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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published November 13, 2007
[Special to the Times]
Chicago White Sox, 1976. Collars and shorts? Not "sweet," more like a softball uniform.
[AP photo (1994)]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1976-96. Buccaneer Bruce and the pumpkin orange color scheme was not a good combination.
[Getty Images (1978)]
San Diego Padres, 1970s. Is that a logo on the front or a mustard stain?
[Getty Images (1979)]
Houston Astros, 1970s. Maybe the best, or worst, uniforms ever stitched.
The Devil Rays - oops, sorry, the Rays - unveiled new uniforms last week. They're a tad on the boring side, most people think, but don't dare call them among the worst in sports history. Does it have puke yellow in them? Does it look like a Creamsicle? Does it have mustard? Okay, then, stop griping. Take a walk down memory lane with some of these ugly duds. You might want to wait until well after breakfast before taking a peek.
Chicago White Sox 1976
We all loved owner Bill Veeck for his crazy promotions, like Disco Demolition and sending a little person up to the plate. But this was, by far, his wackiest idea. First, the shirts had collars. Collars! And then, the craziest part was shorts. Seemed like a good idea until someone had to actually slide. These were softball uniforms. Actually, really bad softball uniforms. Royals Hall of Famer George Brett said when he saw the White Sox they looked "sweet." Not exactly the type of emotion you're trying to draw from an opponent, eh?
Tampa Bay Bucs 1976-96
Rule of thumb: If you're a football team and one of the primary colors is pumpkin orange, then you might want to think about changing your color schemes (which, thankfully, the Bucs did). Then there's the logo, Buccaneer Bruce, who didn't have an eye patch, a hook for an arm or a wooden leg. And where was the bird on his shoulder? Nope, he had a knife in his teeth, a feather in his hat and a big looping earring, and he was winking, for crying out loud. When that's coming at you, you don't know whether he's going to tackle you or kiss you.
San Diego Padres 1970s
This is what must have happened. The designer had a white jersey and took a break for lunch. To get inspired for a baseball jersey, he got a hot dog. Then he accidentally spilled mustard on the shirt, had some sort of complete mental breakdown and rubbed mustard all over the shirt. Mustard on your hot dog at the ballpark? Great idea. Mustard on your jersey at the ballpark? Bad idea. Yeesh, the Padres make our Hall of Fame of Bad Fashion.
New York Islanders 1996-97
This did spark one of the great chants in NHL history. Rival Rangers fans used to yell "We want fish sticks" whenever the Islanders took the ice. Why? The man on the front of the jersey looked like the Gorton's Frozen Fish guy. Uh, did anyone think of at least covering his face with a goalie's mask? Anyone? No? Well, then, do you serve fries with your fish sticks?
Cleveland Indians mid 1970s
All red. Think about that. Look at it! All red. Who can wear all red? Maxim magazine joked that even Bianca Jagger couldn't pull off all red. So what chance did Boog Powell have? This is another rule of thumb: Never wear all of one color unless it's white. (Oregon football forgot that when it wore all green.) But other than white, one color is a bad idea. All red is just off-the-charts bad.
San Diego Padres 2003-04
Every now and then the Padres would break out the camouflage jerseys. Okay, we get it. San Diego. Military bases. Supporting the troops. Nice. But come on, is it a good idea to put camouflaged players on a grass and dirt field? Hey, maybe they were actually playing 15 guys in the field and we didn't know it. If you want to support the troops, wear a patch or something. If you want to play baseball, go with pinstripes.
Houston Astros 1970s
Isn't this the first uniform you think of when you think of bad uniforms? The Astros jerseys of this era are the Babe Ruth of bad uniforms, quite possibly the best (or is it worst?) ever stitched. This was a rainbow on acid. Seriously, if the Land of Oz had a baseball team, these would be its uniforms. The worst part is this actually started a trend, as Little League and high school teams all over starting wearing these jerseys that looked like a bunch of Matchbox car tracks that had melted on a white jersey. It was so bad that the number jumped right off the shirt and landed on the pants.
Vancouver Canucks 1978-85
It's as if team executives were trying to decide what color to make the uniforms and they threw a bunch of colors in a hat. And then instead of drawing just one or two colors, they drew all of them. You had black. And yellow. And orange. And red. The logo wasn't so much of a logo as it was a shape. Kind of. You get the feeling the guy who designed them forgot his deadline and when an executive knocked on the door and asked if the jerseys were ready, he said, "Uh, yeah, sure, here ya go." When we saw these, we didn't think "hockey," we thought "trick or treat!"