couldn’t they have changed the number, or the helmet color, or something?

Of course, if you really want to talk Halloween and uniforms, you pretty much have to talk about this:

That’s Packers offensive lineman Ken Ruettgers during a Monday Night Football Game that took place on Halloween, 1994. You can get the full story over on the excellent Packers Uniform Database.

Did you ever dress up as a ballplayer (or hockey player, or whatever) for Halloween? When I was in eighth grade, I was feeling like I was too old for trick-or-treating, so I didn’t bother with a costume. But I was on a rec league football team at the time, and we had practice after school on Halloween. By the time I left practice and started biking home, it was dark — and I was hungry. I still had my shoulder pads on, and I had my helmet with me, so I stopped at a few houses, where the grown-ups eyed me sort of dubiously (they could apparently tell that I hadn’t exactly put a lot of thought or energy into this “costume”) but nonetheless put candy in my helmet when I held it out toward them.

Over on the baseball diamond, tonight will mark the fifth time — all since 2001 — that a World Series game has been played on Halloween (the other four are listed here). I usually prefer to see white vs. grey in the Fall Classic, but wouldn’t it be cool if the Astros wore their orange pumpkin-colored jerseys for the occasion? Probably too much to hope for, but a kid can dream.

Meanwhile, over on the ice, the Rangers wore orange and black practice gear yesterday. Not sure if other NHL teams did that. Anyone..?

One final thought: As many of you know, I donate blood every two months. My latest appointment is this afternoon. First time I’ve ever donated on Oct. 31. I’m hoping the staff at the donor center will be dressed up as vampires.

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[Editor’s Note: Next up is a guest sub-lede from Tom Konecny, who’s made some interesting World Series observations. — PL]

Dodger Stadium, Then and Now
By Tom Konecny

The Dodgers are in the World Series this year — their first appearance in the Fall Classic since 1988, a 29-year dry spell. Most MLB teams have gotten new stadiums in that time period, but not the Dodgers. Dodger Stadium is still there, and is now the third-oldest MLB ballpark, trailing only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

In some ways, Dodger Stadium is the same as it ever was. But in other ways, there have been a lot of changes since the team’s last World Series appearance. Take a look at this stadium photo from Game Two of the 1988 Series, followed by a shot from last week:

Embed from Getty Images

In the first photo, there are no ads on the outfield wall, no signs along the sides of the scoreboard atop the bleachers, no outlandish advertising ribbon at every level of the ballpark, no ads on the tarp, dugout facing, or foul pole. What stands out is the beautiful bunting.

Fast forward to today and you’ll find a stadium overloaded with advertisements — and that’s not even counting the virtual ads that are digitally projected during TV broadcasts (sometimes to disastrous effect). Compare the centerfield-camera view from 1988 to today (click to enlarge):

Now let’s look at a shot of a home run being hit over the right field wall (click to enlarge):

And now let’s compare shots of the managers in the dugouts:

It all pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Let’s hope the spread of advertising on uniforms, which has now begun in the NBA, doesn’t follow a similarly invasive pattern.

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Time for the Halloween edition of Collector’s Corner. Since the trick-or-treating starts in mere hours, it’s too late for you to get any of these items for this year, but maybe they’ll give you some ideas for 2018, right? Let’s kick off with this nifty Halloween yard sign perfect for all you St. Louis Cardinals fans. Got a few scratches and dings, but the real Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t a real looker, either.

Now for the rest of this week’s spooky picks:

• Here’s something every Red Sox fan needs for their desk this time of year — a Red Sox Halloween pumpkin mini-snowglobe. It’s just a few inches tall, so no light-up display or scary music, or even “Sweet Caroline.”

• Of course, this hockey mask is just right if you’re going to a Halloween party as Jason.

• I can’t imagine why anyone would want a Miami Dolphins Halloween Zombie figure, but if you do, you’re in luck.

• The Colorado Rockies offered this pumpkin lapel pin back in 1994.

• This little plush bat figure is a fan of the Green Bay Packers. Who knew?

• The Arizona Diamondbacks had this Halloween pennant for their 1998 inaugural season.

• Turning to the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave away Halloween-themed pucks during the 2007-2008 season.

• The Ottawa Senators also did the puck thing, giving away this Halloween puck during the 2014-2015 season.

• Go trick-or-treating with this Milwaukee Brewers candy ghost bucket.

• Oakland A’s fans can put the team’s “A” logo on their pumpkin with the help of this carving kit.

Also, on a personal note … Last week Paul mentioned Earl Shore’s latest salute to the golden age of electric football, The Electric Football Wishbook, and I’d like to put in the good word for it as well. It’s packed with the pages that the various department stores (Sears, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward) ran to advertise the games. Tons of detail in this one, folks. Check it out here.

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Helmet/shirt reminders: In case you missed it Friday, I had a prototype Uni Watch mini-helmet made (shown at right; click to enlarge). Full details here. The response to this has been very positive, so we’ll definitely be making this available for sale, possibly as soon as this week. If you want me to email you when we’re ready to take orders, let me know.

Also: Some folks asked if I could sign/autograph their mini-helmets. I’d be happy to do that, but I won’t be making/shipping the helmets myself. They’ll be produced and shipped by Casey Tierny (aka MiniHelmetGuy), who’s based in Texas. But if you want to send your helmet to me after you receive it, along with a couple of bucks to cover the return shipping, I’ll gladly sign it and send it back your way.

Meanwhile, also from last Friday, we have a bunch of new Naming Wrongs shirts for the Hive, Nassau Coliseum (don’t scoff, at least not until you see the awesome designs!), the Hartford Civic Center (now available in UConn colors), Reunion Arena (we’ll have Mavs colors available later this week), and Brendan Byrne Arena.

And from earlier last week, in case you missed it, we also launched new shirts for the L.A. Forum, the Hoosier Dome, the Salt Palace, and RFK Stadium (now in DC United colors).

Okay, end of sales pitch. Thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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KRC redux: It was 30 years ago today — Oct. 31, 1987 — that I was given a quarter with a hole drilled throughout it during the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. I put that quarter on my key ring, and it eventually became the basis for my ongoing “Key Ring Chronicles” project. If you don’t know the full story (or just want to see it again), it’s available here.

I first wrote about the quarter here on Uni Watch. It was reader Jeff Barak who suggested turning it into a crowd-sourced project — an excellent idea for which I’ll always be grateful. You can see the full archive of KRC entries here.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsJose Altuve and Justin Verlander of the Astros are such good pals that they’ve made BFF T-shirts (from Kary Klismet). … Great New York Times piece on the history of the champagne-soaked celebrations in MLB locker rooms. [As an aside: I have a champagne cork that a writer friend of mine scooped up off the floor of the Mets’ clubhouse after they defeated the Cardinals in the 2000 NLCS. No way for me to prove its provenance, of course, but it’s still one of my cherished objects. — PL]

Pro Football NewsA store at the St. Louis airport is still selling Rams merchandise — nearly two years after the team moved away (from Joel Reagan). … A club ice hockey team is poaching the old Jags logo (from Tom V.). … Vote on the best uni matchup of week eight here (from Uni Watch FB Page). … It’s still October, but the Broncos were wearing G.I. Joevember captain’s patches for last night’s game against the Chiefs. Lots of camouflage sideline gear, too (from Phil). … Would football be safer without helmets and pads? A semi-pro league thinks so.

College Football NewsKent State will wear mono-gold tonight against Bowling Green, including a new helmet (from Kevin D. Riley). … Rutgers will be going mono-black on Saturday (from Michael Romero). … Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will both wear decals raising awareness to the opioid crisis this weekend during the Bedlam game this weekend … NC State has two players wearing two initialed-NOBs, both of which are in mixed case (from Rex Henry).

Hockey NewsJust in time for Halloween, ESPN has this great list of the top 15 spookiest goalie masks of all time — but it didn’t include Mike Chamernik’s pick of Rogie Vachon’s smiley mask. … Staying in the crease, Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist has a new mask (from Al N. Kreit). … A referee must have had a helmet issue during last night’s Islanders/Golden Knights game in Brooklyn, as John Muir caught the Isles’ equipment manager working on a black helmet. … ICYMI from the NFL section: A club hockey team on Long Island is using the old Jacksonville Jaguars logo with one notable exception — a red tongue (from Tom V.). … The Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western League will wear Star Wars unis on Saturday (from Steven Schapansky).

NBA NewsTimberwolves SG Shabazz Muhammad says he will legally change his first name to Bazz (from Mike Chamernik). … LeBron James’s torn jersey from the Cavs’ season opener sold for $45,000 at auction, with the proceeds going to hurricane relief (from Rich Mueller). … The baskets at the Rockets’ arena — and practice facility — still bear the Adidas logo (from Andy Scianc and Amaan).

College Hoops NewsNew unis for Navy. The pattern on the shorts this year mimics the footprint of the team’s home arena. … Pitt will reportedly sport a new white throwback uni at some point this season (from Phil). … New uniforms for Williams College (from Thomas Adams-Wall). … The women at Bethel College in Kansas have a new uni set (from Drew Johnson).

Soccer NewsLas Vegas Lights FC, a new USL expansion team, unveiled a sharp new crest yesterday inspired by the neon lights of Vegas. … Following up on yesterday’s post: Just like Leicester City, Burnley and Newcastle are wearing their Remembrance Day poppies unusually close to the makers mark on their jerseys. All three teams wear Puma kits. … Speaking of poppies, a fan at the Leicester/Everton game on Sunday wore a poppy suit (from Mark Coale).

Grab Bag: South Korea has unveiled its bobsled and skeleton uniforms for the upcoming Olympic games (from Phil). … Mark Campbell sends along a few updates from the Rugby League World Cup: Scotland’s Kane Bentley has socks so short they’re almost non-existent. Also, France and Lebanon played a match in remarkably similar kits. … Calling all designers: The Los Angeles Bike Coalition is looking for someone to develop a logo for the coalition’s 20th anniversary. More info on that here. . … Auto racing is notorious for squeezing in as much advertising as possible, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen this before — a watch company is advertising on Formula 1 racer Lewis Hamilton’s gloves (from @FunkyColdMattina).

Comments (55)

    “A store at the St. Louis airport is still selling Rams merchandise ”

    At least it is 75% off.

    I also like the ‘Thanks for the memories” bit!

    Halloween and sports often makes me think of these 1994 “Monsters of the Gridiron” cards. Most are horrible. Some are OK.


    The Puma kits Burnley, Leicester, Newcastle, Arsenal And others wear have two buttons leading to the collar, im pretty sure that’s why they moved the poppy

    The other thing that strikes me about Dodger Stadium 1988 is the HUGE amount of foul territory behind home plate. They’ve filled a lot of that in to reduce foul territory and bring in more super pricey seats. Not uni-related, but a huge difference.

    In this photo, you can see how much was filled in:


    It’s amazing how dark Dodger Stadium was in 1988. Obviously sports lights have evolved in 29 years but still really dim.

    I wonder if it was assumed originally that football games might be played there, so enough foul territory was left in to allow for a gridiron?

    Also, the super premium seats at Dodger stadium are now out in the open, so celebs can see and be seen. They used to be covered and below field level. Remember the Panama hat guy in the 70s/80s with the radar gun you used to see in the centerfield camera view?

    Even though it was not painted, Cesar Maniago’s mask when he played for the Canucks was kinda creepy looking.


    I think a return to the royal blue and mustard on a permanent basis is inevitable for Pitt athletics. The only variable is time.

    I’m coining the phrase “Gibson creep”… and Uni-Watch is now guilty of it. Every stinking October for the past 29 years I’ve had to endure watching this one home run of Kirk Gibson’s. They play it every year during the post season on TV and it will also randomly pop up in other forms of media. Today it was Uni-Watch blog. For crying out loud it’s ONE play that decided ONE game of a World Series THREE DECADES AGO!!! It didn’t even clinch the series as it was game one! Everyone knows it was Dodgers pitching that shut down the A’s in that series. Yet here it is again. >> Do they play Joe Carter’s home run from 1993? Rarely if ever and it actually WON the series. (I realize for your blog Carter’s HR in Toronto makes little sense as an logo creep comparison example) However, as a lifelong A’s fan who would LIKE to “move on” it makes it difficult to do so when every October they dust this relic off. Really? Was it a great play? Yes! Was it the end all, be all of WS plays? Heck no. There have been so many incredible WS moments it makes you wonder why they keep digging this one up? Is it because of his injury? Well he wasn’t too injured not to play or swing a bat. I’d like to think it was a David beating Goliath moment, but even as an A’s fan, it was obvious by the 1990 sweep from the Reds that those A’s teams were NOT a Goliath. >> I’ve been rooting for Houston in this series just because they refuse to stop beating this dead horse.
    To this day I still don’t know why Giambi didn’t SLIDE!!!!!

    Gibson’s HR gets too much attention. Maybe its Vin Scully’s voice, maybe its the gimpy leg, I don’t know. Carter’s HR was a much bigger moment, as was this mostly-forgotten HR


    Very nice. And how attractive those clean outfield walls look with no advertising! Just the A’s logo and the distance numbers. Sigh.

    When I lived in SoCal, they played that highlight at every game … in 2002! You couldn’t escape it. Billboards, oil paintings … that shit was everywhere.

    BTW … if you look at the outfield shot of Gibson’s homer, you can see the brake lights of a Dodger fan leaving the park early and then slamming on them when they heard Vin Scully’s call.

    I think it is because of his gimpy legs that it gets so much attention. He wasn’t expected to play at all in the Series after getting hurt against the Mets, and it was his only plate appearance in the Series.

    Personally, though, I prefer his homer in Game 5 of the 1984 Series. Granted, it wasn’t a game-winner or series-winner, but rather insurance, as the Tigers still had to get through the top of the 9th. And it may be my hometown bias that’s showing. But that’s one homer I can’t get enough of.

    Okay, I realize this shot is from the movie “Eight Men Out” that came out in 1988, the same year of your comparison, but I’m pretty sure they were going for historical accuracy. Look at the “logo creep” in this shot. So was advertising common for awhile, then went away, and now has come back??? Did spectators at early 20th century ballgames complain about the advertising on outfield walls?

    So was advertising common for awhile, then went away, and now has come back???


    Did spectators at early 20th century ballgames complain about the advertising on outfield walls?

    Don’t know. But much of the advertising at early-1900s ballparks was from local businesses, not giant corporations. And none of it was geared to maximize exposure from certain TV camera angles.

    The revival of advertising on outfield walls occurred when Camden Yards opened in 1992. The advertising was located in the left and right field corners and took off from there. Here’s a photo from the first game on April 6, 1992: link

    I wonder how that process played out. As late as 1955 outfield walls were still plastered with ads.


    But by the 60’s they were gone.


    I assumed it had to do with television, as in TV broadcast rights dwarfed whatever they were getting on physical signage, and the networks were probably protective of what brands got exposure on their airwaves. I know that NHL clubs had a battle with broadcasters when they started adding corporate signage to the sideboards that were visible on TV, and in one nationally-televised game there was a big controversy when the network purposely avoided showing the boards and made for a horrendous telecast.

    Eventually all hell broke loose when they decided to allow the teams to expose their advertisers in more and more visible parts of the stadium, and the networks got to control certain portions (most notably behind home plate), and everybody got richer! Except for most fans.

    I know it’s BFBS, but I don’t entirely mind Rutgers’ black unis. Probably because it pairs nicely with scarlet (a team whose colors were scarlet and black would probably be nicely kitted out on the field). At least the Adidas unis have more scarlet in them than the klown kollege unis Nike had them in for a few years. Plus, RU only does the Black Knights routine for one game a year, and keeps pretty consistent with its uni program.

    Oh, and it’s always fun to see my name in the ticker.

    Talking about stadium advertising, I’m reminded of what might be my least favorite “development” in that area:


    See the position of the ads? You can’t properly focus on left-handed batters because they’ve got colorful ads behind them, but for right-handed batters, there’s a nice clean black background and the ads frame the batter’s body.

    It reminds me of the first time I went to a batting cage in Japan and all the pitching machines except one had only right-handed batter’s boxes; there was nowhere to stand on the other side of the plate.

    Of course, knowing how things are going these days (this is the company that spent an insane amount of money to desecrate uniforms with advertising patches in basketball and soccer), they’ll probably put up some ads behind the right-handed batter and make him hard to see, too.

    The story about Shabazz Muhammad says that he’s not simply changing his first name to Bazz — he intends to have it be his only name:

    “Each [new Target Center locker] includes a lighted plate bearing the player’s first and last name.

    “Except for one: Reserve forward Shabazz Muhammad’s just reads “Bazz” for a reason.

    “Muhammad said before Friday’s 119-116 victory over Oklahoma City that he intends to legally change his name to just the short, single nickname.”

    Checked out the 15 scariest goalie masks; as a bonus, Dave Dryden’s (#6) shows a player with an early attempt at a visor.

    I, too, hate the return of ads to the walls of major-league outfields.

    I always thought it was cool how some stadiums would have the logos of the other teams in the league on the walls instead.

    The question of who is to blame, however, comes down to this…it’s us, the fans. We are the consumers of the product, and we vote with our dollars.

    It seems to me that the only way to get ads off of uniforms and courts and fields and walls is for fans to start boycotting games both in person and on TV an explicitly state that the ads are ruining the game experience for them

    Until that happens, league owners will have no incentive to not continue to slap ads everywhere they can.

    Exhibition Stadium (where I grew up watching games) did this


    The great thing was that they used it as a giant scoreboard. The order of the logos was the current standings.

    Paul –

    I don’t recall the full context, but a few years back there was a question about Rose Bowl uniforms with the shoulder adornments, and I remember not being able to find documentation that went back to Warren Moon. This photo from today’s NFL Wrongs story shows they went back to at least 1978… just in case anyone still cares :)


    Today’s sub-lede reminds me of the scene in Major League II when they cover the outfield wall in ads to try to make the team profitable. The gag, of course, being that it seemed like a completely absurd and unbelievable stunt at the time for an MLB team.

    Major League II, which used Oriole Park at Camden Yards to depict Cleveland Municipal Stadium (demolished by then), and prominently displayed the Bromo-Seltzer tower behind the ballpark!

    Err, Cleveland Stadium wasn’t demolished until November 1996. Major League II came out in March 1994.

    In any case, it was somewhat odd that they didn’t go back to Milwaukee County Stadium, where they’d filmed the first movie.

    In ’88, and certainly for many years before that, the only advertising within Dodger Stadium was a circular orange Union Oil 76 sign above the left field message board. You can barely see it in the picture provided. Union Oil was a longtime sponsor of the Dodgers, and I think that sign was there until Frank McCourt became the owner. Now, that sign is a Dodger LA logo while the rest of the stadium is plastered with both fixed and electronic advertising. I find that ironic, and depressing.

    According to “Mover & Shaker,” a Walter O’Malley biography by Andy McCue, Union Oil got the right to be the only gas station at Dodger Stadium and “the only non-Dodger advertising spot in the stadium, a round sign atop the message board above the left-field pavilion.”

    Would football be safer without helmets and pads? A semi-pro league thinks so.

    Probably. Most likely. But with no field goals or punting I’m not watching it. I’d rather lose tackling than the kicking game.

    Football helmets were originally developed to stop skull fractures-and they’re actually quite good at that. If this no-pad style of play was reproduced in many leagues I’d fear that life threatening skull fractures would increase.

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