<
>

Uniform memorials become less uniform

9/18/2012
The Baltimore Ravens wore a patch on Sunday to honor Art Modell, who passed away on Sept. 6. Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

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.