Skip to content

Let’s Look at Some Vintage Uniform Ads

Posted in:

For all images, click to enlarge

I’ve written a fair amount over the years about uniform catalogs, but I haven’t written so much about single-page uniform ads that have run in magazines. I recently stumbled upon an eBay seller who’s offering quite a few vintage uni ads, so we’re going to look at some of those today.

We’ll start with the one shown above, a 1954 ad from Yankiboy, which was a big name in the youth uni biz at the time. Look how they depicted the kids with super-billowy uniform pants and super-spindly lower legs — an odd choice.

Also, note that the word “uniform” does not appear anywhere in the ad. Instead, the unis are consistently referred to as “suits.” That was fairly common in uniform ads and catalogs in the early 1900s, but not so common in 1954!

Also of note: These flannel uniforms — er, suits — are cotton, not wool.

Here’s another Yankiboy ad, this time from 1953:

The illustrations are more photo-realistic for this one. Again, what we see here are cotton “suits.” Also: “New Selling Extra! Every suit is made with zippered fly, and tunnel loops.” I guess the pants had previously been button-fly..?

Here’s an interesting 1954 ad from another manufacturer, Empire:

The notable thing here is that Empire was offering “exact replicas of major league baseball uniforms.” Interestingly, the ad lists seven teams’ designs as “authentic duplication[s]” (Giants, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Braves, Senators, and Tigers) and five others as “licensed and officially approved” (Reds, Indians, Phillies, Cardinals, and Pirates). It’s not clear exactly what the difference is between those two classifications, nor why the four remaining MLB teams at that time are left out of the mix (White Sox, Red Sox, A’s, Orioles).

I had no idea such a thing was available in 1954. At first I thought these replica uniforms (no “suits” here!) could only be purchased as full team sets, but the ad says they’re good for “Christmas and Birthday Giving,” which suggests that they could be purchased one at a time — just like licensed merch today. Who knew?

Next up is a 1949 ad from Sackman Brothers (Yankiboy’s parent company):

This is a weird one. The ad describes the uni as “an authentic replica of the famous outfit worn by the idolized ‘King of Swat.'” Now, for one thing, Babe Ruth never wore a uniform like the one shown in the ad, at least that I’m aware of. And he was the Sultan of Swat, not the King!

It’s worth noting that Ruth died in 1948, and this ad is from 1949. A bit of profiteering off the Babe’s demise, perhaps..?

Here’s another one from 1949, this time from a company called Major Sportswear:

Obviously, this ad isn’t as visually pleasing. I only included it here because the no-frills ad design seems to fit with the promise of “Rock-Bottom prices.” It all has a “You get what you pay for” feel to it, no? Bonus points for showing the stirrups, though.

You may be wondering which magazines these ads appeared in. Unfortunately, I don’t know — the eBay seller doesn’t list the original source publications. But all of these ads are targeted at sporting goods retailers, not consumers, so they presumably ran in trade magazines.

Another thing worth noting: All of the uni manufacturers were headquartered in New York. There are definitely no businesses like that still in NYC, I assure you!

Also worth noting: All of the kids shown in these ads are white, even though Jackie Robinson had already made his MLB debut by the time these ads were published (and, obviously, African Americans had been playing baseball in the Negro Leagues for many decades prior to that). That got me wondering: When did Little League integrate? Some quick research reveals that the first all-black Little League teams were chartered in 1953, and the first game in the South between an all-white team and an all-black team was in 1955 (there’s a recent Netflix documentary about that game), but it’s not clear when the first integrated Little League team appeared. Anyone..?

While we’re at it, here’s an ad from 1924. It’s really a sneaker ad, not a uni ad, and this one was aimed at consumers, not retailers, but it still fits in stylistically with the other ads I’ve shown you:

That’s some nice-looking footwear! I’ve seen lots of basketball-themed ads for sneaker designs like this one, but not baseball — interesitng.

Finally, here are two items from that same seller — a 1919 ad for oats and a 1937 Boys’ Life cover. Neither one is a uni ad, but they both feature very uni-centric images:

All of these came from an eBay seller called advertisingshop, which specializes in vintage single-page ads. You can see their full range of offerings here.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Perfect achievement: I’ve written several times of the years about Holler House, the Milwaukee tavern whose basement houses America’s oldest pair of league-sanctioned bowling lanes (which I’ve had the pleasure of bowling on several times myself). Holler House’s longtime owner, Marcy Skowronski, recently passed away, but the place is still going strong — so strong that someone recently tossed a perfect game! It was the first 300 game there in 86 years! Lots of nice footage of the lanes in the video report above.

(Big thanks to Uni Watch Wisconsin bureau chief Jeff Ash for this one.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

Fancy-shmancy: I like to think that our Uni Watch Classic Cap is, in its own little way, a work of art. But yesterday it was in the company of real works of art, as reader Andy Brown wore his cap for a visit to the National Gallery in London. Looking sharp, Andy!

• • • • •

• • • • •

Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it on Thursday, the March design for the Uni Watch Pin Club is now available. It features a basketball jersey (for March Madness) with a shamrock and orange/white trim (for St. Patrick’s Day), along with a winged stirrup jock tag (for Uni Watch!). This one is a numbered edition of 250, and we’ve already sold nearly 100 of them, so move fast!

If you need to get caught up, the January and February pins are still available until they sell out, and we also have our basic winged stirrup logo pin. And remember, card-carrying Uni Watch members get a 15% discount on these pins (and on everything else in the Uni Watch Shop).

My thanks, as always, for considering our products.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Oh, for fuck’s sake: Meet Anne-Marie Blaney, a pro distance runner who competed in last weekend’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. (She did not make the cut.) In an article published on the eve of that event, she said, “I am working hard in races. I’m [a] blue-collar runner. I’m in it for the long run.”

Stop. Just stop. When a fucking Olympic-caliber marathoner is calling herself a “blue-collar runner” because she’s “in it for the long run” — which is, you know, the fucking definition of being a fucking marathoner — then you know this blue-collar bullshit hasn’t just jumped the shark, it’s pole-vaulted the giant squid.

Oh, and for good measure, Yankees manager Aaron Boone just praised outfielder Brett Gardner — a man who will make $12.5 million this season, with a $20 million option for 2021 — for having “kind of just a blue-collar way about him that I think helps kind of set the tone.”

Just stop. Stop pretending that getting up at 5am to work out makes you a factory worker. Stop pretending that grunting in the weight room makes you a roofer. Stop pretending that hustling after a loose ball makes you a mechanic. Stop pretending that legging out a double while sporting two-day stubble and sweating a lot makes you a bricklayer. And while you’re at it, stop pretending that factory workers, roofers, mechanics, and bricklayers walk around with some sort of halo over their heads — they don’t, at least no more than anyone else.

Just stop. Stop trying so desperately to give yourself an air of authenticity. The whole thing is insulting and embarrassing.

Update: Well, this segment prompted a lot more response than I anticipated. The most interesting and informative comment came from reader Mike Styczen, who explained something I wasn’t aware of: There’s a longstanding trope in the running world — and a corresponding critique/controversy regarding that trope — of “yuppie runners” vs. “blue-collar runners.” All very interesting, and it does potentially put Planey’s comments in a mitigating context. Check out Mike’s comment here.

(My thanks to Timmy Donahue for this one.)

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: More Photoshop errors from the MLB Shop, which depicted Reds P Trevor Bauer with Angels uni numbers and Padres C Francisco Mejía with an incorrect helmet logo (from Austin Elmore and @padreider). … Some umpires are still wearing Majestic jerseys for spring training games. I wonder if we’ll see this in the regular season (from @UntillTheNight). … The Single-A Vermont Lake Monsters are encouraging Little League teams to call themselves the Lake Monsters and will even sell them Lake Monsters youth uniforms (from Jon Rathbun).

Hockey News: The Rangers used rainbow stick tape for LGBTQ Pride Night last night (from Alan Kreit). … The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye have unveiled two gorgeous new unis for next season. The new unis will use “ice film” to give the illusion of more depth on the chest and shoulder logos. More looks here and here. … Someone created “Colour Rush” hockey jersey concepts (from Josh Claywell and Noah Sidel). … The AHL’s Ontario Reign will wear green sweaters on March 14 for a St. Patrick’s Day promotion (from Jakob Fox). … The OHL’s Ottawa 67’s G Cedrick Andree recently held a contest to design his new mask. There were over 50 submissions. Here’s some shots of the winning design in-game (from Wade Heidt). … St. Thomas Academy, a Catholic military high school in the Twin Cities, has a cross where captaincy letters typically go. The team moves the “C” or “A” to the right shoulder. Also: faux Cooperalls! (From Patrick Lenertz.)

NBA News: The Rockets have have constructed a jersey wall at their arena, featuring many jerseys from the team’s history (from Ignacio Salazar). … After the Grizzlies wore their 1990s Vancouver throwbacks the other night against the Nets, they posted a final-score tweet that used the old New Jersey Nets logo, rather than the current Brooklyn Nets logo (from @GoatJerseys). … Also posted in the soccer section: Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard and Mavs F Luka Dončić swapped jerseys recently. Dončić played for Real Madrid’s basketball team before coming to the NBA (from Scott M. Trembly).

College Hoops News: Northwestern has unveiled their “By the Players” uniform, which will be worn during their final regular season game tomorrow. Seniors Tino Malnati, Pat Spencer, and A.J. Turner helped Under Armour design the uni (from Jack Long). … Here’s a great c. 1980 Zenith magazine ad featuring then-Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps with a shovel icon on his sleeve — so Digger could dig, dig? (From Michael Hay.)

Soccer News: More USL Championship kits were released yesterday: Loudoun United, Portland Timbers 2, Philadelphia Union 2, Orange County SC home and Saint Louis FC away (from Nate Rathjen and Derek Madden). … Speaking of the USL Championship, we already knew the Las Vegas Lights were planning to wear 17 different fan-designed jerseys this season. Now it turns out that for one of them, the fan/designer will have to pay the team for the design to be used, with the “honor” going to the highest bidder. Tom Sawyer would be proud. … Cross-listed from the NBA section: Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard and Dallas Mavericks F Luka Dončić swapped jerseys recently. Dončić played for Real Madrid’s basketball team before coming to the NBA (from Scott M. Trembly).

Grab Bag: The Reveille, LSU’s student newspaper, has a great article about how LSU’s gymnastics team designs its leotards (from Kenneth Hilliard). … China Eastern Airlines has introduced uniform-matching flight attendants’ masks to try to lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission (from Bryan Beban). … Jalopnik has critiqued BMW’s new logo (from Canon Young). … The Graphic Artists’ Guild — the trade union for graphic designers and artists — tweeted a fascinating video of how art was prepared for printing prior to the computer era (from James Gilbert). … I imagine Peyton Manning’s legal team might want to contact the owner of this painting company in Detroit (from Ryan Keberly).

• • • • •

Our latest raffle winner is Zachary Gold, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and repeated thanks to Sam Hozman for sponsoring this one. Everyone have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week. — Paul

Comments (94)

    Appreciate the promotion to “Wisconsin bureau chief,” but I must acknowledge the many other regular Uni Watch contributors from Wisconsin. Don’t want to name names because I’ll forget someone. You know who you are.

    Paul, I feel like you yourself jumped the shark on the blue-collar topic today. You don’t know the woman you just cussed out; what her life is like or what it costs her to run professionally – a sports career which does not drip with wealth and opportunity the way the big four organized sports do, at least by comparison. “Blue-collar” has taken on the meaning in the English language of an attitude of hard-working professionalism. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to, and some of the examples you’ve called out of, say, coaches trying to foster such an attitude by playing dress-up, are absolutely ridiculous and deserving of mockery. To attack that runner in the way you just did for that statement is, I believe, going too far. I love your writing, I think the world of what you do here, but I think that was too much.

    “Blue-collar” has taken on the meaning in the English language of an attitude of hard-working professionalism.

    Close, but not quite. It has actually taken on the meaning of a certain kind of salt-of-the-earth grit that is essentially a condescending fetishization of the working class. As I wrote in my New Republic article, “‘Blue-collar’ is now an attitude, a lifestyle, a brand, a hashtag. It’s a canvas onto which you can project whichever values you choose (even if you’re talking about privileged athletes and coaches who’ll likely never punch a time clock or wear a hard hat for the rest of their lives).” And that happens to be bullshit — bullshit that deserves to be called out because it reduces an entire class of our fellow citizens to a patronizing caricature.

    A “blue-collar” RUNNER? Really? The very notion is absurd on its face. Just stop.

    She’s not the one who assigned that meaning to the phrase. She’s not the one who stuck it in the dictionary. That woman did not play dress-up like a factory worker or install an ornamental time clock on her wall. All she did was use the English language. Heck, the same even applies for Aaron Boone (can’t believe I’m defending a Yankee…).

    My point is simply this: to mock people who are actively caricaturing (or in your parlance, fetishising) traditional blue-collar laborers is one thing. To launch profanity at people you don’t for using the English language properly, yet in a way which you personally disagree, is something else entirely.

    She’s not the one who assigned that meaning to the phrase.

    No, but it would be nice if she (or anyone) could have the critical thinking skills to understand the difference between life and lifestyle. Just because a lot of people use an entire class of our fellow citizens as a metaphor doesn’t automatically make it OK.

    That’s not a strong argument. You worked in journalism for a long time before raising this as an issue – by no means does that indicate that you did not yet have the critical thinking skills to see a problem; your critical thinking skills were simply otherwise occupied. It is part of your profession (a fact for which the rest of us are tremendously grateful) to thoroughly, obsessively examine the minutiae of the sports world and its coverage. That is not part of her profession, though, and it’s wrong to expect her to have the same level of insight.

    If you were to speak directly to this person, you would not, I suspect, do so with the language you used in today’s column. More likely, you would explain why you find the use of that phrase distasteful, and suggest that she refrain. Only at that point would criticism of continued usage of the phrase become justified. To assume that another person sees something the same way we do, then judge them against that standard, is beneficial for no one.

    If you had simply noted in the ticker that she had used the phrase, I don’t think there would be any problem here, but again, my concern is that you seemed to be hurling strong words not at a practice, but at a person, and one who does not deserve such treatment.

    That’s not a strong argument. You worked in journalism for a long time before raising this as an issue – by no means does that indicate that you did not yet have the critical thinking skills to see a problem; your critical thinking skills were simply otherwise occupied. It is part of your profession (a fact for which the rest of us are tremendously grateful) to thoroughly, obsessively examine the minutiae of the sports world and its coverage. That is not part of her profession, though, and it’s wrong to expect her to have the same level of insight.

    That too is not a strong argument. You’re essentially saying that non-journalists (and, perhaps by implication, non-academics, non-intellectuals, etc.) have no responsibility to apply critical thinking in their daily lives, or to think about class issues, or to consider that they might be patronizingly caricaturing their fellow citizens.

    Reasonable people can disagree on where those standards should be set, and on whether Blaney crossed any lines in that regard. But you can’t pretend that the lines don’t even exist for her simply because she’s not a journalist/academic/etc.

    Sure, far be it from me to suggest that it’s never a problem to cross a line of which you are not conscious. In this situation, though, in which you do concede that reasonable people can disagree on whether she crossed any lines, some amount of grace should be shown to Ms. Blaney. As I noted previously, your calling out the use of ‘blue-collar’ in her interview does not bother me; the issue is the way you called it out. I think a number of us were bothered by the virulence of your response, which could be read as an ad hominem attack.


    Just curious: Do you always use gendered courtesy titles when referring to athletes, or just in this case? If the latter, why?

    Generally, no, and I’m not sure why that came into play here. Perhaps an instinctive reaction to my discomfort about the level of attention which has been paid here to a human being who is unaware of what’s going on here. I don’t know that those three characters ultimately do anything to uphold her personal dignity in this conversation, but I think that’s the part of my head from whence they came.

    Thanks for your candor.

    While I obviously can’t prove it, I do think the response to me raising this issue would have been different if the runner had been male. If so, that would be disappointing, because it would basically be a patronizing form of sexism. Again, I can’t prove it, and I hope I’m wrong. But your use of “Ms.” and a few details from other comments lead me to suspect that it is in fact the case.

    I think that certainly has an effect on how people have read this, but I don’t think it comes from a place which is entirely unjustified or necessarily patronizing. No one would be particularly quick to come to the defense of, say, an NFL star, because there’s a far greater divide there between their actual lifestyle and the ‘working class’ origin of the phrase. In this case, though, some sympathy (and I think sympathy is the key word here) is commanded by the fact that she is:

    1. A professional runner (Nowhere near the same stratosphere of privilege, already)
    2. A female athlete (Even worse – it’s fairly close to the public consciousness at present that the compensation difference across genders is significant)

    Fair points. But I do think it’s patronizing. You seem to be arguing in good faith, so I ask that you answer this question honestly: Would you have had the same “discomfort about the level of attention which has been paid here to a human being who is unaware of what’s going on here” if it had been a 26-year-old male runner, rather than a 26-year-old female runner?

    If the answer to that is “No,” would that response be rooted more in issues pertaining to female athletes (i.e., compensation, etc.) , or just an instinctive cultural urge to defend a female?

    I’ll take you at your word.

    I appreciate that, Paul, and I appreciate your engagement down here in the weeds.

    At this point, considering everything going on in this comment section, with people going so far as to analyze in depth the various jobs the individual currently holds, I firmly believe that I would feel this kind of discomfort for anyone. It is not right to talk about people behind their back, offering them no chance at self-defense. Gossip is listed in Romans 1 right next to envy, deceit, and malice.

    At the beginning of this whole song and dance, I honestly believe that the economic issue was what made your comments jump off the page. I took similar exception to your analysis of Aaron Boone’s comments about Brett Gardner, but my initial comment referenced only ‘the runner’, and I believe that was caused by a sympathy for a person trying to make it as a professional runner; a sympathy which does not extend to MLB players and managers raking in millions.


    If there was a unconsciously gender-related urge at some level to defend her dignity, I would not apologize for it. The failing in that case would not be in zeal to support another person who is female, but in a lack of zeal to support a hypothetical other person who is male.

    It will never happen, but I would love to see any of the self-referred “blue collar” types actually work an honest day’s labor at a “blue collar” job for a month, just to appreciate how fortunate they are that they don’t have to do it for a living. There is dignity in labor, to be sure, but there is no such thing as a “blue-collar” marathoner. People working actual blue-collar jobs don’t have the luxury of time to train to run 26.1 miles competitively.

    For example, a woman marathoner who _did_ qualify for the Olympics, Wisconsin native Molly Seidel, is working class. She works two jobs, in a coffee shop and babysitting: link

    That’s great. But Blaney described her RUNNING STYLE as blue-collar. Can anyone — anyone at all — explain what that means, and how it differs from any other distance runner’s style?

    @ RS Rogers: “working class” and “blue-collar” are not synonymous. There are white-collar jobs that are considered working class. Babysitting and working in a coffee shop are not blue-collar jobs. Working class, yes. Not blue-collar. She isn’t putting on a hard hat and doing manual labor. (I couldn’t respond directly, sorry.)

    “Blaney described her RUNNING STYLE as blue-collar. Can anyone — anyone at all — explain what that means, and how it differs from any other distance runner’s style?”

    Well, there is the perception that blue-collar jobs are repetitive (and low-paying)…similar to the characteristics of pursuing a career in long-distance running ;)

    @MJ, that is an important distinction, and one that gets flattened by the contemporary discourse around “blue collar” and “working class” as an ethical/value statement rather than an economic class label. The white/blue collar distinction is also long out of date; the larger portion of American jobs are now service work, which falls outside of the old distinction between shop or office work signified by the metaphorical color of one’s collar. The American working class is composed mainly of people working service jobs, like many Olympic athletes hold, and people working office jobs in the lower income scale of white-collar work. We don’t really have a collar color to denote service-sector workers. Personally, I tend to expand the blue collar definition to cover service work, since it tends to fill the same economic niche that making-stuff jobs used to fill. If “blue collar” refers only to people who work in a factory, shop, or construction site, then “blue collar” is an almost meaninglessly small cohort. We only have about 20 million such jobs anymore, versus 100 million non-white-collar service jobs.

    Sector data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: link

    ‘Work’ in, say…athletics is not the same as ‘labor’ in, say…industry.
    The article indicates that Blaney attended college and “Her resume gave her many choices (to train professionally)…”. While there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the opportunities presented to you, that’s not exactly a career path afforded to many ‘blue collar’ men and women.

    “St. Thomas Academy, a Catholic military high school in the Twin Cities, has a cross where captaincy letters typically go. The team moves the “C” or “A” to the right shoulder.”

    Unusual, but have seen the captaincy letters on the right shoulder of a jersey before. The major junior Flin Flon Bombers in the WCHL, back in the days when Reggie Leach and Bobby Clarke played for them. They had their jersey number where the captaincy letters usually go.


    Current Junior A Flin Flon Bombers in the SJHL still wear similar uniforms and the jersey number on left upper corner of the chest. However, captaincy letters now on right upper corner on chest rather than on shoulders.


    must agree with the above comment re: Blaney. being an elite distance runner is really hard, painful work for little recognition. and as Jamie has pointed out in the past, a lot of female athletes ARE actually blue collar as they are forced to work side jobs to make ends meet.

    Paul, you can ride your high horse on the blue-collar topic all you want – and in a lot of cases it’s justified – but this is not a sports team trotting out a tired marketing cliche – it’s plainly and simply disrespectful.

    unrelated – thanks for the credit on the Loudoun United kit…

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re right.

    Now, if you’re right, then everything you said also applies to all the other runners who were competing at the time trials, right? So what makes this particular runner a “blue-collar runner,” as opposed to all the other runners?

    Please be specific.

    Also: “High horse” is a form of name-calling that should be beneath you, Nate. If you want to engage on the specifics, feel free. But as I’ve said countless times, please stick to the message rather than trying to insult the messenger. Thanks.

    I would push back a bit on today’s blue collar segment.

    Agreed, a guy making $30million to take swings and shag flies is the farthest thing from blue collar. It’s laughable.

    But a “sponsored” distance runner who likely spends 8-10 hours a day training/working out/traveling and is probably just getting by, at best, off of her “sponsorships”, (mostly in-kind clothing and shoe donations, some travel expenses) is pretty damn close to being a blue collar athlete. Only a handful of runners in the world make six figures from sponsorships.

    I think there are more tiers or classes of wealth among professional athletes than people realize. I wouldn’t consider a MLS player who goes to work everyday and makes $50,000 the bourgeoisie.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re right.

    Now, if you’re right, then everything you said also applies to all the other runners who were competing at the time trials, right? So what makes this particular runner a “blue-collar runner,” as opposed to all the other runners?

    Please be specific.

    Maybe I’m just one of those people who has, to an extent, adopted the nomenclature in question.

    I’ve always felt that the two big “collar” labels have to do with what type of work you do and what class you end up in as a result.

    If you physically labor and find yourself squarely in the middle or lower classes, you’re blue collar in my book.

    The runner in question is a grad of UCF, where she ran competitively (not sure if she went on an athletic scholarship). She currently works as a chiropractic assistant at Ormsbee Chiropractic and a sales assistant at Hansons Running Shop. In short: She does not fit your stated definition.

    But even if she did, that’s not the point. She didn’t describe herself as a blue-collar worker or even just a blue-collar person; she described RUNNING STYLE as blue-collar, because she’s “in it for the long run.” Again, the entire thing is absurd on its face.

    Can’t reply to your last response for some reason. But a young woman working 2 jobs to stay afloat while following a passion that isn’t paying…

    I love ya Paul, but she can call herself whatever she wants as far as I’m concerned. SHe doesn’t have the time to consider how she should portray herself and grabs what feels right.


    By your own definition, she is NOT blue-collar. She is a college graduate who does not earn a living doing manual labor. So you’re confusing the term “blue-collar” with “working class”, or you are admittedly using “blue-collar” wrong in this case. There are white-collar jobs that earn working class salaries. Blue-collar jobs typically do not require a college education are predicated on physical labor.

    Thanks MJ, I’d love for you to stand outside every building on a block and tell me who is and who isn’t laboring inside.

    And I would love for you to come up with a worthwhile and rational response, instead of simply being snide.

    OK MJ, I’ll pay more attention to the Picking Nits RE: Class lecture at the next DSA meeting.

    Have a great day!

    Long time, no comment, but I wanted to weigh in on the “blue collar” phenomenon that has captured our collective attention (and now become an integral part of site commentary) over recent months. Let me first apologize if any part of what I say below is redundant as to any point Paul or any other Uni Watcher has made to date. I must admit I haven’t been as reliable in my reading in recent months…

    As an initial matter, I am in full agreement with Paul’s assessment of the problems with fetish-izing the working class. (As a veteran, I am similarly troubled by “hero worship” of the military.) My friends and I have had a running joke about the “lunch pail and thermos” language in sports, especially as it has been/is associated with the Boston and Pittsburgh markets and their respective fan bases. That said, it is worth asking ourselves, what is it that Aaron Boone is referencing when he describes his millionaire outfielder as “blue collar”? What is he using that term to signify? As eye roll inducing as it is, let’s face it: we all kinda know what he’s trying to say. We all have a sense of what he’s getting at when he uses that term.

    Recognizing all of the problems with assigning these characteristics to a particular group (to the exclusion of other groups), as well as troubling questions of appropriation, what is the term “blue collar” shorthand for in the world of sports? It seems like those who use that term use it as a substitute for: selfless, committed, no-frills, team-first, reliable, always hustling, hard working even when that work is thankless/bordering on drudgery, comfortable out of the spotlight — a critical member/leader of the team whose contribution is outsized relative to the recognition received. It’s the opposite of “look at me,” and it may be that it is the proliferation (and celebration, frankly) of self-congratulatory gestures and personalities that has spawned a countervailing celebration of the opposite. (This raises interesting questions about racial/cultural undercurrents, as well, which may be an entirely different discussion…)

    Anything else I missed?

    Here’s the question to my fellow Uni Watchers: Assuming that “blue collar” is problematic for all the reasons Paul and others have so articulately identified, what other term can we use to capture all of these generally positive characteristics? We are nothing if not creative when it comes to developing new and descriptive shorthand.

    How about:

    – Scrappy
    – Gritty
    – Professional
    – No-nonsense

    Etc. Those are clichés as well, of course, but at least they don’t conflate life with lifestyle or resort to patronizing class-based caricatures.

    Paul, to give a little background Anne-Marie Blaney run for Hanson Brooks Distance Project. The club itself are sponsored Brooks, but not necessary the runner. They are required to work a certain amount of hours at the Hanson Running Store in addition to their full time jobs. 90% of the runners competing at the trials the past weekend are not full time runners. Those that do are not rolling in the dough as athletes of other sports are and some have ‘reduction’ clauses in their contract, which means if they fail to perform then their salary gets reduced. I agree when the ‘blue collar’ phrase gets thrown around with multi-millionaire athletes and coaches it over done, but with these athletes they may not need to get called out.

    You’re missing the point. She didn’t describe herself as a blue-collar worker or blue-collar person. She described her RUNNING STYLE as blue-collar. What does that even mean? (Answer: It’s just a lazy cliché that fetishizes the working class.)

    Meanwhile, based on what you’ve just posted, is *every* runner in Blaney’s position a “blue-collar runner”?

    If so, doesn’t that render the term moot?

    And if not, what makes Blaney blue-collar compared to the other runners?

    No need to apologize, Doug. I happen to think it’s the sports world that’s taking the blue-collar thing too far, but we can agree to disagree on that!

    Hold on, if this young woman had just been quoted as saying “I’m blue collar, I’m a runner, etc…”, you wouldn’t have been so upset by it? Seems like she’s part of the working class, she just happens to run far.

    I don’t think I’d characterize a college grad who works as a chiropractic assistant as a blue-collar worker. But in any event, I’m more interested in the sports world’s use of this term in sports contexts (including uniform and logo design). That’s what all my coverage of this issue has been about.

    Ok, I hear that. But what feels unproductive to me is when people try maintain a grip on nomenclature that long ago lost literal meaning. Many factory workers have white jackets in today’s world, as an example.

    I don’t think ascribing “blue collar” to someone in the working class (chiropractic assistants aren’t taking caviar to work in their lunch box) is a crime against language. I’m sure her body takes a toll throughout a day. To me that’s labor.

    And if she personally ascribes that same label to the way she trains and runs, I’m not gonna slight her for that. I’m sure it’s very consistent and true in her mind.

    Ay yi yi, where to start…

    According to your definition, practically any job “takes a toll” on one’s body, and therefore qualifies as “labor,” and is therefore “blue-collar” — which renders the term meaningless and essentially eliminates the whole notion of class.

    And then there’s “I’m sure it’s very consistent and true in her mind.” Is that really the standard we’re going to apply to things? That if someone believes it in their own mind, then by definition it’s self-justifyingly OK? Really?

    I don’t understand why the profanity is necessary regarding a term that a female runner used. Seems excessive. I love the blog and love your coverage of all things uniform-related, but I really question why you pick certain hills to die on. Blue-collarism is one of those.

    “Hill to die on” suggests that I am sacrificing or losing something. That is not the case. I’m simply expressing a point of view that you disagree with. I could just as easily say that *you* are choosing this topic as a “hill to die on.” (You’re not, of course, but I’m just making the point that the term is badly misused in these types of discussions.)

    You didn’t address the excessive use of the F word, which was my main point here. But I would contend that you are, in fact, sacrificing or losing something-you’re sacrificing the alienation of loyal readers who do not want to a) read profanity such as this during their morning routine of perusing their favorite blogs and websites and b) potentially losing followers because I want to read about the latest happenings in the world of uniforms and not your personal mission to correct the way individuals or teams choose to describe themselves. It’s fine that we don’t agree on the correct usage of the term-everyone is entitled to their opinion (including those who use the term). But it’s the harping on it over and over and over again that just gets old for those of us who like to see what’s new with uniforms.

    You didn’t address the excessive use of the F word, which was my main point here.

    I used it for emphasis, and to convey exasperation. If you find that “excessive,” we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    you’re sacrificing the alienation of loyal readers who do not want to a) read profanity such as this during their morning routine of perusing their favorite blogs and websites and b) potentially losing followers because I want to read about the latest happenings in the world of uniforms and not your personal mission to correct the way individuals or teams choose to describe themselves.

    It’s nice that you think you speak for everyone. Has it occurred to you that some readers may enjoy this type of content, or simply scroll past it?

    Different people have different likes and dislikes. I couldn’t please everyone even if I wanted to, so I publish what makes sense to me and let everyone else decide whether it works for them. That is not a “hill to die on”; that is, literally, the story of my career.

    Here’s the thing, in my opinion. Paul has worked a long time to build this site and establish is readership. It’s his baby. He is entitled to publish whatever he wants on it. I, personally am not the biggest fan of the vintage stuff but because I like the rest I scroll past it and don’t complain because this is a quality product that I consume almost daily primarily off of the work of one person. He can publish, literally, whatever he wants and you or I can choose to read it or not.

    Thanks, Zach.

    Just to be clear, people are free to criticize the site’s content — it’s all fair game. But if I don’t think the critique is sound, I’ll respond accordingly. My goal, as always, is for the discussion to be based on sound logic and nuanced thinking.

    Given that she is a collage graduate and an elite runner, she will likely have many options afforded to her once she chooses to retire from competitive running. She is closer to an entrepreneur sacrificing immediate income to pursue a dream than a classic blue collar worker.

    Hey Paul,

    Your next Naming Wrongs shirt should be “I Still Call It Blue Collar”. Mayhaps a white ringer T-shirt with a . . . blue collar?

    RE: Blue Collar

    I think one of the main problems with relying on the argument of “it has become accepted” is that we are then somehow saying we are desensitized or disinterested in the original meaning of a word or phrase. Feel free to disagree, but are we alright with the fact that the word “literally” has been misused so often when the speaker means “figuratively” that some dictionaries have included the following meaning of literally: “used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.” Which if you read that again just means figuratively.

    I understand the straw man argument of what I wrote above, but my point is that we should not merely shrug our shoulders and say that since others do it, such action should be widely accepted. There are certainly other ways individuals can describe themselves without relying on inarticulate cultural phrases. I have no doubt the runner referenced works extremely hard, otherwise should would not have been at the Olympic Trials, but even if we accept that “blue collar” means gritty, eg the guy who takes a charge, the woman who dives on the floor for a loose ball, the fullback who always blocks but never gets a carry, etc, how exactly does that translate to a running style? I’m being genuinely serious, I’m willing to listen to anyone who can explain how the trope explains a running style.

    On that Yankiboy ad with the two categories of replica uniforms, I think the key word is “exclusive”. The first group is teams where they are the only company making authentic uniforms for kids; the second group the teams may be available from other manufacturers.

    Am I the only who can’t view the new site properly? I’ve been only getting the first few pictures for about 2 weeks now. Ads always load though. :(

    I’ve been having that problem the last few weeks as well. Desktop only. I had to turn my ad-blocker on and it’s works perfect now. (And I hate to run the ad-blocker on your page, Paul, but it was purely out of necessity)

    Regarding the “blue-collar” controversy, I hate to say it but Paul takes Anne-Marie Blaney’s remark somewhat out of context. Here is a longer excerpt from the linked article:

    She has upped her mileage to 90 miles per week, and her workouts have been tailored to prepare her for the hilly course she will face in Atlanta. The race will start and finish at Centennial Park and make two eight-mile loops and one ten-mile loop.

    The undulating course fits Blaney’s style of running as she has a knack for doing well on difficult courses and conditions.

    “I’m always there. I may not be in the limelight, but I’m always there,” said Blaney of her competitiveness in races. “I am working hard in races. I’m blue-collar runner. I’m in it for the long run.”

    This may or may not change anybody’s mind on the topic, but it does indicate that she was probably asked to comment on her training regimen and success with “difficult courses and conditions” and “blue collar” was the metaphor that came to mind.

    So I guess I agree with Paul that coaches and others who go out of their way to prove their “blue collar” attributes with costumes and other stunts are deserving of ridicule, but it seems a bit much to come down so hard on an athlete who simply uses a common metaphor during an interview.

    As noted in other threads, the mere fact that the metaphor is “common” does not automatically make it self-justifying. Indeed, the trend of its increasing use is *why* I’ve been writing about it!

    I ask again: How is Blaney’s self-described style different than any other runner’s? Don’t they all have to do well in all sorts of conditions? Aren’t they all “working hard” and “in it for the long run”?

    What I’m getting at is that I agree with you that college coaches or other sportspeople who make massive amounts of money and yet put on “blue collar” displays or costumes deserve ridicule…but I think your reaction to this woman simply using it as a term that is understood to mean “I work hard”, especially as an off-the-cuff response to a question is a bit harsh.

    In the context I provided, it’s clear she wasn’t trying to draw undue attention to herself or “fetishize” the working class.

    Sigh. I never said she was trying to draw attention to herself. And your point about her equating “blue-collar” with “working hard” is *exactly the problem.* It’s a patronizing cliché that fetishizes and piggybacks on the supposed salt-of-the-earth virtues of the working class. I say “supposed” because the reality is that there are plenty of lazy blue-collar people, plenty of hard-working white-collar people, and lots of in-betweens. The blue-collar cliché, like so many clichés, is a fantasy. And like so many fantasies, it appeals to people’s sense of nostalgia, romanticism, etc. It’s like that scene in Titantic where they show the people in steerage dancing and partying — “Whoa, those poor people sure are in touch with what life is really about, not like those stuffy rich people!” A patronizing class-based fantasy. It’s nonsense.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, Dan.

    Blue collar, white collar, blah, blah, blah, let’s discuss the the terror that mid-century boys had to endure. Imagine, being forced to play ball in loafers and wing tips. Seriously, how did they survive?!

    I’ll jump in on the Anne-Marie Blaney thing and what a “blue collar running style” might mean. You know I’m a serious runner.

    Its a phrase that’s been going around in running circles for at least 15 years as a synonym for “low tech”.

    It means running with low tech shoes, ordinary clothing, a stopwatch. Eating ordinary meals and drinking water. No GPS, no high tech sensors, no detailed computer analysis. Just grunting out the miles.

    Its the opposite of “high tech”. Workouts calibrated to the second, meals and nutrients calibrated to the calorie and delivered at the optimal moment. GPS and a variety of other sensors.

    “blue collar” running is a pushback against high-tech running. A decisions that you’re just going to work hard instead of being a technological marvel.

    High-tech running is described on the internet as “yuppie running” believe it or not.

    I see it here in our local races. Guys who show up in ordinary shoes and cotton shirts to run, versus guys who show up in $3000 worth of running gear, electronics, compression gear, high tech towels (I’m not making that part up).

    Its almost a synonym for “old school”. A deliberate rejection of high-tech.

    I do agree with you that its a stupid phrase, it isn’t what I would have chosen, and I’ve been in a bunch of online discussions about how its stupid. And in particular how runners who describe themselves as blue collar have very little in common with actual blue collar workers.

    I did a quick search and runners have been debating the phrase (and describing the whole discussion as stupid) since at least 2004.


    Another good discussion about how this is all stupid and the phrase bears no relation to actual “blue collar” jobs


    From one of the threads (a little excerpt comparing yuppie runner to blue collar runner). I’m not saying that Blaney does any of these things, just more background on the use of the phrase among runners.

    Race day plan:
    YR: go out easy and negative splits.
    BCR: Go out hard and see what happens.

    How they plan to improve and PB:
    YR: Hires a coach. Carefully plans out training.
    BCR: Just ups mileage and increase the speed and volume of his workouts.

    Favorite workout:
    YR: Vo2 max blah blah blah …..
    BCR: Hard 10 miles

    On stretching:
    YR: Always does dynamic stretching before runs and 15 minutes of post run stretching.
    BCR: Sometimes touches his toes in the shower, so the hot water can hit his lower back better.

    Kind of cheese they use:
    YR: Some chemical vegan sh!t
    BCR: Real actual cheese

    GPS watches:
    YR: Checks it every other minute to make sure heart rate, pace, cadnece etc. is in line with what they think is ideal.
    BCR: Wears a GPS watch, but only looks at it after his runs.

    This is superb follow-up information – just what we needed as clarifier to this dust-up. Now I know exactly what she meant and I’m totally cool with it.
    I guess I’m an old-school runner too, just didn’t know it!

    So I might be a blue collar runner then…

    Back in high school on Long Island in the 80’s, running cross country and track, you were allowed nothing more than your clothes and sneakers to compete with. No necklaces, no jewelry, no headphones and most of all no watch or any time keeping apparatus. It was you out there versus the other runners.

    So it’s the way I started running so it’s the way I run. Sure I keep my phone on me to record time and distance and I check it from time to time, but in races (5k’s) it doesn’t come out at all, you just get a surprise when you see finish line and clock. Spaghetti the night before, water and my trusty pair of two year old running shoes.

    Since today’s content mentions uniform magazine ads and Cooperalls, let’s have a look at an old Cooperalls ad!


    I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that if Paul hadn’t used “the F-word” in his piece today, far less people would be in the comments clutching their pearls.

    In short, they need to harden the fuck up.

    False (for me at least). Paul’s profanity didn’t even come up in my response. I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal (the topic of using blue-collar). Paul’s been using profanity for YEARS and it doesn’t bother me at all.

    Playing devil’s advocate here, since it’s Friday and work isn’t trickling in as quickly lol. I’ll preface this by saying that I agree that the blue-collar garbage is ridiculous. And as an aside: As avid recreational runner, I enter races for the free stuff mostly. What does that make me? ;)

    Anyway, is it possible that Blaney was referring *exclusively* to the trope in the running community between blue-collar workers and yuppie runners? That she wasn’t drawing parallels between herself and factory workers, and instead was comparing herself to the trope? As in was she exclusively not making herself out to be a yuppie runner? Is it possible that she was using the term tongue-in-cheek?

    Yes, Mike 2 has mentioned that as well (scroll up a bit to see his excellent comment). I was not aware of this debate in the running world — interesting!

    I also agree that it puts Planey’s comments in a potentially mitigating context, and have added an update to that effect to today’s text.

    I’m just having flashbacks to those hot flannel uniforms of my youth. Great content !

    As a runner on and off for most of my life, calling yourself a blue collar runner is kind of confusing to me.

    We know blue-collar mostly refers to hard manual/physical labor, dirty jobs, etc.

    So there is even the chance a football team could be more blue collar than another football team. In that blue collar team relies more on training and being bigger and hitting harder etc than another team, that may not hit as hard or run as fast but focuses on better planning of plays, more strategy, etc.

    So the confusing part is when you talk about blue collar as a running style. I won’t sugar coat it, running is probably about the least strategic sport there is. Yes I know…hold off for the end for your kick, pick out runners ahead to pick off…it’s not brain surgery. So since running is so much about physical ability and so little about strategy, the most blue collar runner would be the one who wins or finishes near the top, because they have the most physical ability.

    So to not make the cut in time trails, it’s really hard to say your running style is more blue collar, more physical, more laborious than a bunch of folks who beat you.

    I think Paul’s critique was a bit harsh, but as well, this is a situation where it’s like…it has jumped the shark.

    Hey, when the Penn State football team wears away uniforms, they are all, literally, “Blue Collar” football players! At least, I think their away collars are still blue.

    All kidding aside, what makes me roll my eyes is simply the bullshit factor with using this kind of terminology. It’s somewhat like, from a language perspective, the overuse of “physicality” (which is a really stupid-sounding word anyway) or referring to how “athletic” an athlete is. It’s silly, because they are really just saying something else and are re-using a term as a lazy catch-all. I always think to myself, “thank goodness that move was really athletic; you know, since he’s a freaking athlete! It wouldn’t work so well if he used an “un-athletic” move!”

    Regarding Paul’s point, what the hell is a “blue collar running style”? The opposite of a runner who has an “intellectual running style”? Just say, “I train and work really hard to be a good/fast/endurant (pick an actual adjective) runner” and move the hell on. Leave the bullshit out.

    The NY Times ran an article on the topic of women’s marathon racing just last week:


    They surveyed a good number of the qualifiers for the Olympic Trials and touched on their backgrounds. “Nearly half the respondents reported having a family income of more than $100,000 per year, and about one in four reported incomes at $150,000 or higher.”

    Did any unattached/self-trained/’walk-on’ participants make the Olympic team?

    “Makes Kids Husky”. See, we were trying to fatten up the kids. Now that we’ve fattened them up we have to thin them back down again…

    I have one of that team’s jerseys with that logo.

    And it’s tie-dyed.

    Yes, really. It’s amazing!

    In the Trevor Bauer Photoshop, it also appears that he is wearing the Reds’ road cap (red with black bill) as opposed to the all red home cap.

    Yea I gotta agree with everyone here saying you have taken the blue collar thing way too far. I thought it was ridiculous you even made a section for it, but this is beyond absurd.
    You’re profanity has been increasingly a lot the past year or so and it is very trashy of you to use.

    There is plenty, PLENTY of terms in the sports/design world that is kinda absurd (look at any sheet describing a new uniform or logo). To just pick on this one thing is really odd.

Comments are closed.