the glory of Tigers past

photo by Samara Pearlstein

Roar of the Tigers went a-field-trippin’ yesterday, as you can probably tell from these shots, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Dork that I am, I have a ton of photos of Red Sox things, Tigers things, and Sandy Koufax things. But I especially wanted to talk about these two particular items.

The shiny blue deal up top is the 1984 World Series ring. It’s a pretty simple design: just a little diamond representation of the infield set in blue….something, enamel I guess. Compared to some of the later rings it’s downright sedate (especially the ’03 Marlins ring, which is about the size of my entire fist). Mostly it’s notable because it’s the last one we’ve got, of course. When we win our next one, I hope the designers go this route instead of in the garish use-as-many-rocks-as-is-humanly-or-inhumanly-possible direction. Take note for next season, greater Detroit-area jewelers.

photo by Samara Pearlstein

What I really want to mention is this cover for a program from the 1945 World Series, because it is the height of awesome. I am now going to geek out as only an art student can, so feel free to zone and just gaze upon the pretty.

First off, ILLUSTRATION. YES. YESSSSSSSSSSS. Baseball programs these days, 99% of the time, have either a photo or a stark logo that’s been vectored all to bloody heck and back on the cover. There is nothing wrong with photography and there is nothing wrong with a sharp logo, but this puppy is ILLUSTRATED and this makes me HAPPY. I love the style. That scratchy pen work is calmed down, visually, by the fact that there are only three colors on the whole thing, and really? If you’re going for punchy contrast, you would be hard-pressed to do better than black, white, and safety-cone orange.

Second. The fonts. There are three different fonts on this cover, and while I think it ends up being a little unnecessary (surely the stadium name could’ve been written in the same font as “World Series”, yes?), I do like them all. They are not ‘timeless’ fonts, but they set this little publication in a very definite era, and if you’re designing a World Series program, where the year very much matters, I think that’s a good thing. There is a lot of variation; they vary in letter spacing, height, line weight, overall letter shape, and so on. But since they’re all sans-serif fonts, it’s still not as messy as it could have been.

The heavy block letters used inside the baseball are necessary to visually hold the letters together along the curve they’ve been set on. More slender typefaces often look kind of cruddy on curved lines, because at some point the individual letters either have to give up their hopes of cohesiveness, or they have to deform themselves like mad to get wide enough to still hang together. NOBODY BUT ME CARES ABOUT THIS so I’m gonna stop now and save you all the trouble of reading it, if you’re still reading.

Third, the damn thing was only 25¢. I yearn for such times. Nowadays the only way to get a 25¢ program would be to buy a pen that costs a quarter and draw one up yourself.

Fourth, the artist who drew this paid such good attention to what (s)he was doing that (s)he drew an ACTUAL ADULT TIGER facing off against what is clearly an ACTUAL BABY BEAR. Seriously! Look at how small that bear is! He’s TINY! Looks a little underfed too. Whereas that tiger is enormous, bristling, stalking, roaring. Was there any doubt about who was gonna win this World Series? I think not.

(By that same token, you might expect a tiger to tear a cardinal to pieces, and thus would be confused about this past season. Let your mind rest easy, for it is simply explained. TONY THE RUSSA HAD THE BIRD FLU. He totally infected all the ferocious tigers and so it is that the small, feathery menaces won. Biochemical warfare. FOR SHAME, St. Louis, FOR SHAME.)

Fifth: Briggs Stadium! Hee. How’s THAT for a timewarp?

There were some other very stylish program covers as well, but I especially wanted to call attention to this one, because I thought it was especially elegant and, well…. awesome.

In completely unrelated news, tropical cyclone Bondo cracks me right the heck up.

8 responses to “the glory of Tigers past

  1. Following a magical season and a very fine offseason, I’m expecting the 2007 Tigers to earn their own rings.

  2. Sam, I agree thae 1945 program was excellent. Sometimes old school simplicity is the way to go. I was at the Hall of Fame in September. I love the musuem and also the town.
    How can you not love a town where everything is baseball.

  3. Ah, well, I do love the Hall of Fame, and of course the emphasis of the entire area on baseball…. but man, that must be one of THE most boring places to grow up. We only stayed overnight and I was already getting itchy because of how utterly quiet (read: dead) it was. Guess I’m just more of a city kinda person. :)

  4. I don’t know about growing up there. It may not be a great place for a young person to live. It’s one of my favorite places to visit now though. I feel like I’m going back in time about 50 years. I must not be a city person. After commuting to Boston for 11 years, I think I’ve seen enough of city life.

  5. Don’t mind me…just testing

  6. I have a copy of the program you have described above. My father went to all of the games at Briggs Field shortly after he was discharged from the Army Air Corps following World War II. Is there any interest by Tigers / Cubs collectors for an original. It is complete and in excellent condition. The program also has several autographs in it. Please let me know if interested. Thanks.

  7. Terry, I’d suggest either holding onto it because it’s freakin’ awesome, or else eBay. :)

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