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A Look at 2022’s Roberto Clemente Day

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Yesterday was Roberto Clemente Day across Major League Baseball — exactly five months after Jackie Robinson Day. But unlike Jackie Day, when everyone wears No. 42, only some uniformed personnel wore No. 21 and went NNOB yesterday: Puerto Rican players and some other Latin American players; past winners of the annual Roberto Clemente Award (those players have been wearing 21 on the back of their caps this season); this year’s Clemente Award nominees (you can see the list by scrolling down a bit on this page); and all members of the Pirates (which makes sense) and Mets (which doesn’t, but I’ll get to that in a minute).

Here are some notes from yesterday’s games:

  • The Rays made news by fielding the first all-Latino starting lineup in MLB history. All nine of those players, as well as the first and third base coaches, wore No. 21 (but other players, including starting pitcher Shane McLanahan, did not).
  • Most players wore a “21” patch in Pirates colors, as seen here on a Blue Jays player (the Mets and Pirates didn’t wear the patch, and a few random players didn’t seem to have it, but I couldn’t discern a rhyme or reason to it):
  • This year’s Clemente Award nominees wore a modified version of the patch (this photo is actually from a previous season, but I saw players wearing it yesterday as well):
  • Just like on 42ers on Jackie Day, 21ers had a mismatch between their jersey numbers and the numbers on their helmets and other gear.
  • The umpires also wore the 21 sleeve patches (and this photo also shows how the Astros’ Clemente patch had to share space with the team’s 60th anniversary patch):
  • Some teams put “21” on the back of the mound, as seen here in Miami:
  • It’s really weird that the Pirates, who were facing the Mets in New York, chose to wear their black road alternate jerseys for this game. I mean, you don’t have to break out a throwback vest, but you could at least wear your standard road greys, right? Nope:
  • It’s even weirder that MLB scheduled the Pirates for a road game on this date. That’s like scheduling the Blue Jays on the road for Canada Day. Seems really disrespectful.
  • Also seems kinda bogus that the Mets — the Pirates’ opponents last night — all wore No. 21. I don’t think any other team aside from Pittsburgh did that. This was a nationally televised game, so MLB clearly wanted to make a positive impression, but why let TV coverage drive a change in uniform protocol? Another “tail wagging the dog” situation. Also feels like yet another way to disrespect the Pirates, since the team-wide 21 treatment should be theirs and theirs alone.
  • Speaking of the Mets, shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is Puerto Rican, wore a Clemente message on his footwear:
  • Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina went with a Clemente-themed mask:
  • I wouldn’t have predicted this, but that big, NNOB “21” trimmed in gold looked really solid on the Twins’ navy alternate jersey:

Were there any Clemente Day details I missed? If so, feel free to post them in today’s comments.

Very Easy on the Eyes

Gorgeous NFL game last night, as KC and Chargers squared off on KC’s new throwback field. Kinda wish KC had gone with throwback grey facemasks, but that’s a minor quibble. Lots of additional photos here.

ITEM! Another Bulletin Raffle

Reader Jim Flagg has generously donated funds for a one-year email subscription to my Bulletin articles, so I’m going to raffle that off today.

This will be a one-day raffle. No entry restrictions. To enter, send an email to the raffle in-box by 9pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Monday. Big thanks to Jim for sponsoring this one!

ITEM! Tri-Blend Tees Now Available

I’ve always made our Uni Watch T-shirts available in 100% cotton, because I figured that’s what people prefer. But longtime reader/contributor Andrew Cosentino (he specializes in Ticker items about Virginia Tech and Baltimore) recently asked about getting some of our shirts in a tri-blend fabric, which he prefers. I was able to make those shirts available for him, and he says he’s very happy with the results (as shown above).

Does anyone else out there prefer tri-blend tees? If so, I can make them available, with one catch: Teespring’s tri-blend shirts come in only five colors — black, white, heathered grey, navy (which doesn’t apply to most of our shirts), and Carolina blue (ditto). So if you want one of our green shirts in tri-blend, there’s no way for me to do that — sorry.

But if you want one of our shirts in one those five tri-blend colors I just listed, I can set that up for you. Feel free to browse our shirt selection and then let me know which designs and colors you’d like to see in tri-blend and I’ll get crackin’.

And if you’re interested in the designs Andrew is modeling for us, here are the tri-blend versions of our basic winged stirrup, basic script, wingfoot sans, and baseball caricature designs, all of which are available in both black and grey.

Uni Watch Plus Update

We now have 290something Uni Watch Plus enrollees (thank you!). I’d like to get to at least 300 today, so I’m offering an enticement. Our 300th UW+ sign-up will receive the following prize package from me:

  • Four Uni Watch pins of your choice
  • A Uni Watch koozie
  • A Uni Watch trading card
  • A Uni Watch magnet
  • A set of four Uni Watch coasters
  • A small sheet of Uni Watch stickers

Prizes notwithstanding, we’d really like to keep growing the UW+ comm-uni-ty. So if you enjoy Uni Watch and have the means to help support it, I respectfully ask that you please consider joining UW+. (Want to learn more about UW+? Look here.)

Thanks for listening, and for your support of Uni Watch — it’s greatly appreciated.

Ask Me Anything’ Reminder

In case you missed it yesterday, this week’s Bulletin article is the latest installment in my “Ask Me Anything” series, where readers submit questions and I do my best to respond. This edition includes questions about squatchee colors on caps with contrasting front panels, NFL sleeves, how leaks can ruin a team’s marketing plans, the player I’d rep if I were forced to wear a jersey to a ballgame, the differences between the sports we do and don’t “play,” my least favorite foods, and more.

My Premium Subscribers can read the piece here. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you now have three ways to get on board:

Enjoy!

Contest Reminder

In case you missed it on Wednesday, I’ve partnered with the cap brand Official League on a contest to design an unofficial USMNT cap for the upcoming World Cup. Full details here.

• • • • •

This is the part where I was going to say, “I’m visiting my mom today, so play nice while I’m away.” But it turns out I won’t be seeing her after all, because last night I tested positive — again. Can you fucking believe it?

Just like last time, my symptoms are very mild, thankfully. And Mary is testing negative so far, although we suspect that won’t last. This is actually way more stressful for her than for me, because she’s busy making preparations to move out in a few weeks, so being sick, or even being quarantined, would really complicate things for her. Sigh — life sure can be inconvenient sometimes.

Anyway: I’ll have at least one more blog post this morning (lots of NBA news), and of course I’ll get the Ticker published, and then I’ll probably knock off for the day. Stay safe, enjoy Phil’s weekend content, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. — Paul

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Comments (26)

    I watched the Mets/Pirates game last night and it didn’t sit well with me to see everyone wearing #21. It doesn’t feel right to see Clemente’s #21 being worn by a Pirates player. I think it would have been better to have everyone wear their normal numbers with a #21 black and gold patch on the chest like they do on Lou Gehrig Day.

    The all #42 thing for Jackie was cool at first, but now seeing everyone wear #21 dilutes it. I think I’m over that number treatment and it ran its course. Everyone should wear their normal numbers (and make it easier for the viewer to identify the player with their normal number and NOB) with a #21/#42 patch.

    And Paul, I thought the same exact thing as you. The Pirates wore their black uniforms? Why didn’t they wear a 1971 gray throwback uniform like Clemente wore? Clemente always considered it an honor to wear the uniform, so for one night, wear a uniform he wore, the proper way, with stirrups!

    Roberto Clemente was my favorite player growing up. I cried when I found out that he had died and I remember watching the news every day hoping in my 9 year old mind that he would be found safe and sound. I still have a picture of him on my wall.

    I’m very glad that he is still remembered. I’ve read just about every book about him that I could get my hands on. He endured a lot of racist treatment himself and he was very self-conscious of his accent. He also had no problem talking about his aches and pains and some ridiculously considered him a slacker because of it.

    If you haven’t, treat yourself and go to youtube and check out some of his highlights. He was tremendous and though I’m biased, the best RF to ever play the game.

    Paul,

    Stay safe. Hope neither Mary nor anyone else gets it. Good on keeping your mother safe. Take care …

    Chargers at Chiefs is by far my favorite uni match up in the NFL – sooooo good looking. Chargers at Raiders is a close second but I prefer how the red of the Chiefs makes for a primary color extravaganza with the Chargers road set.

    Is there anywhere to just buy a Uni-watch decal? I would love to buy some but I haven’t been able to find a place to do that. I wish I could use a magnet but my car doesn’t let magnets stick to it :(

    Clemente was a great man, fully deserves a day during the season where teams honor him, with a patch or something similar. But I cannot get on board with players wearing 21 for him on that day.
    It works for Jackie day, but not this. I don’t mean this to diminish Clemente, but Jackie Robinson was one of the greatest Americans ever, full stop. What he endured and the way he carried himself through it all shows what a remarkable man he was. Clemente 100% deserves to be honored, but I think the number thing encroaches on the deservedly special and one of a kind honor that Jackie Robinson receives.

    You articulated it so well. That’s exactly how I feel too. It just works for Jackie, but doesn’t feel right for Clemente. I can’t explain it. But I’d rather do away with it altogether and go with patches.

    I’m certain to be in the minority on this but I can’t stand the numbers on the Chargers helmets. Makes the whole thing look too cluttered and busy.

    I don’t mind too much since it’s a feature unique in the NFL to the Chargers, but yeah, their overall look might be slightly better if they moved those numbers back to the sleeve. At least they didn’t do like the Washington Football Team and have TV numbers on both the helmets and sleeves. That drove me nuts.

    I actually agree with you, Attila! I always feel like I should like the Chargers uniforms more than I do.
    Having both the logo and the numbers on the helmet make it clunky and busy. It would look better if they had either just the logo or just the numbers. In general, I don’t like numbers on helmets.

    Another problem with their uniform set are the white helmets. Something is just off about it. I was going to say that not many great uniforms have white helmets, but then Pat Patriot, Bucco Bruce, and the Miami Dolphins came to mind.

    I gotta admit, I am suffering from a major case of “honoring fatigue” across the sports world in general.

    And I am hesitant to admit this, because probably all the people who are honored and/or memorialized with decals, patches, pre-game ceremonies, field/court markings, or even annual rememberance days are deserving of the honors. I don’t exactly blame teams for doing it, especially if people pass away too early or a tragic event affects a community and local teams want to show support.

    But at some point it starts to all become noise, for lack of a better term, and sometimes even teams seem to be trying to outdo one another. Or in the case of the annual leaguewide Jackie Robinson day, MLB just seems to be trying too hard. In a site about athestics, we should at least acknowledge that having everybody on both teams wear the same number or seeing jerseys/helmets cluttered with multiple decals/patches starts to serve as a distraction. Oh well.

    Paul, I agree with you that the Pirates should be in Pittsburgh every Clemente day whenever possible, but if they couldn’t New York (or Miami) does make some degree sense. As a part-Nuyorican myself I know that Roberto Clemente is still revered in the Puerto Rican and diasporic communities here. Lindor’s tribute (and home run), Carrasco as a Clemente Award winner pitching last night, and retired award-winners being in Queens for the game was a suitable alignment and tribute, even if it wasn’t in Pittsburgh.

    Oddly enough, I was in NYC last week, and happened by the MLB flagship store on Friday. Take a guess what the only Pirates jersey was that was for sale? The black, big “P” jersey with Clemente’s name and number on it. Another tail wagging a dog?

    I got a call from my Dr. yesterday with the results of the my annual (delayed because of Covid) physical. Just wanted to let you know the results of your bloodwork, EKG, and on and on finally saying at the end… Oh and you have type 2 Diabetes, sending you Rx and good luck

    Thanks for including my photos, Paul! I really do love these shirts. Even though it’s BFBS, I like how the yellow pops on the script shirt. The shirts are super comfortable (Next Level Apparel is the manufacturer), so hopefully more people procure them.

    The one thing that the Robinson and Clemente days have conclusively proven is that all uniforms look better with no names on the back.

    Shirt-buying is so tough these days. A shirt with a ’90s cut (baggy sleeves, wide shoulders) works great for a bigger person (6’4″, 250 in my case), whether cotton or tri-blend. I have 2XL shirts from the ’80s and ’90s (I’m old) that I still wear and they fit great.

    Modern shirts, however, are usually cut with narrower shoulders and tiny-little sleeves that were apparently created so that people of all builds can show off their guns as if they were weightlifters. I have to buy new shirts in 3XL even though they are usually way too wide and blousy; sometimes they fit better after they shrink a little. One point for cotton.

    I buy way too many t-shirts. Many places only go as large as 2XL, so I often roll the dice and hope for a decent fit. If the shirt fits and is cotton, it is guaranteed to shrink, become unwearable and end up in the charity pile. The tri-blend has at least a chance to still fit after a washing, assuming that it fit in the first place. One point for tri-blend.

    After all of this rambling, I guess that my message is that the more choices, the better.

    Seeing Pirates wearing 21 jarred me, even though I knew full well what was happening. I started thinking that if I were a Pirate, I might refuse to wear it as it should be reserved for Roberto. That would probably cause issues though. For the Mets, I mainly thought of Cleon Jones.

    A modest proposal: Instead of every player wearing 21, how about past winners, and Clemente Award nominees being the only players to wear the number. It draws attention to his passion for service.

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