Monday, August 31, 2015

Maine Black Bears (1928-29)

Last week, the Portland Press Herald's terrific UMaine beat writer, Mark Emmert (no, not the NCAA president), tweeted a picture of the throwback jersey Maine will wear for its homecoming game against Yale in honor of the school's 150th anniversary. It's not a true throwback -- it's basically the current shirt with a big "M" in lieu of the uniform number and "Black Bears" word mark -- but it does have its roots in the deep past. So naturally, let's take a gander!

In 1928 and '29, Maine's flashy jerseys sported a big "M" on the front, with thin blue stripes inside. The pattern changed from jersey to jersey -- sometimes the diagonal part of the "M" overlapped the vertical lines, sometimes it was the other way around. It's a reminder that football jersey design wasn't too scientific then, especially at a smaller school such as Maine.

The "M" changed shape in '29, but some of the '28 jerseys were recycled for another year. I'm not 100 percent sure of the "M's" color, but it appears to match the khaki-colored pants most everyone wore in the 1920s. It's one of those things that might be lost to history.

These neat toppers were used to lead off the Prism yearbook's
Maine football recaps for 1928 and '29. These are better than your typical
yearbook action photos from the period.

The '28 Black Bears were 4-1-2, with the only loss coming to Yale, so maybe Maine can get some revenge against the Bulldogs in the 1920s-inspired unis. 

The team pictures. There are many variations to the "M"
in the 1929 photo; just another reminder that football uniforms
weren't exactly uniform then.

One of the more notable Bears was running back Edmund "Rip" Black, who earlier in the year won the bronze medal in the hammer throw at the Amsterdam Olympics. He later became a lobster trapper and was named the fourth-greatest athlete from Maine by Sports Illustrated. You can read more about him here. The '29 team went 2-5.

A close-up of the '28 uniforms. I'n '28, Maine played Yale and Boston College
and will face both schools again this fall.

Can't bear to be without Black Bear uniforms? Here are some more: 20142011-131997-991976-84197519741965, more 19651957-591949-50. Rivalry week: Maine-New Hampshire.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Delaware Blue Hens (1975-79)

The mid-to-late 1970s saw football uniforms make small but crucial changes to separate themselves from their '60s brethren:
  • The face masks changed from a couple gray bars to a "cage," usually rendered in a team color (some teams, like UNH and Maine, stuck with gray until the mid-80s);
  • The rounded-neck jerseys switched to a V-neck;
  • The shoes went from black to white.
Delaware is the best example to illustrate this, since virtually nothing else in this flawless uniform changed during the '70s. In '76, the Blue Hens switched to white shoes (there were a few holdouts, however), followed by a change to V-necks in '77 and blue face masks in '78. To the casual observer, something looks different about the unis, but just can't place a finger on it, ya know?

The Blue Hens and their white shoes run over Maine in 1976.
These are all from the Blue Hen yearbook.
The Blue Hens and their V-necks take to the air in '77.
The Blue Hens and their blue face masks celebrate in '78.
Also note the "fish-net" mesh jerseys that were in vogue then.

The '78 Hens reached the NCAA Division II championship game and won the whole thing in '79. Why were they still schlepping around in D-II when they were devouring Division I-AA teams regularly during this period? According to "100 Plus: The Story of Delaware Football," the team wanted to move up, but was denied by the school's athletic governing board, which also believed in preventing freshmen from playing on varsity teams, even though the NCAA had allowed freshmen on varsity for several years. Delaware finally joined I-AA in '80.

There's more from the Delaware hen house: 2011-142004-061989-921980-88, 1973-7419721967-71.

I don't know what's going on here, but the zebra looks awfully concerned.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Holy Cross Crusaders (1992)

It's not uncommon for an FCS team -- my Black Bears immediately come to mind -- to change one set of jerseys one year and the other set the next. Holy Cross took it one step further in 1992 under new coach Peter Vaas. At home, Crusaders ditched the numbered helmets for a new block "HC" logo, which also appeared on the shirt sleeves and pants. 

A '93 Holy Cross media guide with the new '92 home uniform.

It's a little hard to make out here, but the Holy Cross QB on the left
is sporting the old jersey and pants with the new '92 helmet.
From The Lafayette newspaper.

But on the road, Holy Cross not just kept the road jersey from the Mark Duffner era -- completely different font, striping and manufacturer -- but the pants, too! Perhaps the Saders felt the silver trim on the jerseys meshed better with the silver pants. In '93, Holy Cross debuted road jerseys that paralleled the homes, and the white pants finally saw action away from Fitton Field.

A 1994 Holy Cross schedule shows the updated '93 road uni.

Want more from Holy Cross? Look here: 201420132004-081986-911973-74197219711967-701951-55. Rivalry Week: Boston College-Holy Cross.

OK, this has NOTHING to do with Holy Cross, or even football. But check the
byline for this 1992 Yale-Holy Cross gamer from the Yale Daily News.
Thankfully for Red Sox (and Cub) fans, the author abandoned sportswriting for baseball.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Brown Bears (1981-83)

Brown's early 1980s helmets are among the oddest in this little project: The Bears slapped the team nickname on the side, but not the one you might think. Instead of the traditional "Bears," Brown used the secondary "Bruins."

This is strange, to say the least. This is like Yale using "Elis" or Princeton using "Old Nassau" or the New York Giants using "Big Blue." Maybe this idea can extend to secondary logos, too, so Dartmouth can put Keggy on the helmets and create the hottest-selling collectible in Ivy League history.

A couple shots of the "Bruins" helmet in action.
The pants striping in the top photo, used from 1982-83, almost
resemble baseball pants from that era.

In '82. the Bears Bruins added names on the jersey, which I believe made them the first Ivy team to so this on a full-time basis. (Penn tried it out for at least one game in 1972.) Please note the graphic above is historically inaccurate: Steve Jordan, who went on to a long, distinguished career as a tight end with the Minnesota Vikings, last played for Brown in '81, before names were used. I just wanted to use a "star" player for the name graphic instead of Bears ... or Bruins ... or Old Bruno.

A good shot of the name on the back. From Rhody's '83 Renaissance yearbook.
The Brown road jersey on display at Columbia in '82.

Call 'em Bears, call 'em Bruins, but there are more Brown unis out there: 2014, 2012-132004-08, 2001-03, 1997-20001984-891975-771967-71.

Monday, August 17, 2015

UMass Redmen (1960-62)

This was what UMass wore when it became UMASS, Yankee Conference/A-10/CAA uber-juggernaut for the next 50 years or so. The uniform here was part of a pattern already established in which the road jerseys had a different look from the homes, aside from the color, of course. The roads have shoulder stripes, gold trim and a different number font, which leads one to believe UMass used a different manufacturer. 

This portrait of total awesomeness appeared in the 1962 Index yearbook,
in the intro to the athletics chapter. I wonder if the original is hanging proudly somewhere,
or hanging out with the mice in someone's dusty attic?

William F. Henderson's Game Worn Guide to MLB Jerseys (and if you don't have this, stop reading this and buy it now; it's worth every penny and then some) points out several examples when baseball teams simultaneously used different jersey manufacturers. Wonder why they did that? 

Anyway, UMass won its first Yankee Conference title in 1960, then won five more before the decade was out after Vic Fusia became coach in '61. Overall the Red/Minutemen won 21 YC/A-10/CAA titles, the most of any team in conference history. (Ironically, they didn't win the league title in '98, when they won the I-AA/FCS national championship.) I'm kind surprised they didn't bolt for FBS earlier than 2012. 

UMass switched to maroon helmets in '63 and returned to white in '69.

UMass at home against Rhode Island in '61.
All the pictures here are from the '62 Index.

A nice close-up of UMass QB John McCormick in the road uniform.
McCormick was all-Yankee Conference in 1960.

Much, much more from the Minutemen: 20142013, 2000-021986-871978-84197419721966-681938-39.

I love running into stuff like this.
The only thing as rare than a married player was a field-goal kicker;
field goals were scarce in the college game then. Basically, there were
no specialists then and some coaches, such as Bear Bryant, simply thought field goals were for sissies.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

UConn Huskies (1958-60)

The UConn Huskies, despite a fairly distinguished football history, have one of the last stable uniform traditions of anyone in this project. (And yes, they've trotted out a new look for 2015.) From a researcher's standpoint, it can be simultaneously frustrating and rewarding; you think you've finished a uniform, then something you didn't notice pops up. 

Case in point: UConn's 1957-63 unis. Every year, some small change was made: a helmet stripe here, a sock there, a number font somewhere else. Researching these doggies doesn't require a magnifying glass; an electron microscope is more like it.

We looked at 1957 here; we'll look at 1961-63 at another time.

I'm cheating with this one; those are the '57 uniforms Yale (left)
and UConn are wearing here, but this picture is too awesome to ignore.

The '58 uniform kept things fairly straightforward, but '59 saw the return of blue pants on the road, plus the addition of special striped socks worn only with those pants. Not all the white jerseys used the same size numbers on the front.

The 1958 Huskies, from the '59 Nutmeg yearbook.
The '59 Huskies on the sideline.
Does any team actually line the bench like that any more?

In '60, both color pants were worn with the white jerseys, and a neat "C" was added to the striped socks. Can you spot the difference in the two 1960 graphics? Check the helmets: some used a block font, others, a curved font.

The '60 Huskies, on the field and the bench.

For all the inconsistencies, this was a pretty hot time for the program, as the Huskies won or shared five straight Yankee Conference titles from 1956-60. 

Craving some more UConn unis? Check these out: 201420131984-881971-7219701966-671957, 1934Rivalry Week: UConn-Rhode Island.

And I bet you thought Jonathan was just some guy in a dog costume
who appeared in SportsCenter commercials.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One Year Later: Greatest Hits

With Monday marking the one-year anniversary of this blog, I thought I'd do a quick rundown of my 10 favorite uniforms I've posted ... so far. These are in no particular order.

Vermont Catamounts, 1974. Without a doubt, the most colorful, unique and outrageous pre-21st century style on this blog. Monochrome, curved numbers, stripes of all shapes and sizes ... this is the most glorious mess ever created. Also the end of an era at UVM.

Boston University Terriers, 1968-70. I've always dug the interlocking, not-quite-Baylor "BU" on the helmets and the small "BOSTON UNIVERSITY" lettering across the jersey front.

Maine Black Bears, 1974. For me, this was the height of the winged-helmet era at Maine, with the right dose of light blue trim on the uniform and cool-looking numbers on the side of the helmets. ... when the Black Bears decided to wear numbers on the helmets.

Dartmouth Indians/Big Green/Whatever, 1936-38. I wouldn't want to see Dartmouth add gold to the color scheme now, but the Red Blaik-era leatherhead uniform is pretty awesome. The striped helmets with gold panels rule, too.

Cornell Big Red, 1980-82.  This might be the second-most colorful, unique and outrageous pre-21st century style on this blog. 

Boston College Eagles, 1984. I'll admit this entry is likely out of nostalgia. The uniform itself might not seem special, but the guys who wore it in '84 certainly were. And the Cotton Bowl patch is pretty neat.

Sacred Heart Pioneers, 2013-14. Because clean and simple uniforms can still work in college football.

Rhode Island Rams, 1983-90. This is another one that might be clouded by nostalgia, but I love it anyway.

UMass Minutemen, 1978. The road jersey is a one-year style, with juuuust enough gold trim to offset the maroon and white. The "UM" minuteman logo is one of my favorite sports logos of all time.

1978-83 UNH Wildcats. OK, I posted this only in the Rivalry Week entry, but this was an early version of a classic design that went unchanged for nearly 25 years. I'll make a more detailed post about this uniform soon.