TURN BACK THE CLOCK
Since 1990, an increasing number of teams have, each year, worn uniform designs of earlier years as a game promotion, resulting for a collecting bonus for those of us who collect game-used items. Some of the Turn Back the Clock unies have been gems, while others have been duds. To begin discussion, I will share my list of the five worst TBTC unies (from my viewpoint) and encourage readers to send me their own version of Mr. Blackwell’s Worst Dressed List at firstname.lastname@example.org. My selections are based on one of three criteria: lack of accuracy in reproducing the original design, redundancy of use, and lack of connection between the retro apparel and the current team wearing them. Without further ado (from oldest to most recent)…
1) 1995 Cleveland Indians red: The red color didn’t turn me off to these…I liked the circa 1975 originals Wilson made for the Tribe. What did turn me off is the lack of NOBs on the retro attire that the originals carried.
2) 1999 Chicago White Sox road: A 1969 recreation was in order at County Stadium that year as the Chisox dressed as their 1969 forerunners, while the host Brewers took on the look of the 1969 Seattle Pilots, they who would become the Brewers the following year. The Pilots duds were fine, the White Sox duds were…well, duds. The Rawlings-made unies were without the NOB the originals had, plus the reverse side numbers were the opposite of the blue with white trim numerals the old Wilson gamers employed.
3) Detroit Tigers/Stars Negro League, various years: Most Negro League TBTC uniforms are appealing, and the pinstriped gamers the Tigers used were great the first time around. Now, having been used 7 or 8 times since over the intervening years. they’ve become interminably boring. The Tigers need to find a different style, pronto.
4) 2008 Tampa Rays/Jacksonville Red Caps: With all the minor league teams and styles from Tampa and St. Petersburg that the Rays had to choose from, why did the Rays decide to wear the threads of a city a couple hundred miles northeast of them? The uniforms themselves don’t look bad, but what does Jacksonville have in common with Tampa/St. Pete, other than being in the same state?
5) 2008 Chicago Cubs home: Cubs TBTCs are rare and far between…1948 roads in 1992, 1910-era roads in 1998, and now this. Again, my gripe is not with the jerseys…they look fine. Whomever made the uniforms, however, must be colorblind…the caps are navy blue, not the royal blue the Cubbies have worn for longer than they have gone without a World Series appearance.
Readers, let me know your Turn Back the Clock turnoffs and turnons, as my next column will detail my five favorites and why.
ODD MAJESTIC TAG
I recently acquired a player-worn Rockies BP jersey of pitcher Scott Elarton. The jersey shows decent wear, is properly sized (54…measures out to a 52), and gives all indications of being a team piece. Two oddities exist, however, one addressed in a previous Shirt column, one not.
A few months back, two Rockies BPs of the post-1999 variety, a Larry Walker and a Derrick Gibson, were noted for lacking the post-1999 MLB logo on the back of the neck. Also odd (making me curious about the similar items on those two jerseys) is the code on the interior wash tag. It isn’t the pro issued 0006, nor is it the post-1996 retail 6000. Instead, it is a very unique C593. Admittedly, I have no clue as to what this code is interpreted as…any reader who does know can either e-mail me or post it on the MEARS bulletin board…more background on this would be nice to have.
One poor guy recently had up for auction on eBay a very poorly doctored 1989 Detroit Tigers home jersey. The seller did not quote an ID other than the extant NOB (HERNANDEZ) and made mention of what he felt (correctly) were changes on the back. The apparent status of the item was a legitimate 1989 Tigers jersey by Wilson that carried an inventory tag of “21”, and, based on a rather uneducated forger who owned the jersey before this guy did, was played with in an attempt to pass it off as a Guillermo Hernandez gamer.
Almost anyone who collects Tigers jerseys knows that the inventory numbers, introduced in the late 1970s, are not identical to the uniform numbers of the players. Add to it a smaller NOB font, a totally erroneous numeric font, and you have what was once a nice Detroit home gamer turned into something bizarre, and left with a seller who was unaware of the inherent problems.
BACK TO OLD SCHOOL
One change of note in NCAA basketball attire…the Fighting Illini have gone back to NNOB jerseys for 2008-09. Coach Bruce Weber told a local radio show that it got to the point where he felt last year that some of the players weren’t respecting the name on the front of the jersey, so he’s guiding that focus to its proper place by taking the names off the uniform backs.
Bill Werber, the oldest living MLB player, died this past Thursday at age 100. He played alongside both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an 11-year career that found him wearing the flannels of the Yankees, Red Sox, Reds, and Giants. Part of the Reds World Series teams of 1939-1940, Werber was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame in 1961. In addition, Billy Werber was one of the players who provided commentary for the HBO produced “When it Was a Game” series.
Dante Lavelli, a receiver nicknamed “Glue Fingers” for his sure-handedness in catching a pass, died at age 85 of congestive heart failure. The Hall of Famer, enshrined in 1975, played for the Browns beginning in their AAFC days in 1946, and stayed with Cleveland for their move into the NFL, wearing the brown and orange through 1956.
Finally , Shane Dronett, a 10-year NFL veteran, died at age 38, the victim of a possible suicide. He began in the NFL in 1992 with Denver, and spent 4 years there, with a move to Atlanta following, where he played from 1996-2001.
GOTTA LOVE THE UNDERDOG…GO, ARIZONA!!