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. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Dick MacPherson (1930-2017)

Dick MacPherson always was a favorite coach of mine growing up, mostly because he was from Old Town, Maine (Pine Tree State represent!) and he was the jovial, lovable coach of some godawful New England Patriots teams (ah, the sons of Hugh Millen, playing in front of 20,000 or so at Foxboro Stadium) who hugged everyone in sight on the rare occasion of a Pats victory.

But before that, there was a successful run at Syracuse, where he went 66-46-4 and coached the Orange to an undefeated 1987 season. And before that he coached at UMass, where from 1971-77 he went 45-27-1, won four Yankee Conference titles and even a bowl game (the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl). And he was 7-0 against my Black Bears, but I'll forgive him for that one.

Above are the uniforms the Red/Minutemen wore during Mac's tenure: you can read about them here, here, here and hereI haven't written about the 1971 uniform yet, but it's pretty similar to the 1972 model. 

And as an added bonus, are some interesting Coach Mac tidbits I unearthed from the old Index yearbook archives. The essay is from the '72 book, the profile is from '75 and the dunk tank is from '76. Some pretty fun stuff. RIP, Coach.

Much, much more from the Minutemen: 20162015201420132000-021986-871978-841975-771974197319721966-681960-62, 1953-541951-521938-39.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dartmouth Big Green (1946-47)

Allow me to indulge the baseball fan in myself for a just a moment. In his delightful and addictive "Game Worn Guide to MLB Jerseys 1970-2017," (you can order a copy here and you won't regret it for a nanosecond) author William H. Henderson discusses a 1970s Atlanta Braves jersey that "has a quaint hand-drawn quality about it that will become but a memory in the increasingly professional world of MLB in a very short time."

Needless to say, college football often was the same way for many years, as exemplified by the 1946-47 Dartmouth Big Green. The white jerseys display perhaps the crudest-looking numbers on a football jersey since the earliest days of numbering (see the last post for a good example). You almost can see someone going freestyle with a set of scissors while going through the green felt. If you look at the team photo below, even the stitching appeared to have been done haphazardly (check out a couple of the 7s). 

Considering Dartmouth was supposed to be "big-time" football in 1946, it's amazing the team would commission uniforms that looked more at home on a high-school practice field than in front of thousands of denizens at Memorial field or the Yale Bowl.

The 1946 Dartmouth Indians/Big Green.
The numbers look real odd -- even the even digits (rimshot).
The '46 Big Green dons the green jerseys at Holy Cross.
Much more professional looking.
Bonus points for the official's old-school cap.

Apparently, the Big Green felt the same way, as most -- but not all -- the white '47 jerseys used more professional-looking numbers (that short, squat font that was in vogue at the time), and the hand-drawn versions were presumably banished to the jayvee/freshman teams.

The 1947 Dartmouth jerseys.
Now that's more like it.

The green '46 jerseys used the short, blocky font that had been around since the 1930s, but the '47s went to a larger font in a nod to the future, when most jerseys went with bigger numbers.

The team itself, playing its first postwar seasons, was no great shakes, going 3-6 in '46 and 4-4-1 in '47. Two of the wins were against Syracuse, a reminder that "big-time" Eastern football had different connotations then than now. Not to get off track, but it's interesting to examine the jumble of Eastern schools of that era and see which ones went REALLY big-time (BC, Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn) and which ones consciously opted for "de-emphasis" (the Ivies, Holy Cross).

Some other unis from the Green Machine: 20162015201420132005-062003-041978-8619701957-611955-561951-5419441936-381929. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton. Inside the jersey: 1999-2002.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Brown Bears (1914)

When I began this little uniform project, I had 1925 or so pegged as a cutoff date. Before then, all the uniforms start to look the same, and action photos are low-quality and taken from a mile away. The research, once fun, becomes a chore.

Then I stumbled upon a pair of Brown Bears photos on eBay from 1914, the year World War I kicked off, and of course I couldn't resist. 

Clear photos? Close-ups? There's far too much cool stuff to ignore here. 

First, the helmets. They actually appear to be plastic at first glance, but they are leather upon taking a closer look (and if the esteemed Paul Lukas says they're leather, I'm siding with him). That makes sense, since plastic helmets didn't gain traction until after World War II, more than three decades later. A cursory Google search doesn't reveal anything quite like these Brown lids, which appear to be tan in color.

And check out the helmet tops! They're almost flat, and appear to be removable. 

Next, the uniform numbers, which were a fairly recent invention credited to legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. It appears they were stitched on a sheet of white cloth that was sewn onto the backs. Also note the unique font; this was long before someone decided block numbers were more readable. With all the crazy fonts used in college football today, I guess uni numbers have come full circle.

As for where these photos were taken? My guess is the old Polo Grounds in New York, as the Bears played three road games in 1914: Yale, Harvard and Cornell, with the latter occurring at NYC. The stadium bears no resemblance to Harvard Stadium or the Yale Bowl,  but does have a double-decked grandstand similar to the that at the famed home of the Giants (baseball and football versions).

Brown was 5-2-2 in 1914 under the guidance of Eddie N. Robinson (no, not that Eddie Robinson), who compiled a 140-82-12 record in three stints with the Bears from 1898-1925. (And in the Six Degrees to Maine department, he coached the Black Bears in 1902, going 6-2). In 1915, Brown went 5-4-1 and reached the Rose Bowl -- yes, that Rose Bowl.

More unis from the sons of Bruno: 201620152014, 2012-132004-082001-03, 1997-20001984-891981-8319781975-771973-7419721967-71, 1959-651957-581951-56.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Penn Quakers (1970)

A faithful reader of the blog brought up this uniform and was kind enough to guide me to the Daily Pennsylvanian archives, whose existence had previously eluded me. (Hey, sometimes Google isn't your friend.) This was one of two uniforms (1950 UConn being the other) that were my great white whales in my quest to document every non-NEC team in this project going back to 1950.

The 1970 Quakers wore a fascinating transitional uniform. The home look kept the blue shirt and red helmet of the last few seasons (which I have yet to post -- patience!), but the road jerseys -- which previously had been a mirror image of the homes -- made a return to the striped-sleeve look of yore. The jerseys closely resembled what Penn wore from 1971-80, only without the "PENNSYLVANIA" wordmark that was added upon Harry Gamble's arrival as coach in 1971. This also was the last Penn uniform to use blue home jerseys until 1981.

The "missing" 1970 Penn road uniform comes to light, at last.
Note the striped sleeves. Also note their unusual length for 1970.
Also note the excited cheerleaders in the background.

Another shot of the road uni. Ah the days when stats like 35 pass attempts
and 246 passing yards were considered knockouts ...

Gamble replaced Bob Odell, who was 24-29-1 over six seasons. Odell's final game was on Nov. 21, 1970, a 28-0 loss to Dartmouth in which the Big Green's kicker, despite the four-score lead, ATTEMPTED AN ONSIDE KICK IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. This also was the same season in which Dartmouth ran an end-around against Columbia (scroll down this link for more) with a 41-0 lead. 

If there's one thing I've learned researching for this blog, it's that Dartmouth coach Bob Blackman might be the most hated man in the history of the Ivy League. 

The home jersey cane in two different fonts
(check out the No. 2 in each pic).
These all are from the Daily Pennsylvanian archives.
BONUS: The aforementioned reader also noted that Penn's 1954-55 uniform wore red numbers, not blue. That post has been corrected. Check it out! 

More Penn unis: 2015-16201420131995-99, 1992-941983-841981-821979-801971-781965-661956-641954-551948, 1935-38. Rivalry Week: Cornell-Penn.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

UMass Redmen (1953-54)

In recent years, UMass has alternated between white and maroon helmets (and, for its first two seasons in FBS, even wore a black helmet), but the Red/Minutemen exclusively wore white lids from 1969-2011 -- an amazing run of consistency, even if the helmet logos changed like clockwork (check the links below for evidence). 

The earliest white helmet, however, debuted in 1953, replacing a gold helmet that made UMass look more like Boston College. Not content with a stripe down the front, the team also had one across the sides, giving each helmet a big maroon "X" when viewed from above. It's not a common design, but New Hampshire wore something similar in the late 1930s.

A beautiful shot of the 1954 UMass uniform (left) in action,
from the '55 Index yearbook. The top of the helmet resembles an
"X" -- or a target for a bird to do its business.

Now listen --- I want to you to ... check out the '53 UMass
road uniform, with white pants.

For '53 only, the gold pants from '52 were replaced with white ones, thus giving us the first UMass uni that really looks like UMass. Alas, the goldies returned in '54 and stuck around through the end of the decade, although the white pants continued to make appearances, too. The gold helmets made a return in '55 and lasted for three more seasons before they were retired for good. 

More of the '53 uniform. I can never get enough
of those cheesy yearbook captions from the 1940s and 50s.
The '53 "home" jersey, but it appears UMass alternated
between white and maroon at home.

As for the team, there wasn't much home to write about (1-7 in '53, 4-4 in '54), although the head coach was Boston College legend "Chuckin'" Charlie O'Rourke, who was 21-39-4 from 1952-59. Maybe that explains something about the team's resemblance to BC, although the gold helmets predated his arrival by several seasons.

Much, much more from the Minutemen: 20162015201420132000-021986-871978-841975-771974197319721966-681960-621951-521938-39.

I'm not sure of this picture's context (two-sport athlete, likely),
but the uniform is way cool. It almost resembles a Milwaukee Braves uni.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Princeton Tigers (1949-54; 56-57)

The fine folks in the Princeton football Twitterverse were kind enough recently to tweet a bunch of Grid Garb's graphics for its alumni weekend, so let's fill in a couple blanks for them, shall we?

To me, the Princeton football uniform of the 1950s and 60s is the "classic" Tiger look -- orange helmet, black jersey with orange stripes and light gray pants. The 60s version added numbers on the helmet. 

A nice close-up of the 1953 Princeton uniform,
from the Daily Princetonian. Those stripes just scream "Princeton."

This uniform is great because it's distinctive while keeping a sense of class. While doing this project, I've pored through probably hundreds (thousands?) of grainy black-and-white photos, trying to figure out which team is Boston University or Columbia or whoever. Only for a few teams (Princeton, Delaware) can someone not into uni-watching see a photo and say, "oh, yeah, that's Princeton (or whoever)."

This 1952 photo is small and grainy, but you can tell right off that's Princeton in action.

The most famous Princeton player of all, Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier, wore this uniform from 1949-51, when the Tigers went 24-3 and won his last 22 games. Honestly, I can't do him any justice here; you can read more about him (and his insanely long list of awards) here. Amazingly, he's still seventh all-time at Princeton in total yards despite playing only three years of varsity in a dead-ball era for football.

Kazmaier is still a dominating presence decades later; if you go on eBay, you can find Princeton jerseys with No. 42 emblazoned on the front and back. Like No. 44 at Syracuse or No. 3 at Notre Dame, it's a scared number. (Future basketball hall of fame and U.S. senator Bill Bradley also wore No. 42 at Princeton.) 

The legendary Dick Kazmaier, surrounded by well-wishers after a game.
This is the sort go photo that gives us warm 'n funny memories
about sports in "olden times," whenever they were. If Norman Rockwell
were a photographer, this is how he would have taken a photo.
In 1956, a white jersey that mimicked the black jersey was introduced (the Ivy League around this time apparently required all its teams to wear white on the road ... well, except for Columbia). A non-conforming white version was used in '55.

The '56 roads are put to use at Yale.
Note the increased use of face masks (well, face bars) by now.
More unis from Old Nassau: 201620152014201319961993-95, 1994, 1987-901984-861975-771979-831970-721955, 1947-481945-46. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton.