Sunday, May 29, 2011

LOMBARDI coming to Milwaukee

Milwaukeeans, you'll get your chance to see LOMBARDI.

Although the Broadway production has closed, Wisconsin theatre fans will be able to see a new production in October at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

This is great news; the Rep has consistently produced first-class work. Should be interesting to see what they can so with Simonson's play.

Company member Lee E. Ernst (right) will be taking the title role. Sanford Robbins will direct.

LOMBARDI is scheduled to run October 11 – November 13, 2011, joining Ten Chimneys, Next to Normal, To Kill a Mockingbird and Othello in The Rep's 2011-12 Powerhouse season. The Rep is currently selling season subscriptions, but hasn't yet started single-production ticket sales.

More details should be made available soon. Keep watching this space, or call (414) 224-9490 or visit www.milwaukeerep.com.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Super Bowl Ring Ceremony Announced

Looks like the lockout hasn't stopped the Packers from moving forward with the championship ring design.

Today, the team announced details of the ring ceremony, including the date.

The Packers will receive their Super Bowl XLV championship rings on Thursday, June 16, at the Lambeau Field Atrium, the team announced on its website this afternoon.

The Packers received an exemption from the NFL regarding the league's no-contact policy between players and management, should the NFL lockout still be in effect.

"We're looking forward to having an evening for the players, coaches and organization to recognize the victory in Super Bowl XLV," Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said.

"It was an extraordinary season and the players earned their rings in very exciting fashion. We’re going to celebrate all the hard work that went into the championship. We’re excited for the evening."

It will mark the first time team members have gathered together since the welcome celebration at Lambeau Field on Feb. 8, two days after the Super Bowl.
No word yet on the design, but we'll stay tuned.

Mike Vandermause notes, in his Press-Gazette column, that the Packers will be inviting all players from the 2010 team, including those who have since left the organization. This is a change from the 1997 policy, in which notable free agents such as Chris Jacke, Andre Rison and Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard weren't invited to the traditional championship celebration at the White House and weren't on the original list to attend the ring ceremony at Oneida Golf and Country Club.

A very classy move from the Packers this time around. Looks like they've learned from the Super Bowl team photo debacle.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pro Bowl Uniform Number Mystery

Rick Pearson, a friend from the Uni Watch blog, sent me this photo of Paul Hornung wearing #35 in the Pro Bowl.


Here's one I simply can't explain. Might need help from other UWers. Paul Hornung wearing #35 in the Pro Bowl.

Can't even think of another player in the league at the time who wore #5 (y'know, someone who would have had seniority in the game). Weren't more than a handful of single digit guys at most.

Unless he was an injury-replacement for someone who wore #35. Rick Casares of the Bears, maybe? But I can't figure Hornung as late replacement. And even if he were, you'd think they'd have known who the kicker was gonna be. From the content of the cutline he wasn't there just as a kicker.
Wow. You've got me.

I have to admit that the Pro Bowl isn't my area of expertise. Although it must be fun for the players (at least the "spend a week in Hawaii" part), it isn't much fun for me to watch.

I do know that Hornung only played in two Pro Bowls, 1960 and 1961. Based on the caption, this photo was taken during the 1961 game. The Western Conference wore the same uniforms in both; blue helmets, white pants and jerseys with Northwestern sleeve stripes. Here's what the games looked like in color:

Looking at photos of the game, it appears that it was not uncommon for players to wear different numbers in the Pro Bowl. Here's Y.A. Tittle in the 1960 game:

Tittle was #14 for the Niners that season, and I'm not aware of him ever wearing #8.

So what do you guys know about this? When did it become standard practice for players to keep their numbers in the Pro Bowl?


UPDATE 3/31: Reader Jeff Fedenko provides us the answer.

From an interview with Todd Hewitt, former equipment manager for the Los Angeles Rams, who worked the Pro Bowl games at the Los Angeles Coliseum:

After the (Pro Bowl) ended I set up a table just outside the locker room. Glen Davis, the former great running back from Army, would sit there with me and distribute game paychecks to each player but only after they had handed over their game issued jersey, pants and sock to me. Unlike today where the Pro Bowl players get to keep everything, we reused those uniforms year after year. In those days the jerseys did not have the player names on them so they were easy to reuse the following year.
Thanks, Jeff! Mystery solved.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The End (Zone) is Nigh

As most of you know, the Packers are considering a new round of changes to Lambeau Field. We've seen the proposed North Gate entrance:

Now, based on materials sent to season ticket holders, we're getting a look at changes the club intends to make to the interior.

A sketch of what Lambeau Field's south endzone could look like if the Packers organization decides to make all changes included in the recent survey to ticket holders and shareholders.
My first reaction is a negative one; this new addition doesn't seem to be in the spirit of Lambeau Field at all. The beauty of the 2003 renovations was that they left the traditional seating bowl intact. The new suites and premium seating, glassed in, elevated up and set behind the seating bowl, didn't impact the collegiate and traditional feel of the interior. Adding cantilevered seating decks could demolish it.

That having been said, let's take a look at the details of the Packers' proposal so far (empashis theirs).

EAST AND WEST TERRACE BLEACHER SEATS (South End Zone)
One option being considered in the south end zone is East and West Terrace bleacher seating with backs. This area would be located outside, but would be partially covered from the elements by an overhead canopy. The area would also feature standing room viewing platforms of the field at the ends of the seating section.

The food service in this area would consist of upgraded food and beverage options. Access to this area would be limited to those who purchase seating in this section. East and West Terrace bleacher seating will be sold on a season basis as either green (7 games) or gold (3 games) packages. Ticket purchases would be limited to a maximum of four (4) seats.
The team is also considering individual seats instead of the backed benches:

Again, this seems to violate the spirit of Lambeau Field. It's too much for me.

"ON THE WALL" TERRACE BLEACHER SEATS (South End Zone)
One option being considered in the south end zone is "On the Wall" Terrace bleacher seating with backs. This seating would be an enhancement to the general seating located throughout the main bowl of the stadium. This area would be located outside centered on the end zone, but would be partially covered from the elements by an overhead canopy. The area would also feature standing room viewing platforms of the field at the ends of the seating section.

The food service in this area would consist of upgraded food and beverage options. Access to this area would be limited to those who purchase seating in this section. "On the Wall" Terrace bleacher seating will be sold on a season basis as either green (7 games) or gold (3 games) packages. Ticket purchases would be limited to a maximum of four (4) seats.
As with the East and West Terraces, benches may be replaced with individual seats.

The remainder of the sections would definitely have individual seats.

EAST AND WEST GOLD LEVEL STADIUM SEATS
(South End Zone)
East and West Gold Level stadium seating in the south end zone would also be an enhancement to the general seating located throughout the main bowl of the stadium. East and West Gold Level seating would be outside and protected from the elements by the level above. These seats would consist of individual 20-inch wide stadium seats with arm and back rests.

The food service in this area would consist of upgraded food and beverage options. Access to this area would be limited to those who purchase seating in this section. East and West Gold Level stadium seating will be sold on a season basis as either green (7 games) or gold (3 games) packages. Ticket purchases would be limited to a maximum of four (4) seats.
From there, we begin to get into the real premium seating.

EAST AND WEST GREEN LEVEL SEATING (South End Zone)
Another seating area being considered as part of the renovation plan is an exclusive outdoor seating area that would be covered from the elements and would have a casual atmosphere. This area would have three rows of stadium seating (chairs with arm and back rests), high bench-like tables, and would be accessible only to patrons in this seating area. The area would consist of patio space that could include specialty food service, table top seating, standing room viewing platforms as well as 20-inch wide stadium seating. Access to this area would be limited to those whom purchase seating in this section.

This seating area would be sold on a season ticket basis as either a Green Package (7 games) or Gold Package (3 games). Ticket purchases would be limited to a maximum of four (4) seats.
And the upscale would go up from there:

LOGE SEATING (South End Zone)
A potential seating area in the south end zone could include loge-style seating that would be targeted towards a premium experience.

Seating in this area would have a capacity of 200 people and would include segregated three-row deep seating sections consisting of 10 to 12 upholstered 21-inch wide seats. This seating area would have immediate access to an indoor lounge area that would provide all-inclusive upscale food and beverage offerings such as a carvery, dessert bar, wines and other such fare with dozens of flat screen TVs.

Access to the seating area would be limited to those whom purchase seating in this section. This seating area would be sold on a full season ticket basis only. Ticket purchasers would contract for 10 to 12 seats.
I think we can translate "only sold in blocks of 10 or 12" as "we need to increase corporate sales".

Fortunately, they do have something for the slightly less-well-heeled among us:

STANDING ROOM TICKETS (South End Zone)
A south end zone expansion at Lambeau Field could create an open-air plaza or patio that could be available for standing room only single game ticket sales. The standing room only area would offer a full view of the playing field and access to new restrooms and concessions in the south end zone area.
They indicate that these seats could cost somewhere around $60 (plus a $33 seat license fee)

So there you have it. Again, I'm not a fan so far. The Packers managed to preserve the wonderful open feel of Lambeau Field while building a state of the art facility all around it. In 2003 they didn't make a single wrong step; this feels like a whole dance of them.

I understand the need for increasing the seating capacity. A 900-year waiting list will do that. But we've seen what happens when you cram cantilever decks on top of a classic open-bowl stadium.

I don't know anyone who thinks, in retrospect, that was a good idea.

C'mon, Mr. Murphy. I understand the need for increasing both revenues and capacity (I've been on the waiting list for years, as I suspect most of you have been). But not like this.

There has to be a way to build these amenities without having them loom over the seating bowl. I'd hate for Lambeau Field to lose some of what makes it such a special place to while away a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Winning Isn't Everything, but Being Nominated Is.

Well, I was right.

After the disapointing Tony Nominations snub, the producers of LOMBARDI producers have announced that the show will be closing on May 22nd. That will leave it with a grand total of 30 preview performances and 244 regular performances. A very respectable total—it's the only new drama from the beginning of the season to still be playing—but the show will still be missed. I know they had a small bump after the Super Bowl, but better representation among the nominees could have kept this show going.

I'm sorry to see this go, but glad that, after a few false starts, I finally had an opportunity to see it. If you're within traveling distance of New York, I'd recommend that you check it out. You'll be kicking yourself if you miss this one.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's Jostens for Super Bowl XLV

Although the Packers are waiting until the end of the lockout to finalize the design, they have announced that they're partnering with Jostens to create their Super Bowl XLV championship rings.

This shouldn't come as a surprise; Jostens has been involved with all three of the Packers' previous Super Bowl rings, as well as the rings for the team's World Championships in 1961 and 1965, as seen in this ad, published in a 1967 Packers game program:

Packerville, U.S.A.
 
All in all, Jostens has made rings for twenty-eight of the previous forty-four World Champions (losing their apostrophe somewhere along the line).
"What I liked about Jostens is they have a tremendous reputation in the industry. We have a history with them. They’ve done every ring in Packers history. Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson and I felt the sample ring they provided was the best," (Packers President and CEO Mark) Murphy said.
Man, would I like to see those rejected samples.

There's especially good news in the press release for Packer fans interested in shareholder rings, starting with this quote from Tim Connolly, the Packers' vice president of sales and marketing:
"Jostens also impressed us with the ability to create special collections of commemorative jewelry. There will be exclusive collections made for shareholders, season-ticket holders and a fan collection," Connolly said.

The fan collection will be sold solely by the Packers Pro Shop and will be available by mid-summer.
Although the design hasn't been finalized, and won't be unveiled until a special ceremony later this year, we are given small hints as to what to expect.
"It just felt right," Connolly said of joining with Jostens on the project. "There was a sense that the ring should have some continuity and connection to our past rings. You look at the 1996 ring and you see elements of that in this ring."
Can't wait.


(h/t: Pat Bouche)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And the Tony Goes To...

The Tony Award nominations were announced today, and LOMBARDI was largely shut out. Judith Light has been nominated in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play.

This is very bad news for Lombardi—the box office has been sluggish, and I suspect that they've been holding on in the hopes of scoring some nominations, with the box office bump they provide.

I also think it's unfair. Light is superb as Marie Lombardi, but she's not alone in that. There is some sterling work being done eight shows a week at Circle in the Square.

Dan Lauria and Judith Light

Unfortunately, I suspect we'll see a closing notice soon. If you're interested in seeing LOMBARDI—and you should be—buy your tickets now.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Look Ahead - By the Numbers

Peeling back the curtain just a bit, I haven't been able to post as much as I'd like recently, so here's a sneak peek at an article I'm working on for a future entry.

This post-game celebration photo was taken on December 17, 1960 in the Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Packers had just clinched the Western Conference title with a win over the Rams.

Although I always appreciate an opportunity to see the Packer coach hoisted in victory, what really intrigues me is the jersey numbers.

Jerry Kramer's "64" is a bold, simple sans-serif font. Behind him is defensive back Emlen Tunnell, whose jersey features serifed numbers, very similar to those still worn today.

It looks as though Tunnell is wearing an old jersey — this photo from 1959, featuring Lombardi being carried off the field after his first victory as coach, shows the Packers wearing serifed numbers in the 1959 season:

This style disparity often indicates that the two jerseys came from different uniform suppliers. In those days, manufacturers would have their own number styles, and teams would switch from one to the other, season by season, depending on where they were buying their uniforms. I'm trying to track the number variances, and thereby the Packers' manufacturer history.

Kramer wore many jersey number styles in his Packer career. We might be able to track that history based on photos of him alone:

This wire photo, stamped 1963 but possibly taken earlier, shows us a third style, with the serifed "6".

We think of the classic 1960s Packer uniform as being very solid and fixed, but Lombardi's early days were filled with this type of tweaking and minor fluctuation. More to come.


(Updated after comments - h/t: Tom)