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. 

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.