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Archive for the ‘uniforms’ Category

Shirts Happen

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It’s not a big controversy, but I found it slightly interesting that FC Kansas City’s uniforms (the first to be unveiled in the new National Women’s Soccer League) bear the logo of a local boxing club, while Portland Thorns FC had to discontinue selling a t-shirt with the (clever and mildly ribald) slogan, “Feelin’ Thorny?”

The message, of course, is that women can be fighters, but not lovers.

(Yes, yes, I get it: Kansas City isn’t advocating violence, they’re promoting fitness, and the boxing gym’s clientele is supposedly 75% female, so it’s not a inappropriate shirt sponsor at all. I just thought the kerfuffle over the Portland t-shirt was overblown and shows how a small group of people can get honked off over something innocuous and halt the whole enterprise.)

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March 25th, 2013 at 2:31 pm


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One of American soccer’s most storied and celebrated names returns in 2012 as the (new) NASL’s Tampa Bay team recently re-acquired its traditional name and logos after a protracted legal battle. The original Rowdies were my first soccer love, the team of my youth, my pride and joy, the Bay area’s first major professional team and “a kick in the grass” from 1975 until they folded in 1993. The Rowdies’ logo and familiar cartoon character, Ralph, were the creation of artist Scott Ross, who recently took time to answer a few questions about the genesis of these icons, including how the beloved “Rowdie Ralph” was originally known as Reggie.

Q. When did you first get involved with the Rowdies? Did they approach you, how did that work?
A. In early 1975 I read an article in the Tampa Tribune about a new professional soccer team coming in the spring. I sent some slide samples of my illustration work over to their temporary office (a condo in Carrollwood). I had recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Advertising and Editorial Art and moved to the Tampa Bay area. I was freelancing as an illustrator while working a full-time job at an architectural delineation firm in Clearwater. I was happily surprised when I got a call from a guy working for the team and asked to come over for a meeting. I met Beau Rogers (the general manager) and George Strawbridge (the owner) at that meeting and after they hired me to come up with a logo, Rogers asked if he could be my manager. It was a good day for a 24-year-old struggling artist.

Q. The word mark is probably a good place to start. It’s very unique, even today. What were you trying to accomplish with that, what was the inspiration and what did you go through before you hit on the final design?
A. They already had an ad agency in Atlanta working on their PR stuff and I was given a rough sketch of a logo and asked to “clean it up a little and make it less strange-looking.” I re-worked it but still kept the original idea for the one-color version. Then I came up with the two-color version using the colors of their uniform. Originally the letters were very close together and all the ends of the letters were longer. I think originally someone used the look of the psychedelic Haight-Ashbury Fillmore posters for the lettering but it was highly unreadable. When i did the original character logo I added the border around the lettering so I could add a trim color. I messed with all the letters to make it more readable and more commercial even though it was pretty unique for the time or any time.

Q. Then there’s Rowdie Ralph, who went through some changes over time. Where did he come from? Did you get direction from the team that they wanted this or that?
A. Beau Rogers just turned me loose on it and took the first version I came up with. Since most of the original players were from England and I was a big Elton John fan at the time I wanted the character to be called Reggie, but Beau immediately started calling him Ralph and that’s what stuck. I thought that name was boring as hell, but as long as they kept sending checks I thought Ralph sounded great! Originally they thought they would have yellow and green uniforms and that was why it was that way on everything even though the uniforms debuted as white and stayed that way. Ralph was used as the official Rowdies character logo from the get-go until they ceased to exist (in 1994). It was put on millions of shirts and everything else you can imagine. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t care much for it in short order because in the next couple years I became a better artist and changed the style a bit. In the following years I created an official schedule poster every year and changed the character a lot every year.

Q. So the Ralph we see in 1975 and the various iterations from 1977-on, they’re all the same character?
A. Yeah, it’s all the same guy if I say it is, right?

Q. Did you also do the Wowdies (dance team) logo (which was just one letter off)?
A. Yes I did the Wowdies and Fannies logos. I actually did full color elaborate character versions of those two logos and was asked to haul them out to San Jose because (then-Rowdies PR man) Francisco Marcos thought he could get them on the CBS broadcast that day. I left them in their trailer and no one ever saw them again, so I have no record of those. The artwork I do have is what I managed to salvage from the old days and scan in so I had digital files to share for things like your blog. I’m guessing that I lost at least a third of all the artwork I created over the years for the Rowdies. In those days I painted everything on illustration board with paint and that was that. Since 1992 I’ve only worked digitally so I have perfect originals of everything I’ve done since that time because I only have to send copies to clients. What you see on my website is a drop in the bucket of all the work over the years because I would always have to send off the original painting and never see it again except for printed versions.

Q. You gave life to these things and then let them go and they’re still popular today. Is that just part and parcel of the job?
A. Everything I did was work for hire and I never signed any agreement whatsoever as far as copyright for anything-let me call a lawyer! I was hired to paint posters, special event artwork, t-shirt designs, caricatures for visiting stars (like Pele, Elton John etc.) and lots of other stuff. I was just glad to get the work at that time and they promoted me right along with the team and allowed me to travel with them all over the country. Those first few years were very exciting for me as well as all those wild British soccer players who were having their American adventure.

Q. What was that like, to be hanging out with the team that was such a big deal in the Bay area at that time?
A. The first few years I would party with all the players at functions around Tampa Bay and especially at (nightclub) Boneshaker’s in Hyde Park after every game. I was very friendly with the whole office staff, players, coaches (Coach Eddie Firmani was a really wonderful, friendly guy) and still communicate with some of them. Since Beau Rogers was an owner and my manager, I had access to every part of the stadium, including the owner’s box and the field. Through the Rowdies I was introduced to the league offices and did Kick (magazine) covers, caricatures of the players and posters as well as projects for lots of league sponsors. I sat on the bench lots of times and would fill an empty seat once in awhile on their flights to away games. That first year championship in San Jose was great. To this day I can still hear the explosion of the midfield blast by Arsene Auguste that won the game and the craziness afterward of winning it all in the first year. I don’t even know why I was sitting on the bench during that game, but I do remember Kyle Rote, Jr. sitting beside me as well as Bruce Jenner (He was training for the Olympics that he would win and living around San Jose back then). I got to meet lots of celebrities (Leroy Neiman, Pele, Mick Jagger, Henry Kissinger, and various other people of the day) by traveling with them and partying afterward. It was great because all of the players were pretty young and in America for the first time and all of them were really nice guys off the field.

Q. And now your work has new life. Have you been following the sturm und drang over that?
A. I just read about the new team purchasing the logo lately. So far I’ve only seen a one color version being used. No one has ever contacted me from the new team. I don’t think they are interested in any old stuff really, just capitalizing on the goodwill of the old team in this community.

Many thanks to Scott (whose website full of outstanding work is here) and to Ian Morris, whose excellent Rowdies blog was the source of some of the photos, illustrations and information above.

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February 23rd, 2012 at 1:11 pm

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New Look For The Phoenix Mercury

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The local WNBA team will have a new look for 2011. Supposedly the new threads are “30 percent lighter and dry twice as fast as previous WNBA uniforms.”

It’s not a huge departure from what they were wearing. The number is solid orange rather than white with orange trim or yellow with purple trim, the adidas logo has moved to the center and the team logo is up higher on the collarbone. There’s more purple in the white uniform and less orange in the purple one.

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April 7th, 2011 at 9:31 am

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Life In The Past Lane

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Here’s a new one: the new old indoor soccer team in Wichita will do something I don’t believe has been done before. Not take the name of a former club, that’s been done to death. But the dispute over the trademark of the Wichita Wings indoor soccer team has been resolved with two claimants of the club sharing it. As a result, the new team will be called….the Wichita Wings 2. That’s a new one.

But here’s the thing….one of the two parties in the dispute registered the trademark four days after the team’s new owner announced his intention to revive the name (at least as I read that story, that’s what it appears). The lesson here is…check your trademarks and register them before you make it known you intend to do that. You open yourself up to someone being half a dick and swooping in and usurping your mark.

Rowdies fans got all hacked off when a Texas company sued for copyright infringement (and won) when what is now FC Tampa Bay announced their intentions to bring back the brand…but at least the Texas company had the trademark for years before it became an issue. (Not that logic will stop these people…they think American law should favor their desires, regardless of precedent or fairness.)

Anyway, what won’t be coming back is the traditional Wings logo, because it’s (essentially) Whataburger’s logo:

And, hopefully, they won’t be reviving this one:

Anything they come up with this time around has to be better than that, right?

Speaking of retro-ishness, the renamed Ft. Lauderdale Strikers unveiled their uniforms last night. Reminiscent of the originals, but way better than the fauxbacks they wore in a game last year. And the aforementioned FC Tampa Bay is supposed to reveal their 2011 kit Thursday. Oddly enough, the 2010 models were one of the few good decisions the club made last year – they were pretty nice (except for the completely random yellow oblong thing on the backs of the home shirts).

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March 30th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

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Not The Retiring Type

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Thursday’s news that Real Salt Lake will retire Jason Kreis’ #9 shirt got me thinking about this honor, which is common (some might say too common) in other sports, but virtually unknown in soccer. I can’t think of an American outdoor team that has ever retired a number (maybe the Cosmos retired #10 for Pele, I don’t know off the top of my head). Can you? I don’t believe another MLS team has – though Colorado has put some players’ names and numbers in a Gallery of Honor and Chicago has its Ring of Fire. MLS certainly has enough of a history now that teams could honor outstanding players in this way, but it’s just almost never done in the outdoor game.

Indoors, it’s a different story, however. I know of the following indoor soccer players who have had their numbers retired, some by teams that no longer even exist. See if you can add to this list, which I’m sure is far from exhaustive:

Team Player Number
Baltimore Blast Stan Stamenkovic #10
Chicago Storm Karl-Heinz Granitza #12
Cleveland Force Kai Haaskivi #12
Dallas Sidekicks Mike Powers #5
Dallas Sidekicks Wes McLeod #8
Dallas Sidekicks Kevin Smith #10
Dallas Sidekicks Doc Lawson #22
Dallas Sidekicks Krys Sobieski #31
Milwaukee Wave Peter Knezic #5
Milwaukee Wave Steve Morris #11
Milwaukee Wave Michael King #13
Milwaukee Wave Victor Nogueira #27
Philadelphia KiXX Peter Pappas #22
San Diego Sockers Zoltan Toth #1
San Diego Sockers Kaz Deyna #10
San Diego Sockers Kevin Crow #12
San Diego Sockers Brian Quinn #14
San Diego Sockers Gene Willrich #15
San Diego Sockers Juli Vee #22

If you can think of others, pass them along.

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March 24th, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Timbers FC Hates America

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Did anybody else notice this on the Fox Soccer Channel broadcast of the Colorado Rapids/Portland Timbers match Saturday night? That’s Portland’s Rodney Wallace flying the Stars and Stripes upside down on his sleeve early in the match.

Section 8 of the U.S. Flag Code says: “(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

The Timbers did fall behind 3-0 in the first 30 minutes against the Rapids before losing 3-1, but it’s only one game out of 34, guys, no need to signal “dire distress.”

Other observations from opening weekend after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

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March 21st, 2011 at 8:41 am

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A Bolt Out Of The Blue

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The Tampa Bay Lightning finally unveiled their new uniforms and logo today, and I generally like them.

The new logo is a bit simpler (evocative of Captain Marvel, though thinner), a little superhero-ish, but okay. I’m a minimalist at heart.

And while I will miss the all-black uniforms that I think are fantastic, I loooooooove the lace-up collars, which I think are awesome on a hockey sweater (even if they’re faux-laceups, because they really serve no purpose). Losing the black and the silver and other little things that have gone into this team’s identity over the years is unfortunate, but this is the world in which we live.

You can check out a gallery of the new look here. The color combination and the simplicity of the uniforms reminds me of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Only Tampa Bay has actually won a Stanley Cup since the Johnson administration.

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January 31st, 2011 at 4:14 pm

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A Few Things Right Quick

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Swamped today, but I wanted to get these things out there:

  • Yes, the USA got hosed on hosting the 2022 World Cup. It happens. Jeff Bradley nails it in that this wasn’t going to be The Thing That’s Going To Make Us (no one thing is). This is how the game works now, boys and girls. Sepp Blatter wanted to remain in power, someone who was going to run against him next election was Qatari, you head off that potential threat by giving his country a World Cup. Along with all the other political backscratching and graft that goes on whenever there’s huge money to be won or lost. I do know this, and you can file this away for when the 2026 World Cup is up for bid: your actual bid doesn’t matter, your actual presentation doesn’t matter, the visit by the FIFA people to see your country and your plans doesn’t matter, how well you could potentially host a Cup doesn’t matter. None of that matters. And you never have to listen to US Soccer again when they tell you that signing petitions or texting your vote matters, either (not that it ever did). The worst part? I had the best headline for a post all ready if the US had been selected.
  • Nothing like finding out at the last minute, but I’m calling a high school football playoff game tonight on at 7pm MT (9pm ET). It’s the Class 5A Division I semifinal between Hamilton (who’s 13-0 and looking for their third straight state title) and Mountain Pointe (who’s 10-2). It should be fun. Tune in.
  • Here’s why we can’t send people to Mars: Our best and brightest are coming up with stuff like this. (It might be mildly NSFW, depending on where you work, so beware.)
  • News anchors are so much fun.
  • This woman lives in Phoenix. Of course she does.
  • The first half of the ASU/U of A game last night was crap, but it had a thrilling ending. If you’re a special teams coach, send your resume to Mike Stoops, c/o the University of Arizona. Do it today.
  • Finally, the Bucs will wear the creamsicles Sunday against the Falcons. Good times.

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December 3rd, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Must Be Football Season

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If Nike’s unveiling new unnecessary football uniforms for top college programs, the season must be close. This morning they revealed new togs for several teams, including the Florida Gators.

(Way to bring Errict Rhett out of mothballs, UF.)

Anyway, I don’t see a huge difference between this and what the Gators normally wear (last year’s Nike one-offs were a departure, and I liked the helmets, at least). Florida will wear these in the October 30 game against Georgia in Jacksonville.

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September 1st, 2010 at 7:32 am

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Throw Them Back

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It was nice of Miami FC to play along with the theme as the Rochester Rhinos of the USSF Division II Pro Soccer League paid tribute to their NASL roots last night. But let’s be honest, here – those are some half-assed throwbacks. At top above are the kits the Blues wore last night (photo courtesy James Kennith), with Ft. Lauderdale Striker team photos from 1982 (middle) and 1977 below that. Not even close, right?

To be fair, Rochester didn’t exactly outdo themselves with their throwbacks, but at least they were simple and didn’t look like something from a co-ed rec league.

For some reason, soccer teams don’t seem to do throwbacks all that well. When MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes wore throwbacks earlier this summer, they were from all the way back in…2005. Yay. (San Jose had worn NASL-inspired throwbacks in 2004 against Dallas). When the Tampa Bay Mutiny and MetroStars did a Rowdies/Cosmos homage back around the turn of the century, it was such a disaster (at least from the Tampa Bay side) that I can’t even find evidence of it.

It would be cool if the Rapids would wear these once or if DC United dipped into history, but I wouldn’t count on it anytime soon. And if the attempts aren’t going to be any better than Miami’s homage, I’d just as soon have the whole idea stay packed away.

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August 22nd, 2010 at 9:42 am