Although distinct manufacturers are named to supply teams and/or leagues with game uniforms for a given year or years, it isn’t a totally unheard of concept for items from a previous supplier to get used “after the fact” by a team for a variety of reasons.
In the NFL, given their multiple suppliers (pre-2002) and the frequency with which some teams would change sources, such practices were not altogether uncommon. The early and mid-1990’s, for example, found all sorts of changes, often handled, at least visually, by having sleeve logos of the current supplier added to and/or placed over the logo of the previous manufacturer.
The NFL sleeve logos first appeared on a regular basis in 1990, right after the demise of MacGregor Sand-Knit, whose logos never appeared on NFL attire. Consequently, one might find, for example, a Wilson “W” added to a pre-1990 Sand-Knit Raiders jersey for 1990-91 usage.
The games of “musical manufacturers” continued as the nineties progressed. Raiders tops from 1990-91 that were produced by Wilson, but used in, say, 1993, might have the “W” covered with the logo of Starter, who succeeded Wilson as Raider uniform source. Shortly after that, Apex, the supplier in 1993-95 of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, went belly-up. The Cowboys handled this by often stripping the Apex tags out of 1995 jerseys, and, in some cases, covering 1995 Apex logos and/or removing them and adding Nike swooshes in 1996. Other such examples of logo/supplier mix and match existed until 2001, when most teams went to Reebok (all of them did so by 2002) and the few who didn’t use Reebok in 2001 were teams already in the Adidas fold for a few seasons’ running.
The logo game in the NFL existed in the area of game shoes, as well, with at least one instance of “logo disguising” coming back to haunt the player involved. After leaving the Chicago Bears, William “Refrigerator” Perry was urged to use shoes from a company other than the one he had a deal with (Nike). To throw off any watchers from Nike, the unnamed competitor sent Perry Nike swooshes logos to give the appearance that he was wearing Nike footwear. The ruse was revealed, however, when the Fridge made the unseemly error of affixing the Nike logos upside-down.
In baseball, such logo subterfuge isn’t as common, although it does happen. My bat guru buddy, Dave Bushing, can attest to the practice of Reggie Jackson to simulate usage of an Adirondack bat by adding a piece of tape to a Louisville Slugger to mimic the company’s “Pro Ring” feature.
In the uniform genre, the most notable logo switch (or in this case, obscurement) came with the 1992 Texas Rangers. As was the case with most MLB teams, Russell Athletic began supplying them with uniforms that year. As was the case with a few of the teams, the Rangers had players that, initially, did not like the Russell attire, and had their equipment man dig out 1991 Rawlings unies to wear instead. Since Rawlings’ MLB deal expired in ’91, the ’92-worn Rangers Rawlings garb was altered to have a piece of white or grey (depending on home or road) fabric added to cover the Rawlings sleeve logo on the right sleeve.
NEXT TIME: More tales of what teams did when they didn’t like what the contracted supplier sent them, and one look at a MLB club that was cut off at the knees by an angry supplier midseason.
CLARIFICATION: Regarding Apex NFL jerseys: while they did produce Cowboys jerseys from 1994-1995, the Giants went over to Reebok after 1994 was over.
MORE MANUFACTURER MISHAPS:
While Russell began supplying game uniforms to MLB teams in 1992, not only the Texas Rangers (as mentioned last time) had problems with the new garb. At least two other teams, for various reasons, reordered some or all of their 1992 unies from other companies.
The Seattle Mariners, as a team, didn’t care for there ’92 Russell threads, and the untagged home whites and road greys were shelved several weeks into the season in favor of reordered homes and roads from Rawlings. As of 1993, however, the M’s stuck with Russell up to and including 2004.
Meanwhile, 2000 miles to the east, in Chicago, the White Sox found that, for some unknown reason, their Russell road greys were fading in the laundering process. Ergo, a midseason reorder was placed for the traveling tags with Wilson. For the next seven seasons, the Pale Hose opted to order sets of all the basic styles they used from both Russell and Wilson, though different players had different preferences for what they wore on the field, with some sticking with Wilson, other Russell, and often, both.
Of course, the Chisox had the means and the cooperation from the manufacturers to place this dual order for several years duration. Such was NOT the case in 1981, when the Sox wore untagged Capitol Ace jerseys in the final season of the Veeck-style, collared, hangout jerseys.
Having used Capitol Ace for this unique style since 1979, the Sox, during 1981, announced a uniform design contest, with six suggested styles being offered out to fans for a vote as to what the team would wear come 1982.
Of course, in ’81, Bill veeck was gone as Sox owner, replaced by the tandem of Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn, who announced that, whatever style the Sox wore in 1982, it would be brought back to the States for manufacture, with Medalist Sand-Knit doing the honors.
The Japanese-based Capitol Ace folks, as related to me by a team insider of the era, photographer Jim Cartwright, were incensed at not being given even a chance to produce the new design. Their response? Cut the Sox off at the knees, as far as supplying additional unies for 1981. Resultingly, the team had to do all sorts of NOB plate changing for late 1981 and 1982 spring training, with even tagged 1980 and ’79 jerseys being cannibalized for new arrivals. One such patch job is a 1980 road shirt re-issued in 1982 spring training to off-season acquisition Steve Dillard. The nameplate-style NOB is normal for all 1981’s, but not for 1979-80 jerseys such as this rehashed specimen. The Sox even went so far as to add a “numberplate”…a large, round-cornered, square-sided swatch of fabric with the revised digits sewn thereon. The Sox retired these jerseys after the ’82 preseason ended…Sand-Knit took over for the 1982-86 seasons, and Capitol Ace was never again heard from in MLB uniform annals.