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I forgot to say this yesterday, so I’ll say it today: Greetings from Uni Watch HQ, where all three inhabitants continue to be safe and well.
Now then: Have you ever seen the mascot illustrations shown above, depicting a Black, Afro-clad version of the Oregon Ducks’ familiar Donald Duck-style mascot character? I hadn’t, until reader Ron Ruelle (the man who created the Brooklyn Branches) recently brought them to my attention.
The character was informally known as both Afro Duck and Soul Duck. Ron learned about its existence when he was working on a research project and stumbled across this item in the May 17, 1971, issue of Sports Illustrated (click to enlarge):
SI probably learned about Afro Duck from an Associated Press piece that ran in many newspapers across America on April 17, 1971. Here’s how it looked in The Great Falls Tribune — it’s short, so I recommend reading the whole thing (click to enlarge):
Oddly, my research shows that most newspapers ran the AP item without an accompanying visual, which sort of defeats the point. One prominent exception was the University of Oregon’s hometown paper, The Register-Guard (click to enlarge):
So according to the AP story, the idea for Afro Duck came from members of the Oregon track team, who used the character strictly for their own personal use. Interesting!
The AP item also says the character was designed for the track team by a Eugene, Ore., decal maker called Potter Manufacturing. To my surprise, they’re still in business (slogan: “Sticking Around Since 1923”), so I gave them a call and asked, sort of tentatively, if anyone there knew anything about an Afro-ized version of the Oregon Ducks’ mascot.
“Oh, you mean Afro Duck!” said the Potter employee who had answered the phone. “Hold on.” A few seconds later I was transferred to a gentleman named Dana Csakany, who started working at Potter way back in 1989 and described himself as an art director and project manager.
Csakany said Afro Duck was sort of famous at the Potter company. He also told me the following:
• Quinton Barton, the Potter artist mentioned in the AP story, joined the firm in 1946 as a salesman (he’s mentioned in this 1949 article about the company, which provides a good overview of its history) and eventually became the staff’s lead artist and designer. Unfortunately, he’s now deceased.
• As Csakany recalls it, Afro Duck was “quite popular” and “a big hit.”
• Csakany doesn’t recall exactly when the basketball version of Afro Duck, shown at the top of this blog post, was created, but it was presumably soon after the track version. He said there may also have been versions of the character for additional Oregon sports.
• Csakany said that after Afro Duck’s debut, other universities ordered Afro-ized versions of their own mascots, but he couldn’t recall any specific schools that did so.
• He said there are still some old Afro Duck decals floating around the Potter plant. Shortly after we spoke, he sent me this photo of one (click to enlarge):
Csakany was going to poke around the Potter files and try to turn up some additional materials, including a photo of Quinton Barton, but he hasn’t responded to my last few communiqués (which I don’t mean as a criticism — these are obviously stressful, difficult times for everyone), so that’s as much as we know about Afro Duck for now. I’ll run a follow-up post if I end up learning more.
So what do we think of Afro Duck — commendable symbol of diversity? Unfortunate stereotype? Also, Csakany told me that Quinton Barton was White — does that matter? Should it matter?
I’d be interested in hearing what everyone thinks, but especially our Black readers. Even better, I’d love to find some Black members of the 1971 Oregon track team and learn more about how they came up with the idea for this character, but I haven’t had time to do that type of research yet. If anyone wants to jump on that, be my guest!
Meanwhile: Walt Disney could not be reached for comment.
(Big thanks to Ron Ruelle for sending me down this rabbit hole, and to Dana Csakany for his kind assistance.)
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Possible Bruins leak: The jersey shown above, which began circulating yesterday, is purportedly the Bruins’ entry in the NHL’s new “reverse retro” alternate uni program. I do not know if it’s legit, but I sure hope it is, because I love everything about it. The base color, the crest, the sleeve stripes, the belly stripes, the shoulder patches — so good! Even the collar is mercifully free of the usual Adidas bullshit (although it does seem to be too thick — a minor quibble). Make it so!
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By Brinke Guthrie
Baseball season is over, but anytime’s the right time for baseball on Collector’s Corner. So we’re leading off today with this 1977 “Jox® by Thom McAn Fact Wheel.” You slide it around and line up your favorite team in the right windows, and the respective stats show up. I wonder if announcers used this in the broadcast booth? [As longtime readers may recall, this type of device is called a volvelle. I’ve never seen this one before, but I love it! — PL]
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• This 1960s NFL Rawlings two-tone Rawlings football is still in its original wrapper!
• Sometimes replica NFL helmet makers don’t get the details quite right. That’s not the case here, as Rawlings definitely got the wings of this Philadelphia Eagles helmet dead on. This one is referred to as “game quality,” whatever that means; unknown if this was part of a Rawlings NFL kids set.
• Phillies slugger Mike Schmidt graces the cover of this 1987 Topps Sticker Yearbook.
• This set of 1984 McDonalds Detroit Tigers promo cups has a version of the Tigers mascot that looks a lot like Tony the Tiger. And why is “Bless You, Boys” on there? Glad you asked, and Wikipedia has the answer: “The phrase ‘Bless You Boys’ was the catchphrase adopted by Detroit sportscaster Al Ackerman for the 1984 Detroit Tigers team that started the year with a 35-5 start.” It was also the title of Sparky Anderson’s book!
• At one point back in the day, Indianapolis had the basketball Pacers and the WHA Racers, as shown on this puck. What a terrific logo and tie-in with the city’s racing heritage! They played from 1974-78 before folding. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, and Mark Messier, began their careers here.
• This 1961 Los Angeles Angels ashtray is in terrific condition.
• Great design on this 1971 Green Bay Packers puzzle from Springbok, who also used this artwork for posters.
• Here’s a great-looking (empty) Jim Beam decanter featuring the 1973 Big Red Machine and Riverfront Stadium.
• Oakland A’s great Rickey Henderson is the subject of this original oil painting from 1990.
• And from reader Trevor Williams, check out this NFL team logo jacket. Size 6XL!
Got an item to include on Collector’s Corner? Tweet submissions to @brinkeguthrie.
Big Baby still got it 💪
(via @jacobryanortiz, @legionhoops) pic.twitter.com/wJxKBz8lra
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 9, 2020
Too good for the Ticker: Glen “Big Baby” Davis was playing in a basketball tournament the other day and he still has the moves — even if they didn’t have a uniform big enough for him!
(Big thanks to Mike Chamernik and Ivor van Esch for this one.)
By Alex Hider
Baseball News: New uniforms for the Virginia softball team (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Monday was “glove day” at several college programs, including West Virginia, Maryland and TCU (from Timmy Donahue). … Back in 2006, the Cubs apparently didn’t have an apostrophe for P Ryan O’Malley’s NOB.
Football News: The Jets wore their BFBS alts on Monday Night Football last night. … The Titans have worn six different uni combinations in their eight games this season, per the Titans Uni Tracker. … We may have covered this before, but Giants DL Oshane Ximines is the first NFL player — and, in fact, the first Big Four pro player — whose surname begins with X (from Fred Shoken). … Northside Christian High School (Florida) uses a North Carolina-inspired logo that appears to incorporate a cross into the upper right ascender of the “N” (from James Gilbert).
Hockey News: The Golden Knights’ AHL new affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights, unveiled their inaugural jersey set, which features a whopping six colors (thanks to all who shared). … Arizona State has approved funding for a new hockey arena (from Kary Klismet). … The Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League raised a memorial banner for Dylan Ashe, an 18-year-old defenseman who died in a car accident in September (from Wade Heidt).
Basketball News: The Kings have gone ahead and officially unveiled the new black “City” alternate uniforms that leaked last week. … Speaking of City alternates, the Magic tweeted some teases for their new set yesterday, and it appears they include orange pinstripes. … The Jean-Michel Basquiat-themed Nets alternate design that leaked last week appears to be legit.
Soccer News: Albuquerque has approved a study to scout locations for a stadium for USL Championship club New Mexico United (from Kary Klismet). … SiriusXM FC 157, a soccer-centered satellite radio channel, is running a bracket-style kit competition on social media (from Kevin Bruns). … Here’s an interview with Inigo Turner, the Adidas designer who collaborated with Pharrell to design a series of jerseys for several high-profile clubs (from Trevor Williams). … Interesting story on how the Philadelphia Union turned a Captain America costume into a replica of MLS’s “Supporters’ Shield” trophy, which is awarded to the team with the best regular-season record. The trophy couldn’t make it to Philadelphia for Sunday’s game because of a shipping delay (from Scott and Jakob Fox). … @jamesesiddall notes that Fir Park, home of Scottish Premiership club Motherwell F.C., had a section of blank cardboard cutouts. Apparently, it’s part of a campaign to bring awareness to people who have gone missing in the UK. … Manchester United F Anthony Martial showed off a pair of new anti-racism cleats that he may wear in an upcoming game (from our own Anthony Emerson).
Grab Bag: CNN has a great explainer about the white suit that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wore during her victory speech on Saturday night (from Jason Hillyer and Timmy Donahue). … If we’re talking khakis on Uni Watch, we’re typically talking about Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh. But don’t sleep on MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki, who often wears khakis while working the magic wall during election night coverage (from @jabbrewocky). … New band uniforms for Wooster High School in Ohio (from Kary Klismet). … We have a second NASCAR/football uniform crossover concept for driver Danica Patrick (from Luis Fernando). … New jerseys for Nantes, a French women’s volleyball club (from Jeremy Brahm). … Twitter user and reader @cdubs271 was reffing a lacrosse tournament and Maryland this weekend and spotted a player whose jersey had an upside-down 1. … This is what golfer Justin Thomas will be wearing at The Masters throughout the weekend (from Griffin T. Smith). … Tennis star Naomi Osaka has a new apparel line launching later this month (from Brinke). … El Camino Real, a charter school in California, will no longer call its teams the Conquistadores (from Jakob Fox).
Our latest raffle winner is Ronald Lizik, who’s won himself a membership card. Congrats to him and thanks to Ian Lee for sponsoring this one. — Paul
This is what it comes to….I think Afro Duck is really cool, unless the consensus is that Afro Duck is racist, in which case I disavow my previous opinion and believe that Afro Duck is gross and hurtful.
I’m not sure if you’re speaking for yourself (which is fine) or if you’re trying to summarize what I wrote (in which case you have mischaracterized my position — please don’t do that, thanks).
Oh no…speaking totally for myself.
The especially funny thing about the Phila. Union item is that’s not even the first time a Captain America shield has been used as an ersatz Supporters’ Shield in MLS. In 2018 the New York Red Bulls (awful name, I know) bested Atlanta for the honor, but the trophy was in Toronto to be given to Atlanta in the event of their victory. Enter a fan’s Cap shield to the celebrations!
Afro Duck was ahead of his time. Good on the folks that created him.
Also: Regarding the Henderson Silver Knights jerseys, how is that going to work with opposing teams? White v Silver, Silver vs The opposing teams color sweater? I have to imagine white v silver is going to be tough to distinguish on the ice.
The Tigers logo on that cup was used by Channel 4, WDIV, for their Tiger game broadcasts. (That is the same channel that Ackerman was on at the time.) Ackerman was the local version of Howard Cosell, and he came up with the “Bless You Boys” before 1984 as a sarcastic phrase, but when they started winning in 1984 it turned into a positive nickname.
That was not meant to be a reply to Brandon’s comment. Sorry.
No worries Dave, Im a Michigander and a big Tigers fan. I remember seeing that logo on Tiger broadcasts as a kid!
A bit surprised they went with the silver jersey as a primary dark jersey instead of the dark grey which is the Golden Knights’ primary jersey colour. I thought they might go shiny silver as a third in the future to match the idea of what their parent club does.
The Silver Knights dark jersey looks close to the same shade as the LA Kings’ grey one. The Kings wear the grey one regularly against teams wearing white. Though I have been critical of this with the Kings as the grey seems too light to be wearing it against a team in white.
I love that the Titans Uni Tracker has them in sweats on their bye week.
I’m conflicted about Afro Duck, as with many things cultural that feel pretty dated now. One thing that strikes me as odd is that it’s not like the initial (i.e., regular) duck’s race is implied.
Btw, I think the SI article does suggest that the creation of it was recent (i.e., ‘this spring’).
I see now that I misinterpreted the “last few years” part of the SI piece, which I now realize referred to each sport having its own version of the duck (not its own *Black* version). My bad, and thanks for pointing that out! I’ll adjust the text.
I’m a firm believer when it comes to this type of stuff that intent matters. The very first snippet of news in this article, “With blacks being accepted as quarterbacks, coaches, and cheerleaders, about the last barrier for blacks in athletics to crash was the mascot barrier” tells me that this was a well-intention’d move to try and create more minority representation as well as an attempt to celebrate this newfound acceptance for minorities in roles and positions they were previously generally not accepted in.
If this mascot had been invented today, I’d be curious to know what minorities would think of it; the afro in particular. My gut tells me that it probably would come off as unfortunately stereotypical today, but maybe some folks would consider it be a fun throwback-y type look. The afro was a genuinely popular hairstyle back when this logo was actually introduced, so I don’t think the intent of the artist was to try and make a generalization about a group of people, but rather make him more representative of the times they were living in.
Like the retro reverse yellow for the Bruins if that turns out to be the jersey. My only concern with this whole thing being retro reverse. Does that mean they would wear black socks with this yellow jersey? I hope not.
Love the jersey, speaking of socks, I would advocate going with this sock design from the 60’s – it was a uni trend back then – more in the junior ranks. This is a picture of Bobby Orr with the Oshawa Generals – love the gold shade in the picture, but would agree with Wade, make sure the socks are predominantly gold. The trend was the circle at the knees.
Knowing that Afro Duck was requested by the African-American athletes at the university, it’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a bit.
Now, to be pedantic (this is the place for it – people who Get It are sticklers for details ) – techinically, “khakis” is NOT the correct name for the pants to which you are referring. The correct term is “Chinos” – khaki is just the color. And since khaki is far and away the most popular color, we’ve crept into substituting the name of the color for the name of the trousers. One of those small inaccuracies that’s been adopted by nearly everyone that drives me mad, for no logical reason.
and ‘to be in khaki’, in British English at least, is a slightly old-fashioned way of saying to be in the army.
If this is a grandmother’s egg-sucking seminar, I do apologise, but when the British army in India, adopted sludgy brown to replace brilliant red uniforms, they used the Urdu word for ‘soil’ – khaki.
I don’t know how much it is still associated with the military in younger generations, now a. working dress for soldiers is green camouflage and b. since Gap et al started calling chinos ‘khakis’
From the notes I have, the Bruins leak is legit. The NHL will make an announcement on November 16th regarding the reverse retro program.
As a seven year-old when the Tigers won the World Series in ‘84, I have fond memories of the “Bless You Boys” song and video. I recall it even being played on local radio.
I wonder what records are on the 1900-1976 major league records fact wheel for the Blue Jays and Mariners considering that they have entries on it.
And speaking of CDN MLB teams, unless it was covered by the wheel, I don’t see the Expos shown at all.
Hi Paul, this has nothing to do with anything mentioned today, but last night I finally got around to trying a burger on an English Muffin and it was amazing. Thanks for the pro tip!
Glad you like!
while it is indeed true that an englisher-burger is delightful; this is more a claim of an english muffin’s ability to be the bounty paper towel of the muffin world.
scientific evidence has shown that the muffin’s of the english absorb the run; hold it’s shape; and accentuates the beef of a minimally topped burger due to low bun mass.
Bun over meat squared, it’s basic math.
I don’t see how it isn’t racist. It’s a black duck with a stereotypically black hairstyle. That is racist, just like the redskin logo.
The original duck is not racist – it’s also not white?? Confused why they would make a “black” duck which only alienates blacks from the original logo, i.e. original duck is for whites and afro duck is for blacks. Seems racist and segregationist in a odd way…
Like Bud says above, intent matters, but even more importantly, context matters. If it was commissioned by Black athletes, then it’s probably okay; if it was commissioned by White athletes (or without approval from the Blacl athletes) then it’s probably misappropriation. Somehow this seems like a fine line but at the same a simple differentiation.
True that the regular duck isn’t white, but if I was a Black athlete at a predominantly white school on a predominantly white sports team in the early 70s, I could see where it might be nice to see something like that. But I’m not Black, so take it for what it’s worth.
God I hate the Jets’ all-black combo. Why not wear the green pants with that combo? I think that would actually look pretty good (relatively speaking).
Re the OR Afro-Duck: The fact that it was designed to give people of color some representation with mascots by people of color seems way ahead of its time and really cool to me. That said, yes, it’s certainly a stereotype, although in context is it really a problem? What I mean is, it was designed in 1971, when afros were pretty common from my understanding. Just like his long sideburns. Reminded me almost immediately of Paul’s UW basketball logo with the ABA-like player with a ‘fro and mutton chops, short shorts, etc. Capturing the look of that time. In that way, I really like it.
Are Steve Kornacki’s pants too dark to be considered khaki?
Just asking because I’m not sure.
Thanks for Collector’s Corner, Brinke!
Hadn’t thought about Thom McAn Jox in a long time.
I remember owning lots of off-brands sneakers in my grammar-school/pre-brand awareness days like Kinney Stadias and Fayva Olympians (my favorite as far as styling went, and probably my parents’ favorite too since they were durable).
I clearly recall the first pair of ‘name brand’ sneakers I got. Boy, they were nice; the adidas Americana, the ABA sneaker. I was amazed because of the cost. They went for…wait for it….29.95. I thought, thirty dollars for sneakers??? HA (this was fall of 72, BTW.)
The Afro was prevalent in that time period. Members of the track team, black and white, wanted the mascot to be presented this way. I think this is different from the previous Washington FT logo and name. I think a few readers has it right. It’s about intent. And I would argue, it’s also about origin. If members of indigenous groups worked with the team owners to come up with a name and logo that respects their traditions, then I’m cool with it.
Reflected in today’s political climate, we see why representation is important. From rural to urban, farm lands to big city, people just want their voices heard. They want to see themselves. The same applies in sports. People want to see themselves on the field. So many logos and mascots have been seemingly based on white men and women. And when logos or mascots have been based on people of color, it seems that it was often in a disparaging way or in a way that did not respect those who are being depicted. What the Seminoles has done seems like the right way. The Afro Duck also seems like it was done the right way.
I also have my “has” and “have”s all messed up lol
As others have noted, intent matters. The intent seems to have been benign or positive. Also, while tempting to do so, I believe we should not judge something from 1971 by today’s standards. If the intent in 1971 was to honor or recognize Black athletes at a time when even having Black athletes was not universal among colleges, I’m going to say Afro Duck was OK.
today’s post turned the final key in the buccaneer padlock riddle. please set your little orphan annie decoder pins to
ah man! it left out the stuff i put in coding ><…
background lime green
in a font itself made of exclamations
go back to rational typing
today's post turned the final key in the buccaneer padlock riddle. please set your little orphan annie decoder pins to
in squiggle-slashed i am not a machine font
end lime green
I like the Afro Duck. Also, an afro is simply a hairstyle and I have a difficult time seeing ANY hairstyle as racist. It is a fun, cool depiction of the Duck mascot, nothing more and nothing less. In today’s odd social climate it’s not an uncommon occurence to have a person or persons seriously stretching and reaching for a reason to depict something as racist or offensive. I find this unfortunate, because genuine racism is occuring and these types of petty arguments that are seemingly taking place more and more frequently, not only serve as a distraction from the cold hearted cases of racism occuring, but are negatively affecting credibility in agregrate as well.(to be clear, I’m not implying the post is a distraction nor do I have an issue with it)
Several posts today have indicated that the Afro hairstyle was “popular”. While tangentially true, its importance & symbolism at the time was a powerful political statement.
Here is but an excerpt that is pertinent, but there is a lot of reading to be done online if you are further interested.
“Black activists were agitated with White supremacy and Jim Crow laws, and they wanted to show an outward sign of their frustration toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent philosophy,” explains Chad Dion Lassiter, president of the Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, Inc. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. “The Afro was Black beauty personified without White validation, and it did not care about critics. For many Black men, it was about cool pose and hyper-masculinity in the face of police brutality and constant oppression.”
The CNN article on the white suit…
I think it may have set the world record on using the phrase “standing on the shoulders of…”
Interesting last few lines in the AP Article.
“‘…if it catches on some team mascots wouldn’t be as easily adapted,’…’I don’t know what we’d do with Stanford.’ Stanford University’s team mascot is an Indian.”
Quite the change in 50 years.
I’m surprised the shade of silver/grey being used by the Henderson Silver Knights as the base for their road jersey has gained traction as a ‘dark’ colour. It looks very similar to the shade the Kings use as the base colour on their third jersey, and maybe it’s just me, but whenever I’ve seen that on TV I’ve found it difficult to differentiate from it being a white jersey. The Kings’ jersey does seem to have considerably more black on it, too. I don’t know how it translates to the in-arena viewing experience, but if they play a team with black pants, I’m basically differentiating by helmet colour.
I might be thinking too much into this, but in what is still a very new hockey market, and re-entering a minor league hockey market that has been dormant for six years, wouldn’t you want to make the viewing experience as easy as possible, particularly when highlights are more likely to be watched on smaller phone and tablet screens than the HD televisions you might watch NHL coverage on?
And yes, I know they’re the ‘Silver Knights’, but the Golden Knights managed their first three seasons without a gold jersey.
I made a Cuban sammich on an English muffin (wait, what? ) for lunch today.
It was… fine.
I was kind of hoping Naomi Osaka would work the Tower of the Sun from Expo ’70 into her iconography. Sure, it would probably involve paying the estate of Taro Okamoto, the tower’s architect, a hefty sum for its use, but it’s the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Japan’s Second City.
More on the Osaka line. This has rolled out gradually; she’s been with them I believe since April of ’19. She and Nadal are the only Nike players with personal logos on their line; Not even SW has that.
Can anyone explain what ‘Glove Day’ is?
Is it the day university baseball teams distribute gloves for the coming season? If so, it seems like an odd time of year.
Am I the only one who got the Spiral Tap reference in today’s headline?
Thank you for connecting that, I knew I knew that phrase!
BTW, I think one of the letters in the title you refer to is incorrect?