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Some Thoughts About the Bears’ Throwbacks

Earlier this week I mentioned that a group of Bears players and the team’s chairman, George McCaskey, had posted a two-minute video statement about the uncomfortable history of the uniforms that served as the basis for this Sunday’s 1936 throwbacks. (If you haven’t seen it already, it’s definitely worth watching. Nothing like it has ever been done before.)

I’ve written longer assessment of the video, and what it may mean for throwbacks in general, for SI. You can check it out here.

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Official scorer update: Yesterday’s post about MLB official scorers produced lots of robust discussion (the comments are definitely worth reading) and some new nuggets of information:

• The blog entry didn’t directly say who hires or employs the scorers, but many people appear to assume that it’s the individual teams. Nope — the scorers are hired/paid/etc. by MLB, not by the teams.

• In mentioning the impact that a scorer can have, I said scoring decisions can affect “who wins the batting title, whether a pitcher gets a no-hitter, whether a hitting streak continues, and, in some instances, which pitcher is credited with the victory.” I should have added that scoring decisions can also affect whether a player reaches a contractual incentive threshold that could trigger an additional financial payout, and can also affect fantasy league outcomes. In short: Scorers and their decisions matter a lot.

• Here’s something I didn’t know: Official MLB box scores do list the official scorer (look way down at the bottom, along with the weather, the time of the game, etc.). So do the box scores on Retrosheet (harder to find — just search on “scorer”). This just reinforces my point that there’s no reason broadcasters can’t also mention the scorer.

• At one point in the entry I disparaged the umpiring work of Angel Hernandez. Reader/commenter Padday responded by pointing me toward this piece, which shows that Hernandez, despite his bad reputation, is basically an average umpire — not great, but not awful either. Worth reading. My apologies to Hernandez.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Oh man, Todd Radom found this awesome 1952 Sporting News description of every Major League uni. Lots of neat little details. Highly recommended (from @_m1key). … Peter Tulupman sent us this photo of Lou Brock. If you zoom in, it appears he had white elastic added to his stirrups to to make them higher.. … The NPB’s Chunichi Dragons are selling a pendant that, for ¥50,000, can have a small portion of a loved one’s cremated ashes added to it (from Jeremy Brahm). …  The new minor league team in Nevada will be called the Henderson Hoo (from John Cerone).

NFL/CFL News: ESPN has a good article about the Chargers’ decision to finally embrace their powder blue unis (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … Frankenjerseys abound for the Reid family as they prepare for their sons, Texans S Justin and Panthers S Eric, to face off for the first time in their careers (from Scott Whitt). … The details surrounding the proposed CFL stadium in Halifax have been made public here and here (from Wade Heidt).

College Football News: South Carolina DB Shilo Sanders has switched from No. 12 to No. 21, the number that his dad, Deion, wore in the NFL (from Mike Chamernik and our own Brinke Guthrie). … Virginia Tech will go mono-white tonight against Duke (from Andrew Cosentino). … ’Cuse will go orange-blue-orange tomorrow (from Jakob Fox). … NC State is going red-white-red (from @ACC_Tracker). … UNC is going blue-blue-white tomorrow (from James Gilbert). … UNLV is going black-white-black at Wyoming. … Rice is going blue-blue-grey against Louisiana Tech (from Steve Bradley). … Penn is going with 1970s throwbacks this weekend (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer).

Hockey News: The Hurricanes were giving away cookies designed like their new road sweaters throughout Raleigh (from Scott M. Trembly and William I. Wells). … New unis for the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (from Wade Heidt).

Hoops News: Details of the new Lakers “City Edition” uni have apparently leaked … Hawks PF Ray Spalding and SF Marcus Derrickson will wear No. 26 and No. 32 respectively, while Kings G/F Justin James will wear No. 10 (from Etienne Catalan). … New unis for Bowling Green men (from Matthew Daley).

Soccer News: For the first time in a long time, Inter Milan will have a new shirt advertiser — Italian tire company Pirelli had been their advertiser since 1995 (from Josh Hinton). … Also from Josh, the Welsh Premier League will be renamed the Cymru Premier. Cymru is, of course, Welsh for Wales. … You can catch the rest of Josh’s daily download on his Twitter account.

Grab Bag: Delaware has added patches to their women’s sports unis to honor the 50th anniversary of Blue Hen women’s sports (thanks, Jamie). … USports, the Canadian collegiate athletic board, has revealed their 2019-20 championship logos (from Moe Khan). … Italian women’s club volleyball team Savino Del Benne has a new kit (from Jeremy Brahm).

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What Paul did last night: Did you know September is National Chicken Month? It’s true! And that means last night was time for Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.’s annual chicken-themed show at Otto’s Shrunken Head.

There were chicken-themed songs, chicken-themed signs, actual roast chicken to eat, and an all-around great time:

And, of course, there was also the annual crowning of the new Chicken Queen, who this time around is the lovely Natalie McMahon (a bit of poultry nepotism there, as she’s bandleader Michael McMahon’s sister-in-law):

Natalie’s reign will last until the final Thursday of September 2020, when tradition dictates that a new Chicken Queen will be crowned.

Whatever you did last night, hope it was just as much fun as what I did (although that seems hard to imagine!).

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For those who’ve been asking, yesterday afternoon my doctor removed the 11 stitches around my eye and nose that I received after Sunday’s bike crash. He said the ER stitcher did a great job and that everything seems to be healing nicely. My thanks to everyone who’s expressed concern. — Paul

Comments (44)

    The article about Angel Hernandez conveniently neglects inaccuracy behind the plate. I want to see that data before I change my mind that Angel Hernandez is not one of the 5 worst umpires in the game.

    That post was written in anticipation of his ALDS Game 3 performance behind the plate for the Yankees against the Red Sox, a game in which he had an accuracy of 98% on ball strike calls, above average not even withstanding the pressure and scrutiny on him after the night before.

    Moreover, according to a Boston University Study this year, “compared to his peers, he performed better than others, escaping the 2018 Bottom 10 MLB list.” (link) So there’s your data.

    “ESPN has a good article about the Chargers’ decision to finally embrace their powder blue unis”

    In which Paul is quoted…

    But overall a good article too.

    -Further to the hockey Ticker item, we had seen the black ones with the release of CCM Quicklite jerseys, but we had not yet seen the new white uniforms for the defending Memorial Cup champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.

    Here is a look at the old uniforms for comparison:


    -Things starting to look good for the stadium in Halifax to be ready by the 2022 CFL season. A good possibility the expansion Atlantic Schooners would begin play in Moncton, NB in 2021 and move over their new stadium in Halifax for 2022. Likely 2020 too early for the Schooners to take the field.

    I must have missed the post that listed the winners of the stirrups giveaway because I was surprised to receive a pair in the mail yesterday, so thank you to the gentleman for his generous endeavor!


    Never apologize for Angel Hernandez. Using the “Eyeball Test”, to say he’s awful is being generous.

    some might take exception to Cymru Premier’s logo, which i guess is meant to evoke the daffodil (itself a symbol of Wales).

    Regardless of stats, Hernandez goes out of his way to draw attention to himself, especially with players when he has made a questionable call. Most umpires try to lay low and do their job. With Angel it is all about him.

    Maybe, or maybe not. Either way, not relevant here. The reason I mentioned him to begin with was because I said an official scorer whose calls are successfully appealed/overturned more than other scorers would be “the Angel Hernandez of official scorers.” If Hernandez’s call-overturn rate is actually average, as the article suggests, then I made a bad comparison. That’s the point.

    Hernandez’s personal style, character, etc. is a completely different issue. Again, let’s please stay on topic. Thanks.

    I was dreading the worst for the new Lakers City Edition uni, but I’m pleasantly surprised by that leak. However, we’ve yet to see the shorts that go with the jersey. I hope Nike (or whoever’s designing these) stays humble and gives us regular side paneling instead of the BFBS disaster that Nike forced upon us.

    My guess is that this is Vlade Divac’s entry for the Lakers’ Lore Series. After all, he did receny get inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

    Regarding the ticker item for the Chunichi Dragons:

    They are offering to produce a “pendant” with a loved one’s ashes inside, not a “pennant” as stated in the post. The logistics of the latter would be worthy of a post in and of itself.

    I cannot believe Inter Milan is switching advertizers RIGHT NOW. Their Champions League shirt is RACING THEMED to go with the racecar tire advertisers! The whole thing was a tribute to Pirelli and Inter’s longstanding relationship!


    It’s not right now. It’s apparently in 2021 (if it even happens at all, because nowhere near everything that any European sports paper — Gazzetta dello Sport in this case — reports ends up happening).

    The odds that a fantasy baseball team will lose based on scorer error are fantastically low. You’re more likely to win Powerball than to lose a fantasy baseball game based on scorekeeper error.

    Actually, Chris, the bit about fantasy leagues, which hadn’t originally occurred to me, came from an official scorer who contacted me after yesterday’s post. He said fantasy implications have become a big issue with scoring.

    We already established yesterday that you don’t care who the scorer is. But some of us do. Please step back and let those of us who care about this issue discuss it instead of trying to sabotage that discussion with baseless (and, in this case, erroneous) assertions. Thanks.

    I agree that the Bears approach to the throwback was well done, particularly as it was used as a teaching moment regarding the team’s history and past transgressions. In the current climate where some demand the removal of statues and historical markers as a “cleansing” of history, I believe it’s better to retain those things (including a throwback uniform) and use them as a way to educate.

    This is a particularly poor analogy. Chicago has chosen to update the context of the old unis by dressing a largely nonwhite team in them. The people who want so desperately to retain the participation-trophy statues that you refer to specifically want to *avoid* recontexualizing them by putting them in museums where they so obviously belong.

    Instead, they want to make sure that the prime places of prominence in so many great cities and towns are dedicated to the celebration of traitors and common criminals, all to ensure that “those people” remember their place. Truly disgusting stuff. So no, it’s not the same; in fact, it’s sort of the exact opposite.

    Everyone should read the piece by Jack Silverstein over at Windy city Gridiron. One of the most thoughtful articles written in a while


    Syracuse football is NOT going orange-blue-orange, they are going orange-blue-blue. The poster for this week’s game features orange-blue-orange.

    I’m always interested in the Chargers’ “powder blue” celebration. I like the modern-day version jersey myself, but it’s often celebrated with the idea that it’s the same jerseys (color-wise) as when Allworth was playing (his pic the one I see most in this context). Problem is, the original jerseys, to my eyes, are not really all that close in color to the ones being used now as “classics”. The current blue is really light and bright, while the originals seemed to be more a cross between royal and baby blue. Is this a case where the fabrics used back then and/or perhaps photographic limitations make them appear to be more different than they really are? Didn’t know if anyone had ever compared the official colors to see.

    I think the Bears put to words something that has long been an untalked about visual contract when wearing throwbacks, particularly Pro Sports ones from before the 50s: mostly black or brown players wearing uniforms that are throwbacks to times when the players were all white. Every pre-1945 uniform it was basically mandatory the players were all white. To me, I can see why it can make some people have an aversion to older designs that harken back to a less inclusive time when black players and black people were marginalized in the sport, both from a playing standpoint, but also when black people had less influence on design. Sure black people aren’t owners or high up decision-makers in many pro or college sports, but black cultural influence is far stronger now than it was pre-70s, and I think it directs some peoples style preferences consciously or sub-consciously. What’s hard to detangle is that black cultural influence has I believe coincidentally risen at around the same time corporate influence has risen from a design standpoint so its hard to detangle what’s the main driver of style preferences from scenario to scenario. leading the Steelers in a hard-hitting discussion: do they wear black & gold or black & yellow?


    (partially behind paywall)

    Because of the Bears wearing the throwbacks, the Vikings will be wearing their purple jerseys at Soldier Field for the first time ever.

    Baseball is so fortunate to have the Negro leagues, so teams can wear those throwbacks occasionally which allows them to also wear regular throwbacks from the segregation era.

    Maybe the NFL could make up Negro league teams for each franchise? They could sell merchandise and donate the proceeds to their new foundation for equality and everyone would be a winner.

    Here’s some truly disgusting revisionism: At some point, the Nets have changed their ABA title banners to their current monochrome color scheme.


    Regarding the Bears’ thoughts on the throwback uniforms…I don’t really see the point in bludgeoning ourselves over the past.

    The morals of today are going to be different from the morals of both yesterday and tomorrow. For example, Paul considers himself to be progressive yet also spends a lot of time writing about the pleasures of eating meat. In the future, it is very likely that the cruelty of eating meat will be seen in the same light that something like slavery is seen today. Does that make Paul a bad person? I don’t think so. I eat meat myself. But I can see that the times will change.

    Nobody has “bludgeoned” anyone. Throwback uniforms are history lessons. The Bears are simply acknowledging part of the history. I fail to see why you, or anyone, would have a problem with that. You say you don’t see “the point” of it, but literally dozens of people have told me today that they didn’t even realize that the NFL was once segregated for 12 years. So at the very least, people have learned something. That seems like a very, very good “point.”

    I think there are also other valuable aspects to what the Bears have done, some of which I spelled out in my SI piece.

    As for me: (1) Actually, I have never described myself as “progressive,” so please don’t label me. Thanks. (2) I have acknowledged, in a Question Time entry, that I my meat consumption is selfish, bad for animals, and bad for the planet. Does it make me a “bad person,” as you put it? I’m not sure I’d use that term, but it’s probably an example (one of many) in which I’m not as good a person as I could be. All of which has exactly zero to do with the history lesson embedded in the Bears’ throwback uniform, so let’s please stay on topic. Thanks.

    Yeah, maybe that wasn’t such a great comment. Sorry for any offense for using you as an example, it was just done since I figured everyone here could relate to it in illustrating my point about how socially acceptable beliefs and actions change over time.

Comments are closed.