Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween (again)

Happy Halloween from the Green Bay Packers Uniform Database.

The story behind Ken Ruettgers and his jack o'lantern helmet here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Carl Lidberg's 1929 Championship Watch

An exceedingly rare Packers treasure has recently surfaced at auction.

MEARS is currently offering this 1929 pocket watch, awarded to fullback Carl "Cully" Lidberg to mark the Packers' first World Championship.


The engraving on the back reads:
Carl Lidberg
Member Green Bay Packers
Football Team
National Champions 1929
We've seen on of these before, having previously dicussed Boob Darling's 1929 pocket watch, which fetched $9,560.00 at auction in 2006. What's remarkable, when comparing the two, is how different they are. Here they are side-by-side, Lidberg's on the left:

The two photographs may not be to scale, but even setting that aside we can see they are of a similar type but different style, and the engraving conveys the same information using different layouts. It speaks to the origins of this awards; instead of a mass-produced item designed and manufactured specifically for the team, these were probably pulled off a watch seller's display shelf, whatever he had available. I can't help but wonder what other variations might be out there.

Lidberg had a relatively short tenure with the Packers; he wore the Blue and Gold in 1926, 1929 and 1930. Those three years were eventful, though, and he was a member of Green Bay's first two championship clubs.

He appears in this 1929 team panoramic:

There he is, back row all the way on the right.

I've been following Packers memorabilia for twenty-five years, and this is on only the second 1929 World Champions pocket watch I've seen. It represents the beginning of the team's first glory period, and is a rare opportunity for a lucky Packers collector to own a piece of history.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shoes Worth Their Weight in Gold (UPDATED)

In my previous review of the Packers' 2011 throwbacks, I noted that Clay Matthews was wearing gold shoes that I hadn't seen before.

Well, it appears as though we might not ever see them again. Matthews told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he was fined $5,000 for them. Tom Silverstein reports:
LB Clay Matthews said in an interview with teammate Josh Sitton for the cable television show Rome is Burning that he had been fined $5,000 for wearing the wrong colored shoes Sunday against St. Louis.

The Packers wore their 1929 throwback jerseys that feature navy blue tops, brown helmets and tan pants. The shoes that come with the gear are dark brown.

Some players wore white shoes, but used black tape over them so that they were dark and didn't stand out.

Matthews, however, wore bright yellow shoes, which the NFL deemed as inappropriate and a violation of the league's dress code. In the interview with Sitton, Matthews read outloud the letter he received from the NFL.

It's like that CB Tramon Williams got fined as well. He also wore the bright yellow shoes on Sunday.
So perhaps Williams is the mystery player wearing gold cleats in the background of that photo.

Teams can designate themselves as black-shoe or white-shoe teams. Players can wear cleats with team colors added to them, but only to a certain percentage; they have to be predominantly white or black. The Packers had been a white-shoe club, but switched to black in 2008 to mark the beginning of the Aaron Rodgers era. Perhaps these cleats had too much gold in them; we'll see what else the NFL has to say.

Another interesting line from Silverstein's article:
The shoes that come with the gear are dark brown.
You wouldn't know it from game photos.

Looking at those photos, it sure looks as though most of the Packers were wearing their regular black shoes.

Kicker Mason Crosby was wearing his customary (mismatched) black cleats:

As was Jordy Nelson:

Looking at this photo of Charles Woodson and Desmond Bishop, Woodson seems to be wearing black Nikes (with gold laces!).

Bishop, on the other hand, is the only Packer I can clearly identify as wearing dark brown.

Bishop is also wearing those snazzy gold socks.

Obviously Clay Matthews wasn't the only one to customize his footwear, but he stepped far enough over the line to draw the League's notice. And good thing he did (from my perspective if not his) otherwise I never would have realized that the Packers had issued brown shoes for this uniform set.

UPDATED 10/25/11:     From the comments, I am indebted to the reader who directed me to these photos of Greg Jennings and BJ Raji, clearly also wearing the brown shoes:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

1965 World Championship Ring (Yellow Gold)

Earlier this year, we took a look at a 1965 World Championship ring in 10K white gold, sold at auction by Sotheby's.

Heritage Auctions now offers us a look at the same ring in the yellow gold, with this exemplar up for auction:

Heritage Auctions

1965 NFL Championship Green Bay Packers "Jostens" Ring.    Vince Lombardi's third NFL Championship as Green Bay Packers head coach was a memorable one. After failing to make it to the big game in the previous two seasons, the Hall of Fame head coach committed to the play that he basically perfected over the years, the Packers sweep. His team would stay dedicated to its hard-nosed rushing attack in the 1965 NFL Championship Game versus the Cleveland Browns, which would be league's first championship contest televised in color, and would later be recognized as Jim Brown's final game. Offered here is an absolutely sparkling 1965 championship ring, which represents Packers board member L. J. Kelly's contribution to that memorable team. The presented ring is an original Josten's replacement ring, which was issued to Kelly's family in 1994 after his original was misplaced. Copies of the Josten's paperwork, stating what the replacement cost would be, in addition to a copy of the invoice for the replacement are included. The "[size] 9 1/2" ring, consisting of 10k white gold, a green Tourmaline base stone and .50 ct round brilliant cut diamond in the center, was made to nearly the exact specifications as the original. "Kelly" is stamped on its left shank and the championship contest score on the right. This fabulous piece of Packers history exhibits Mint quality and is a rare chance to obtain a former team member's prized jewelry. Guide Value or Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000.
Heritage Auctions

I am grateful, as always, to Heritage for their fantastic auction photos. They are an invaluable help in chronicling the Packers' history.

Heritage Auctions

Here's that view of Lambeau Field again:

Heritage Auctions

It's my favorite design element on this ring, and I'm very glad that the Packers repeated it for their Super Bowl XLV rings.

The auction description reads "10k white gold", but the photos appear to indicate otherwise.

Heritage Auctions

Although the style appears to be identical to the original rings, as a replacement this can't tell us about the metals offered at the time.

I wonder if any yellow gold rings were issued in 1966? We'll have to see if any others appear in the public eye.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Taking on the Badgers, 1924

(cross-posted with

Eighty-seven years ago today, on October 19, 1924, the Packers welcomed their intrastate rivals the Milwaukee Badgers to City Stadium.

This program from that game comes from the current Heritage Auction:

Heritage Auctions
1924 Green Bay Packers vs. Milwaukee Badgers Program - Only Known Example! Up until only a few years ago, no Green Bay Packers 1924 one-sheet program was known in the hobby. However, on a typical day at a popular "Titletown" antique shop, that day turned into an important collectible discovery when a small handful of of early 1920's programs walked through the door, and that missing piece of Packers history made an unprecedented appearance. Offered here is an original 8.75x11.5" program, issued by the "Green Bay Football Corporation" for the October 19, 1924 meeting between the Packers and Milwaukee Badgers. The game ended in a 17-0 victory for the home team Green Bay squad at Bellevue Park, in front of a typical crowd of approximately 4,000-5,000. This amazing gridiron treasure exhibits EX quality, with minor folds throughout. Its front displays both teams' rosters, including important names such as Lambeau, Buck and Lewellen, while the program also displays an advertisement for the Packers' Northwest Championship future meeting versus the Minneapolis Marines. A remarkable piece, which we are sure even the most discerning Packers collectors have yet to see. Guide Value or Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000.
An outstanding piece.

I'm intrigued not only because it's a rare look at the 1920s Packers, but also because of the glimpse it offers of the Badgers, the Cream City's short-lived entry in the young National Football League.

There's also the added interest of the "Championship of Northwest". What other teams might have been involved in that race? There were several teams representing "northwestern" states by the 1924 NFL's standards. Minnesota had the Marines and the Duluth Kellys. Wisconsin had four teams in the league at the time; the Packers, Badgers, Racine Legion and Kenosha Maroons. Then there were the two Chicago teams, the Rock Island (Illinois) Independents, the Hammond Pros in Chicago's Indiana suburbs and any number of local semi-pro or independent teams that could have wanted in on the action.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Thin Blue (and Gold) Line

Another year, another "Acme Packers" throwback.

This season, it was a convincing victory over the winless St. Louis Rams. Aaron Rodgers had a lot to smile about this Sunday, and it wasn't just the comfortable pants. The Packers are defending their thirteenth World Championship in style, from the 6-0 start to the "re-created 1929 uniforms".

Unlike last year's overcast affair, the sun broke through yesterday, allowing the navy and gold to pop in the bright light.

Although this was an October game, we were spared the official NFL pink accessories. I don't remember seeing Clay Matthews in the gold-trimmed cleats before.

And who's that wearing a similar pair in the background?

Shame that the Rams didn't wear their white pants; awful lot of navy blue on the field.

Just like last year, the coaches also got in on the act.

Nice, but I'm not a fan of the "AP" logo the Packers created last year for this throwback. It's neither period-authentic nor a great design.

The Packers didn't use a logo at all during this period, except for the gold "ACME PACKERS" wordmark on their navy jerseys. I understand that the Packers probably don't consider that sufficiently merchandisable (although couldn't they have at least used a sans-serif font?), but if they're going to create a logo I'd rather they use something like the old-school football helmet from this cap:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Am I Blue, 2011 Edition

This weekend, the Packers will dig out their throwbacks, now called the "re-created 1929 uniforms", against the Rams.

And, just like last year, the've given the front page of their website a blue-and-gold makeover.

I love these little touches.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"LOMBARDI" at the Rep Opens Tonight!

Tonight, the Milwaukee Rep opens its production of Eric Simonson's LOMBARDI.

This postcard was sent to me by my stepfather, who's been a Rep subscriber for decades. I was thrilled to see that the card was designed by the New York-based designer Todd Edward Ivins, with whom I've had the privilege of working many times. He's been a scenic designer on many of my productions, and they've always been the better for his involvement.

I hope to have a report on the Rep's production soon. It runs through November 13, so those in driving distance of downtown Milwaukee should buy tickets now!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Our Own White Sox

Watching the game against the Falcons on Sunday night, I noticed that Ryan Grant, James Starks and a few other Packers were wearing their white sanitary socks pulled up high, obscuring most of their green uniform socks.

Although these things drive me crazy in a "you shouldn't alter the uniform because it's supposed to be, you know, uniform" kind of way, I'm intrigued by the look, which effectively creates white socks to pair with the white jersey.

There was a time when this white-over-white look was standard; Vince Lombardi's original Packers uniform design in 1959. For that one season only, his first in Green Bay, Lombardi's players wore white socks on the road, with a green/gold/green/gold/green pattern to match that of the road jerseys.

There is a certain logic to this - the home socks were designed to match the home jersey sleeves, so why match the road socks to the road jersey sleeves?

Logic or no, the white road socks were among the first tweaks Lombardi made to his uniforms: starting in 1960, the Packers wore the same striped green socks with both jerseys.

That sock stripe pattern, echoing the sleeve stripes, lasted through the 1980 season. In 1981 the Packers moved to solid green socks which, apart from one brief period, they still wear today.

Except, of course, when players take it upon themselves to show a little high-white.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sunday Night is Photoshoot Night

NBC has posted images from its Sunday Night Football promo photoshoot.

The series includes some contemplative character shots:

The photographer also posed several of the Packers with a Lombardi trophy, making them look for all the world like proud new fathers posing with their babies:

Those green compression shirts look so much better than the white ones the Packers usually wear under their home jerseys.

And that photo of Rodgers at the top? Here's the original, with the photographer's studio backdrop:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Packer Alumni Association Ring

Following on our earlier discussion of Packer award rings, Dale Christiansen sent me these pictures of a ring in his collection that I had never before seen.

This ring was issued by the Green Bay Packer Alumni Association.

The stone, although it appears black in these photos, is actually a very dark green.

This ring belonged to Robert Conrad, who was with the organization for nine years. The Packers list him as the Scouting Director from 1944-50 and Personnel Director from 1944-52.

I'd love to know what that "22" at the bottom refers to. Had Mr. Conrad been a player, I'd suspect that was a place for his jersey number.

I'd also love to know more about the background of this ring; we know when Mr. Conrad was with the team, but not when he joined the Alumni Association or when this ring was designed or issued.

The Alumni Association used to be very active in Green Bay. As early as 1951, it was helping the Packers organize a Reunion and Homecoming weekend, as seen in this letter sent to former Packer players in October of that year:

Among the Packer players who served at on the Association's Board of Directors was Packer Hall of Fame center Charley Brock.

In the mid-1950s Alumni Association hosted coaching clinics, when high school and college coaches could come and watch Bart Starr and Paul Hornung, among other Packers, run through their drills.

When Vince Lombardi was hired to coach the team in 1958, a somewhat-controversial move at the time, the Association issued a press release backing him wholeheartedly and hoping that "the Lombardi plan for resurgence will pay dividends; and that the thrill of good, sound and representative football will again be part of the everyday life of the citizens of Green Bay and Wisconsin."

Their prediction proved correct, of course, and the Packers embarked on a new golden age of football. The Alumni Association was very active in the 1960s, especially in the team's Golden Anniversary year of 1969.

To commemorate 50 years of pro football in Green Bay, the Alumni Association hosted a banquet and Homecoming weekend.

The agenda for the weekend was full, with a parade, cocktail party, brunch and ceremony on the field before the game.

I love the Willard Mullin-esque drawing of a 1940s player kicking the ball on their letterhead.

The Alumni Association had big plans for the fans in 1969 as well. They published a 72-page magazine celebrating Packer history.

Today, the Green Bay Packer Alumni Association keeps a pretty low public profile. If they were involved with the recent event honoring the 1961 team, it was strictly behind-the-scenes. Only the occassional donation to a charity auction tells us that the Alumni Association still exists, hopefully still meeting the needs of all former Packers.