Miami Beach Flamingos – Authentic Jersey

Being part of Minor League Baseball team naming, I have a real appreciation for some of the great historical Minor League nicknames: The Des Moines Prohibitionists, the Spokane Smoke Eaters… and the Miami Beach Flamingos (Florida International League).

I’m not sure why (or how it started), but I’ve got a weird fixation on this long-defunct team identity. Maybe because I’m captivated by the color and texture of Miami Beach – or because the team name is just so ludicrous. There’s so little on this team that when artwork does surface, its a real surprise.

Ebbets Field Flannels produces a great 1953 Miami Beach Flamingos jersey– although this authentic was listed on eBay a few years ago. The final bid wasn’t that high, and I’ve been kicking myself for not snagging it ever since. Check out the vintage Rawlings tag and those metal armpit breathing holes! When did they stop inserting those?

Ballpark Storytelling – Tiger Town USA

Theming ballpark structures is one of the best ways for a team to communicate its Brand Story. While not all Minor League Baseball guests are baseball fans, every guest loves being entertained and escaping into a fun world of fantasy.

“General” Ron Myers and the Lakeland Flying Tigers do a bang-up job selling their WWII story. Here’s their front gate program stand wrapped in Army-green steel and rivets. We didn’t snap a photo, but turn around and you’re in the “Commissary,” a team store camouflaged in jungle netting. Feels just like you’re buying a ballcap on the battlefield!

Hungry? Head on over to the “Mess Hall,” and grab some chow. Why eat a boring Italian Sausage, when you can feast on a “Warhawk Griller!” If you’re ever traveling between Tampa and Orlando, stop to take a trip back in time.

Didnt Make the Cut – Harrisburg Senators

This was a sleeve patch concept that we designed for the Harrisburg Senators. Too bad it didn’t make it. I’ve found that co-opting parts of Americana for use in a Baseball context always finds traction with baseball’s mythology.

What’s up with the pyramid anyways? The U.S Treasury site says…

”The unfinished pyramid means that the United States will always grow, improve, and build. In addition, the ‘All-Seeing Eye’ located above the pyramid suggests the importance of divine guidance in favor of the American cause.”

Bean and Cheese-Christmas in May

Someone once asked me to list ten things I absolutely, positively must take with me on any trip lasting more than a week. Without fail, one of these items is my 1984 San Diego Padres cap. It takes me back to my childhood, and it’s the only cap I wear. It’s also really hard to find an authentic version from New Era.

This month, after 3 years of waiting, my saved eBay search turned up a seller who had a treasure chest of them. It felt like Christmas in May. I’m thinking I’d better snag a couple. It could be another 3 years…

Threshers Shoot 2009 – Behind the Scenes

For the past 6 years Jason and I have done the TV spots for the Clearwater Threshers. It’s always a great time. We write the spots and make all the props and costumes a few weeks before the shoot. When we fly down to Clearwater the hustle begins. It’s a rule, shoot and edit the spots in two days. This year the Threshers’ front office wanted to go with an infomercial concept. I’m making hotdog earrings in the photo above. I love my job!

The best part of the whole experience is getting to collaborate with those guys. The Threshers staff are always the stars. It’s important to make your staff famous in minor league sports because the players change teams so often. Here’s Jay, Ballpark Operations Manager, being fitted with the earrings. That’s my concentration face.

Here’s Jason in the editing room with Matt. Doug, Brian, and Matt are our crew down in Florida. They really help take our game to the next level. We want folksy not cheap. We’ll post the final ads in a couple weeks.

Scarlet or Cardinal

The final step of developing an identity for a Major or Minor League Baseball team is color selection. It’s a time-consuming, tedious process.

Let’s assume you’re selecting “Red.” Is that Brick Red, Cardinal, Scarlet, 49er Red, University Red, Comet Red, Desert Red or New Red? The list goes on. The next step is matching that color to thread, cap fabric, jersey fabric, jersey applique, and ink. And a shade of Red in thread, may not be available in cap or jersey fabric.

Now here’s where selection gets dicy: Not only do thread, fabric and ink not use the same color system, but cap thread is different from sleeve patch thread. Did we mention retail manufacturers use three additional thread types? That’s five types of threads!

Imagine eyeing up a specific shade of “Red” across five thread books, two fabrics, and a Pantone ink book, where of the names or numbers match…except black. Black is Black.

Great Design-Boars Head Brand Provisions

Snapped this photo in Brooklyn last weekend. Boar’s Head is one of the great New York brands. Not only is their product great but their design and understanding of the brand is incredible. The design has a practicality to it, simple fonts, bold colors, executed with beautiful flourishes. The classic gold details on their red and black delivery trucks radiate quality. The boar illustration is classic. If you haven’t had the chance to have a sandwich made with Boar’s Head deli meats and cheese, wrapped in Boar’s Head waxed paper, while you sit on a Prospect Park bench in Brooklyn, get on it!

Custom Characters

Last week I had a chance to visit one of my favorite places on planet earth. If there’s anything that makes me feel like a grown kid in a candy store, it’s visiting Custom Characters in Glendale, California. These guys build the Rolls-Royce of costumes for places like Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. They also create mascots like Mr. Redlegs and Sourdough Sam. Custom Characters is the best in the business and we’ve been collaborating with them ever since Plan B started.

One step inside their studio and you’re on sensory overload from the smell of airbrush paint and foam. If you can imagine how traumatic seeing Mickey with his head off might be, there’s enough heads body parts in this warehouse to institutionalize a kid for life!

Owner and master sculptor Ryan Rhodes starts by sculpting the character’s head out of huge blocks of foam, which are then sent off and turned into vacuum-formed plastic. Next, fabric is adhered to the plastic and the whole head is airbrushed. Then a foam “body pod” is built to give the character shape (picture foam overalls encased in football jersey mesh). Last, seamsters sew the outer costume, build the feet from foam and rubber, and airbrush final details.

As you can imagine, Custom Characters has a strict no-photographs studio policy. However, I did snag this photo of “Ace,” the Lakeland Flying Tigers mascot we designed.

Magic Prize Bus

More from my incredible weekend with the Reading Phillies. While Jason and I have worked in baseball (the Padres) we’ve never worked day to day for a Minor League Baseball team. It was a great learning experience and I wore a lot of hats while I was there. Scott and the gang gave me a job to spearhead while I was there. Set up a prize wheel where fans pay $2 a spin to win bobbleheads, tickets, pint glasses, key chains. This sort of game is a classic example of Minor League Baseball hustle. It’s fun for kids, simple and inexpensive to set up, and it helps you move past giveaway items that are sitting in storage closets.

We started by cleaning up an old VW bus that was sitting behind the stadium collecting cobwebs. Thanks to Scott’s brother for leaving it for us!

I spent the rest of the day making a sign out of plywood. I made it out of old signs that I cut up and painted. I came up with the name the Magic Prize Bus and drilled holes around the edges for Christmas lights.

Went to the 99¢ Store and bought sand pails to display the goods. It’s important to make it clear that you have an abundance of prizes. For small items like key chains I filled the buckets 3/4 of the way with boxes and paper and then toped them off with prizes so that they looked full. I found a Easy Rider helmet in the R-Phils costume closet and had the guy who worked the Magic Prize Bus yell out, “Take a ride on the Magic Prize Bus!” It was really successful, lines all night long! Thanks to Jackson, Hoff, and Tonto for your help! Long live the Magic Prize Bus!

Native American Collaboration

Recently the 100-year-old Spokane Indians (named after the local tribe, not Cleveland) asked us to freshen up their look. The Native American mascot issue always falls into two camps where nobody wins:

A. “We’re the Redskins and if our logo offends Native Americans, tough crap.”

B. “We’re changing our team name and mascot, no matter what our fans think. We don’t want any controversy.”

Asking “Why don’t we work WITH the local tribe?” led us to the first collaboration between a pro sports team and a Native American tribe. During our visit to Spokane, we met with a fun-loving group of Tribal Elders at the Spokane Tribe of Indians. While our early sketches included salmon and horses, the Elders ultimately gave their blessing to use the Eagle Feather. Here’s some of the developmental artwork we produced, inspired by tribe artist George Flett.