TWO AND THRU, ONE AND DONE
There have been occasions where team-issued, game-worn jerseys have been discarded for various reasons after only one or two uses. The Shirt will study three such don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-’em appearances of game garb.
1997 Cubs alternates:
The Cubs again ordered blue game jerseys as a third style in 1997 (“again” will be further explained in my next article). Blue knit jerseys were ordered from Russell, and, unlike most Cubs gamers, were devoid of collar strip tagging. The only notations in the jerseys were markered set numbers (1 or 2) made on the tail-located Russell labels.
Usage, based on what I found, was limited to two August road games, with a loss in the second of the pair convincing the team to shelve the blue tops. When the blue tops were reintroduced in 1998, they were tagged in normal Cubs fashion, and were included as part of the uniform rotation, along with the home whites with blue pinstripes and the road greys.
Examples of this twice-worn style have filtered into the hobby through the various team sales held at Wrigley field each September and the winter Cubs Convention.
1984 Browns preseason:
Someone in the Cleveland Browns hierarchy got the bright idea of ordering game jerseys from Sand-Knit with ORANGE numbers and putting them in players’ lockers for the 1984 preseason. After all, orange is as much a team color of the Browns as is brown…what could go wrong?
The Browns’ first NFL exhibition game was in Cleveland, with the team clad in the home brown shirts with, this time, orange numerals. It ended up being the ONLY time with orange numerals. Unplanned in the whole idea was the great difficulty fans in the stands and watching on TV had in deciphering the orange digits on the brown jersey fabric. A multitude of complaints from irate Browns rooters convinced the team that once was enough. As for the road whites…tune in next time.
1979 Phillies burgundy:
While the Phils wore a Wilson-issued burgundy BP jersey throughout 1979, another brainstorm somewhere in the front office decreed that the team wear an alternate top on specific occasions which was also burgundy and with white racing stripes.
Rawlings was commissioned to produce these unies, and the team was clad in these eye-catching tops for one game, and, again, one game only. This time, though, instead of fans’ griping leading to the style’s demise, grumbling and grousing from Phillies players ended the brief experiment. Quite simply, the players, almost to a man, hated them, with Greg Luzinski one of the style’s most vocal critics.
Hobbyists lucked out on this fashion failure, however. The following year, the team offered the uniforms on a first-come, first-served, team choice basisi for $200 a set. It would turn out to be one heck of a deal if you were lucky enough to land a Schmidt or Carlton, and potentially not-so-fortunate if you opened up your parcel and found the bat boy’s uniform (though I recall receiving a note from the collector who did end up with the Bat Boy outfit, indicating pleasure with his purchase, so if he’s happy, who am I to quibble?)
Next time: Three styles that were rejected without being used by their intended recipients. Be there!