Pee Wee, Bryan, and Me: The Journey of a Long-Lost Glove
This past June I got married in Stanley Park on a rainy Vancouver day. It was a wonderful little ceremony, and in the days following, we did a staycation honeymoon downtown. Because of COVID restrictions I had hardly been out of my own neighbourhood in what felt like years, and so just walking around a busy city centre, even my own, was exciting and new. I was looking for some sports-related thing downtown to keep as a memento, as I often do on trips. We sought out a vintage shop on one of our walks and there I quickly found an old left-handed baseball glove in the small sports equipment section. I'm a lefty so this immediately peaked my interest. After a quick scan I found a name in the glove's "pocket," that of Pee Wee Reese, a teammate of Jackie Robinson's on the Brooklyn Dodgers. Harold "Pee Wee" Reese, who earned his nickname playing with small – a.k.a. "pee wee" – marbles as a kid, didn't play baseball until his senior year of high school. He himself was small and thus did not attract much attention with his play. After graduating, Reese spliced cables for the local phone company and played on an amateur church team. Luckily, while in the league final at the minor-league Louisville Colonels' park, he was noticed and soon signed by the Colonels' team owner. In Reese's second year with Louisville, the Colonels gained a major league affiliate, the Red Sox. He impressed the Sox' owner as well but, with player-manager Joe Cronin wanting that starting shortstop position, Reese was traded to Brooklyn. The Dodgers promoted Reese in his first season with the franchise and he never looked back, eventually moving with the team to Los Angeles for the 1958 season, at the very end of his career. Reese is best known for his time in Brooklyn; for being their starting shortstop during the glory years, and for being one of the first to welcome and embrace Jackie Robinson publicly after he joined the Dodgers and broke the MLB colour line in 1947. Reese is said to have embraced Robinson on-field in Cincinnati in that first season together, as a display of friendship and acceptance. And while some debate whether this did indeed happen on the field, the pair were good friends. In 1955, Pee Wee, Jackie, and the Dodgers finally bested the Yankees in the World Series after multiple attempts. Brooklyn celebrated like crazy, but only two years later the Dodgers would be moving westward to L.A. Reese did play the first season there, but only 59 games, and then retired. In his 15 seasons with "Dem Bums" of Brooklyn, the shortstop was an All-Star 10 times. So, now that we know Pee Wee's story better, let's go back to the glove. As you may have noticed, this glove I found looks a little more modern than the ones from Reese's era; the "fingers" are longer and slimmer, and there's more webbing between the thumb and first finger. Some of the other makings have worn off, but it seems to be a Japanese-made glove from the '60s, possibly by a company called Cambridge. Turns out the glove isn't particularly valuable, or comfortable, really, but it was a mere 10 bucks so I couldn't say no. There's a name and address on the strap of the glove, which was partly obscured by the price tag at first. Upon getting back to our hotel, I pulled that tag off to reveal: BRYAN ROBERTSON 585 EAST 53RD AVE. VAN, BC. Immediately I know that address is very similar to my childhood home's, which was 535 E 45th. Turns out this guy lived between Fraser and St. George streets just like me, only eight blocks over. A quick google search brings up an obituary under that name, and I see the celebration of life was at Mountainview Cemetery, which is right by my old place. Must be him. Funnily, I look a lot like Bryan; full face, kind smile, moustache, dark-brown receding hair. From the obituary and the comments left below, it seems he was a great guy. He worked for BC Tel for over 20 years, was an audiophile that drummed in a band, had a memorable laugh, and was a friend to all – a "larger than life" character that left an impression with everyone he met. Sadly, Bryan was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease in his early 30s. He passed in 2015, much too soon, at the age of 57. One commenter remembered good times spent at the Burrard Bar, which is very interesting because our staycation hotel was The Burrard; it's an old motel from the '50s that was renovated a few years ago and turned into a vintage-inspired boutique hotel. There very well could have been a bar there back in the day, and if so, Bryan may have spent time in the very same building. What are the odds of that?? I've thought about getting the glove freshened up and broken in by a repair specialist – it would be pretty special to use it for one of my own ballgames. But it does say in the obituary that Bryan was survived by a son, and so my new mission is to get in touch with him; I'm sure he'd love to get a hold of his dad's long-lost glove! That's who it would mean the most to. So, Tyler, if you're somehow reading this, please know your dad's glove is in safe hands; for now it sits proudly in my office, waiting to be reunited with a Robertson. And if that reunion doesn't happen for whatever reason, know that I will cherish the glove and happily carry on the memory of Pee Wee and Bryan. Two great guys, one special piece of history. Do you know the Robertson family? Please contact James at email@example.com to get Bryan's glove home!
Who Were They? The Toronto Huskies
The Toronto Huskies were Toronto's first NBA team. They were founded in 1946 and lasted only one season. The first-ever game of what is now the National Basketball Association – a pretty momentous event in the history of basketball. With the size and popularity of the league as it is now, you'd think that its founding year would be way back, in the early 1900s. And what teams do you think took part? With these things it's usually storied franchises, so the basketball equivalent of the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Red Sox, etc. Well, there's two surprises coming... one, the first NBA game was played in 1946. Sure, that was over 70 years ago, but for reference, the National Hockey League was founded in 1917. Major League Baseball's National League, which at one point stood on its own, dates back to 1876. And the National Football League, they will start celebrating their centennial season come September. So, when it comes to the North American "Core Four," the NBA is the baby of the bunch. And then there's the teams that took part. One of them is a classic franchise that is still going strong: the New York Knicks, or Knickerbockers, as they were originally and are more formerly known. Their competitor may surprise you, however. It was the Toronto Huskies. Yes, Canada had a professional basketball franchise before the Raptors, and yes they had the honour of playing in the very first NBA game. What happened to the Toronto Huskies? Unfortunately for the Huskies, they peaked a bit early. They would only play that single season, compiling a record of 22-38, before folding. From there the Huskies became a mere footnote, a trivia tidbit. They deserved better really – they had a great name and a look to equal it. Blue and white colours, matching those of the well-loved Maple Leafs, and a sweet panting-dog logo. The Huskies also had their own unique typeface. So why did the franchise fail? Attendance. That first game against the Knicks drew a decent crowd, but after that the numbers continued to fall. It's said that ownership lost $100,000 in that single season of operations. At the time, pro basketball was a new thing and was not seen as big-time, nor a real career path for those playing. The sport was instead built around the college and high school game. And in Toronto hockey is king, of course, so an upstart league with generally the same schedule didn't have much of a chance. At that time, before huge TV viewership – and therefore huge TV deals – became a thing, teams relied on the box office; that's where they got their money. That's why, for example, the Canadian Football League was on the same tier as the NFL, because they drew similar crowds. And that's great for a smaller-market league if you are getting fans through the gate, but if not... there's nothing to fall back on. So, the Huskies leapt, and the Huskies fell. The Toronto Huskies Legacy The Huskies have come back from the dead, somewhat, as the Raptors, the city's second go at an NBA franchise, now wear Huskies throwback uniforms on select nights. This started in 2009, and of 2016 the blue and white became an official "alternate" uniform. They even change the hardwood to match. It's a fitting tribute to the short-lived, yet trailblazing franchise that was.
The Ides of March (Madness)
It's almost here... March Madness, one of the most magical times on the sporting calendar. Over two weeks, 68 teams will fight to stay alive in the single-elimination tournament and reach the Final Four. To help get you excited for the tourney, we've put together a few of the best college basketball shots from The SPORT Archive. You'll see some big names like Magic, Bird, and Chamberlain, and also some lesser-knowns. Check them all out below! Want to take any of these shots home? Every fine art product from The SPORT Gallery is printed on premium 100% Hahnemuhle cotton rag paper and printed with UltraChrome K3 pigmented inks for the highest available archival quality. Mounting, matting and framing are also to the highest archival standards. Just reach out by email or phone and we'd be happy to get a custom order started!
The Raptors Go Retro: Celebrating the Toronto Huskies
The Toronto Raptors, at 22 years old, are one of the NBA's younger franchises. Unlike teams like the Celtics and the Lakers, the Raptors don't have a long list of legendary names to celebrate, or glory days to reminisce about. Their uniforms have never been classic or timeless, always very much of the moment. The Raptors are possibly the league's best example of a Millennial franchise, the child of a Hollywood blockbuster -- Jurassic Park -- born right in the middle of the 1990s. There is more to Toronto basketball than meets the eye, however -- the city was home to another franchise, the Huskies, who hosted and played in the first-ever game of what would become the NBA, in 1946. The Huskies didn't last long -- only one season, in fact -- but they are still an important part of basketball history, not only in Canada but globally. The Raptors are celebrating that legacy again this season as they will don vintage-inspired Huskies jerseys six times and also give their court the full treatment -- instead of the ball-and-claw logo and red paint, it will be the panting husky and blue. It's a good call considering the greater throwback movement happening in the NBA right now; the Bucks, Lakers, Heat, Hornets, Suns, and Pacers have all announced throwbacks to be worn on a regular basis, while others will follow with single-game special event designs. It makes sense that everyone is hopping in the time machine. Throwback uniforms salute the past, establish a sense of longevity and team culture. A team's brand is most successful when it unites then and now, past and present. Look at the Yankees, who this past season captured the sporting world's attention through a record-breaking rookie year by Aaron Judge. No one in North America relies on history and a heritage identity as much as the Yankees, yet they have become a trending topic thanks to a glut of young stars. The Lakers hope to be that story in the NBA this year. With 16 titles and Hall of Fame names up in the rafters, they certainly have a storied past. They also have new talent, most notably Lonzo Ball, who, thanks to his father's braggadocios support, became a household name before playing a minute of professional ball. The Lakers will hope their young player can live up to the hype and put up gaudy numbers like Judge this season. The current Raptors squad may be the best in franchise history. They've captured the nation's attention. In Drake the Raptors have a big-name ambassador and fan, as well, and are that much more relevant as a result. The only thing missing is a sense of team history, that storied past. There's not much to look back on, aside from the dunking exploits of Vince Carter, so the Huskies have become that valuable bit of nostalgia. When the Huskies take the court this season, let your mind drift back to the 1940s. Imagine you're in Maple Leaf Gardens, smoky and dimly lit, amongst fans in formal wear. The television cameras aren't capturing an HD feed, but grainy black-and-white. The shorts are short and dunking does not yet exist. Toronto has this charming history, now's the time to embrace it. *** Want more Raptors content? Give our TSN Radio segment, The Art of Sport, a listen below!
News: Product Arrivals, an Exciting Partnership, and Our New Website.
Fall is upon us once more, the best time of the sporting year. The NHL, NBA, NFL, and NCAA football seasons are now underway, and for the MLS and MLB, it's been playoff time. As the summer dies out, sport blossoms. It makes sense, then, that at this time of rebirth there are some exciting goings-on at The SPORT Gallery, too. We have new product rolling in, an exciting partnership with TSN Radio to announce, and the launch of our new website. First and foremost, the website. No drastic renovations have been made to our home on the World Wide Web -- it's merely received light remodelling and a fresh coat of paint. The site is hopefully more of a visual experience now, a better reflection of what you might find in one of our physical galleries. The new site -- sites, really, we have one for Canadian visitors and another for US -- has all of the prints, apparel, accessories, and books you'll recognize from our three locations. The interface is simple and user-friendly. And the beautiful thing about thesportgallery.ca and thesportgallery.com: they allow our doors to be open 24/7. Next on the docket is TSN Radio and The Art of Sport. For those who don't know, TSN is ESPN's Canadian brother, the best the North has to offer in terms of sports coverage. TSN Radio has a wide reach on the dial, from Vancouver to Montreal with five stops in-between. One of its top programs is The Sport Market, hosted by Tom Mayenknecht. As of October 7, The SPORT Gallery will be content partners of The Sport Market. In addition to sponsoring part of the show, we'll be contributing a segment called The Art of Sport. Just as we do with our galleries, the segment will analyze and discuss the points where sport, art, aesthetics, and history intersect. In The Art of Sport, we'll use artwork and other product from the gallery as a jumping off point for conversation. Our prints, for example, can help bring a period of history to life. The much over-used saying, 'a picture paints a thousand words,' is, in this case, fitting. We have a gallery favourite called "Turning Point, 1948," a black-and-white shot of Jackie Robinson narrowly avoiding the tag of a Phillies third baseman. It serves as a fitting metaphor for Robinson’s greater struggle for tolerance and acceptance. In 1947, a year prior, Robinson weathered a now-infamous verbal assault; Phillies manager Ben Chapman directed endless racial slurs and taunts towards Robinson mid-game, the severity of which inspired considerable backlash At a time of inequality and segregation, it was significant to have the public defend Major League Baseball’s first African-American. This is the sort of thing we'll be discussing on The Art of Sport -- why certain products we carry are popular, their artistic qualities, and the story behind them. It's going to be a fun project to continue to work on, and if you'd like to catch us on the air, tune in between 7:00 and 11:00am PST on Saturdays on Vancouver 1040 and Toronto 1050. Additional airings will occur on a tape delay throughout Canada. You can also hear past shows online here. The last bit of news to touch on is our new product. As those familiar with the gallery will know, our apparel and headwear tends to change with the seasons. A big haul of hockey, plus some basketball and football product will be on its way, while baseball is dropping off. We have great new NHL kids and youth gear, for teams like the Canucks, Oilers, Flames, Canadiens, and Leafs. Being a fan is a life-long endeavour, and we can help get your little ones started early. There's plenty of options for adults too. American Needle is a really great brand that's hard to find here in Canada, and right now we have three sleek Canucks headwear styles to check out. Our favourite is the Waxed Taylor, a '90s-style distressed flat-brim with the now-famous "flying skate" logo. The body of the hat is, as the name suggests, waxed, which is a unique feature. The wax waterproofs the hat, making it perfect for those rainy Vancouver winters. If you don't either find your team or a style you're fond of at the gallery or online, odds are that over the course of the fall and winter we'll have something come in -- be sure to keep checking back and to put your name in our customer request list! That's all the news for now. Enjoy your time on the site, and be sure to also give us a look on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.