Uniform memorials become less uniform

September, 18, 2012
Modell PatchDrew Hallowell/Getty ImagesThe Baltimore Ravens wore a patch on Sunday to honor Art Modell, who passed away on Sept. 6.
Black armbands and memorial patches on sports uniforms are nothing new. They date at least to 1876, when the St. Louis Brown Stockings -- charter members of the National League -- wore a mourning badge for former teammate Tom Miller.

Up until recently, though, uniform memorials have been, well, uniform. That's starting to change. Consider these three examples from 2012:

• After Ravens owner Art Modell died on Sept. 6, the Ravens honored him by wearing an "Art" helmet decal for their season-opening game. But for their second game, they took the decal design and transformed it into a jersey patch. It's like the memorial started in coach and then got an upgrade to first class. This is the first time I can recall seeing that happen.

• Back in August, former Red Sox great Johnny Pesky passed away. The Sox have been honoring him with a "6" patch at home and a black armband on the road (they apparently couldn't wear the patch on the road jersey because they already have the "hanging socks" logo patch on the left sleeve). I believe this is the first time someone has been memorialized in two distinct ways at home and on the road.

• Patch overload also explains why the Mets have been forced to wear their Gary Carter memorial patch in three different places this season, an unofficial record.

Is this a trend, or just a coincidence? Probably the latter, but it shows how strange the world has gotten: Even honoring the deceased has become a complicated affair.



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