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.