Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Capping it Off

New Era is plugging their new line of 59fifty caps on its Facebook page. Here's what the well-dressed Packer will be wearing on the sidelines starting this fall:

On the whole, there's not much to dislike. Sideline caps have been pretty outlandish at times, but these are clean and classy.

The only question I have for New Era is this: If Chicago can get its throwback on an "alternative" sideline cap, why can't the Packers have an interlocking "GB" to reflect the Lombardi glory days?

Come on, New Era. Make it so.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Living Color, Part II

As many of you know, Uni Watch runs a photo colorization gallery on weekends. This one was published today:
Next up is prodigious colorizer John Turney, who has one that a certain other dinner companion with Paul & Conn reader will no doubt appreciate:

End LaVern (Lavvie) Dilweg is seen here modeling one of the lesser-known uniforms in the Packers’ historical closet.

The pants are described as “faded blue canvas”, the first time the Packers moved away from gold or canvas-colored trousers. Finishing off the look is a pair of gold socks with two navy blue stripes.

This uniform was worn for two seasons, 1927 and 1928, before being replaced by the famous “circle” 1929 uniforms.

From Packers uniform blogspot, the pants are the right color.

–John Turney
Great stuff, John.
I couldn't agree more. Outstanding work! The blue jersey/blue pants/gold socks is such an unusual combination.

Turney sends other examples of this work, including this gorgeous shot of the Packers playing the Rams at Marquette Stadium in 1952:

Love the autumnal color on the trees. I think that dark green/metallic gold Packers combination is highly under-rated.

He also sends this beauty of Verne Lewellen in the 1929-1930 uniform:

Outstanding work all around. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

Friday, June 15, 2012

T.G.I... Saturday!

Looks like some of Jeff Saturday's new teammates are having some fun welcoming the center to the Packers:

Those are guards Evan Dietrich-Smith (playing Dragnet on the left) and Josh Sitton.

(h/t: Uni Watch)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Number One in Your Programs, Number One in Your Hearts"

Football players, perhaps more than any other athletes, become identified with the numbers they wear. they don't have the same kind of effortless identification that baseball or basketball players have; professionals in other sports can go about the game with their faces in full view, but a football player's face is shrouded by his helmet.

His jersey number, therefore, takes on an enlarged importance. It's splashed across his chest, his back, his shoulders, so every fan watching can use it to pick him out on the field, out of the crowd of identically-dressed men wearing the same helmets.

Any Packer fan worth her salt knows the numbers. 14. 3. 15. 66. 92. Numbers than have become so identified with one man that the team has decided nobody will ever wear it again (even if there are a few glitches from time to time).

Then there is a second tier of retired numbers; numbers which aren't officially retired but are withheld anyway. Paul Hornung's number 5 has been kept off the field (except for 1987, when it was given to a player who later decided he didn't like the comparison). #4 is currently on the shelf, waiting for enough time to pass to heal the wounds between the Packers and Brett Favre.

Then there's good old number 1.

"King of the hill, top of the heap, A-number-one," if you listen to Old Blue Eyes.

One is, as the old song has it, the loneliest number. Everybody wants to collectively cheer "We're #1!", but few Packers have ever been personally associated with the number.

Packers fans rarely ever see the number 1 on a jersey, save annually in April at Rockefeller Center, where it is held aloft by a smiling freshly-minted young millionaire overflowing with confidence and promise.

The Packers have also occasionally used #1 for other special events:

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
But how about on the field?

According to John Maxymuk's excellent book Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore Them, the number one has only been worn by a single player, and then only for two seasons: 1925 & 1926.

That player was none other than Curly Lambeau.

Here's the beginning of Maxymuk's entry on the number. As he notes, Lambeau went on to wear #14 in 1927, #42 in 1928 and #20 in 1929 and 1930:

Technically, Maxymuk is right. No other player has worn the number 1 jersey. But we shouldn't be interpreted to mean that the digit hasn't been associated with anyone else in the organization. I can think of at least one other notable man who proudly wore the digit:

There it is, on the cap of Vince Lombardi. Where other men had their jersey numbers, Lombardi's gear was emblazoned with a proud number one. Truly "number one in their hearts".

It seems to me that the Packers have an unusual opportunity here. There is a uniform number that hasn't been worn in ninety years. It has only ever been identified with two men, both towering figures not only in Green Bay Packer history but the very history of the sport.

I propose that the team continues to keep the number out of circulation until August 2019, a mere seven ½ years away—it's lasted this long, why not?—and then retire it. If Lombardi and Lambeau both wore #1, I'm pretty sure no other Packer ever should.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Arts and Letter(head)s, Part V

Continuing our look at Packer letterhead through the years comes this exemplar from 1935.

This letter was sent from Curly Lambeau to a young player about to graduate from the University of Michigan:
Dear Ford:

     While on the Coast you told me you were undecided in regard to playing professional football.

     We plan on signing a center for the coming season and will pay you $110.00 per game if you wish to join the "Packers". Our league schedule is not drafted but we usually play fourteen games. We pay in full after each contest and all players are paid whether they play or not and, naturally, all injured players are paid immediately after the game.

     Will appreciate an early reply.

     With kindest personal regards, I am


E. L. Curly Lambeau
Not much to say in the way of æsthetics on this letterhead; it is nothing like the colorful styles we would see in the 1940s. It is simple and elegant, though, and I like the quotation marks around "Packers" (twice!).

If short on style, this letter is very revelealing in its content. $110.00 per game, whether a man plays or not, injured or not, and even months after the conclusion of a season the following year's contests were not yet set.

Unfortunately, Curly's offer wasn't quite enough to entice this young man to Green Bay. Gerald Ford decided instead to go to law school, then private practice and eventually (following a stint in the Navy during WWII) politics.