Sunday, December 04, 2005

Introducing the Mrs. Bill Veeck Uniform design award

... an honor I plan to bestow on sports team uniforms at intervals at my discretion. The award is given to team uniforms which inspire the phrase "What were they thinking?!?!?" Tonight's award goes to NBA stars the Orlando Magic.

I took my daughter to Milwaukee Bucks v. Orlando Magic this evening. Our family has a pair of seats to a Bucks 24 game package, so my husband and I take turns going together, or with the kid, or with a friend or whatever. Tonight was girls' night out, just me and my 7 year old, Stella. We both love a good hoops game, but we're both fashionistas.

Yeah, I could comment on the game itself, which the Bucks won handily. Former Marquette star Travis Diener saw a bit more action on the floor for the Magic, probably because the Magic weren't supposed to win this game anyway, so why not give the hometown boy some glory? And Diener delivered, giving all his fans plenty of reason to shout "Tra-vis.... Die-ner" with the same cadence you normally hear for "Dee-fence.... Dee-fence..."

Big deal. The game wasn't exciting, there was only one point where Orlando even gave us a scare, that was early in the third quarter and the Bucks quickly took care of that. So there was only one thing I could say to my little girl:

"Who told the Orlando Magic that black socks thing looks at all good? These guys look like my grampa, wearing his black knee socks in the summertime with his plaid shorts!"

And its not like the Orlando Magic's uniforms justify those horrid black socks. Their away uniforms are a columbian blue, with white numbers and trim. If there's any black in those uniforms, its so minimal that wearing black socks and shoes with them is NOT picking out the color. Maybe the Chicago Bulls, with their orangish/red and black uniforms, could get away with it. Maybe the Oakland Raiders. Not the Orlando Magic.

So, you ask, who is Mrs. Bill Veeck and what does she have to do with this award? Back in the late 70s, when her husband owned the Chicago White Sox, she was given the task of redesigning the team's uniforms. What she came up with is the ugliest team uniform ever: the male equavalent of those horrid gym uniforms I was forced to wear in the early 70s. Mrs. Veeck's design was basically an oversized giant top, the kind 45 year old men wear to play 16-inch softball, over some shorter-than-usual semi-fitted pants. They were hideous. If you wanted to market baseball to more women in the late 70s, Mrs. Veeck, this was NOT the way to do it. The mom in me understands her thinking, though. They looked comfortable, you'd be able to move easily in them. But there were hideous.

The whole thing brings to mind a quote I read many, many years ago, in Jim Bouton's "Ball Four." He's talking about how vain some baseball players got, and liked their unforms tight, and one player, whose name escapes me, says "I add 20 points to my average if I know I look bitchin' out there," and I don't doubt the effect for a minute. Hey, Orlando, did you really expect to win a basketball game when you're looking like somebody's grampa, ready to change into some brown plastic sandals to go with those black socks after the game?

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