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EXCLUSIVE: MLB Umps Make Unprecedented Uni Adjustment

For all image, click to enlarge

Sometimes I’ll spot something while watching a game — something small, something seemingly inconsequential — that sends me down a deep, deep rabbit hole and ends up revealing something larger. That was the case as I watched last night’s Mets/Phillies game.

Let me walk you through the sequence of what happened:

1. As I reported in my blog post about Opening Day, MLB umpires have been wearing memorial patches this season for former umps Darryl Cousins and Paul Schrieber:

2. While watching last night’s Mets/Phils game, I noticed that the white lettering and white borders on the plate ump’s memorial patches appeared to be blacked out. You can see it in the screen shot at the top of this page, and also in these other screen shots, taken from various points throughout the game:

I kept fixating on it during the game, just in case it was a trick of the lighting or something like that. Nope — the patches were definitely blacked out. That seemed odd — did the plate ump have some sort of personal gripe with Cousins and Schrieber? Did he think black-on-black lettering was more appropriate for a memorial patch?

3. I looked up who the plate ump was and learned that it was Andy Fletcher.

4. I searched for photos of Fletcher from this season and discovered that he was wearing the memorial patches on April 23:

5. I was about to start checking video of games that Fletcher worked in between April 23 and last night, but then I noticed something else: The base umps in that same game I was watching — the Mets/Phils game — didn’t appear to be wearing the memorial patches. It wasn’t that their patches were blacked out like Fletcher’s — they just weren’t wearing them at all:

6. What about yesterday’s other games? I checked the video from a bunch of random games and found that none of the umps had the memorial patches:

7. But the real kicker came when I checked the video of yesterday’s Royals/Twins game. Not only was plate ump Phil Cuzzi not wearing the memorial patches, but he clearly had some residue on his sleeve where the patches had been:

8. By this point I was convinced that the umps had all removed their memorial patches at some point recently (and that Fletcher, who apparently couldn’t get the patches removed from his jersey, had blacked his out instead, just to be consistent with the other umps). But why did they do this, and when? In an attempt to answer the second question, I looked at video from Saturday’s games. The results were consistent across the board: No memorial patches.

9. Umpiring crews usually are usually assigned to work an entire series. So if the umps weren’t wearing the patches on Sunday or Saturday, I figured they weren’t wearing them Friday either. So I looked at video from Thursday’s games, to see how they looked during their previous series. And sure enough, umps were wearing the patches that day:

10. At this point I figured I had determined that the umps were wearing the patches on April 29 (Thursday) and stopped wearing them on April 30 (Friday, when they rotated to their new series assignemtns). But I figured I’d better check the Friday games, just to be sure that my theory about in-series consistency was correct. And as it turns out, I was wrong — the umps were wearing the patches on Friday:

11. Friday was the last day of April. So it appears that the umpires wore the Cousins and Schrieber memorial patches for the first month of the season and then removed them (or, in Fletcher’s case, blacked them out) for the start of May.

12. It’s hard to be 100% certain about this (I’m not sure anyone documents ump patches except me), but I’m fairly sure this patch-removal move is unprecedented in recent MLB umpiring history. The umps usually keep wearing these sleeve memorials for the entire season. Why did they change the protocol this year? I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out — stay tuned.


So that was my Sunday night. I realize it’s not a sexy topic like an unveiling or a jersey typo, but detail-obsessive things like this are exactly why I created Uni Watch more than two decades ago. Such a fun mystery to explore! And while I’m grateful to have so many great contributors who spot things and then let me know about them, this exercise was particularly enjoyable because it started with a random observation I made myself while watching my favorite team’s game. Very satisfying!

Also: If Andy Fletcher had simply removed his patches like all the other umps, instead of blacking them out, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. Similarly, if he had been working one of the bases instead of the plate, I probably wouldn’t have noticed his blacked-out patches. A lot of random stuff had to fall into place Just Right in order for this story to emerge. Makes me wonder how many other stories we’re missing.

Hope your Sunday night was good too, even if it wasn’t as full-on geeky as mine.

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Blast from the Giants’ past: During the broadcast of Saturday night’s Giants/Padres game, the Giants’ TV crew cued up a uni-centric promo spot from 1983, featuring then-Giants players Chili Davis and Duane Kuiper (who’s now one of the team’s broadcasters). It’s very short — check it out above.

So many interesting and odd things about that promo spot:

• Davis repeatedly refers to the design as looking “old” and “old-fashioned.” That’s definitely not how I would have described that uniform at the time.

• Kuiper says that skipper Frank Robinson helped to design the uniforms. I’ve never heard that before. It’s unclear, at least to me, if Robinson really had a hand in the design process or if that’s just a line they came up with for the script.

• Robinson doesn’t speak but is shown glaring at the players. I remember how that was his reputation at the time — a stern taskmaster. I feel like that persona faded a bit later in his managerial career, as he became perceived as more of an elder statesman (or maybe he just mellowed out).

• I cracked up over the jingle at the end with the lyrics “Come on Giants, hang in there!” That’s your slogan?

• I love the batting glove with the big “SF” logo patch at the end. Did anyone ever wear a glove that actually looked like that?

(Mega-thanks to Twitter-er @29_sunset for sharing this gem with us.)

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Click to enlarge

ITEM! New Pin Club design: I know many of you don’t read the site during the weekend, so you may have missed our latest Uni Watch Pin Club launch. This month we’re keeping it simple and classic with a Uni Watch baseball cap pin, which you can order here.

A few notes:

• This the first Pin Club pin that doesn’t include the words “Uni Watch.” We thought it was better to let the design speak for itself.

• The little white “21” stands for the year, obviously, and is meant to mimic the little cap inscriptions that MLB players sometimes use as a shout-out to injured or fallen teammates.

• This pin was produced in a numbered edition of 200. As of this morning, there are about 100 remaining.

Again, the pin is available here. Enjoy!

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ITEM! Podcast news: Due to a scheduling conflict, we will not have a new Unified podcast episode this week. But we have something very cool planned for the week after that — it’ll be our first “Ask Us Anything” edition, where we’ll spend the entire episode answering listener-submitted questions. It should be a lot like our regular “Question of the Week” segment, but stretched out over the entire episode.

If you’d like to submit a question for us, you can do so here. A few things to keep in mind:

• Most of the questions we get are directed to both of us. But if you have a question specifically for me or for Chris, that’s fine too.

• You can ask us about uniforms and logos, of course, but you can also ask the podcast itself, or about Uni Watch and/or, or about our careers, or anything like that.

• Questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no response aren’t all that interesting (for us or for the audience), so try to avoid those.

Thanks in advance for your submissions — we look forward to responding to your queries!

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ITEM! Big month upcoming: May is always a big month on the Uni Watch calendar, and this year will be no exception. Here’s what’s in store:

• May 17 — two weeks from today — will mark the 15th anniversary of the very first post on this blog in 2006. Per longstanding tradition, that means it will also be Purple Amnesty Day — the only day of the year when I’ll accept orders for purple-inclusive membership cards. As usual, designer Bryan Molloy and I will also have some purple merch offerings that will be available for exactly 24 hours — no more, no less!

• Nine days later — May 26 — will mark the 22nd anniversary of the very first Uni Watch column appearing in The Village Voice in 1999. It will also be the date of a very special uni-centric event that longtime Uni Watch reader and all-around swell guy Jason Von Stein has organized. I’ll let him explain:

Hello, Uni-verse!

I love Uni Watch because it brings people together, no matter what uniform they wear or root for. Uni Watch also celebrates the arts. So please join us for a free celebration Wednesday, May 26, as a bunch of wonderful musical performers celebrate Uni Watch’s 22nd anniversary and also raise money for worthy charities.

The event will be live-streaming on this Facebook page. Here’s the schedule of who’ll be performing, and the charities they’ll be supporting [click to enlarge]:

The performers will be live-streaming from their homes on the event page. You’ll know who is currently performing by the red “Live” box appearing in the upper-right corner of the screen, and you’ll be encouraged (but not required, of course) to donate to that performer’s charity.

We will also be having “Stupid Sports Trivia” between performers, with prizes courtesy of Ebbets Field Flannels, Asgard Press, and others.

Feel free to interact with us during the event and tell us what Uni Watch means to you. If you like, we encourage you to wear your favorite uniform and post photos of yourself on the event page! The person whose photo has the most “Likes” will win a Uni Watch prize package that Paul has provided, featuring a Uni Watch koozy, trading card, magnet, and membership card. (Don’t have a uniform to wear? Between now and May 26, use the checkout code UNI22 to get 10% off at Ebbets Field Flannels.)

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate 22 years of Uni Watch, to enjoy lots of great musical performances, and to support lots of worthy causes. Thanks!

Isn’t that nice? I’ve had nothing to do with the planning of this event, so Jason deserves every last bit of credit for putting it together. Thanks, Jason!

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ITEM! New “Start ’em young” membership raffle for kids: Reader Kevin Cearfoss — the guy who makes those great 3D logos — has generously donated funds for four memberships, with an interesting stipulation: These memberships must all go to kids. “I would have asked my parents for one had I known about Uni Watch back then!” says Kevin.

I love that idea of adding more kids to our comm-uni-ty. So if you’re a kid reading this, you’re eligible to enter this raffle. If you’re not a kid, you can still enter, but the membership card would have to be for a kid who you know. (Obviously, we can’t enforce that, but I’m hoping everyone will adhere to the honor system.)

This will be a two-day raffle. Non-USA entries are fine. To enter, send an email to the raffle in-box by 8pm Eastern tomorrow, May 4. One entry per person. I’ll announce the four winners on Wednesday. Good luck!

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball and Softball News: The Yankees gave RF Roger Maris a No. 55 jersey when he reached that home run milestone in 1961 (from Dan Cichalski). … Missouri softball wore pink yesterday (from Timmy Donahue). … There is at least one new uniform for the U.K.’s National Baseball League’s London Capitals (from Kurt Wasemiller). … New Mexico baseball honored Jackie Robinson on Saturday by wearing their normal uni numbers on the front of the jersey and 42 and “Robinson” on the back (from Guillaume Brady).

Football News: Cardinals S Budda Baker is changing to No. 3 (thanks, Anthony). … Most of the Bengals’ draft picks are shown on their website wearing the old jerseys (from Bob Moon). … FCS South Dakota State has “Last Play” on their rear helmet bumpers, so they’re literally putting the last play behind them (from Zach Barnett). … Here’s a peek at two new Nevada helmets for this fall (from Cameron Smith).

Hockey News: Ducks players wore varying jerseys of retiring goalie Ryan Miller in warm-ups on Saturday (from Wade Heidt). … In a Chicago switcheroo, the Bulls’ and Blackhawks’ mascots traded places last week (from Kary Klismet).

Basketball News: Author John Grisham’s new book, Sooley, is about basketball. Grisham has Virginia men’s basketball courtside seats and recently did an interview on the book from John Paul Jones Arena. He also posted a picture of himself in uniform (thanks, Brinke). … New Cavaliers PG Jeremiah Martin is wearing No. 3 (from Etienne Catalan). … Cross-posted from the ice hockey section: The Bulls’ and Blackhawks’ mascots switched places last week (from Kary Klismet).

Soccer News: Premier League officials wore warm-up shirts supporting the charity Don’t X the Line, which targets abuse, racist or otherwise, of officials. This coincidentally overlapped with men’s and women’s soccer in the U.K., as well as the other reasonably major team sports — rugby union and league, cricket, field hockey, netball, and even smaller ones like ice hockey — boycotting social media from Friday to today to pressure the providers to take action against repeated instances of racist abuse. … As we mentioned would happen in Saturday’s Ticker, Tottenham Hotspur wore a charity ad for Indochina Starfish Foundation Cambodia (also from Moe Khan). … Germany’s 2. Bundesliga’s Hamburger SV wore shirts honoring the 10th anniversary of their LGBTQ fan club. … Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos released a third shirt to be worn July 10 (from Jeremy Brahm). … West Ham United women’s pink shirts, which are usually worn in October, reappeared as a third shirt yesterday for the second time this season, as they apparently don’t have this season’s third kit. … Egypt’s Al Ahly started work on a new stadium (from Kary Klismet). … Lots of shenanigans happen at corners, but this is a new one: Fulham striker Bobby Decordova-Reid trying to unstrap Chelsea goalie Edouard Mendy’s gloves (from Tom Gronek). … In 2019, Colombian teams wore half their badges to represent that most clubs really have two teams and to boost attendance at the women’s game, with men’s and women’s teams each wearing one half. I had trouble finding exact dates or pictures outside of that video, but it should have happened sometime between July and September that year (also from Jeremy Brahm).

Grab Bag: Stanford field hockey played their final game in the NCAA tournament yesterday, unless the school decides not to drop the sport, ending their status as perhaps the only Division I team to permanently wear sleeves. U.S. high school and college teams and high-level women’s national teams usually don’t wear sleeves, but most other teams do. … Jeremy Brahm has more for us after yesterday’s entry: The namesake team from the anime 2.43: Seiin Boys High School Volleyball Team was depicted wearing the Japan men’s national team uniforms. … NASCAR Cup driver Ryan Newman had a commemorative decal for his 700th start (from Nick Williams). … The next two are from James Gilbert: Retired North Carolina associate sports information director Dave Lohse received a framed No. 43 men’s lacrosse jersey for his years of service. … The team also wore warm-up shirts, honoring a former player who recently passed away. … The Australian Football League’s Greater Western Sydney wore an Indigenous guernsey on Saturday. … The next three are from Kary Klismet: Some Australian high schools have gender-neutral uniforms. … An Oregon high school that was replacing its Trojans name decided on “Guardians” instead of the initial “Evergreens” because of concerns that a tree-related name combined with the school’s new namesake, NAACP founder Ida B. Wells-Barnett, could remind of lynching. … The Roman Colosseum is to have its floor reinstalled (NYT link).

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Comments (46)

    As to the new Giants uniforms being “old-fashioned” in 1983, I think that might have been largely a reference to the fact that they had buttons. Except for a few holdouts (Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Expos, and I think that’s it), everyone had gone to button-free pullovers in the double-knit era, and the Giants were, I believe, one of the first to transition back to buttons. The Red Sox did so in 1979, IIRC.

    Watching baseball team change uniforms in the late 1980s to early 1990s was a time I enjoyed. It was a fun experience seeing many teams transition from pullovers and sansabelt to buttons and belts.

    Many going back to a more traditional look. Also teams like the Blue Jays and Mariners changing to buttons and belts for the first time.

    The only thing sad was the gradual death of the powder blue road uniform. Though we have seen that trying to spring to life this year with the Cardinals and Blue Jays on the road in the powder blue for games.

    Rangers need to pack those powder blues for a road trip and bring the royal blue hats to wear with them. They can leave the powder blue hats at home. Fan of the powder blue uniforms, but not the powder blue hats the Rangers decided should go with them.

    Spot on about the buttons. Sent me to Okkenon. A’s fan here. I thought the Giants went back to buttons because the A’s went to a button home white jersey in ’82 and the Giants liked the look. Interestingly, Okkenon’s book does not show the white button jersey for 1982 for the A’s. Look for the Rickey Henderson SI cover Sept 6, 1982 and you’ll see the jersey.

    PS. We a’s fans back then called the Giants – because of the font on the ’83 jersey seen in the Davis/Kuiper ad – the G and S iants.

    Add the Orioles to that list. While their orange alt of the 70s – 80s was a pullover, their standard home and road jerseys have always had buttons.

    Not only were the Giants returning to buttons and belts in 1983, but didn’t they essentially scrap the orange and the black jerseys that they had worn periodically in the ’70s and ’80s? That alone would make the uniforms old fashioned, as softball tops were not a thing until the ’70s.

    I’m not for replacing the Colusseum’s floor, I believe ancient monuments should be preserved, but left as they are….future generations will grow up thinking the Romans had revolving stage floors FFS! Why not rebuild Stonehenge,and the Great Pyramids could sure use some elevators…eh???

    Why not? Because we are not the culture that built these things so we are mucking about in ignorance! But while we’re re-writing history, why not improve the tech too….

    But hey, once they do it, the NHL can have a game there between the Senators & Golden Knights….the “Gladiator Series”…(patent

    Ship of Theseus, sort of.

    If you’ve been to Rome things like this are quite common. It is a city with thousands of year of continual history. Some quite old and historic buildings are slowly upgraded over time to remain (somewhat) in use. Other ancient historical structures have work done to allow of them to be visited. I’m not sure anyone is going to think new flooring is any more a part of the original coliseum than electricity was part of the original St Peter’s.

    The Colosseum had a floor as recently as the 1870s.

    That makes the floor-less appearance a relatively recent part of the Colosseum’s history – not always “how it has been.”

    Outdoor hockey has already been played at a Roman Coliseum in Croatia:

    I meant to include this quote.

    “From the Croatian Times:

    The Arena Ice Fever Pula MMXII is the first time anyone has ever attempted to put a professional ice rink inside an amphitheatre but there were no technical difficulties as it was a perfect fit, say organisers.

    He added: “It was almost as if the Romans took it into account when they built the place 2,000 years ago, the proportions of the amphitheatre fit perfectly to the proportions of a modern ice hockey rink.”

    So yes, hockey in the Coloseeum is a great idea, and it seems the Romans even predicted it.

    Benjamin Mendy plays Left Back for City, you are looking for Edouard Mendy

    Uh, you might want to read the NYT article. The actual floor hasn’t been in there for centuries. It’s not being replaced so much as rebuilt. They are re-creating the floor so people can walk above the subterranean sections to more fully experience what the structure was actually like.

    I guess it depends on whether or not to “replace” something like the Colosseum floor requires you to remove the old one and then put in a new one as part of one single project or if you can “replace” something that was removed some time ago (in this case, the Colosseum’s floor didn’t deteriorate naturally but was removed by archaeologists.)

    Paul’s choice of the word “reinstall” works fine but I don’t think “replace” would have been wrong either.

    You’re right. I made the mistake of seeing a comment with the pink-ish background and assuming it was Paul’s.

    How old can I be to qualify for the kid membership raffle? I’m 17 and a junior in high school…

    Not sure if this has been brought up before but I was flipping through the channels last night and came across the Rockies/D-Backs game. While watching a few pitches it looked to me like the Rockies road grays were actually lavender. I wasn’t sure if it was the lighting or my TV. So I checked the highlights on line this morning and it looks to me like they are: link

    I see what youre seeing, but I think it’s our eyes playing tricks on us due to the indoor lighting in Phoenix. I’ve seen a few Rockies games this year, all outdoor games, and had never seen that. Could be wrong, just doesn’t seem like something they would do without announcing it ( or someone here not noticing until now).

    I think it’s just a trick of the eye. Similar to how the Big Red Machine appeared to be wearing link back in the day. They weren’t. But they sure looked like it.

    I went to a Giants vs. Rockies game in San Francisco last week. The Rockies’ uniforms looked perfectly standard road gray, in person.

    TV numbers on Football unis: on the podcast you continue to say that the NFL isn’t going by their rule any more.. when the Browns unis came out their own radio show talked about how they wanted to have no numbers on the shoulders of the alternate unis but since there was no design the NFL made them put numbers on them.

    the teams that have been exempt from tv numbers all have been teams that have a stripe or design on their shoulders

    Sounds like the rule is, if Nike makes a design with little to no room for TV numbers, you don’t have to have them. So the need for the numbers would be dependent on how much real estate Nike wants to use with their awful designs.

    Does the sleeved Stanford jersey have a black line through the name bc the school is dropping the sport or is that the font? if the student athletes did it that’s awesome.

    Yeah, it is because they’re dropping the sport, so I would assume it was the team’s idea.

    Yes, it did come from the athletes themselves. Here’s an article about various forms of protest that Stanford student-athletes have been engaging in:


    The Australian Football League’s Greater Western Sydney wore an Indigenous guernsey on Saturday.

    Where is the support for an indigenous design for an American Professional team? The Arizona Cardinals need a new uniform and I think this is a perfect opportunity. I’m glad Indian artists were included in the Minor League Baseball teams from Spokane and Indianapolis, but now would be a good time for a step up.

    Thanks, Chris. I’ll confess to being a bit disappointed that nobody has remarked/commented on the lede — it’s the kind of story that gets me *so* excited, although I realize ump patches don’t float everyone’s boat. Diff’rent strokes and all that….

    It is really exciting! But there’s little to comment on, other than to say “great lead”. You covered the phenomenon pretty thoroughly, and then ended on a cliffhanger that sort of precludes speculation. It’s sort of either one thing, or it’s another, and we’ll get the answer when … scrolls down … oh, right then.

    I agree the lede was classic uni-watch. If there’s a lack of response I’m guessing its because I’m still hanging on waiting for the resolution. Its a story without a last chapter written yet and I don’t know how its going to turn out.

    That was exactly why I didn’t comment on it. I was waiting for the update. Which we just got below from Ed Kozak. Which that alone is so awesome that Ed got a response from an actual MLB umpire!!! But, like always Paul, awesome lede, vintage/classic Uniwatch. Had no idea that these honors were only for a month.

    Hey Ed.
    Yes that’s correct. Retired umpires who pass away we wear their initials for one month. So those individuals passed during the off season so we honored them the month of April. If an active umpires passes we wear for the whole season.
    Hope all is well.

    This is the answer to Paul’s question of the day from today’s interesting lede. The respondent is an acquaintance of mine, John Tumpane , MLB umpire, number 74 in your program.

    Really? It’s always just for a month? I honestly thought it was a usually a season-long thing. Interesting! Thanks for the info, Ed!

    Thanks to Ed (and Mr. Tumpane) for nailing that down, and to Paul for a great lede.

    Good catch on the umpire patches, Paul. As other commenters have said, this is classic Uni Watch.

    Stanford field hockey played their final game in the NCAA tournament yesterday,

    If I ever have grandkids then someday I can tell them the story of how I was sitting in a neighborhood deli in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio eating my country fried steak and eggs, when I noticed out the window a procession of young women walking past the cemetery and heading straight for the deli. It was the Stanford field hockey team, who apparently were playing a game that afternoon at nearby Kent State. They must have stayed at the one hotel in downtown Cuyahoga Falls and walked the 10-12 blocks to get their breakfast. It all just seemed surreal, because I wondered why they didn’t stay in Kent and how they came across this tucked-away (but very good) deli. Anyway, next time I eat there I will raise my coffee cup in a toast to the Cardinal.

    The SDSU “Last Play” is actually in reference to play every play like it is your last play according to their coach. I cannot find it but he referenced it in his interview after the game last night. I do like putting the last play behind you better though.

Comments are closed.