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Random Photo Leads to Iowa Girls’ Hoops Uni Goldmine

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As writers and editors scramble to come up with sports content at a time when no sports are taking place, they’re running stories that sometimes have unexpected uni-related revelations.

Case in point: The New York Times yesterday ran an article about a woman named Denise Rife. Back in the late 1960s, when her name was Denise Long and she played for the girls’ basketball team at Union-Whitten High School in Iowa, she once scored 112 points in a game (!) and was even drafted by the Warriors as a publicity stunt. (The pick was later voided by NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy.)

The only reason I even clicked on the article was because of its thumbnail teaser image — the photo shown at top of today’s entry. I was intrigued by the striped trim on the white uniforms and the hemline striping on the dark uni. So I checked out the article, which ended up sending me down an excellent uni-related rabbit hole.

The player in the dark uniform is Denise Long, playing in Iowa’s 1968 state tournament. The Times article also includes a portrait of her entire team wearing white uniforms. That’s Long in the center, holding the ABA-style striped basketball (click to enlarge):

Look at that collar style! Not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like that on a basketball uni. At first I thought these might be warm-up tops, especially because of the ribbed trim at the hemline, but then I found a game photo of Long wearing that jersey — against a team that had sailor-style jersey collars! It’s not a great photo, but it’s enough for you to get the idea for both jerseys (click to enlarge):

Those photos are from 1968. Here’s one from 1969. That season, Union-Whitten — Long’s school — had changed to block-shadowed jersey numbers and had added their mascot, a cobra, to the other side of the jersey (Long is once again No. 54; click to enlarge):

Here’s another photo of Long in a completely different uniform. Like many schools of this era, Union-Whitten wore even numbers at home and odd numbers on the road, to eliminate any potential confusion at the scorer’s table, so Long is No. 55 in this shot (click to enlarge):

See the small backboard in the background? That was one of many unusual aspects of Iowa girls’ basketball at the time. Each offensive possession started at half-court, for example. The Times article describes some of the other rules like so:

Girls’ basketball was played six-on-six in those days. Three guards played defense on one side of the court, and three forwards played offense on the other side. Players were permitted two dribbles before shooting at baskets attached to half-moon backboards, which prompted a style of uncluttered movement, crisp passing, and ravenous scoring.

Here’s maybe my favorite photo that I found while exploring this topic. Check this out:

That photo is from the 1968 Iowa state championship game. That’s Long again in the dark uniform. The opposing team — wearing skirts and cap sleeves! — is Everly High School. Their boys’ sports teams were called the Cattlemen, and the girls were called … the Cattlefeeders.

Here’s another look at the Cattlefeeders’ uniforms. This team portrait is from 1966, not ’68, but it appears to be the same design (and likely the same physical garments). In addition to the skirts and sleeves, look at the collars:

The dark version of this uniform looked like this (click to enlarge):

So it was the Cobras vs. the Cattlefeeders for the 1968 Iowa girls’ basketball title. Somewhat improbably, the entire game is available on YouTube:

The video quality is grainy, but you can still get the feel of the six-on-six half-court format — it’s interesting! And while watching it, I noticed something that hadn’t shown up in any of the game photos. Remember how we’ve been looking a lot at free-throw circles in the past few months? Check out this one (click to enlarge):

Now that’s a lot of dashes! It’s a little hard to see because the image quality isn’t sharp (plus it kinda looks like one dash might be missing right near the bottom of the semicircle), but I think it’s 30 dashes. Holy moly!

Union-Whitten won that game. But the Everly uniforms — the ones with the skirts — are immortalized on a sign that welcomes people to town (click to enlarge):

And there’s still more: While I was going down the rabbit hole in search of more photos, I stumbled upon another 1960s Iowa girls’ team with great uniforms: the Mediapolis Bullettes (now there’s a team name!). Dig:

Yowza! You can see video of the dark version of that uniform here:

Getting back to Denise Long — remember her? — after she was “drafted” by the Warriors, she got to spend some time working out with the team. One time she wore her high school uniform (click to enlarge):

Another time the Warriors gave her a T-shirt with a variation of the “The City” logo that I don’t think I’ve seen before (click to enlarge):

She also wore that T-shirt — and a polka-dot skirt — while doing a jump ball with a San Francisco cable car operator (click to enlarge):

I could go on (seriously, there’s more!), but I’m gonna stop here, at least for today. That is one serious rabbit hole — all because of a thumbnail teaser photo that the Times used for an article that was basically pandemic filler.

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Pin Club reminder: In case you missed it on Wednesday, the Uni Watch Pin Club’s April design is now available. As you can see, it’s based on an official Rawlings/MLB baseball, complete with my signature as the “Commissioner.” Numbered edition of 250.

We sold 113 of these pins yesterday — our biggest launch-day number so far, and more nearly half of the entire production run! I also heard from lots of people who said this is their favorite Pin Club design so far. Glad you folks like it!

If you need to get caught up, here are the January, February, and March designs, all of which will remain available until they sell out (no reprints!). You can get a 15% on all of these pins, and on everything in the Uni Watch Shop and the Naming Wrongs Shop, by using the checkout code COMMUNITY.

And while we’re at it, several other discounts are in effect until further notice:

• The Uni Watch Classic Cap, usually priced at $39.99, is now $35.99.

• Uni Watch seam rippers, usually $6, are now $4.

• And custom-designed Uni Watch membership cards, usually $25, are now $20.

If you’d rather support Uni Watch via a donation, here’s now to do that.

My thanks, as always, for your consideration and support.

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Click to enlarge

NEXT-TO-LAST DAY for the cycling jersey: In case you missed it, we’re taking orders for another round of Uni Watch cycling jerseys. Just like before, you can customize the back of the jersey with your choice of number and NOB.

We’re only taking orders through tomorrow, so move fast. The product should be ready to ship in early May. Full ordering info here.

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Photo taken on Oct. 19, 2014; click to enlarge

Tom Every, 1938–2020: In the fall of 2014, then-Uni Watch galpal the New Girl and I road-tripped through Wisconsin. One of our best stops was at Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron, a bizarre and completely delightful sculpture park created by the eccentric artist Tom “Dr. Evermore” Every.

Longtime Uni Watch reader and Wisconsin resident Nicole Haase let me know that Every died on Monday at the age of 81. It’s not yet clear what will become of his art park, but I’m hoping it will remain open. R.I.P.

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Membership update: Eight more designs have been added to the membership card gallery. That includes Joshua Tretakoff’s card, which is based on the Cowboys’ early-1980s jerseys — the oft-forgotten period when the numbers on the blue jerseys were silver, not white.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,500 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: The board of education in Paw Paw, Mich., has voted to stop calling its teams the Redskins. A new team name will be chosen by July (from Brandon Weir).

Working Class Wannabes™: Pittsburgh Steelers RB Derek Watt says he likes playing for the Steelers because “It’s a hard-nosed tough tradition of greatness. It’s tough blue collar. I think I fit that mold well” (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … … A new Tier 3 junior hockey team in Oregon, Wis., will be known as the Oregon Tradesmen. The team uses a lot of blue-collar imagery but is actually walking the walk by offering players the chance to learn skilled trades in partnership with local unions. Good for them (from Kevin Gier).

Baseball News: Not exactly a surprise, but MLB has officially cancelled the Cubs/Cards series that was supposed to take place in London in June. … You can currently stream filmmaker Ken Burns’s epic nine-part 1994 Baseball documentary for free on the PBS website. After viewing it again, GQ magazine declared it a “an unexpected fashion goldmine, tracing the connections between sport and style” (from Brian Ristau).

Pro Football News: The Falcons haven’t announced a specific date for their uni unveiling — they’ve just said it will happen in April — but a business associate of team owner Arthur Blank says it will happen on April 14 (from Andrew Wagner). … The NFL posted a bunch of design concepts showing NFL helmets in the Marvel and Star Wars universes (from Jon Viera). … Cardinals QB Kyler Murray apparently doesn’t like the team’s uniforms (and who can blame him?). … Here’s a look at the best players in Eagles history broken down by uni number (from Sam McKinley). … The CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos appear to be teasing new uniforms (from Moe Khan). … Also from Moe: Check out this pickup truck with Oilers helmet striping. … Here’s a shot of former Giants coach Bill Parcells wearing a windbreaker with a logo showing the team’s helmet — but with a red facemask). … The Saints have set up makeshift draft offices — or should that be draught offices? — in a brewery. … People on YouTube — much like people just about everywhere else — don’t like the Rams’ new logo. … More than a million badly needed N95 masks are on their way from China to Boston — on the Patriots’ airplane.

Hockey News: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is finally happy with the team’s upcoming gold alternate uni and hopes to unveil it in September. … Moments before the Devils scored the championship-winning goal in the 2000 Stanley Cup Final(s), RW Claude Lemiux had his “A” designation removed from his jersey. “He wasn’t listed as an ‘A’ for that game and wasn’t wearing it earlier in the game,” says James Beattie, to which Mike Oronato adds, “I believe he needed a jersey change and the only one they had on the road had the ‘A’ from earlier in the year. They already had two alternate captains playing that night, so they stripped it off.” … Longtime Uni Watch contributor/pal Rob Ullman has a great new comic, full of excellent uni illustrations, about how the Spanish Flu affected the 1919 Stanley Cup. “I thought it might merit a Ticker mention,” he says, “if only just for getting all the damn stripes on the Seattle and Ottawa sweaters in the correct order!”

NBA/ABA News: Reader Paul Bailey, expanding on an earlier idea from Todd Radom has created a quilt-like graphic showing the chest lettering from 45 different ABA jerseys. “It moves left to right chronologically,” he says, “with jerseys that were introduced in Season 1 followed by those from Season 2, and so on through Season 9. And I managed to avoid having any two same-colored jerseys next to each other.” Nicely done! … 76ers PG/F Ben Simmons has started a coronavirus-awareness nonprofit called the Philly Pledge, which uses a double-P logo in Sixers colors (from Timmy Donahue).

Soccer News: What do you do when there are no soccer games being played? You choose every MLS team’s all-time best jersey (from Wade Heidt). … Or, if you’re Leicester City, you track the evolution of your shirts (from Matthew Hackethal).

Grab Bag: A Michigan school district that had a Confederate-themed team name and mascot has unveiled a new identity (from Adam Twa). … Parents in Ohio whose kids have had their school sports seasons interrupted by the pandemic are putting framed jerseys on their houses to acknowledge the lost season. … Italian pro cyclist Giulio Ciccone has offered to auction off two of his Tour de France gold jerseys to help purchase a respirator for a local hospital. … New camouflage uniform for Italian Navy divers. … After reports of police impersonators in Mercedes, Texas, the town got new police uniforms. … Actor Patrick Stewart says he wasn’t allowed to keep or even purchase his uniform at the end of the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. … The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will keep the same logo, including the “2020.” … New logo for the U.S. embassy in Greece. … The U.S. Navy has relaxed its grooming standards to promote social distancing. Ditto for the Air Force (both from Timmy Donahue). … I’m not sure how this hadn’t already happened, but the 2020 Wimbledon tourney has been cancelled. … Ditto for the British Open. … Tulare County, Calif., has approved a design for its first-ever county flag (from Kary Klismet). … Really interesting story about how medical illustrators were called upon to depict the coronavirus (NYT link). … Our own Jamie Rathjen was rewatching a UVA/Duke field hockey game from last fall and sent this note: “Virginia wore what looked like combination green/purple ribbons that stumped me at the time and stumped me again today — I didn’t know what they were for. I am indebted to UVA sports photographer Matt Riley for getting this close-up shot, which reveals that they’re actually teal and purple and for the ‘Set the Expectation’ campaign, which is dedicated to combating sexual and physical violence.” … Pademic hero Dr. Anthony Fauci is getting his own bobblehead.

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What Paul did last night: So we’re out on the porch yesterday evening — beer for me, vodka and cranberry for the Tugboat Captain — and this neighbor, who’s maybe in her early 60s, walks by on the sidewalk. She stops to say hi and then, while she’s talking, she takes a few steps up the walkway. And then a few more steps. And a few more, until she’s basically at the foot of the porch steps, which means she’s definitely less than six feet away from me, at which point I remind her that we need to maintain social distancing. “Oh, right,” she says, with this tone in her voice like it’s all a bit of a joke, and then she obligingly steps back.

After she leaves, I turn to the Captain and ask, “What does she do for a living anyway?” To which she responds, “She’s a doctor. Pediatrician.” Jesus fuck.

Anyway: The great cartoonist Ben Katchor — one of only two cartoonists ever to win a MacArthur “genius” grant, don’tcha know — had been scheduled to be doing a live event at a local bookstore last night for his new book, The Dairy Restaurant. Obviously, the in-person event was cancelled, so they arranged for it to take place via Zoom:

The thing is, while Ben (who I’ve known on and off since the early 1990s, when we were both contributors to the alt-weekly New York Press) may be a genius, he can sometimes be a bit flummoxed by technology, so the Zoom presentation was a bit, well, haphazard. Still, it was good to take in some culture and feel just a teeny bit like I was participating in all the things NYC usually has to offer, even if only from my sofa.

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Our latest raffle winner is Joe Delach, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks to Peter McCurdy for sponsoring this one. Everyone stay safe today! — Paul

Comments (52)

    Women’s basketball from that era is an interesting peek at basketball history itself, since they played a version of the game that was more similar to the original as it was conceived by Dr. Naismith, where there was no dribbling, but rather complex passing strategies.

    What would be the reason for NOT bringing the ball to mid-court after a made free throw?

    I love the disclaimer on the scoreboard before the game started:
    “Throughout this game individual scores and fouls will be displayed on this board-These are for spectator interest and are not official!”

    I believe the Edmonton Eskimos jersey tease may be an April Fools’ thing. 3 hours after the tease was released, the Eskimos sent another tweet with a closer look at the jersey:


    I wholeheartedly agree with the ticker entry about the Ken Burns baseball documentary! My family and I just finished it last night, and the uni content is outstanding. A special bonus for us was a picture of old Washington Park in Brooklyn, the home of the Brooklyn Robins/Superbas/ Bridegrooms/Trolley Dodgers. That location is now a public park where my son had played numerous little league games. It was so cool to see the place as a ball field with the same brownstone houses next door that stand there to this day.


    I wanted to know if Everly High School is still the Cattlefeeders/Cattlemen. They are not. They are now the Clay Centeral-Everly Mavericks, with a knock off version of Yosemite Sam as their mascot. This is great!

    I was curious about the Bullettes, and what the boys’ teams’ mascot was. I figured it either had to be the Bulls or maybe the Bullets (Bullets/Bullettes would have been cute)…turns out it’s the Bulldogs. According the their website, the girls’ team is still the Bullettes.

    The Williamsville, IL high school team is the Bullets for both boys and girls. The junior high teams are the Bee Bees which always makes me chuckle

    Call me nuts, but I’m pretty sure that’s Jesse Jackson jumping vs the Warriors girl player, not a “San Francisco cable car operator”.

    I don’t know the context for why he’d be taking that pic, but I know what afro, forehead, moustache when I see it.

    It does look like him! But it’s not him. It’s a cable car operator (wearing the same uniform as the other cable car guy in the photo).

    Lol, after I typed that response I realized the year that photo took place Jesse didn’t look like that at all (at that time). He didn’t grow the signature fro until years later.

    Back in the late 70’s, we had a girl transfer to our high school in NC from Tennessee due to the fact that they were still playing 6v6 there. She was quite tall and talented and her folks figured she stood a better chance at being recruited if she played regular hoops.

    As to social distancing, I had to take my father to an outpatient clinic a couple of weeks ago for a procedure. When they called me back to see him in post-op, the nurse that greeted me to take me back had on no mask, no gloves and immediately extended her hand in greeting. I hesitated, she acted like it was no big deal. Medical personnel may be the most nonchalant about the whole thing.

    I’ve got to think that article about Italian pro cyclist auctioning off 2 of his jerseys to help pay for a new respirator was incorrect. Respirators are hard to come by, but not that expensive. I’ve got to think it was a ventilator.

    Love the deep dive, Paul! Very entertaining, as was the Times piece that opened the door.

    As for the Tulare County flag: Yay, another seal on a blue flag.

    I agree about the flag. Have officials in Tulare County been asleep the last several years? This design flies in the face of the five principles of flag design.

    Paul, I love the Porch Pandemic Pic each day (forever to be in my head as Paul’s daily triple P!). Thanks for totally cracking me up with the “J!@#$ F!@#” comment re your neighbor. The situation isn’t funny of course, but the comment was to me. A little laughter is helpful in getting through my daily stir-craziness!

    Also, Ullman’s toon is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    I grew up in Iowa in the 70’s and 80’s and fondly remember 6-on-6. Iowa was one of the last states to move away from it. In school, we’d often play basketball in PE class. But, since the classes were co-ed, the teachers made us play 6-on-6, despite all the girls wanting to play 5-on-5. When played well, 6-on-6 was very fast paced and a lot of fun to watch. When not played well, it was like watching paint dry.

    I was saddened to learn of the passing of Adam Schlesinger, the voice and songwriter of Fountains of Wayne, and I always loved a verse in “A Road Song” which seemed to have a peculiarly Uni Watch vibe to it: “I bought you a light blue t-shirt last night/from some band I couldn’t stand but their logo’s all right/Some kid threw a bottle onstage, he had an arm like a pro/I know it’s getting late, I guess I should let you go”. Requiescat in pace, Mr. Schlesinger.

    I am just gutted by this news. To my ears, Schlesinger had the Midas touch, and I at least LIKED nearly everything he wrote…much of it, I absolutely adored. I realized this morning, three songs into Fountains of Wayne’s last record, that it’ll probably be quite awhile before I can listen to ANY of their songs without misting up…some of the more special and personal ones will no doubt get the waterworks running for the rest of my life. What a tremendous, devastating loss.

    Also, thanks for the kind words about the comic, folks…It’s very much appreciated!

    Great article, thanks Paul.

    I love this exchange:
    “As she recalled, Chamberlain asked, “Aren’t you the young lady who broke my record?”

    “Yes,” Rife replied, “but I didn’t mean to.””

    I hope she gets the care she needs soon. It sure doesn’t sound elective to me either.

    Actually, I thought it was 1999. Iowa and Oklahoma were the last two holdouts.

    The 6-v-6 “Smith rules” are very much akin to a game played in British commonwealth countries called “Netball.” But in that game, the six players are restricted to various zones on the court, not just the backcourt or the frontcourt.

    The different rules for Women’s basketball make it seem more like Netball, which I wish were played in the US.

    I wonder if adopting more differentiated rules in WNBA and/or college would do more to separate the Women’s game on it’s own merits and avoid always being compared directly against the Men.

    That Everly sign depicts a player in a road uni but with an even number. Tsk tsk…

    Paul, is the alt white/green uni watch cap still in production? Are there thoughts on doing another one with the same fit?
    I’m one of those people who is really particular about how a hat fits on me, and the relaxed design/fit of that was perfect in my opinion. Given the white portions of it I’d consider buying a second one just knowing the one I have now will get really dingy eventually. And if another version of it came out I’d be interested in that as well.

    That hat is not currently available. Unfortunately, people didn’t appear to share your enthusiasm for the flex-fit format, so I don’t think we’ll do that again. Sorry!

    Always a Morning read except when you do DeathTrap Grocery shopping. Always Best to go early.
    Paul, great post. Love, Love, Love The City tshirt. Never before seen with the name Warriors on it too.
    Reader, PAUL BAILEY , great job…the love and appreciation of unis that led to my UniWatch loyal reading.

    Girls 6×6 was hugely popular in Iowa in those days. It was very controversial when they finally made the switch to 5×5. The reason usually give for the change was to give the girls better chances at college scholarships by being more-rounded in all of the skills of the game and more familiar with the rules and strategy of basketball as played nearly everywhere else.

    Native iowan here- my high school sparked a local scandal in 1964 when they purchased girl’s basketball uniforms that *did not* have cheerleader-style skirts.

    The nod to modesty were jerseys designed to be worn untucked, complete with contrasting trim on the bottom. They rode mid-hip. Most of the girls teams still wore the long jerseys in the 80’s.

    6-on-6 emphasized the skills of your best offensive player. It was common for one player to average 50-75 ppg, and the next highest scorer to average 10-15, and the third in single digits. The girls teams at my school routinely put up 85 points while my boys team would struggle to hit 40.

    Notice the arena was full for the State Championship games- usually 12,000 or so. It was A Big Deal then.

    The nod to modesty were jerseys designed to be worn untucked, complete with contrasting trim on the bottom.

    But how is that modest? As we can see in some of the photos from today’s post, those jerseys often rode up as the players took shots, revealing their midriffs. Wouldn’t a tucked-in jersey be more modest?

    It didn’t make any sense- it just was. ‘Modest’ is a highly relative term.


    Home and road from a team photo. Roads had a “D” on the left chest.

    I grew up in north Iowa and was a few years younger than Lynn Lorenzen. You’re spot on when you say 6-on-6 emphasized the best offensive player. And there wasn’t anybody who could touch her in the mid 80’s. I believe she still has the national record for career points in high school. link

    I’m curious why whenever I hear about girls HS basketball legends of yesteryear, all the stories seem to come out of Iowa? Is it just because they held on to the 6-on-6 format longer than other states? I wonder if there’s a documentary that explains the Iowa thing…?

    I’m a Mizzou guy so I’m familiar with the Porter family and the basketball talent that runs deep through that extended family, and even though Michael Sr. played some pro ball, the info nugget that everyone likes to bring up is that the matriarch of the family, Lisa, averaged 59 POINTS (!) per game her senior year of HS, in Cedar Rapids (Iowa, of course)

    Girls BB was a huge thing when I grew up in Iowa. Almost as big as wrestling was for boys (every boy, and I mean EVERY boy, tried his hand at wrestling growing up). I was pretty young at the time, but I seem to remember (and my mom confirms) that a blizzard usually hit the weekend of the girls BB tournament every year.

    A shoutout to the writer of the MLS article for his selection of the best all-time Vancouver Whitecaps jersey. A polarizing decision. There are some fine jerseys in that organization but I love that old third brown kit.

    There was enough fervor to get the San Diego Padres back in brown. Now time for a Bring Back the Brown movement for the Whitecaps! MLS teams get a new kit every year. Would love it if they could make this happen.

    While the striping on that Oilers-themed pickup is the pattern from the white helmet days, the overall effect makes the truck bed look more like the stripes from the socks/sleeves/pants.

    FWIW regarding today’s “Stay In More”- There’s a large portion of the medical community (myself included) that is remains under the belief the entire thing is overblown (overblown is too strong of a word but I can’t think of a milder one at the moment). I want to make it clear that I’m not defending her actions (I’m social distancing and abiding by the precautions even though I remain skeptical) but it does shed a little bit of light on her lapse of judgement. I’m also going to politely decline to discuss the reasons for the skepticism (no it doesn’t have to do with “herd immunity”), because everyone I know who is skeptical is still respectfully abiding by the precautions. I don’t want to unintentionally convince anyone to not do so.

    Here’s a blogger with a nice review (just published) of last year’s MLB memorial patches, mostly as seen on baseball cards released this year or last year: link

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