PILOTS FACTS AND MYTHS
A friendly difference of opinion on Seattle Pilots uniforms with a major game-used seller prompted me to check on his, and other assertions as to what the Pilots did and didn’t wear during their lone American League season. The 1969 expansion club will be looked at in this regard with a focus on uniform jerseys and caps.
Myth: The Pilots wore their spring training jerseys for part of the regular season.
Fact: The two spring training styles were both made by Wilson with a simple PILOTS front, number on back, all in blue, with no year tagging. The regular season homes were also by Wilson, with a front left chest design showing a lower case team name and a pilot wheel logo above it, with the front and back numbers being blue with yellow trim. The roads (by Spalding) were powder blue with a front-side city name in yellow with royal blue trim, the same color scheme as the back numbers.
A question regarding this in the 1990s newsletter Diamond Duds was answered with a referral to a midseason edition of the 1969 Pilots yearbook. The photo showed the Pilots players along the foul line on Opening Day for pregame introduction. All were outfitted in the regular season Wilson homes. No evidence has been produced of a regular season game in which the team wore the plain-looking spring shirts.
Myth: The Pilots wore the MLB 100th Anniversary patch on their spring jerseys/regular season jerseys.
Fact: 75% of that statement is, indeed, myth . Topps cards from the last 3 series of the 1969 set (the 5th series was the first to show the four expansion teams in their 1969 spring unies) show Pilots players in their spring attire, and none of the cards from ’69 (#651 Gus Gil) or 1970 (#158 Jerry McNertney, #370 Tommy Harper, #323 Wayne Comer, and the 1970 Super card #9 Tommy Harper) that I saw show the patch on the left sleeve, the alleged location of the unbelievers. In addition, licensed MLB Photo File 8x10s of McNertney and Marty Pattin show a blank left sleeve as well. More on those two photos later.
As for the regular season, the road powder blues had the patch on the left sleeve, but the home whites did not. Again, photo evidence of the lack of a patch is evident in a team photo issued by Avis with the usual style of arranging of the players, as well as the only Seattle Pilots team card ever issued by Topps, #713 in the 1970 set. Both photos do not show a single player wearing the patch.
Myth: The Pilots had spring training and regular season caps.
Fact: It is true that two different styles were made: the plain blue cap with a yellow S, and the fancier cap with the pilot wings on the brim and the long yellow stripe at the base of the crown. And, while it’s also true that the plain caps were worn only in spring training, the fancier caps, in addition to the regular season, saw at least limited use in Arizona, as well. The McNertney and Pattin 8x10s mentioned earlier show both players with the plain unies, but the “scrambled eggs” caps, the nickname derived from the wings design on the brim.
Here’s hoping that sets it straight on 1969 Pilots uniforms.
CUBS CEREMONY COMING
On May 3, before the Cubs-Marlins game at Wrigley Field, the retirement by the team of jersey #31 will be celebrated. The retirement is in honor of both Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. Expect Andre Dawson to be on hand, as well. Dawson works for the Marlins, and sometimes dresses in uniform with the team, and was a teammate of Maddux.
WEARIN’ OF THE GREEN
Three NBA teams were wearing St. Patrick’s Day green uniforms once or twice last week. The green garb was donned by the Raptors (March 15 and 16); the Bulls (March 17), and the Knicks (March 18).
A couple of side notes on the above:
The Raptors apparently were told by the league to wear the St. Patrick’s Day attire, and several members of the Raptors expressed a negative attitude towards the outfits, with one or two even filing complaints with the league. Most of the complaining centered around players feeling that the green garb made them look too much like the Boston Celtics.
Speaking of the Celtics, they were the Bulls opponent at the game on The Day itself, held at Chicago’s United Center. With the Bulls dressed up in green, the Celts wore their home whites for this road game.
Also, the Heat wore black Noche Latina unies as part of a Hispanic community promotion on March 9.
Former MLB pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who spent 1973-78 with the Brewers and 1979 with the Royals, died on his 57th birthday, March 6
Joe Tepsic, who played in 15 games for the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers, died February 23. He was 85.
Alf Pike, a six-season member of the New York Rangers and also a member of the Canadian Military for tow years during World War 2. passed away at age 91. He also was the Rangers coach for part of the 1959-60 and all of the 1960-61 season.
Larry Regan, the NHL Rookie of the Year in 1956-57 and who split five NHL seasons with the Bruins and Maple Leafs, died at age 78. He also coached the Los Angeles Kings for one season.
William Davidson, the owner of the NBA Pistons, died at age 86. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year, and became the only man to have three teams he owned win league championships within one full year, with winners being the 2003-04 Pistons, the 2003-04 NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and the 2004 WNBA Detroit Shock.
James Tillman, a center at Loyola University of Chicago from 1963-67, and a member of the school’s NCAA Champs, fell to bone cancer at age 62. He was drafted by the Bulls, but, at his agent’s advice, chose to go pro in Europe instead.
NICE JOB, MARTIN BRODEUR!