Thursday, September 21, 2017

Vermont Catamounts (1928-30)

I've been on a leatherhead kick lately, as much of my research lately has been from the pre-World War II era. Some of these uniforms are as wacky as the current models ... almost. But there were some unique ones during the 1920s and '30s, as we'll see here and in our next post. First up, a Vermont uniform right up there with the 1973-74 uni (the program's last) in the uniqueness department. 

Much as Maine's jersey from the same time exhibited a big "M," the Catamounts' jersey bore a big ol' "V" to let everyone know where they're coming from. (Today, they'd probably put an "802" on the front -- seriously, those stickers are on every other vehicle around here, since you can get them at every convenience, grocery and discount store in the state.) The "V" is done in a friction-strip pattern, which was all the rage then, and is surrounded by more friction strips on the sides and sleeves.

The 1928 Vermont uniform, shown in the 1930 Ariel yearbook,
which covered the 1928-29 school year.

The 1928 Catamounts. Some players have the "V," while
others sport a blank jersey.

UVM in action, 1929. In the background is Centennial Field,
which still stands today as the home the Class-A Vermont Lake Monsters.
UVM dropped baseball around 2009.

For 1930, the "V" (in a slightly narrower, taller form) is placed on ... a yellow jersey, which would be the Depression-era version of Oregon placing white names on white jerseys. (I mean, how pretentious is that? That truly makes the Ducks the prog rock of football uniforms.) This style lasted one year before the Catamounts returned to green jerseys.

The 1930 Catamounts. Gold meets gold.
A few more oddities: First, not all the jerseys have the "V" and the friction strips. I wonder if those were optional, or were the fancier jerseys reserved only for seniors/upperclassmen? 

Also, check the helmets. Honestly, I'm not 100 percent on the helmets, but I'm pretty certain the Cats wore a dark helmet in '28, a light helmet in '29 and a two-tone helmet in '30 similar to what Rhode Island wore in the 1940s

I'm not 100 percent about the striping pattern on the gold jerseys, either (gold on gold will do that), but I think I've got it as close as possible. I can't imagine better photos existing beyond what we have from the Ariel yearbooks.

The team -- not shocking, because after all, this is UVM we're talking about -- is far less memorable than the uniform. The '28 team went 1-7-2, with the one win going against someone called the "Medics," who I suspect are students from the UVM medical school (called the Robert Larner College of Medicine these days). The 1930 Ariel notes that the game was not on the original schedule and was added to fill an open date before Thanksgiving. UVM went 2-7 in '29 (no Medics on the schedule) and 1-6-1 in '30, when it was outscored 265-27.

The team may not have been worth the price of admission, but the uniforms sure were.

The 1928 UVM results. Who were those mysterious medics?

UVM faces Middlebury, 1928. Check out the officials' gear!

Want more uniforms from the ol' 802? Of course you do! 1940-42, 1946-48, 1958-611962-631964-671968-691970-74.

The 1930 Ariel yearbook contains little notes scrawled
next to some of the player profiles. Some went to med school,
others ... did not. I'm not certain what happened to Mr. Sirois,
but World War II wasn't far away.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Columbia Lions (1941-45)

As I've probably mentioned before, Columbia is one of the toughest teams to research in this project because of its inconsistency. I have the Lions listed for no fewer than 59 uniform variations (not counting home and road uniforms as separate) from 1934-2016, an average of one uniform change every 1.4 years. Many of them are minor, but massive overhauls have continued well into the 21st century.

But this wasn't always the case in Upper Manhattan. The Lions' uniforms were pretty stable from 1936-45, with only two variations (and even that was minor -- a switch to blue numbers from white). Above is the blue-numbered version. Note the slight difference in the  navy shoulder stripes around the collar. Really, Columbia almost resembles a Paleozoic Tennessee Titans here.

Columbia and Princeton -- two of the more
distinctive teams from this era -- face off in 1941. 

Columbia's offense lines up for the photographer in 1941.
Notice how every number ends in 0 or 1.
Perhaps it was an early way to number players by position?

What I like best about Columbia's uniforms from this era -- maybe I've said this before, I forget -- is how they stand out. In a time of dark, muddy, grainy, black-and-white photos, everyone looks the same, and it's a pain trying to determine which team is which. (I'm experiencing this right now while trying to research Vermont's 1930s uniforms, and those are pretty gaudy for that era.) But put Columbia's pale blue duds in there, and Anne Frank can spot those from a mile away (Clerks 2 reference there). Columbia's unis make researching their opponents a gazillion times easier. I wonder if 1940s uni-watchers talked about Columbia's uniforms the way their modern brethren discuss today's stylin'-and-profilin' teams?

A pair of swell posed shots. It appears No. 31
is standing on a plank of some sort to help him face upward
for the camera.

The team itself was wildly inconsistent, as you might expect with a war going on. The Lions were 0-8 in 1943 and scored 33 points all season. (Their opponents matched or exceeded that figure five times that year). Just two years later, they were 8-1 and ranked No. 20 in the nation, with the only loss coming at Penn.

In 1946 Columbia unveiled a revamped uniform with silver helmets and pants and plain light blue jerseys with a silver number. Think Doak Walker-era Detroit Lions.

An action shot from 1944. War-era photos are almost impossible to find
in researching old uniforms, especially for the smaller schools.

Other Lions unis that'll make you roar: 2015-16201420132003-05199619841983, 1978-82, 1974-761971-7319701965-671955-561952-54.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cornell Big Red (1931-35)

In an earlier post, I touched upon the antics of former Boston College coach Gloomy Gil Dobie, whose ability to win was surpassed only by his dour personality. Well, before he reached The Heights, Dobie manned the sidelines at Cornell from 1920-35, going 82-36-7 with three straight undefeated seasons while frothing at the mouth all the way (perhaps Dobie was short for Doberman?).

The uniforms from Dobie's final five years in Ithaca show the transitions football uniforms made in the 1930s: The big friction strips on the front (I've always thought of that style as the "Red Grange jersey" for some reason) were phased out for a blank front. As you can see, both styles were used in 1933; I believe there was a mid-season switch. In 1936, Cornell's first season post-Dobie, jersey numbers appeared on the front for the first time.

A really cool 1932 action photo from the 1933 Cornellian yearbook.
Note that No. 51 for Columbia is wearing No. 30's helmet.
"Line play what is?" Who's writing these captions? Yoda?

Gloomy Gil Dobie, flanked by the two jersey styles the Big Red wore that season.

Also note the leather patches on the elbows of the earlier jerseys; they look more at home on a bad 1970s sport coat. 

Ivy League teams are beholden to tradition, and Cornell is no exception: The two white stripes on the sleeves continue to be used well into the 21st century, and the white-striped socks saw several more decades of use, too.

Top: Cornell wears the striped jerseys early in the season (check
the guys on the left). Above: The Big Red, in dark jerseys,
switches to a plainer look against Dartmouth.
As for Gloomy Gil ... a favorite book of my youth, The Football Hall of Shame 2 (go ahead, pick up a copy, it's a perfect bathroom time-killer), has several funny anecdotes about Coach Dobie's days at Cornell and BC. Here are a few quickies:
  • After the Big Red crushed Dartmouth, 59-7, in 1921, Dobie held a full-scale scrimmage right after the game. Why? "Those bums didn't expect to get away with that performance, did they?"
  • After Cornell wrapped up its third straight undefeated season in 1923, Dobie's reaction was, well, Dobie-esque: "If this is a championship team, then the human race must be disintegrating!"
  • In Dobie's final year, 1935 (when Cornell went 0-6-1), his team endured a 54-0 trouncing by Princeton and Dobie told his players to publicly absolve him of any blame. "After all, I'm just the coach," was his reasoning.

A big photo spread of the '34 Big Red,
complete with hokey-but-awesome poses.
After the '35 season, Dobie resigned with three years remaining on his contract. The '36 Cornellian yearbook noted the mixed reaction on campus to his departure, saying that "Ithaca bristled with excitement over the news," while also acknowledging that "the passing of Gilmour Dobie ... was regretted by a host of his loyal supporters, particularly by men who have played under him." I presume that includes those who were called "bums" or were considered signs of the human race's decline.

Can't get enough from the Big Red? Check out these uniforms: 201620152013-141999-200119941985-8919871983-84, 1977-821967-75,  196619651961-6419521950-51. Rivalry week: Cornell-Penn. Inside the Jersey: 1977-79

This unusual photo is from the 1934 Cornellian.
I guess this would be called "modern art" in '34.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Hampshire Wildcats (1979-83)

With Maine and UNH set to open the season against each other this week (and boy, is that strange to type after all those years of the Bears and Cats facing off in the finale), let's take a look at the "classic" New Hampshire uniform of yore, something we started doing in an earlier post

The uniform, which made its debut in 1976, saw its jersey sleeve stripes tweaked in '78 to create a style that went virtually unchanged for more than two decades. If you were even a casual Granite State sports fan in the 1980s or '90s, you're familiar with this uniform. The while "NH" helmet is to fans from that era as the silver lid with the "UNH" wildcat in profile is to the current generation.

Wildcats are scurrying everywhere in the 1979 picture from the Granite yearbook.
Watch out, ref!

The coin toss at Cowell Stadium, 1981.

The only changes were minor: The "NH" helmet logo was enlarged in '84; the facemask went blue in '85; and Champion-made home jerseys were phased out for Wilson models in the mid-90s. The names on the back, as early as the mid-80s, showed some inconsistency with the fonts.

UNH takes on Northeastern, 1983. So many generations of fans
have watched the games from that bank over the years ...

A pair of old UNH media guides. Sadly, they're not mine.

The big oddity comes in the road models, which followed the same template as the homes, but the numbers eschewed the Champion font (curved 7s and diagonal 2s) for a blockier font, indicating they likely were made by someone else.  (This continued even to the final days of this style, when Wilson made the homes and Russell made the roads.) This was not uncommon in baseball (According to William Henderson's exhaustive Game Worn Guide to MLB Jerseys, many hardball teams decades ago used different manufacturers for home and road jerseys), but it seems odd a I-AA/FCS team would do the same thing. The roads also had no manes on the back, unlike the homes -- right up until 2000, the last year these jerseys were worn.

The 1979 UNH road jersey, with the blocker 2s.
BTW, the single-season field goal record is now 18.

And since I have one of these bad boys in my collection, let's do an "Inside the Jersey," shall we?

The Jersey: New Hampshire, 1983, as evidenced by the "NEW HAMP 83" on the tag. 

The "NEW HAMP 83" is scrawled on the tag, showing it's a New Hampshire jersey.
Or maybe it's New Hampton prep school in upstate New Hampshire?
But their colors are green and black, so I'm guessing no.

How It Was Acquired: eBay, about $30. A virtual steal.

Who Wore It: In the words of Allen Ludden on Password Plus, "I haven't the foggiest." But future Steelers fullback and Super Bowl champion Dan Kreider wore No. 44 for UNH in the late 90s.

Who Made It: Champion, as discussed earlier.

Size: A very roomy L. One thing I've discovered in my uniform research/collecting is that not everyone used numbered sizes.

Design: See above.

Condition: Definitely shows some game use, especially on the left sleeve, which shows signs of surgery. I'm guessing this was recycled for the next season or two. The back shows evidence that the name has been removed.

Yup, this one's been through a few wars.

Final Verdict: I'm a Maine guy through and through, but it's still super-cool to own such a historic jersey from a historic program. 

There are plenty more Wildcat uniforms where this came from: 201520142010-13, 2000199819751968-71 (part 1) (part 2)1966-67, 1965 195519501947-4819381936. Rivalry Week: Maine-UNH.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Boston College Eagles (1935-38)

In an older post, I noted that Boston College debuted the modern gold helmet-maroon jersey-gold pants template in 1939, Hall of Fame coach Frank Leahy's first season at The Heights. Previously, the Eagles wore an interesting hodgepodge of uniforms as they burned through three coaches in four seasons.

The 1935 jerseys, one of the first at BC to use numbers on the front, feature what appearsto be hand-cut digits -- a far cry from the more professional-looking style of later years (something also discussed in this post). Also note the gold is closer to a mustard yellow than the classic gold BC adopted during the Leahy years.

The 1936 Eagles wear their 1935 jerseys for the 1937 Sub Turri yearbook.
Note the quaint, hand-cut numbers.

The '36 numbers look a little more professional -- almost like Boston Red Sox digits , but without the diagonal ends. A gold (again, closer to mustard yellow) jersey debuted that season, with maroon shoulder panels and sleeve ends. Contrasting sleeve ends? The Eagles even wore a gold helmet for at least one game that year, but it didn't become a regular thing until Leahy's arrival in '39.

The 1936 BC football team goes all-gold for the team photo.
BC (check out No. 52) goes with a gold helmet in '36, albeit briefly.

In '37, the gold pants are dumped for maroon versions, which look pretty wild with the gold jerseys. (The Eagles tried this look for one game in 2012.) 

A truly bizarre 1937 Boston College team picture. Some players
are wearing the same number, and the jerseys are a patchwork of older styles.
Presumably, these were recycled as practice jerseys until they became rags.
Strange they would dress so shabbily for the team photo, though.

1938 shows an odd one-year helmet: A Michigan-Princeton style lid with wings on the front AND back. I'm sure the double-wing helmet has been done elsewhere, but this marks my first sighting. The rest of the uniform remained the same, although BC tried white pants for a game. (There's a possibility they might be a light gold, but they appear white to these eyes.)

The BC "double-wing" helmet, worn only in 1938, although
I've seen them in practice photos as late as the early '40s. 
BC goes monochrome in 1938 at Fenway Park.
The Eagles (check out Nos. 13 and 45) break out white pants in '38.
Just a great photo, BTW.

The Eagles' coach during this period was Hall of Famer "Gloomy Gil" Dobie, who went 16-6-5 at Boston College from 1936-38. He racked up a career record of 182-45-15 at North Dakota State (yes, the Bison were a powerhouse even in 1907), Cornell, Washington, Navy and BC. He also recruiting several players, including quarterback "Chuckin' Charlie" O'Rourke, who became stars under Leahy, and Lou Montgomery, the Eagles' first African-American player.

Dobie also was known for his rather dour demeanor, best exemplified by this story from Reid Oslin's informative (and hilarious) Tales From the Boston College Sideline. In September 1938, a legendary hurricane tore through New England, and BC's players were wondering if practice would be cancelled. The team's equipment manager asked Dobie if the players should dress for practice. Dobie's reply? "Unless they want to practice bare-ass." 

And so the players trudged onto the field, presumably not bare-ass. According a 1956 article on Dobie in The Heights (BC's student newspaper), a small shack flew past the players as they practiced in the rain and wind, causing Dobie to remark, "Don't worry, it will blow over, it always has, hasn't it."

"Gloomy Gil" Dobie (left), presumably after telling his quarterback
he'd be practicing in a hurricane, snowstorm or quicksand.  

Craving some more BC unis? Look right here: 2016201520142013200720001995-961994, 1989-90198419821978-801968-771958-60, 19571955-561950-521939Rivalry Week (w/Holy Cross).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

UConn Huskies (1950)

A while back, I noted that I was missing only two uniforms to complete the history of every non-NEC team in this project from 1950-2016: 1970 Penn and 1950 UConn. Well, the Quakers can be found here, and the Huskies are no longer lost to history after I discovered the Connecticut Campus archives are up and ready to be plundered for research purposes. 

Normally, I consult the old UConn Nutmeg yearbooks, which usually are packed with more than enough football photos to compile a detailed history for each season's uniforms. But a little mishap occurred in the making of the 1951 Nutmeg, which covered the 1950 football season:

Remember, kids, there was no way back up your files in 1951.

But back the uniforms: There are some odd goodies with this one. The Huskies wore navy blue helmets for their opener against Yale, but switched to white lids -- which they had worn the previous season -- for the rest of the autumn. Perhaps they wanted to look different from the Bulldogs, who also wore white helmets with navy-and-white uniforms? It could be pretty embarrassing to throw a pick-six at someone because you erroneously thought he was your teammate. (In 1951, UConn switched to blue helmets full-time. In 2013, the Huskies again wore blue and white helmets in the same season.) 

UConn, right, wore blue helmets only for its opener at Yale,
perhaps to avoid confusion in the marketplace.

Against Maine, another team with a similar color scheme,
UConn wore simpler socks and white helmets.
The socks show some inconsistency, too: the socks with 3-5 stripes were worn only for the opener; after that, a more conservative striped sock was worn when the Huskies weren't going bare-legged.  

The team itself finished 3-5 overall, 0-3 in Yankee Conference play. The wins were over Ohio Wesleyan (the alma mater of baseball legend Branch Rickey), Springfield and NYU.

And thanks to the "Helpful Henrys" who put the Connecticut Campus newspapers online, I can check off the last team I need to complete my post-1949 research.

The white jersey with white helmets was
worn at home against NYU, which dropped football in 1953.
More UConn unis for the Huskymanicas: 20162015201420132003 (Inside the Jersey)20021989-931984-881971-7219701966-6719651958-60195719511948-491934Rivalry Week: UConn-Rhode Island.