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A Look at George H. W. Bush in Uniform

For most of today’s photos, you can click to enlarge

Paul here, pinch-hitting for Phil, who’s traveling this weekend. He had planned to have an entry today but his laptop died while he was on the road, so I’m stepping up for today.

So: George H. W. Bush, who died yesterday at the age of 94, wore many uniforms in the course of his life. The most important one was his Navy uniform, shown above, which he wore during World War II.

But before and after the war, Bush wore a wide variety of sports uniforms and apparel — sometimes as a player, often as a dignitary throwing out the first pitch, and sometimes just as a fan. Let’s take a look:

Phillips Academy

Bush attended high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., where he played on the baseball team.

Bush also played on the school’s soccer team. This is the only photo I’m aware of that shows him wearing a full uniform for a sport other than baseball:


Bush attended college at Yale, where he was the captain of the baseball team and famously got to meet Babe Ruth while he (Bush, not Ruth) was in full uniform:

First Pitches

Bush threw out countless first pitches over the years, wearing countless team jackets and jerseys along the way. Here are a few of them:

This next shot is interesting. It shows Bush reacting after throwing an errant pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener on April 8, 1991. Note that he’s wearing a first baseman’s glove and what appears to be an American League logo on his windbreaker:

Update: Reader/commenter David Steinle reports the following:

Bush is wearing an American League umpire jacket in 1991 at Arlington Stadium. He borrowed it from Durwood Merrill, a native of Hooks, Texas, about 200 miles east of Arlington. In his book You’re Out and You’re Ugly, Too, Merrill wrote that he received a phone call from White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater the night before the Rangers’ home opener in 1991, inquiring if Bush could wear Merrill’s jacket when he threw out the first pitch. Of course Merrill readily agreed.


Bush also donned lots of sports apparel as a fan — Astros, mostly, but not exclusively.


If you have other photos of Bush in uniform, feel free to post the links in today’s comments. No political commentary, please — thanks.

(My thanks to Brinke Guthrie and Ignacio Salazar, who provided some of the photos used in this post.)

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Click to enlarge

And speaking of presidents…: Bizarre moment in yesterday’s Ohio State/Northwestern game, as the referee broke out the Teddy Roosevelt-style pince-nez glasses while checking out a replay. I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen that before.

You know, when I was growing up it was unheard of for an official in any sport to wear glasses, because it would invite the whole trope about Seeing Eye dogs and “Three Blind Mice” and all of that. But now we see eyeglass-clad officials in MLB, the NFL, college football, and lots of other sports. Never seen one using the the pince-nez specs until yesterday, though.

(My thanks to @cbusbj99 for this one.)

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Photo from @redditCFB; click to enlarge

Get lei’d: UCF saluted injured quarterback McKenzie Milton, who’s from Hawaii, on their nose and neck bumpers yesterday, putting “808” (Hawaii’s area code) on their front bumpers and “10Hana” (a play on Milton’s uniform number, 10, and “ohana,” the Hawaiian word for “family”) on the back. In addition, UCF gave out over 40,000 Hawaiian-style leis to fans attending the game, and wide receiver Dredrick Snelson (shown above) actually wore one during the game!

I’m assuming someone (or, more likely several someones) has worn a lei during a football game before — maybe a Rainbow Warriors player, or an NFL player at a Pro Bowl. But has anyone ever worn a lei at a football game that didn’t take place in Hawaii? Hmmmmm.

(My thanks to Drake Wilkstrom for bringing this one to my attention.)

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Click to enlarge

Where are those pince-nez glasses again..? Indiana high schools Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial played a rivalry game on Friday night. And while they have similar school names, they sure take wildly differing approaches to their uniforms. Elkhart Central (shown in white), who are called the Blue Blazers, have teeny-tiny “Blazers” chest lettering that might just be the smallest insignia I’ve ever seen on a basketball uniform. Seriously, what is the thinking behind that? Like, are they trying to save money on the lettering or what? Does anyone know if Nike does something similar for other schools? I might have to give Elkhart Central a call to get the story behind this one.

(My thanks to Terry Mark for bringing this to my attention.)

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Matching accessories: The Nets wore their Biggie Smalls-inspired alternates against the Grizzlies on Friday night, and Brooklyn players were wearing matching compression sleeves (additional pics here, here, and here). Matching socks, too. Maybe they’d already done this a couple of times over the past few weeks and I just hadn’t noticed. In any case, looks good!

(Thanks to Carl Jacia for pointing me toward this one.)


That’s it for today (sorry, no SMUW and no Ticker). I’ll be back with full content tomorrow. Think good thoughts for Phil’s laptop!

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Happy Hanukkah to all of those who are observing tonight. Peace. — Paul

Comments (38)

    Wonderful photos of Bush 41. I’ve seen him in his baseball uniform but never before in the Andover one. I do believe he was an Astros fan but, of course, he would don the home uniform when throwing out the first pitch.

    Now I have to find out more about those pince nez glasses. I have to assume these could be just readers or single vision glasses. It would be difficult making them bi or trifocals due to having them place exactly at a designated spot on the nose. Can you do that? Perhaps there’s a sweet spot, not really sure but now I’m intrigued by this. They make sense as readers just to whip out and stick ‘em on your nose.

    Eye doctor here – and that’s exactly there point – they’re just minimal reading glasses you throw on and then put away again. Wouldn’t make sense to have a multifocal lens because as you say they’d never be in the right place and because you can’t really walk around in them because they’d fall off easily.

    The reason for seeing this sort of thing (and really it should be more common) is the fact that even if you have great eyesight everyone begins to have trouble focussing at about 45. What that means is that things far away could be perfect but anything closer will get blurred – and with the increase in replay monitors etc an official will need to see clearly up close as well as at a distance (and when we think of distance we mean anything from about 6 feet and out). If you can see perfectly at the monitor distance and you’re 50 then distance is blurred and vice-versa – so any older official is unlikely to be seeing a monitor very clearly if they’re not using glasses (other than the slightly rare beast of someone with a distance eye and a reading eye or the obvious solutions like contact lenses).

    The use of the appropriate correction can only improve the chances of making the correct call right?

    As a Met fan, I was interested in that photo of Bush in a Met jacket. After a little googling, I found that the photo was from April 9, 1985. Makes sense, as that would likely be opening day. The caption from Getty says the Mets played the Padres, probably because the Padres pennant is visible on the outfield fence. However, I was at that game and they played the Cardinals as gary Carter won his first Met game with a walk-off HR.


    I was at the 1985 opener as well, Steve. I have no memory of Bush throwing out the first pitch, but I also don’t remember who did that at any other game I’ve attended.

    Getty captions are sometimes wrong. In this case, they either got the date wrong or the opponent.

    Bush is wearing an American League umpire jacket in 1991 at Arlington Stadium. He borrowed it from Durwood Merrill, a native of Hooks, Texas, about 200 miles east of Arlington. In his book “You’re Out and You’re Ugly, Too”, Merrill received a phone call from White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater then night before the Rangers’ home opener in 1991, and Fitzwater inquired if Bush could wear Merrill’s jacket when he threw out the first pitch. Of course Durwood readily agreed.

    “Everybody gettin’ down make no mistake… Nothin’ sounds quite like an 808.”
    Was hoping UCF’s nod was to the Roland 808 drum machine.

    Dial up “George H.W. Bush socks” in Google Images. If y’all didnt know already, he had incredible sock game.

    Bush the Elder was Ronald Reagan’s vice president for eight years, and Reagan was the first president to wear team merchandise while throwing a ceremonial first pitch, and the first president to take the field for the pitch. In his last year in office, Reagan added a third innovation: Throwing from the mound. Which he did credibly for a 77-year-old. Bush continued Reagan’s innovations and by doing so made them the custom, at least for the three presidents who would follow him. Which is true for much of Bush’s presidential record, and as with sports Bush suffered from the comparison to his immediate predecessor. The irony being that Bush was by far the more accomplished athlete, so that what for Reagan was performance and pretense was for Bush earnest and authentic. But Reagan was a great performer, whose love of pretense was earnest and authentic (and infectious), so Reagan the showman was an impossible act to follow for Bush. It made Bush’s first pitch performances look almost desperately copycat at the time, which tended to remind people of the ways in which Bush wasn’t Reagan, so it’s good that time and perspective allow us to appreciate one of the finest sportsmen to hold the presidency. It was just tough luck that at the time, Bush had to be the guy who followed the Gipper as the performer of public ceremonies. Good tribute today, and the soccer photo was a bit of a revelation.

    Not only have I never seen a pince-nez on a referee, I’ve never seen a pair in real life. Quite a sighting! But I can see the possible convenience for an NFL official, who might need reading glasses but lacks much cargo room on his person while wearing the uniform. Only a monocle would require less pocket space, but that might cause people to confuse the ref with a team owner.

    In lieu of the regular SMUW and 5&1, I thought there were some good looking college football games this week, including Washington in gold- purple- gold vs. Utah in red- white- red, and Clemson in orange- white- orange vs. Pitt in yellow- blue- yellow. Did anybody else have some games that stood out to them as especially good or bad looking?

    A good looking one. Alabama vs. Georgia in those great uniforms. That has to make our homemade top 5.

    Question I’ve had the last 24 hours about Bush’s Yale uniform. In the portrait, it looks like plain white flannels. In the photo with Ruth, it’s clearly pinstriped. Did Yale change its uniform during Bush’s years in college, or was the portrait overexposed so that the pinstripes were blown out? (The latter was fairly common at the time, which is why period photos aren’t always reliable as guides to whether and how teams wore pinstripes.)

    Another shot of him in pinstripes:

    Another shot showing pinstripes (less discernible but clearly there):

    Here’s a shot of him clearly *not* wearing pinstripes. It might be a grey road uniform, although it looks like the opposing team might also be wearing grey:

    In short: Not sure. But it doesn’t seem remarkable that a college team might change from pins to non-pins in a four-year span.

    Has anyone worn a lei at a football game that didn’t take place in Hawaii?

    SMU fans in Texas may have better recollection of this. Not a player but a coach. It is noted former SMU head coach June Jones wore a lei on the sidelines at SMU games outside of Hawaii. He used to be the coach in Hawaii so appeared he took the fashion statement with him.

    There is mention of this in 2 articles I found:



    Reason I thought it might be June Jones if a did some searching? He is currently the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL. No lei, but he has been wearing his Hawaiian shell necklace. Wore it in training camp and I remember seeing him wear it on the sidelines during a regular season game this year.


    Not only did June Jones regularly wear a lei while coach at SMU, they were often fresh and brought directly from Hawai`i by friends.

    Thanks for that article about Ken Niumatalolo and Tutu Betty. I can’t believe it takes seven hours to make a lei! That’s a lot of dedication! Great stuff :)

    Not during the game, but pre-game Breiden Feihoko (native Hawaiian) would wear a lei during the walk to the locker room before doing the haka with his family.


    A lot of high schools will buy a bulk order of a jersey template in their school colors and then have a local company screen print them. Then if a jersey rips or a student buys theirs they can take blank ones in to get them printed again rather than having to order more custom jerseys from Nike. The screen printer probably tried to fit everything into one screen resulting in the small logo and numbers.

    That jersey reminds me that I always thought it would be cool if the Penn State basketball team would wear uniforms with no wordmark or logos (just numbers and a single stripe down the side) to match the football team’s signature look.

    A quality pinch hitting appearance. I say this was a sharp single right through the middle of the diamond.

    Thanks, Jim! I realize lots of people probably miss the SMUW rundown and the Ticker, but I just wasn’t equipped to do those on short notice. Did what I could!

    Former President George H.W. Bush tosses the first pitch underhand before a softball game between Japan and Australia at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Aug. 14, 2004.

    Thanks for throwing together something last minute Paul. You could of left Sunday closed but you gave me something to read today. Thanks.

    Surprisingly, I like the look of the Nets’ Biggie Smalls tribute unis but hate the idea of paying tribute to a drug dealing gangster rumored to be involved in a murder. Looking forward to the Mets’ John Gotti alternates.

    MLB Network ran this excellent tribute video yesterday featuring President Bush in a full uniform from the old Denver Bears while playing in an old timers game.

    I always wondered why Phillips Academy would wear Andover on the jerseys rather than the school name in the GHWB days. That there is an A on the cap instead of a P would suggest that they primarily identified themselves by the town. All of the schools around me with names different from their town/city use the school name, not the town/city.

    Phillips Academy in Andover was the first school of its kind in the US, and one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. Three years after it was founded, the founder’s uncle opened Phillips Exeter Academy, another highly prestigious school. The two are longtime rivals, so it makes sense that they are differentiated by primarily referring to them as “Andover” and “Exeter”.

    might just be the smallest insignia I’ve ever seen on a basketball uniform. Seriously, what is the thinking behind that? Like, are they trying to save money on the lettering or what? Does anyone know if Nike does something similar for other schools?

    That is the smallest I’ve seen as well, but other Nike and Jordan unis aren’t much better. Michigan and North Carolina have had really small lettering for a couple of seasons now. I can only think of three reasons why: 1) they’re cheapskates, 2) they have a thing against stats people and broadcasters, 3) they’re purposely trying to irritate me.

    I just read yesterday’s comments and was dismayed to see some people are still falling for the really old and not *that* funny joke about the Seahawks’ “logo-less 1976 season.” Paul, could you or Phil devote a day to dispelling that so we’ll have something to refer people to next time it comes up in the comments?

    Also, good job filling in on short notice.

    President Bush in his flying uniform of the day

    From a 2010 Article in Forbes:

    “He even found time for some baseball. In the summer of 1984 former baseball greats Warren Spahn and Whitey Ford talked Bush into playing in an old-timers’ game in Denver. When the Vice President was introduced, the crowd booed–who wanted a politician to ruin the fun? But Bush started to win them over when he rapped a single into left-center field off of Milt Pappas. Bush later took the field at first base. At the plate Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda hit a bullet down the first-base line. “I thought it was going to kill the VP,” says Sean Coffey, then the military aide to Bush and currently a Democratic candidate for New York attorney general. But the 60-year-old Bush reflexively dove to his left and knocked the ball down, scooped it up and threw Cepeda out. The crowd went wild.”

    Image: link

    Story run of the game from UPI Archives

    Here’s a story of GHWB, while POTUS, attending two Frederick Keys minor league baseball games. He is wearing a Keys hat in one of the pictures.


    Oh my goodness I LOVE that Astros Tequila Sunrise jacket. I really enjoy the contrast when the tequila sunrise stripes are set on navy.

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