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Bucs and Crew Throw It Back For Negro League Tribute

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By Phil Hecken, with Chance Michaels

As you guys probably know, I love throwbacks. I love Negro League throwback/tribute games even more. There are a few teams who really do up the NLB thing right, and two of those clubs are the Pirates and the Brewers. So when I learned via the twitter earlier this week (and in a subsequent article) from Chance Michaels (Brewer expert and many-time co-collaborator) the two teams would be doing a NLB tribute game last evening, I knew I had to turn to him for the writeup. He didn’t hesitate. Here’s Chance:

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Brewers & Pirates Negro League Tribute
By Chance Michaels

Last night, the PIttsburgh Pirates held an African-American Heritage Night at PNC Park, including a “Turn Back the Clock” game with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. As a longtime student of Milwaukee baseball history, I had a keen interest in this game.

You may recall that I first wrote about the Milwaukee Brewers’ Negro League throwbacks for Uni Watch back in 2013. The Brew Crew had been honoring their city’s one-year Negro National League club, the 1923 Milwaukee Bears, for a while at that point without really knowing what the Bears had actually worn.

To recap: the Brewers’ first Negro League throwback was in 2001, against the Tigers in Detroit. The Brewers wore one-off gray uniforms with blue pinstripes and sleeves and the full name “MILWAUKEE BEARS” in blue letters across the chest.

In 2006, they decided to hold their own annual Negro League tribute games, and that’s where the Bears got a little fuzzy-wuzzy. Blame the poor contemporaneous coverage of the league in the mainstream (read: white) press, blame the short life of the ballclub, but it quickly became apparent that the Brewers weren’t actually quite sure what a Bears throwback should look like. They started with new white uniforms with black pinstripes and caps to match. After a couple seasons, the black-and-whites were replaced with a new throwback, solid white uniforms with royal blue sleeves and piping, and great-looking caps with a cool diamond logo. Three totally different designs supposedly representing the same one-year club.

In 2013, when I last wrote about them, the Brewers had settled (back) on the pinstriped white-and-blacks, and they’ve worn them ever since.
And they’ve looked pretty good in them. Most of the time. It’s a good look, although some details changed over time; sometimes they wore custom black helmets, sometimes their standard navy blue with the decals removed. Along the line, the squatchee went from its original black in 2006 to a more modern-style white, but that seems more like a New Era goof than anything. And finally, earlier this year, we got our first public look at the 1923 photo that convinced the Brewers that they were on the right track back in 2006 after all.

But with all that variation over the years, what we haven’t seen is a road version. Well, once. They had a one-off road version in gray with a black cap in Kansas City on June 26, 2006. But not again. Not until last night.

We had our first clue earlier this week, when Lids introduced a new retail Brewers cap, the same as the pinstriped white but in gray. That leak told us that the Brewers were planning something new. A quick look at their opponents’ promotional schedules, and it all fell into place.

And so, last night, we had the return of the roads. These new gray throwbacks are pretty sharp. Although these new throwbacks don’t have the MLB Batterman logo on the back of the cap or jersey, they do have Majestic and New Era logo creep on the side. Of course, given all the history it wouldn’t feel right without just a hint of speculation or guesswork, and the Brewers obliged us. The throwback cap, black in its original appearance, was now gray. And shame about the gray squatchee. Which is historically accurate? We may never know, until the next rare photo surfaces.

I don’t want to ignore the home team, though; they looked great. I’m a sucker for contrasting pocket flaps.

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The Pirates have a long and glorious history of Negro League throwbacks. Of course, it also helps that Pittsburgh also had a long and glorious history of Negro League baseball.

The Pirates have thrown back to the Homestead Grays at least eleven times since 1997, and worn Crawfords unis almost as often.

When they wear Crawfords uniforms, it’s more likely to be a pinstriped uniform, but these particular uniforms resemble those worn by the Pirates on June 28, 2014 against the Mets.

And while the Brewers wore their black helmets with white “M”s from previous years, the Pirates opted to sport their customary black-and-gold lids. Shame.

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Congrats to the Pirates for organizing this great-looking game. Shame about the final score, but I’m willing to overlook that for the rare privilege of seeing these beautiful road grays in action.

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Thanks, Chance! Great writeup as usual.

You can see more photos from this game here.

And you can see some video of the unis in action here:

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Happy Fifth Anniversary…

…to the AUD

My friend, and occasional Uni Watch contributor Clint Richardson, is one of the many readers who take this uniform stuff seriously, and who has his own blog/website dedicated to uniforms in one way or another. Just over five years ago, Clint began work on the “Auburn Uniform Database,” and it’s grown exponentially since he first began it. He started it as a way to track the team’s hoops unis, and since then it has mushroomed into a site that tracks almost all the unis worn by the various WDE teams. You can check it out here.

In a recent e-mail, Clint said,

Hey Phil,

Hope everything is going well up north.

Wanted to share with you that the Auburn Uniform Database turns 5 this weekend. Sunday is actually the anniversary of the first post on the site. I created a new website and anniversary logo for it and really happy with how it all turned out.

I was curious if you would be interesting in helping me celebrate. The AUD wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of you and Uni-Watch.


Since I was on vacation last weekend, I’m running the Anniversary/Congrats here today. Great job, Clint — and thanks for your kind words. You’ve really built up a nice little site there and I hope it continues to flourish as the years tick by!

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Too Good For the Ticker

Too Good…

for the Ticker

This one’s too good not to share.

UW pal Comrade Robert Marshall, as many of you know, has outfitted us with stirrups, created awesome bobbleheads, and assisted me with many columns, is a man of many talents. Besides bobbleheads, he also makes wine cork toppers. He also seemed to enjoy choking the shit out of me at a UW gathering back in 2010. But I digress.

With the Croats set to take on the French for the World Cup title, Robert sent me this photo of some of his newer handiwork. In an e-mail he wrote, “What do you think skip? Just made these for an Irishman and a Croatian that moved to Chicago within the last 7 years. I ref with both guys.”

These are awesome. I asked Robert if he had a France stop-top and unfortunately, he does not. So we’ll settle for half of the World Cup finalists (and of course everyone will be rooting for Croatia anyway, right???). Great stuff, Comrade!

OK. Now, on to the ticker…

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Not uni-related, but too good not to lead this section: the Washington Post has an absolutely gorgeous image of the District of Columbia as home plate. Wonderful (from Andrew Cosentino and Steven Sundbeck). … Alan Filipczak noticed that the bottom of the Pirates’ “P” cap logo is shaped like a keystone. Pennsylvania is, of course, the Keystone state. … Love love love the logos for the High Point Rockers, a new Atlantic League team (from Scott Markiewicz). … The Durham Bulls have some great unis for Stranger Things Night (from Christopher Jacques). … The Spokane Indians are breaking out Boba Fett on their Star Wars Night jerseys (from William Laughlin). … Nice green vs. orange matchup in the Bay Bridge Series last evening (from Kevin Forney and Joe Farris). … Last night, Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong was wearing bright yellow cleats (from our own Alex Hider). … The Dunedin Blue Jays will honor their home in town on Thursday, July 12, at Dunedin Stadium during their game against the Clearwater Threshers by taking the field in custom Dunedin orange jerseys (from Pete Ortiz).

College/High School Football News: Tennessee is dropping their grey alternate (from @kleiny42). … Boston College is evidently adding two stripes to the collar of their unis (from @BC_Heights_Lows). … Southern Miss launched their new Adidas unis yesterday (from @ECH_sports). … No link, but in an interview with NFL Radio on Thursday, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that the Fighting Irish will be wearing pinstriped unis during their game against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium (from Joseph Basford).

Hockey News: Some inconsistencies incoming with Warrior helmets: in an Instagram comment, Warrior confirmed the “W” glyph will remain on their “Covert” model, but the Warrior wordmark will be on their Alpha One model (from Mike Engle). … The Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League updated their logo in part because of difficulty rendering the “dust” in their old logo at center ice (from Bruce Strang). … A website called The Sin Bin will be holding a minor league hockey logo tournament which kicks off Monday. Our own Phil has submitted these logos for your consideration. “Vote for the Griffins,” he says. Make sure to check the internets on Monday for the first round.

NBA News: Chris Creamer and Conrad Burry teamed up for some mockups of the new Lakers unis from (Jonathan Neal). … Over 5,000 fans ranked NBA logos and FanJuicer aggregated their rantings and opinions, resulting in the Bucks coming out on top and the Clippers finishing last (from Mike Chamernik). … LaVar Ball’s Junior Basketball Association’s Chicago team has one player listed just as “Lee” on their website and the player also had a weird gray nameplate, different from his teammates (from @kleiny42).

Soccer News: England will wear their red kits in today’s Third Place game in the World Cup, meaning Belgium will be in yellow and neither team will be in their primary kits (from Moe Khan). … This is old, but too good not to post: the BBC released an excellent article about how towns on the border of France and Belgium coped with the World Cup semi-final match between the two nations. It includes a link to this awesome cartoon, depicting French star Antoine Griezmann and Belgian star Romelu Lukaku arguing about the proper term for the word “ninety,” as in France the word ninety is “quatre-vingt-dix” (literally “four-twenty-ten”) and in Belgium (and Switzerland, and parts of francophone Africa) the word is “nonante”. … All of these are from Josh Hinton: Real Madrid’s third kit has been leaked from FootyHeadlines. … Red Bull RB Leipzig’s new home and away have leaked. … São Paulo FC have released their home and away kits. … You can print out and make your own paper model of DC United’s new stadium (from Bryan Martin Firvida). … Bleacher Report inexplicably photoshopped Croatia midfielder Luka Modrić into a Croatia-colored Nigeria kit. Because it’s not like there aren’t literally thousands of pictures of him in a Croatia jersey (from Billy King). … The following four items are all from Ed Żelaski: New home kits for Polish side Śląsk Wrocław . … Scottish side St. Johnstone have released their new home kit, their first with new provider BLK. … Lechia Gdańsk launched their new kits. … New kits for AEK Athens. … Allez les Bleus!

Grab Bag: Geeks Who Drink (a trivia game) featured an awesome uni-related trivia question that should be pretty easy for any Uni Watcher (from Zeke Perez Jr). … The New York Times has an excellent article on the inventor of liquid paper. NYT link, obvs (from @OlegKvasha). … “Only tangentially uni-related (though what is a passport but a sort of national uniform), but an interesting Jerusalem Post story on how the Iroquois national LAX team managed to fly to Israel for the world championships using their tribal, rather than Canadian, passports,” writes R. Scott Rogers.

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Comments (10)

    Hey everyone. I submitted the ticker item about how the lower left corner of the Pirates’ logo kind of looks like a keystone. I’d love to get a second opinion. It looks like a keystone, right? Is it just a coincidence?

    I’d never seen it before, but now that you point it out it seems obvious. So thanks! Is it deliberate or a coincidence? That’s a question of fact to be settled by research. But I would assume coincidence to be more likely to be the case.

    I have never realized it either. The few photos I have seen from 1960’s Pirate logos did not look so much like a keystone, but the ones from the 1970s really did


    It is too much of a coincidence and I think it must be intentional. Maybe Jerry Reuss can chime in?

    Sounds like some of you see the keystone too! Awesome! I should’ve waited to submit it on a weekday or at least something other than a summer Saturday.

    I fear that these findings will fall upon deaf ears and I am counting on any witnesses to carry this knowledge forward into a bright future.

    Definitely an interesting thought worth exploring more!
    It seems that there could be an homage to the Steelers’ hypocycloids, too.

    Not sure if you’re in Pittsburgh or not, but the keystone is generally well-known in the logo. People often refer to the lettering used on jerseys and as the logo since the late 40s as “keystone serifs”. In fact, during last night’s Negro League Tribute, Steve Blass (Pirates’s tv color man) used that term while discussing Buccos uniforms.

    Not from the Pittsburgh area–thanks for the info! I don’t think there are many people outside of Pittsburgh who know about this. I Googled “keystone serif” and at least it came up with a Reddit thread.


    Other than that, the internet appears devoid of this knowledge and the Uni Watchers today don’t seem to be aware.

    Wow. I’ve often noticed that those upper right points on the P were excessively pointy, but never thought of that.

    Is this logo full of secrets?

    If Paul takes his customary August sabbatical, this could be an interesting filler lede.

    Anyone else just a bit annoyed that the linked Getty images in the lede don’t go to larger versions of the pics, but to Getty’s sports album site?

    Based on the ratio between total games played by the Milwaukee Bears and the number of games played by the Brewers wearing Bears uniforms, the Milwaukee Bears may be the most-honored Negro Leagues team. If nothing else, the Brewers are on pace to play more games wearing Bears uniforms than the Bears played during their one truncated season. My only complaint is that the Brewers typically interpret the Bears throwbacks as being black rather than blue. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t know for certain what color(s) the Bears wore, but the odds are much higher that they wore blue than black.

    And I absolutely love those Crawfords throwbacks. The Grays are the better known Pittsburgh Negro Leagues team, but the Crawfords have better throwback uni options in my book – and the Crawfords are a more interesting story, too.

Comments are closed.