RUSSELL AND MLB: LONG RELATIONSHIP, ROCKY START
Russell Athletic was given the exclusive MLB uniform contract from 1992-99. and shared the contract from 2000-04. The thirteen years of the Russell-MLB relationship turned out well in the long run, but some veteran collectors wonder how it ever got past 1992, as Russell received static from teams and players regarding their uniforms.
For starters, Russell’s uniforms for 1992 were not ready for all MLB teams at the start of the regular season. Several ballclubs played their first homestand or road trip, or part of it, wearing 1991 Rawlings unies. This produced a few oddities, such as 1991 Mets home jerseys by Russell with the 1992 Shea Memoriam patch added.
Several teams in 1992 ordered from previous supplier Rawlings, either in whole or in part, among them the Dodgers, Pirates and Cardinals. Wilson began the season supplying both Toronto and Atlanta, creating an advertising embarrassment for Russell when those two ballclubs met in the World Series, clad exclusively in Wilson game garb.
The product was not well-received by more than one team, and didn’t hold up for another. Seattle wore the Russell duds for about a month, decided they were, indeed, duds, and re-ordered from Rawlings, wearing their unies for the rest of 1992.
Meanwhile, in Arlington, Texas, several Rangers stars also took a dim view of the 1992 outfits Russell had provided. Their solution? Breaking out 1991 Rawlings made Rangers tops, and wearing those, with the equipment man sewing a small blank swatch over the Rawlings sleeve logo, as, with Russell being the sole official supplier, Rawlings could no longer display a sleeve logo.
Then, there’s the White Sox. While the home pinstriped whites and black alternates did just fine, the road greys faded noticeably after multiple launderings, causing the Chisox to order new sets of road greys from local source Wilson. This led to the Sox, over the next seven years, ordering sets of all styles from both Russell and Wilson, concerned that the Russell versions might again be problematic.
For what it’s worth, Russell did make one style of MLB jerseys prior to being awarded the contract. The Atlanta Braves ordered their 1991 navy blue BPs from multiple manufacturers, and Russell was one of them, featuring a boxed year tag very similar to those used in 1980s Russell-made NFL gamers for teams like the Falcons and Eagles.
NEW IN THE NBA
Two teams have added or changed hoop jersey styles in the Assoication for 2008-09.
The Orlando Magic has adopted a whole new line of hardwood wear. While the home whites didn’t change much, the road threads are powder blue with white pinstripes. Their third style is also powder blue, but with the “Magic” name in the script used in the original team logo, and with screened on stars in light and medium blue all over the jersey. The Magic will also sport a team 20th Anniversary patch on the new styles.
Adding an eye-catching third style is the Milwaukee Bucks, employing a jersey style not unlike their 1971 World Championship road attire, but with the jersey body being bright red instead of the old school green. The Bucks will wear the red alternates at their home opener, and then for at least 15 games on the road throughout the season.
LES HABS GO HISTORICAL
In conjunction with the team’s 100th Anniversary, the Montreal Canadiens have announced a group of Turn Back the Clock sweaters will be worn sporadically throughout the upcoming season and also 2009-10. Among the selected styles will be their first-ever design from 1909-10, and a striped sweater from 1912-13.
Just to keep you posted, October 18th will be the day that Guernsey’s Auction House will take bids on the 1912 World Series trophy issued to manager Jake Stahl.
Longtime baseball man Mickey Vernon, a man of the cusp of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a first-ballot selection in the Nice Guys’ Hall of Fame, passed away at age 90 a week after suffering a stroke. Vernon won two batting titles, managed and coached in the bigs, and became a rare 4-decade player when the Pirates, who had him on their coaching staff for their glorious 1960 season, activated him in September to achieve the 4-decade mark. He began in 1939 with the original Washington Senators.
Also, Dick Lynch, a defensive back who primarily starred for the New York Giants, died at age 72 after a long illness. Lynch was a Washington Redskin during his 1958 rookie season, but joined the Giants the next year, playing with them through 1966. In both 1961 and 1963, he led the NFL with 9 interceptions.
I TURNED 50 ON SATURDAY, AND STILL FEEL THE SAME ON SUNDAY. CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES…I GO BACK TO 22.