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A Uni Watch Look at Dick Tidrow

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Former MLB pitcher Dick Tidrow, who had a 13-year career in the 1970s and ’80s — including stints with both Chicago teams and both New York teams! — died a few days ago at the age of 74. He was never a star — more of a journeyman, really — but I used to love watching him pitch, and I’d like to talk about that today.

From an aesthetic standpoint, Tidrow was really interesting to watch. As you can see above, he had superb stirrup stylings, some serious facial hair, and an unusually high leg kick that photographers loved to capture. (In all of these aspects, he was essentially a forerunner of 1987 National League Cy Young winner Steve Bedrosian.)

But beyond that, Tidrow had a uni-related behavioral tic that fascinated me from an early age: After delivering a pitch, he would always — always — tug at the bill of his cap. You can see what I mean by watching this video from Game Four of the 1978 World Series, when Tidrow pitched three innings for the Yankees against the Dodgers. This embed picks up the action in the top of the sixth inning, when Tidrow had just entered the game and was tossing his warm-up pitches:

If you watch that video for a while, you’ll see that Tidrow’s post-pitch tug on the cap bill was a reflexive, almost involuntary thing. He did it after warm-up pitches, pitches that the batter took for a called ball or strike, pitches at which the batter swung and missed, and even pitches that resulted in the ball being put in play. (If you want to see more Tidrow footage from that game, the top of the seventh starts at the 1:01:45 mark.)

Tidrow did the cap tug throughout his career. Here’s a sequence from a 1980 game when he was pitching for the Cubs against the Cardinals. This one is particularly uni-licious because the opposing batter is Bobby Bonds, who was wearing No. 00 on his back and on his sleeves (the Cards had TV numbers in 1979 and ’80):

(As an aside: Bonds carried his batting helmet with him to the plate for that at-bat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player do that before! And if you stick with the video, the next batter is George “Low Pants” Hendrick. So much uni-notable content in that sequence!)

There have been several pitchers over the years whose caps have repeatedly fallen off during their delivery, like Jim Bouton, John Pacella and Mike MacDougal, but I can’t think of another pitcher who habitually tugged at his brim like Tidrow did. As a kid, I became mildly obsessed with it. On the one hand, it was the kind of personal quirk that I loved noticing and fixating on (having a radar for that kind of thing would eventually lead to Uni Watch). On the other hand, some control-freak part of my brain also found something oddly annoying about it. Like, “Can’t you not tug on the cap just once?” (By contrast, seeing the cap tug in these old video clips is nicely reassuring, like reconnecting with an old friend I hadn’t seen in decades.)

In 1984, the final year of his career, Tidrow appeared in a handful of games for the Mets. I specifically remember a play in which the opposing batter hit a comebacker that caromed off of Tidrow’s shin, and he wasn’t in proper position to field it because he was reflexively tugging at the bill of his cap just as the ball struck his leg. I remember being incensed; a few days later, Tidrow was released and his career was over.

Tidrow spent the last 28 years working in the Giants’ front office — more than twice as long as he was an active player. Others may remember him for other things (like his nickname, “Dirt”), but I’ll always remember him for the cap tug. R.I.P.

(Special thanks to Twitter-ers @NFL_Journal and @darkstarharry for their assistance in locating the video sequences embedded in today’s post.)

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Should this be the new Uni Watch cap? Last week we sold through the last of the Uni Watch Classic Caps (thank you!). I’ve been fooling around with some crude mock-ups of some other cap designs we could do with Ebbets Field Flannels, and the one I like best is shown above. What do you think?

Before you answer that question, here are some details:

• This would be an eight-panel cap (not the more common six-panel) with green piping as shown in the mock-up.

• Just like the Classic Cap, this one would be 100% wool and made in the USA by Ebbets.

• That green brim is a Kelly green. As I recently explained, Ebbets no longer has the shade of green we were using for the Classic Cap. I don’t want to do a solid-Kelly cap, but I think the combination of Kelly, grey, and piping works really well.

• Speaking of the brim: The photo that I used for the mock-up showed a cap with a short, soft visor. But if I go ahead with this product, it will have a conventional-length stiff visor.

• No visible maker’s mark, of course.

• It would be available in fitted sizes. If enough people expressed interest in an adjustable version, I’d do that as well.

• It would be available to ship around the end of September.

• It would not be cheap — based on the quote Ebbets has given me, the price would be something like $43 plus $6 shipping.

I will not go ahead with this product unless I’m certain that a significant number of you are willing to purchase it. I might even require pre-orders, or at least deposits. But for now, I’m just trying to gauge how many people are interested, based on the details and pricing I’ve just spelled out. If that’s you, please send me a note indicating that you’d be on board. If you want to list your preferred size (or if you’d prefer an adjustable instead of fitted), that would also be helpful.

Thanks in advance for your feedback — much appreciated.

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Unfortunately, black unis are coming back for the Mets on July 30, and for all Friday home games going forward. Notably, the sleeve patch is the regular Mets logo with the blue skyline, and not the black-skyline version that was worn with the original black jerseys (from multiple readers). … The Pirates will wear a patch marking the 50th anniversary of their 1971 World Series championship on Saturday (from Jerry Wolper). … Apparently happy with the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the All-Star unis, MLB and Nike are planning on doing it again in 2022 (thanks, Phil). … The Jersey Shore BlueClaws, High-A affiliates of the Phillies, will become the BruceClaws for Bruce Springsteen Night on July 31 (from John Cerone). … In lieu of kippot, Team Israel opted to keep their caps on during the performance of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. The Israeli players then removed their caps for the American anthem (from Avi Miller).

NFL News: The NFL is continuing social justice messaging for the coming season (thanks, Phil). … The Superdome is just called the Superdome again, as the naming rights deal with a German car manufacturer has ended (from Timmy Donahue).

College/High School Football News: Eagle-eyed reader Joseph A. Bailey noticed a mistake in the new movie Black Widow. In a scene set in 1995, the characters drive past a high school football game. “It took all of two seconds to realize that they are clearly using footage from now,” wrote Joseph. “The officials are wearing black slacks, not white knickers. The black slacks weren’t used by high school officials until 2010. As a football official, it bums me they didn’t care to get it correct.”

Hockey News: The AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, affiliates of the Predators, have unveiled the logo that will go on their new third sweater. The logo is not a throwback, though it’s certainly supposed to look retro (and they even call it a “fauxback” in the explainer graphic), and the Admirals had a kinda-sorta similar one back in the ’80s and ’90s (from multiple readers). … The NWHL has teased a forthcoming rebrand (thanks, Jamie).

Basketball News: Apparel company Homage has released a line of WNBA shirts paying, ahem, homage to the NBA JAM series of video games (from Andrew Cosentino). … The Thunder’s arena is getting a new advertised name. The signage for its previous corporate advertiser was removed yesterday (from Timmy Donahue). … Really interesting NYT article about a guy who goes around New York City playgrounds installing nets on bare basketball hoops.

Soccer News: Serie A has banned green kits, effective as of the 2022-23 season. This poses huge problems for US Sassuolo, whose colors are black and green (from multiple readers and our own Phil Hecken). … The replica version of Manchester United’s new home shirt lacks several key design elements. The cynic in me says this is to try to get fans to buy the more expensive authentic jerseys. … Bundesliga side 1. FC Köln have unveiled their new home kits (from Alex Peerenboom). … The USWNT has unveiled its Olympic kit, with the USSF crest swapped out for a “USA” inscription (thanks, Jamie). … Also from Jamie, every MLS team — even the Canadian ones — are getting camo warm-ups (also from David Hanson). … Lokomotiv Moscow have unveiled all three of their new kits (from Ed Żelaski). … Also from Ed, new home kit for Lech Poznań. … The USL League One expansion team in Northern Colorado will be known as the Hailstorm, and have revealed their crest (from Scott Rogers). … Peruvian side Club Universitario have unveiled some very nice fauxback kits to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Peru’s independence (from @texastrevor). … Atlético Mineiro of Brazil’s Série A have unveiled an absolutely gorgeous new home kit (from multiple readers).

Grab Bag: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill allowing high school athletes to make their uniforms more modest for religious or cultural reasons (from Kenneth Traisman). … New logos for Southeastern Louisiana University athletics (from Chris Mycoskie). … Nike apparently had a shirt ready to celebrate Rafael Nadal’s 21st Grand Slam title if he won at the French Open. Nadal, of course, lost in the semis to eventual champ Novak Djokovic.

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That’s it for this week. Mary and I are spending the weekend at a friend’s house upstate (which will be our first nights sleeping anywhere other than Uni Watch HQ since January of 2020!). Hope you all have fun weekends planned as well. Enjoy Phil’s content for the next two days and I’ll see you back here on Monday. — Paul

Comments (51)

    Hank Aaron carried his helmet to the plate, then took it of when running the bases.

    Many, many players from Aaron’s era removed their helmets while baserunning.

    But I have no memory of Aaron carrying his helmet to the plate — interesting.

    I do recall seeing him carrying his helmet to the plate and you would see him place it on his head as his at bat would start.

    I remember seeing Aaron carrying his helmet to the plate at Wrigley Field vs. the Cubs.

    In this article


    writer LEE WALBURN says “Henry Aaron leaves the on-deck circle at Atlanta Stadium and approaches home plate in a routine that seemed never to vary: two bats in his left hand, the blue batting helmet with the swoop of white from bill to crest in his right. Dropping one bat to the ground for the batboy to retrieve, he balances the 34-ounce Louisville Slugger against a thigh and uses both hands to place the helmet on his head. With characteristic economy of motion that some critics have consistently, maddeningly mistaken for nonchalance, he settles comfortably in the batter’s box, hands held high and away from his body.”

    A little “well, actually” on the Mets’ black jerseys:

    The original black Mets jersey (debuted in 1998) DID have the blue and orange skyline patch:


    The black version of the skyline patch was introduced in 1999.

    “I’m just picturing in my mind everybody in the stadium with a blackout jersey,” first baseman Pete Alonso said earlier this year. “I think it would be so intimidating, just a sea of black shirts out there in the outfield with music banging out of the speakers, lights going. It would bring a lot of swagger and a lot of moxie.” I just fear that this going to go from a “Friday night only” thing to a “Let’s wear them for the entire homestand” thing…

    As not a Mets fan, a Citi stadium full of people wearing black shirts would not be intimidating or swaggerish. It would just be hot and sweaty in July and August.

    I could be totally wrong (as I was once before) but, based on seeing Alonso at the Home Run Derby and his comments above, he seems like a bit of a jerk.

    If it’s true that the MLB All-Star jerseys “essentially sold out” as the linked article claims, I wonder if Nike has adopted the “no publicity is bad publicity” axiom…in the sense that they knew that the outcry among more traditional fans would help draw enough attention to the uniforms that sales would be brisk?

    “Essentially sold out” is meaningless without knowing how much inventory they produced to begin with, or how the sales compared to previous ASG BP jersey sales, etc.

    Oh I agree totally, hence my addition of “if it’s true”. Especially coming from an unnamed “MLB official”, it’s not a claim we can totally take at face value.

    But if you want to give the benefit of the doubt, I guess we can assume that MLB/Nike were happy enough with the sales figures to continue the program.

    Not to mention the fact that “essentially” could mean just about anything.

    All I know is that walking around LoDo for three days, I saw a LOT of those ugly jerseys around. Plenty of fans in team jerseys (and a lot in those featuring retired players or HOFers), but I would have to say that the ASG jerseys had the plurality.

    “The Jersey Shore BlueClaws, High-A affiliates of the Phillies, will become the BruceClaws for Bruce Sprinsgteen Night on July 31”

    Bruce Sprinsgteen, famous for the songs “Born in the U.A.S.” and “Dancing in the Drak.” ;)

    As a young Phils fan in the 70s/80s, I recall Steve Carlton also grabbing at the bill of his hat (and then touching the back of his hat) after nearly every pitch as well…This YouTube clip shows him doing just that over and over. However, unlike Tidrow, he doesn’t appear to do it when the ball is put into play…link

    Oooh, good one! I watched Carlton pitch many, many times but never picked up on that (or at least have no memory of it).

    Further to the logo info in the Hockey Ticker, he is a look at the 3rd jersey for the Milwaukee Admirals.


    Really interesting stuff in that Cubs/Cards footage. I had no recollection of Bobby either carrying the helmet to the plate or wearing 00!

    I also see he’s another cap-under-helmet guy like Hank, Stargell and I’m sure others I can’t think of right now.

    I’d say wearing the cap under the helmet was as much the rule as the exception at that point, at least for guys who didn’t wear earflapped helmets. Very, very common.

    You know I was thinking it had to do with the flapless helmet. By the time ’82 rolled around, the year I remember the most as my earliest memories, I think Stargell was the only one I remember, but then again I was a Pirate fan and saw him more.

    As a former catcher, by the time I wore a flapless helmet (which actually wasn’t often because I preferred the brimless helmet that Fisk wore at times late in his career) there was a rubber/padded ring around the inside crown. I’m assuming the early models didn’t have this, thus why players wore a hat inside?

    I went to look Tidrow up, and Wikipedia gave his date of death as July 10. Going back to the ESPN article linked at the top of the lede, it does say he had passed on Saturday, and the team announced it on Wednesday.

    In any case, it seems a rare feat for someone to have played for both Chicago teams and both New York teams in their career.

    And following up on my second point, it turns out I was right! Tidrow was actually the second player to play for all four teams. Charley Smith accomplished the feat first, in the sixties, and Lance Johnson and David Aardsma are the only other two to have done it.

    Aardsma holds the additional distinction of being first in the all-time MLB alphabetical roster (ahead of Henry Aaron, who had long held that spot prior to Aardsma’s MLB debut).

    There have to be others who played for more teams but Aardsma playing for 8 teams in 9 years seems notable. Too bad it wasn’t 8 for 8 or 9 for 9.

    Just a general question:

    How is Tidrows pulling his brim “a behavioral tic” any more different than a batter who adjusts his gloves after each pitch / swing?

    I would not consider this a straight-forward “tic” but more of a pitcher who is OCD, like many pitchers (and yes, that may be classified as tic, however, a “tic” really more ties to a motor or vocal instance that one cannot control).

    Many pitchers become OCD in their routines and I would consider this more of a routine than a tic (Mackey Sasser I would say is more of an example of a tic as he had a legitimate mental block with his doulbe-clutches).

    How is Tidrows pulling his brim “a behavioral tic” any more different than a batter who adjusts his gloves after each pitch / swing?

    Not at all. Except that it’s more uncommon. A distinction of quantity, not quality.

    Re: the banning of green in Serie A.

    The cynic in me wonders if this is to prevent broadcasters from superimposing ads on players while on the pitch. Yeah, I know that ads are imposed on white surfaces like a hockey rink and on dark surfaces like a racetrack. But I can’t see this rule being in force for long.

    I was thinking along similar lines when I saw the ticker post.
    However I think it was to implement or improve on turf digital graphics or ads.
    Like the yellow first down line on the NFL. I believe how it works is the computer TV model of the field replaces green(field) with a yellow digital line at certain points they enter in (i.e. 10 yards apart).
    Did Serie A want the field to be the only green background so they can put logos up for the viewers but player movement wouldn’t interrupt the image. I think that is how it would work?

    In re George “low pants” Hendrick: I attended a lot of Cardinals home games in the early 80’s, and he was my favorite player on those teams. I thought the low pants were cool, albeit I was utterly unaware of what they would lead to. Another nifty behavioral feature of Hendrick was his seating location during the home half of an inning. As the right fielder, he would sit in the nearby Cardinals bullpen, instead of the dugout, when he was certain he wouldn’t bat in a given inning. Also, legend has it that he skipped the 1982 World Series parade because after Game 7, he showered, dressed and drove his Ferrari home to California. Nobody was (or, heck, maybe is) cooler than George.

    I can assure Pirates fans don’t feel the same about George! Seriously though, I remember what a stink was made about his pants back then, looking at images now it’s a hoot when we see the current state of baseball pants!

    I’m glad I kept that Tidrow/Bonds video running; the game has an exciting end!

    I know Dick Allen and Dave Parker were cool as hell rockin’ the dugout cigarette and the “Boppin’” t-shirt, respectively. But after seeing Bobby Bonds strut to the plate carrying his batting helmet — and I do mean strut — nothing else comes close. Damn! -C.

    Love the Dick Tidrow tribute. Nothing warms the heart like watching old highlights and discovering new quirks you never really noticed before.

    Munson pushed the limits a few times.


    Always fun to see a photo of the Yankees using Shea as home.

    Oh man, I love that 8-panel cap mock up. Not sure I can commit right now though. I just went on a hat buying-spree. I’m glad I got one of the last all-green caps though.

    I believe that The Hockey News, once or twice, rated the old Milwaukee Admirals #1 in the minors, and referred to it as “Drunk Captain Crunch.”

    I seem to remember the Mets are wearing black again this season from Paul’s baseball preview, are we just refreshing information or had their been a change?

    They only announced they would do it at some point this season prior to the start of the season. Yesterday they announced the date they’ll be worn for the first time and teased the design (essentially the same as the previous black home alternate sans glacier twill and with the standard blue and orange club patch as noted above).

    Dick Tidrow was one of my three favorite pitchers, the other two being Kent Tekulve and Dennis Eckersley.
    Looking back through rose-colored glasses, the pitchers of my youth seemed to be larger than life, more eccentric, and had fancier windups. Particularly striking (See what I did there) were the windups of Luis Tiant, Ed Halicki, Dan Quisenberry, Dennis Leonard, Ron Davis, Jim Palmer, Ron Reed, Rich Gossage, Milt Wilcox, and the three I just mentioned.
    A sports columnist at the time pointed out the dissimilarity in the Yankees’ leading relief pitchers, saying “Sparky Lyle’s windup is poetry in motion, but Tidrow looks like he got shot in the middle of his.”

    8-panel cap…

    Would a gold (or yellow?) squatchee be going too far? Perhaps, huh? Probably add to cost too.

    Oh, and regarding Dick Tidrow — he was always “Kid Wordit” in my neighborhood. Not sure if Harry Caray ever aired that one or if we just went there on our own.

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