Archive for The Uniform

Throwback, Throw Up, Throw Strikes

Many of you are probably aware the Mets will take the field against the Giants this weekend wearing “throwback” jersey that pay tribute to the Mets’ National League predecessors. The cream-colored jerseys with the oversized NY logo recall the New York Giants unis of 1904-1907 and invite fans to imagine Bobby Parnell and Jerry Manuel as if they were Christy Matthewson and John McGraw.

I have no problem with the Mets playing a game or two each year with a commemorative jersey, it’s the kind of thing the team doesn’t do nearly enough of which is surprising given the opportunity for merchandising that fuels the Wilpon powerplant. The Mets have also made a point to inform fans they finally got around to Metting up the new place, hanging up a few new photos and banners. I wonder how the Great Wall of Famous Former Met Signatures is coming along? I will see on Monday.

Anyhow, while you peruse the throwbacks this weekend, keep in mind the near certainty that a new look is en route next season, and that this outfit, though seemingly a throwback, is also a likely barometer of the future. Remember that the Mets asked fans about a cream-colored home jersey, removing trim on the placket, and an oversized NY logo on the breast (check, check and check). I would not be surprised to see all three elements incorporated in some fashion next season — at least one influential Met insider I know of is strongly in favor of it.

This is also a good time to point out a running tabulation of Met results by Uni Style as tracked from across the Atlantic by Checked Swing. Home whites/blue caps are killing the competition, trim or — bet on it next year — no trim.

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Behold: Numbers That Don’t Count

MBTN reader Matt today sent along a scan of a 1983 Daily News article showing the accompanying photograph of Davey Johnson posing with jersey No. 31. As we all know, by the time Johnson managed his first game with the Mets in April of 1984, the 31 jersey was long gone and Johnson would wear No. 5. Although the article this story accompanied (click the photo to see it) appeared in a December of 1983 and concerned Johnson’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame,  the photo itself was taken that October, on the day the Mets introduced Johnson as their next manager.

This was an interesting find though. I’ve got copies of Newsday, the Times and the Post from that day, all of which used the same closeup of Johnson’s face to illustrate their stories. But it’s not unprecendented. Back in 2004, on the November day the Mets introduced another new manager, Willie Randolph, they presented him with jersey No. 1 and not the 12 he’d show up in once it was time to play. Similar photo-op phollies struck Mets-in-waiting like Roger Cedeno (11 in the press conference, 19 on the field); Xavier Nady (10; 22), Duaner Sanchez (40; 50); and Chad Bradford (35; 53).

Which brings me to an interesting discovery I made while fleeing a rain delay earlier this season at the new park. Ducking into a Promenade-level memorabilia shop to avoid the downpour I came across (not literally) a selection of “game-used” jerseys from scrubs of the not-so-distant past, selling at the relative bargain price of $100 each. Among the KNIGHT 28s (Brandon, not Ray) and SOSA 29s I spied this curiousity: An alleged “game-worn” No. 17 belonging to Willie Collazo, whose short Met career already included one interesting moment in uni history.

Collazo, who was up briefly in 2007 and 2008 (but did not play in the latter appearance) was issued No. 36 in both stays, so the 17 was out of place. I didn’t think to check whether there were any clues as to what year the jersey was from, but my records show that during Collazo’s entire tenure with the Mets, the 17 jersey would have been available only in the month of April 2008, after David Newhan was gone but before Fernando Tatis had arrived (and even then, Tatis had 17 assigned to him).

Any theories as to how this happened? And what other cases can you recall where a Met was issued a number but never appeared in it?

P.S. The SHaMs are finally off to that run I warned you about… All it took was another embarrassing front-office explosion and a good smackdown by the Nationals, but it’s happening…

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Around the Horn

Keith Olbermann appears to have received our information on near-Met Wilbur Huckle. In his latest post, Keith quotes the article we posted and reveals that the roster obtained by his photographer friend includes Huckle’s name written in pencil and identified as wearing No. 24 — a jersey that would have been available in September of 1963. He also follows up with details of the New Breed’s push for Huckle’s presidential candidacy in 1964. A shout-out for MBTN and Jason? Nope.

Reader Edward in the meantime reminds us that Darryl Strawberry and a pitcher — he cannot recall who — were similarly invited to spend time with the 1982 Mets at season’s end.

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Keith’s blog has been added to the “Good at Baseball” links to the left. To the Mets links, I’ve added those of beat writers Adam Rubin of the Daily News and David Lennon of Newsday — two guys who work incredibly hard so that other bloggers have links to aggregate every day. The print press is getting killed and the Internet is a great thing but to me there’s nothing like getting my hands all inky with the Snooze every morning. At 50 cents a day it’s an ideal commute killer and a bargain too. Read the papers.

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Helmet... from hellThe Mets appear to have shut down their online survey on their uniforms — hopefully not before you, like me, submitted a few dozen responses. Don’t think I’ve come across anyone who’s a big fan of the black anymore but I sense the hatred among the prototypes in the survey was strongest for the vest which, I’m just gonna say, I don’t think is so bad provided you’re resigned to the inevitability of an alternate, which I am.

But you know what I really hate and they didn’t even ask about? Those two-tone helmets. My, they’re awful.

Anyway, I’d give a week’s pay to be the guy to summarize the survey findings for Jeff.

 

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We weren’t even finished with the press events around the Mets by the Numbers book last spring when my co-writer Matt Silverman was at work on two new projects. One was Cubs by the Numbers (I know, right?) done with the same editor at Skyhorse and with Kasey Ignarskiwho’d been tracking Cubs numbers for at least as long as I’d been doing Mets numbers here (also Al Yellon, at the Bleed Cubbie Blue blog). If you happen to have a friend who’s a Cubs fan, consider buying them this as a gift.

The other project was a daring diary style book with none other than Keith Hernandez which Matthew was doing via phone interviews and transcribed notes all summer long, never knowing how the narrative would turn out. It became Shea Goodbye, recently published by Triumph.

 * * * * * *

I’ve added Ramon Martinez to the list of Mets who’ve worn three numbers as published on theJeff McKnight page. Now can we get rid of the guy already?

 

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Pick the Next Mets Uni

Don’t look now but the Mets are finally getting around to considering changes to their uniforms. And not all good ones, it looks like.

Some friends at the Crane Pool Forum passed along this online survey that I encourage you to take. The Mets appear to be toying with the idea of dropping black (probably eight years too late, but they’ve never been too quick on the uptake) and seem to want opinions on keeping or removing the trim around the buttons and collars (I find myself divided depending on the look) and on white vs. off-white. They also look fairly determined to introduce a radical “alternate” next season, perhaps a version of the vest above, or, please God, no, the nauseating armpit-racing-stripe overdesign below.

 

A is for Awful; B is for Barf

 

I’m an admirer of the Mets traditional look but not as hostile as some to changing it up now and again.And I’d certainly prefer to see them mix in the tradional orange-and-blue into any design they come up with, so if they’re going to go with something new next year, give me Vest A, I guess.

They’ve also been kind enough to ask, in so many words, how offensive you find the appalling lack of Met character at the new ballpark. There’s a space for comments, please remark upon the astonishing lack of a Mets Hall of Fame there and encourage them to build one and then name me the curator.

What are your opinions?  I’m especially interested to hear your thoughts on the theoretical alternates.

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The Real McGraw?

MBTN reader Steve P writes:

Quick question….noticed that Mitchell & Ness created a 1965 Tug McGraw replica jersey with number 56 on the back … I checked with your site and noticed that McGraw never wore that number. While I guess it is possible that M&N created a replica spring training jersey (they’ve done that with St. Patrick’s Day jerseys), it seems odd for them to do so (they could have produced a McGraw with the more familiar 45 and still included the World’s Fair patch).  Any idea what M&N was thinking?

Sorry, wrong numberAs I told Steve, I’m not entirely sure but would guess they’d made a simple mistake. I seem to recall a photo of Tug appearing in 56 make its way into circulation through a yearbook or baseball card from that era, and it was not at all unusual for those shots to be taken during spring training. Further research led me to a discussion forum here where for what it’s worth, a writer says they checked with Mitchell & Ness who confirmed their replica is based on a spring training model. You’d think for $275 bucks you’d get the real thing but jerseys ain’t my cup of meat.

Just what McGraw was doing in any number in 1965 has always been a little more intriguing a mystery. After all he was only 20 years old then, and wouldn’t stick in the majors to stay until 1969. The answer has to do with the way baseball’s rules treated first-year players at the time: In an effort to put an artificial drag on bonuses, those players not promoted to the big-league club after their first year were subject to a special draft.

With the Mets still early in the talent-assembly game they took no chances. McGraw was among five 1964 signees who cracked the team in 1965. Ron Swoboda, 21; Kevin Collins, 19; Danny Napoleon, 23; and Jim Bethke, 18, were the others. McGraw, whose developing screwball brought him surprising early success, would return to the development pipeline — and wait out military service requirements and injuries — before arriving for good. And though he was always in No. 45, the Mets reissued the No. 45 jersey twice during the periods following McGraw’s debut: In 1966 for Darryl Sutherland and in 1968 for Bill Connors.

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Good read in Sunday’s Daily News catching up with Jon Matlack, the hard-throwing, hard-luck lefty of the 1970s. I remember Matlack as a master of broken bats who threw hard inside stuff, didn’t walk many, and could ring up the whiffs: It’s a mystery he wasn’t more successful.

 

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Blue Days, Black Nights

Turns out you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet. Who knew?

The below item about rumors of a uniform change was shot down this week by a source in the know. Not only are the Mets not ditching road greys for charcoal greys, but the black will continue to be an (unwelcome) element in caps, drop shadows and jerseys. The only changes, our source assured us, will be a sleeve patchadvertising Citibank honoring CitiField, and the removal of the black road NEW YORK jerseys from the lineup, allowing the team to suit up in the same black Mets jerseys at home or on the road.

(The photo here, snapped by the talented David Whitham, catches your host digesting the Mets’ inability to get the winning run home from third base with no outs in what became my final visit to Shea Stadium last month. We really oughta dispense with the moroseness now, and ditching the black — all of us — seems a fine way to start. I’m going to go set that hat on fire).

Very disappointing knowing that changes could be coming to the Mets ensemble had been an open secret since 2006, when Paul Lukas’s spirited but ultimately doomed Ditch The Blackcampaign got some publicity but no results.

The New York Times in 2006:

Mr. [Dave] Howard [Mets executive VP] said that the Mets’ uniforms would remain the same through 2007 but that the team might revisit the issue for the opening of the club’s new ballpark in 2009. Still, he said, “if you look around the building, you’re seeing a lot of the black, so it’s clear fans vote most effectively with their pocketbook.”

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Old Problems, New Unis?

I can’t say a four-year contract for Omar Minaya and a Jeff Wilpon promise of “addition by subtraction” were the first things I was hoping to hear from the Mets this offseason.

As detailed in prior posts I’m not exactly sure what Omar has done to deserve the reward, beyond overwhelming certain free agents and their would-be suitors. His trade record, particularly since the shrewd acquisition of John Maine, hasn’t been particularly shining, and his restraint in consecutive deadlines, while admirable in some respects, also preceded matching second-place finishes.

To his credit, Omar appears to have made pursuit of interim manager Jerry Manuel among his top priorities. Manuel did a magnificent job turning around a sonambulent team this year and seemed to have charmed the press and the brass. Interestingly, chatter has begun over whether to bring back Bobby Valentine, who’d certainly be an acceptable alternative from where I sit.

(Edit — I see now where Jerry has agreed to a 2-year deal. Hoorah. In the Mets world, 2 years = 1 year, setting them up to return to Bobby Vee if things don’t work out next year. All good).

Wondering just what the 2009 team will look like might be tricky considering rumors of uniform changes have arisen again. Dave from Michigan passed along chatter from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logo website saying the Mets as expected are phasing out black (hooray!) in favor of blue but have the biggest changes in mind for their road uniform, said to be completely re-imagined in a charcoal gray (uh, OK?) with Mets in script (boo!). The message continues:

Interestingly there is absolutely no black on this uniform whatsoever – and I was told that the blue/orange/white color combination jumps off this uniform with incredible success. Blue/Orange/White piping will also be on the ends of the sleeves, down the front of the jersey, and down the pant legs as well.

OK, something else to look forward to, maybe.

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