Over the years we have had a series of shirts that we initially did because we wanted to explore the history of soccer in the US. There is a rich history with the sport in the States, and we thought that seemed like a really good place to start. A good first series of shirts for Bumpy Pitch. There is a belief that “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from.” And that was kind of the impetus for doing shirts that spoke to the history of soccer in the US. We wanted to share the history of professional soccer teams in the US before we started moving forward with other designs and collections. And while we have done more than just vintage soccer teams since these shirts were first released, there is always a demand from people asking for them.
So we are re-releasing a few of our favorites and a few of our all time best sellers. And then that will be it for awhile. Once these shirts sell out (again), we will be shelving these designs for awhile. Not because we don’t love them, but because we need to. We have a lot of things we are working on for 2015, and the time to look ahead is squarely upon us. We always like to look back a bit and explore the history. But in the foreseeable future, we will be doing a little less looking in the rearview mirror, and a little more looking straight ahead.
With that said, if you have ever had your eyes on one of these shirts, now would be the time to grab one (or all of them). I have no idea if or when we will bring these styles back. I mentioned these are some of our favorites, so below is a breakdown of each one and why they have been and always will be so important.
The first time we did the Brooklyn Wanderers shirt was back in like 2009 or something. We did it as part of a pack that also included the Fall River Marksmen and Bethlehem Steel shirts (more on them below). These three teams were amongst the very oldest in terms of professional soccer teams in America. The Brooklyn Wanderers date all the way back to the late 1890’s. So anyone saying there isn’t a pedigree and heritage of soccer in the US, you can point them in the direction of the Brooklyn Wanderers.
So the Brooklyn Wanderers had no logo. Or at least none that we could find. So the slate was pretty blank when it came to what we wanted the “credit” or “logo” for the team to look like. We approached the design as if we had been hired back in the 1890’s to design a crest for the team. What would be authentic and endemic to a professional soccer team in Brooklyn in the 1890’s. The Brooklyn Bridge seemed like a pretty obvious choice. The bridge was completed in 1883, so just a few years before the Wanderers began playing. The bridge is mad iconic, it literally bridges Brooklyn and Manhattan and is such a strong visual element associated with Brooklyn. And from an actual historical timing thing goes, it is authentic to that time period. It existed when the team existed.
So we took our design cues from the bridge. But there are a ton of Brooklyn bridge inspired product so we did our best to come up with a unique angle of the bridge. We ended up designing this graphic with the arches front and center. To give it the feeling that these arches represent the entrance to Brooklyn.
I love this graphic. I love this shirt. I love the idea of a team named the Brooklyn Wanderers. I love the history. If I lived in Brooklyn and had a pickup team, I would call us the Brooklyn Wanderers.
Fun fact – Our Brooklyn Wanderers shirt has been worn by the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Steve Nash and Ryan Seacrest.
Fall River Marksmen
Fall River Marksmen. I have worn this shirt so many times. I really love this one. I love the design but I also love the importance of the team itself. They were one of the most successful clubs in their day. They won the American Soccer league seven times after being founded in 1922. They won the National Challenge Cup four times. They won some other really old soccer tournaments back in the day. Super successful team.
They were owned by a dude named Sam Mark, which they took their name from. Sam Mark put his money where his mouth was and built his team their own soccer stadium. This stadium was ever so cleverly named Mark’s Stadium.
When we were designing this graphic, we took the same approach as we did with Brooklyn. Trying to incorporate elements that would have been authentic to the time period, the name of the club and the area. Even though the name Marksmen was based on their owners last name, we also took it kind of literal. During the Revolutionary War, there was a battle called the Battle of Freetown in which the locals battled the British. That whole “revolutionary” type of attitude certainly influenced the look of this crest.
This is one of the only vintage team shirts that we have only ever offered in one color way. It has come in black since day one, and I don’t think it would ever be offered in any other color. It’s just that simple.
Fun fact – We made this logo up from scratch. It didn’t exist before. But if you go to the Fall River Marksmen Wikipedia page, it is there as their crest. I guess that’s when you know a design works…
Fun fact 2 – Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine wore this shirt.
This ranks up there at the very of of our all time best sellers. We get emails every week about all three of these old teams, but Bethlehem Steel seems to hold a special place for a lot of people. So Bethlehem Steel was an actual steel company in Bethlehem, PA. At one time, Bethlehem Steel (the company, not the team) was America’s second largest steel producer and largest shipbuilder. Cool stuff, right? Something even cooler, at least for us, is the amount of emails we have received from people telling us that a grandparent or a parent worked at Bethlehem Steel at one point and how much this shirt means to them. I don’t know if they have any connection to the soccer team, but there is a connection. And if a shirt inspired by an old soccer team can create that emotion and connection. That’s pretty rad.
So Bethlehem Steel was a really good soccer team. They won all kinds of trophies. They were backed by an oil company…
This oil money helped to build them not only their own stadium, but the first soccer stadium in the US with stadium seating. I assume that before this, everyone stood around and watched the games. Imagine how good it felt to be able to sit.
Fun fact – We didn’t do much to this logo. It was the original steel company logo. The team logo was just a “B” on the front of the jersey I believe. So we took this logo, recreated it, shifted Steel a bit to one side, added the FC and then distressed it to make it look old. Not a huge deal, but that was how we went ahead and re-purposed it as the logo for our shirt. The logo that we did, with the FC added to it, has been used since by more than one brand. It seems that the perception is that the logo that we altered has now been viewed by some as the original. It’s not. It’s just what we came up with for them and what we liked.
Let’s go ahead and jump ahead a couple generations from the teams above. When we do that, we land in the 1970’s and the NASL. New York might have had Pele and the Cosmos, but LA had George Best and the Aztecs. They also got Johan Cruyff for one year and they were partially owned by Elton John. How LA is that?
We are an LA based brand. We grew up in LA. We honed our soccer crafts on fields in this great city. So one of our all time favorite shirts has to be of an LA based team. Simple.
And this is almost certainly the last time we will release an LA Aztecs shirt. Unless somehow Dunny makes a convincing argument that we absolutely have to bring it back.
When it was announced that Chivas USA was going to be completely relaunched and rebranded, we had high hopes (but pretty low expectations) that they would come back as the LA Aztecs. So much so that we made an impassioned plea here.
Fun fact – Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine wore this shirt in a story in the LA Times (that makes two separate Bumpy Pitch shirts he has worn – score!!!).
All four of these shirts are available in the Bumpy Pitch store while supplies last.