Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You'll Need a Jacket Out There

For as long as football teams have been wearing uniforms on the field, they've been wearing distinctive team jackets and coats on the sideline. We've taken a brief look at sideline capes here, today we turn our focus to jackets in all their forms.

This 1927 team photo shows Lambeau and his boys in their team pullover jackets, "GREEN BAY" proudly displayed across the chest. We know the socks were gold with two blue stripes, so we can perhaps infer that the jackets are blue with blue letters trimmed in gold, featuring gold piping (around the pockets?) and gold hoods.

(click for full team photo, including partial roster)

That's a pretty professional coat for the period. This Packers coat hanging in Canton (and identified there as belonging to the 1930 squad) is a standard duster bought off-the-rack with the team name hand-painted on the back:

The Packers were still wearing a variation of this style twelve years later, in 1942:

The Packers' Charles "Buckets" Goldenberg and an unidentified man at right wear team coats, or dusters, during a ceremony at halftime of the Packers' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at State Fair Park in Milwaukee on Dec. 6, 1942. Fire Chief Ralph Drum gave Goldenberg a flag with 18 stars representing the number of Packers players in military service for World War II. (Press-Gazette archives)

Are those dusters navy or black, do you suppose?

What's really interesting to me about that photo is that Buckets Goldenberg appears to be wearing the team coat over his uniform, while the other man at right is wearing his over a suit. Versatile garmets, those. It makes me wonder if one of the reasons the dusters were chosen is that they could be purchased in large sizes and worn baggy over gear, much as sideline capes would later be.

At some point, the long dusters were replaced by waist-length jackets. From my own collection comes this 1949 gamer, issued to tight end Bill Kelley and worn during Curly's last year with the Packers. A plain, simple design, its lettering legible from the very last row of the stands:

The label proudly reveals the jacket was made by O'Shea Knitting Mills in Chicago, as were jerseys of the era.

Photo documentation of sideline gear is often hard to come by, but Don Hutson is wearing one in this 1947 wire photo:

It has the same cut, long cuffs, and set-in sleeves. From what we can see of the letters on his back it has the same distinctive serifed "S" and sans-serif "N". I'm pretty comfortable determining that it's the same style jacket.

Those simple blue jackets are a far cry from what the coaches would eventually wear on the sidelines:

More on this subject to come, naturally. There's an awful lot of ground to cover between those two extremes.

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