Category Archives: Custom Jerseys

Hope and optimism for Orioles future plentiful at caravan event

Quinn Seidenman’s friends and family were busy Friday afternoon. So he came to see Adley Rutschman by himself.

Seidenman, a 17-year-old from Baltimore, said a handful of his friends and family couldn’t make the Orioles caravan event. So he headed out to White Marsh Mall on his own to get a glimpse of what he hoped was the future of Orioles baseball, wearing a custom black No. 35 jersey with Rutschman’s name gracing the back.

The Orioles hosted an event and visited various schools and locations around Baltimore on the first of a three-day tour. Among the attendees Friday were Rutschman, manager Brandon Hyde, Gunnar Henderson, Richie Martin and Cedric Mullins.

Two of the heartiest rounds of applause from Orioles fans came for Rutschman and Henderson, the Orioles first and 42nd picks from last June’s MLB Draft. After back-to-back 100-plus loss seasons for the Orioles, those two are now some of the biggest faces of the rebuild. It’s why Seidenman chose Rutschman’s jersey over anyone else’s, too.

“We’re (his family) Orioles season ticket holders,” Seidenman said. “We got some points for having the seats — one of the promotions was to get a custom jersey. I wasn’t super inspired by the current players. I thought it’d be cool to get an Adley jersey.”

With Rutschman not expected to break the major league roster out of spring training in March, there’s still months, and perhaps over a year, until he makes his MLB debut. So much, including his jersey number, is still in the air.

“I’m hoping he wears No. 35,” Seidenman said with a grin. “They’re expensive…I really hope he wears 35.”

For the fans that showed up, there wasn’t talk of the two previous seasons — despite the fact the Orioles will likely be one of, if not the, worst teams in baseball in 2020.

Instead, fans played cornhole with Mullins and watched Hyde and Rutschman pour beer for fans. For an evening, fans like Eric Breach were able to appreciate what the future could look like in Baltimore.

“It’s exciting that there’s young talent, that there’s young prospects, that there’s something to root for and hoping there’s a good future,” Breach said, while his three-year-old daughter, Nora, sat on his lap. “You’re hoping the young kids are able to grow together like Adley and Gunnar and DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez, all of them coming up. It seems like there is a bright future.”

Breach added he’s hopeful that, one day, he’ll be able to show his daughter pictures from Friday’s event down the line when all of the Orioles prospects have graduated to the majors.

“It’s fun because you know they’ll be here for a long time,” Breach said. “We just took our picture with Gunnar, so it’ll be something where if we have the picture, we can show her as they’re growing and get better, ‘Look, we met Gunnar at The Greene Turtle. And Adley was here. And Richie Martin. They’re all here.’ It gives her something to grasp on to.”

Rutschman, 22, is just one member of the Orioles’ farm system, which has three top 100 prospects according to MLB.com. With a second overall pick coming in June, more help is on the way, too.

Which is why Orioles fans packed The Greene Turtle to get a glimpse at what they hope will be the start of a rebuild well worth it.

“Really cool,” Hyde said. “Visited a few places before here. It’s really rewarding for not only the players and coaches to see the community. Being out in the community and seeing the passion for Orioles baseball, you lose sight of that sometimes when you’re in the grind of a six-month season.”

While the Orioles will struggle to stay clear of triple-digit losses once again in 2020, the appearance of Rutschman and Henderson made things better for at least one day.

Seidenman did eventually get what he came for and was able to get his picture with Rutschman.

“He told me he wants to wear No. 35,” Seidenman said with a smile, and a bit of relief.

Hope for the Orioles showed their faces on Friday, and they came in the form of a pair of prospects and handful of major leaguers still looking to earn their full-time spot. And for a few fans in attendance, they’re already ready.

“It’s going to make it worth it,” Seidenman said. “We’ve all sat through some tough seasons, but there’s always been hope. And I think this year, it’s starting to feel more real.”

NBA’s Sacramento Kings to auction game-worn jerseys using Ethereum blockchain

The Sacramento Kings haven’t had a winning season since 2006, but with a roster of young stars like Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox, it thinks there’s a market for its authenticated memorabilia.

The Kings today announced a new auction platform for bidding on sports jerseys and apparel during games. The auctions are made possible by Treum, a ConsenSys product for blockchain-backed supply chains, and will take place during each Sacramento home game. (Disclosure: ConsenSys funds Decrypt.)

The first auction will be held tonight during Sacramento’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, with Hield’s game-worn jersey going to the winner.

This isn’t a sign that the Kings are cash-strapped—look no further than Harrison Barnes’ four-year, $85 million contract for proof. Everything raised during the auction is going to charity. The team says the proceeds from tonight’s auction will go to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts and that future proceeds will go to its non-profit foundation.

It’s not the first time the Kings have innovated using blockchain
tech. In fact, it’s been well ahead of the curve compared to other North American sports teams. It accepted Bitcoin
for payment in 2014, started mining cryptocurrency in 2018, and began selling physical crypto-collectibles last year. The Kings even have their own ERC20 token to reward fans.

Its latest venture works like this: From tipoff until midnight, fans in the arena or at home can bid on the live auction item. The highest bidder gets the gear, complete with a certificate of authenticity and a time-stamped Ethereum
token showing how the memorabilia has changed owners.

In a press release, the Kings said that despite the American sport memorabilia market being worth more than $5 billion annually, “there are no industry standards for authenticating items and protecting fans from purchasing counterfeit merchandise. Through this partnership, the Kings and ConsenSys are effectively increasing the resale potential for authenticated merchandise on secondary markets.”

And who knows? The resale value for that Buddy Hield jersey could be pretty high when he leads Sacramento to its first NBA title next year, eh Kings fans?

What Steve Young believes is 49ers’ biggest concern entering NFL playoffs

After roaring to an 8-0 record, the 49ers became wounded down the stretch this season, looking more vulnerable as the injuries piled up.

Still, the 49ers were able to secure a win in Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, giving them a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout.

As the No. 1 seed at 13-3, coach Kyle Shanahan’s team is seen as the presumptive Super Bowl favorite coming out of the NFC. But that doesn’t mean there are no red flags, according to 49ers legend and Hall of Famer Steve Young.

“This defensive line, I thought was top in the league, maybe top two,” Young told KNBR’s “Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks” during the 49ers’ bye week. “Remember the game where they just mauled Aaron Rodgers and he put the white flag up? That’s what those defenses like Denver, when Peyton Manning couldn’t raise his arm and they still won the Super Bowl, or Seattle, Baltimore had a group like that. There are teams that have had these ferocious defensive lines, and we’ve lost that.

“I understand there were injuries and so forth, but that’s my greatest concern. Without that, our defense becomes something where everyone has to stand out on their own and a ferocious defensive line can kind of mask a lot of stuff, and that’s my concern. You run into these teams that can put up big points, and you don’t pull it out 48-46, you lose a game because you’re not putting the pressure on the quarterback that you need to.”

The 49ers’ defensive line was one of the most dominant units in all of football through the first 10 weeks of the season, But injuries to a number of players, including Dee Ford and D.J. Jones, has put a lot of pressure and wear on the likes of Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.

Ford is a game-time decision for Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Minnesota Vikings, but the 49ers will get linebacker Kwon Alexander and safety Jaquiski Tartt back, which should help solidify the second and third levels of the defense.

The 49ers will have to bottle up running back Dalvin Cook on Saturday and force Kirk Cousins to make accurate throws into tight windows to beat them. If they can do that, they should punch their ticket to the NFC Championship Game.

A fully healthy defensive line will provide a big lift to a 49ers team that will need to get the Vikings behind the sticks and turn up the heat on Cousins on third-and-long.

If the defensive front isn’t whole, Young worries that some of the 49ers’ other issues could be exposed at some point in the playoffs.

“There’s other issues that we know the team has, but we haven’t had to worry about them,” Young said. “… I really believed this defensive line was supposed to be the best in the league, and if I have that, the rest of it is going to fall into place. If I don’t, then I’m at risk.”

MLB rumors: Latest on Yankees’ pursuit of Kyle Schwarber; Mookie Betts to Dodgers for Corey Seager? Updates on Francisco Lindor, Dallas Keuchel, Josh Donaldson

It sure has been a fun baseball offseason so far with lots of signings for big bucks and trade rumors galore involving star players.

The latest gossip includes an update on the Yankees’ trade talks with the Chicago Cubs. Also, the Dodgers reportedly are willing to give up star shortstop Corey Seager in a trade with the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Mookie Betts or a deal with the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor.

As for the remaining top free agents, we have the latest info on the likes of Nicholas Castellanos, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Meanwhile, free agents Maikel Franco, Justin Smoak, Julio Teheran and Gio Gonzalez have new homes.

Here is the latest baseball news:

NICHOLAS CASTELLANOS, OF

Status: Free agent.

Age: 27 (28 on March 4, 2020).

2019 stats: Detroit Tigers & Chicago Cubs, 289 average, 615 AB, 100 runs, 178 hits, 58 doubles, 27 HR, 73 RBI, 41 BB, 143 K, .863 OPS, 151 games.

The latest: The Giants and Rangers are possible landing sports for Castellanos as is a return to the Cubs, the team that he raked for last summer following a July trade. The Cubs are the best fit, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. “Someone close to Castellanos said he’s looking for a team where the culture is good, where he can contribute to that culture and elevate it,” Rosenthal said on Hot Stove. “Well, what have the Cubs been talking about for the better part of a year? Culture, urgency, all of these buzzwords. And he certainly elevated them in that regard when he came over in the trade. I suspect he is going to do well (in a contract). Maybe not crazy well because he’s not really much of a defender, but he’s is going to get a longer deal because of his age, and because of a longer deal, the money will be pretty big.”

MIKE CLEVINGER, RHP

Club: Cleveland Indians.

Age: 28 (29 on Dec. 21, 2019).

2019 stats: Indians, 13-4, 2.71 ERA, 21 starts, 126 IP, 96 hits, 37 BB, 169 K.

The latest: The Indians still are in a cost-cutting mode after trading ace Corey Kluber, and although shortstop Francisco Lindor has been in a lot of trade rumors, the next to go could be Clevinger, who was 38-18 with a 2.96 ERA over 80 outings from 2017-19. The Dodgers and Padres are showing interest, but the price is “crazy high,” baseball writer Robert Murray reported.

JOSH DONALDSON, 3B

Status: Free agent.

Age: 34 (35 on Dec. 8, 2020)

2019 stats: Atlanta Braves, .259 average, 549 AB, 96 runs, 142 hits, 33 doubles, 37 HR, 94 RBI, 100 BB, 155 K, .900 OPS, 155 games.

The latest: “I think the key number could be $100 million,” MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said. “(Donaldson) is in excellent, excellent position. The (Mike) Moustakas deal for $64 million not only took Moustakas off the board, but it put him on the Reds, who really didn’t need a third baseman. So it left a lot of options for Donaldson in play. It feels like it could be an NL East matchup. The Nats, I’ve heard, are trying hard. They seem to be the team that’s willing to do that fourth year. Whether there are other teams, I’m not sure. We’ve heard earlier on that the Braves probably wouldn’t go to a fourth year, but if push comes to shove and you’ve got the rival in there doing the fourth year … I’m not going to bet against the Nats and the Braves are still in there. The Dodgers have been looking at him, the Twins have been looking at him and the Rangers also, but it feels like an NL battle (between the Nationals and Braves) to me.”

MAIKEL FRANCO, 3B

Club: Kansas City Royals.

Age: 27 (28 on Aug. 26, 2020)

2019 stats: Philadelphia Phillies, .234 average, 389 AB, 48 runs, 91 hits, 17 doubles, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 36 BB, 61 K, .704 OPS 123 games.

The latest: The Royals and Franco have agreed on a one-year, $2.95-million contract that includes $1.05 million in performance bonuses. This signing is expected to lead to the Royals playing Hunter Rozier in right field next season after a 2019 campaign in which he started 99 games at third, 17 in right and seven at first base.

GIO GONZALEZ, LHP

Club: Chicago White Sox.

Age: 34 (36 on Sept. 19, 2020)

2019 MLB stats: Milwaukee Brewers, 3-2, 3.50 ERA, 19 games, 17 starts, 87.1 IP, 76 hits, 37 BB, 78 K.

2019 minor-league stats: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (AAA), San Antonio Missions (AAA), Carolina Mudcats (high A), 2-1, 5.40 ERA, 5 starts, 21.2 IP, 28 hits, 6 BB, 25 K.

The latest: The White Sox filled a rotation hole signing Gonzalez to a deal for undisclosed terms. Chicago’s other projected starters, at least for the time being, are ace Lucas Giolito (14-9, 3.41), Reynaldo Lopez (10-15, 5.38), Dylan Cease (4-7, 5.79) and Dylan Covey (1-8, 7.98)

DALLAS KEUCHEL, LHP

Status: Free agent.

Age: 31 (32 on Jan. 1, 2020)

2019 stats: Atlanta Braves, 8-8, 3.75 ERA, 19 starts, 112.2 IP, 115 hits, 39 BB, 91 K.

The latest: A return to the Braves or signing with the Angels or Cardinals are the top possibilities for Keuchel. “I wouldn’t be shocked if (the Braves) come back to Keuchel,” MLB Insider Jon Heyman said on Hot Stove. “I do think the Angels make sense. They do have some interest, I would not be shocked there. I’ve heard that he does like St. Louis very much, as a lot of ballplayers do. Great baseball town. So all of those are possibilities. I know the White Sox have been connected (but) I would say they’re on the fringe and less likely than the others.”

FRANCISCO LINDOR, SS

Club: Cleveland Indians.

Age: 26 (27 on Nov. 14, 2020)

2019 stats: Indians, .284 average, 598 AB, 101 runs, 170 hits, 40 doubles, 32 HR, 74 RBI, 46 BB, 98 K, .854 OPS, 143 games.

The latest: The Indians still are willing to deal Lindor after trading two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in a cost-cutting deal, and according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, “the Reds are the latest team to engage about a potential trade,” Feinsand added, ”It’s unclear if there’s any traction, but Reds have been aggressive on (the) trade market before and have trade chips.” The Padres also have looked into dealing for Lindor, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal added. Lindor is two years away from free agency and reportedly unlikely to get a market-value, long-term offer from the Indians.

MARTIN PEREZ, LHP

Club: Boston Red Sox.

Age: 28 (29 on April 4, 2020)

2019 stats: Minnesota Twins, 10-7, 5.12 ERA, 32 games, 29 starts, 165.1 IP, 184 hits, 67 BB, 135 K.

The latest: Perez’s recent signing with the Red Sox was announced by the club on Thursday. Perez currently is listed as Boston’s No. 5 starter in a rotation that includes fellow lefties Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez plus righty Nathan Eovaldi, but the club hopes to deal Price in a cost-cutting move this winter. Perez’ new deal is for one year and $6-million plus a $6.25 million club option or $500,000 buyout for 2021.

HYUN-JIN RYU, LHP

Status: Free agent.

Age: 32 (33 on March 25, 2020)

2019 stats: Los Angeles Dodgers, 14-5, 2.32 ERA, 29 starts, 182.2 IP, 160 hits, 24 BB, 163 K.

The latest: At least five clubs are the running for Ryu, and the Dodgers are the favorite to keep the 2019 NL Cy Young runner-up, MLB insider Jon Heyman said on Hot Stove. “It feels like the Dodgers still want him back,” Heyman said. “They played on the really big players in their primes (this winter in runs at free agents Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon) and have come up short to this point. But they are very good at keeping their own stars. Ryu had a fantastic year, so I think the Dodgers are an obvious favorite to keep Ryu. I know Toronto is in there strong, as well. I know the Twins have been connected. I know the Braves have checked in. The Angels are another team that would make sense. So we have at least five teams that are possibilities for Ryu. This one feels like it is heating up and I wouldn’t be shocked if something happens in a week or two. There are teams looking at four years for Ryu and he’s going to do quite well.”

COREY SEAGER, SS

Club: Los Angeles Dodgers.

Age: 25 (26 on April 27, 2020).

2019 stats: Dodgers, .272 average, 489 AB, 82 runs, 133 hits, 44 doubles, 19 HR, 87 RBI, 44 BB, 98 K, .817 OPS, 134 games.

The latest: The Dodgers are willing to part with Seager in a deal that brings them Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported. Betts can become a free agent after the 2020 season while Seager, a two-time All-Star, has two years of team control remaining. The Red Sox reportedly hope to trim payroll and Betts, according to MLB Trade Rumors, is projected to make $27.7 million next season as an arbitration-eligible player. Boston, however, appears “inclined to deal elsewhere on the roster” and keep Betts, according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox have been aggressively shopping left-hander David Price, who has three seasons and $96 million remaining on a seven-year, $217 million contract.

Club: Chicago Cubs.

Age: 26 (27 on March 5, 2020).

2019 stats: Cubs, .250 average, 529 AB, 82 runs, 132 hits, 29 doubles, 38 HR, 92 RBI, 70 BB, 156 K, .871 OPS, 121 games.

The latest: Although the Yankees recently have looked into trading for Schwarber, who has been on their radar since 2016, they aren’t close to completing a deal with the Cubs, MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal reported. Schwarber, who has averaged 31 homers in his three full seasons as a big leaguer from 2017-19, would be an upgrade in left field for the Yankees over Mike Tauchman and Brett Gardner.

JUSTIN SMOAK, 1B

Club: Milwaukee Brewers.

Age: 33 (34 on Dec. 5, 2020).

2019 stats: Toronto Blue Jays, .208 average, 414 AB, 54 runs, 86 hits, 16 doubles, 22 HR, 61 RBI 79 BB, 106 K, .748 OPS, 121 games.

The latest: The Brewers and Smoak came to terms on a one-year, $1 5M deal that includes a $5.5 million club option or $1 million buyout for 2021

Club: Los Angeles Angels.

Age: 28 (29 on Jan. 27, 2020)

2019 stats: Atlanta Braves, 10-11, 3.81 ERA, 33 starts, 174.2 IP, 148 hits, 83 BB, 162 K.

The latest: Outbid by the Yankees for Gerrit Cole, the Angels added a two-time All-Star and long-time workhouse signing Teheran to a one-year, $9-million contract, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reported. The Angels still may add another starter, but currently have a projected 2020 rotation that includes Andrew Heaney, Shohei Ohtani, Dylan Bundy and Griffin Canning. Only Heaney and Canning were in the Angels’ rotation last year, as Bundy was acquired in trade from Baltimore on Dec. 4 and Ohtani was limited to DH duties last season due to Oct. 1, 2018 Tommy John surgery.

EDINSON VOLQUEZ, RHP

Club: Texas Rangers.

Age: 36 (37 on July 3, 2020)

2019 stats: Rangers, 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 11 games, 4 starts, 16 IP, 20 hits, 12 BB, 10 K.

The latest: Volquez, who missed most of the 2019 season with a right shoulder strain, re-signed with the Rangers on a minor-league contract that includes an invite to big-league spring training. A 17-game winner and All-Star with Cincinnati in 2008, Volquez began this past season as the Rangers’ No. 2 starter. He landed on the DL after two starts with the shoulder and didn’t return until September.

Kelenna Azubuike says Carmelo Anthony paid him $3,000 to take his No. 7 jersey with the Knicks

How much is a jersey number on a team worth? Well, that varies from player to player, and Kelenna Azubuike, former New York Knick, realized this the hard way when Carmelo Anthony joined his then team and wanted to take the No. 7 off his back. Azubuike had his sights set on a large sum of cash for the gift of a number, but was let down when the check was finally in his hands.

During the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors game Azubuike told the story of how Melo snatched his number for a discounted price.

Azubuike set the scene saying, “So he wanted No. 7 and so Donnie Walsh, who was the GM at the time, calls me into his office and he’s like, ‘Carmelo’s telling us he wants your number.'”

He was not just about to hand over then number right then and there and said, “Well he’s gonna have to give me something, he’s gotta pay me something, right?”

Walsh told them to work it out themselves.

“So Carmelo comes in there,” Azubuike continues, “I’m like ‘Bro, let me hold something… I know you’re paid.'”

Azubuike says he didn’t even have the chance to shoutout a number before the next No. 7 said, “I got you, don’t worry about it.”

With high hopes of taking in “at least 20 racks,” Azubuike thought about all those players who paid $50-100,000 for a jersey number swap and was looking forward to a nice payday courtesy of his new teammate.

His friends were hyping him up, talking about Anthony’s contract and how much he was about to get for the number, but it did not exactly play out how they had hoped.

“I walk in the next day and he hands me a check for $3,000, I’m like come on,” Azubuike says.

Azubuike said the problem was that he had no leverage with the team. He was not a star, he was injured and was not even playing, and said Anthony knew “He had all the power.”

“I blame my boys for the high expectations,” he joked.

Anthony got the number without even putting a dent in his bank account Azubuike got was a few thousand and a funny story to tell during broadcasts.

Melo was unable to wear No. 7 with the Trail Blazers because it is out of circulation for Brandon Roy, and his previous number 15, is retired by the franchise for Larry Steele, who was on the 1977 NBA championship team. Anthon now wears 00 for very specific reasons.

Hand-sculpted hockey jerseys a ‘unique’ project for Edmonton artist

An Edmonton artist with an enthusiasm for sports has hit the market with a series of unique, collectible sculptures of hockey jerseys.

“I made this,” Janet Deane said. “How many people do we know in Edmonton who created something from start to finish? It’s not an easy thing.”

It took Deane about 80 hours to sculpt the original mini jersey. It was shipped to a manufacturer in China who then created moulds and hand-painted replicas made from plastic resin.

Along with her business partner, Deane created a company called Sorturii to have a royalty guarantee with the National Hockey League that allows them to use logos and colours of NHL teams.

“I just wanted to make stuff,” she said.

But if she’s going to make something, it’s got to be unique, she said.

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Packaged with adhesive numbers and letters in team-specific fonts, each mini jersey can be personalized — perfect for fans of players who rarely get marketed on collectables, or fans who want to remember an event or special date, said Deane.

Deane, 48, has done commissioned artwork — from digital prints to paintings to hand-sculpted trophies — for a long list of players, teams and local charity organizations.

Creating personalized works of art for players to commemorate career milestones has been a thrill, but Deane said she has experienced a lot of entrepreneurial ups and downs that led her to this point in her career, which began at a young age, she said.

“I was selling snails when I was eight years old,” she said.

While she’s done a lot of sports-related art, she isn’t focused on it exclusively.

Deane opened an art gallery at the age of 22 to sell work by university and college students, pitched her products on the business investment show Dragon’s Den, painted art on toenails for charity, and created trophies for international championship events.

Coming up with a unique idea, turning that invention into a reality, and then being able to market it and make a profit comes with unpredictable challenges.

“It’s a cutthroat business.”

Eventually, Deane said she would like to grow her idea into a larger product list that includes more teams and even other sports leagues.

The mini jerseys, featuring the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, are available online and in-store from West Edmonton Coin and Stamp for $39.95.

Local ‘jersey boys’ give you the shirt off their rack

Josh and Zach Ellsworth grew up in Fairchance, and among their childhood duties was to tend to the grounds of a property off Route 21 in Masontown. They cut grass and helped clean the commercial buildings.

Little did they realize that, as adults, they would establish careers with the company located there, one that mows down the competition.

The Brothers Ellsworth are members of the management team of Stahls, a heat print technology company that specializes in replica sports jerseys. It is a global firm, based in Sterling Heights, Mich., with about a dozen locations in the United States and nearly a half-dozen abroad.

Three of those domestic operations are local, in close proximity to one another: Cumberland Township, Uniontown, and Masontown.

Stahls is one of the few companies to be a licensed provider for North America’s four major professional leagues: National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association. Major League Soccer is a client as well; most college sports teams are not.

The firm made an industry-wide splash the day before Thanksgiving, when it released its limited-edition NBA City Collection jerseys.

It may be under-the-radar, but a peak company operating at an opportune time, the holiday season. Stahls is striving to complete the manufacturing and distribution of jerseys to sports venues, teams and sporting goods stores for on-site and online sales.

“We’re the largest provider of jerseys to arenas and stadiums (nationwide),” said Josh, vice president of dealer and enterprise sales. He nodded toward small stacks of New York Knicks and Rangers jerseys, explaining Stahls is shipping them to Madison Square Garden. “Every venue orders for its teams.”

The Masontown facility is the largest provider.

“This is our only location that does this type of business,” he said.

That location is designated a decorating fulfillment center, where workers take unfinished replica jerseys, hot press a pro player’s number on the front and his name on the back. Manual or machine sewing also may be necessary.

From October through December, three shifts are deployed there around the clock to accommodate pre-Christmas demand. Shoppers generally prefer a star athlete’s name – Crosby on a Penguins 87 jersey, for example – but can request their own surname on the back.

Stahls, according to Josh, also is the largest provider of personalized tops.

A devoted fan, at additional cost, also can request an autographed jersey. “We do the name and number, send it to the team, the player autographs it and the team sends it back,” said Zach Ellsworth, director of fulfillment technology and the younger brother.

At times, speed is an integral element of Stahls’ operation. Like teams embroiled in a tight, high-stakes game, the company has to respond at crunch time.

Take NFL Draft night, when there is uncertainty as to which college player a franchise may choose in the first round. Stahls has to quickly print an appropriate team jersey for Commissioner Roger Goodell to hand to each first-rounder following his selection.

Josh, however, said “it takes two minutes to make a jersey for the draft,” the heat process taking the heat off the commissioner, draft choice and his new general manager.

Speed also is vital when a marquee athlete is traded or signs as a free agent, making the new team jersey coveted merchandise. And a breakout star can become a quick marketing commodity.

Devlin “Duck” Hodges, the Steelers’ backup quarterback sensation, has inspired some late-season orders.

“We actually get the standard Hodges jersey nameplate, and some personalized jerseys that just say ‘Duck’ (instead of Hodges),” Josh said.

Each of the local Stahls facilities serves different functions, with various sized workforces. The Hotronix heat presses are operated in Paisley Industrial Park in Cumberland, outside Carmichaels, where about 50 are employed. An estimated 20 work in the Uniontown sales office.

Masontown, by comparison, is gargantuan. The DFC has about 130,000 square feet of space in two large, attached buildings.

“We keep about one million garments here,” Zach said.

About 150 work full time there, 85 year-round and 65 seasonal. There is some turnover with production jobs, Zach acknowledged, but there are a number of longtime employees like Faye Paull of Uniontown, who hand sews and has 23 years of service.

Stahls is certainly an established company, one that launched in 1932. It has had a presence in Western Pennsylvania since 1984, and has been in Masontown since 1994, following a relocation from Connellsville. The firm has been producing sports jerseys “since the late 1990s,” Josh Ellsworth said.

He is upbeat about the future.

“Our business is growing,” he said. “This is a healthy market to be in.”

The grass he and his sibling used to cut appears to be greener.

Army vs. Navy: America’s Game

For the 120th time, Army will face off against storied rivals from the Naval Academy at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in America’s Game December 14th. The last game of the college football regular season will pit two of the best running football teams in the country. We’re reminded every year what a privilege this game is as most of these kids will not play football after they graduate from their academy.

This is the only game in where the players fight on the field for 60 minutes then after, go fight oversea’s to protect our freedom. This is truly a special game not just for me, but for all the soldiers and sailors serving and the ones that have passed; those players represent our country’s best young people and future leaders.

With such a special game brings a special occasion for the highest-ranking officials in the country. Ten sitting presidents have attended the game starting with Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.

This is also a game where both teams are brothers in arms for 364 days of the year, but for the second Saturday in December, you hate the other side. But after punishing each other for 60 straight minutes they shake hands and go over to their traveling classmates to sing each Alma Mater. The goal is to “SING SECOND”

The Squids from 2002 to 2015 won 14 straight games and for a long time, it didn’t look like Army would ever win again. The Squids dominated every match-up, until the last two games of their winning streak, where the only won by a TD or fewer.

But Army found a new sign of life when Saint Jeff Monken came to West Point and became the head coach of the football team. Monken has a record of 40-35, 3-0 in bowl games but most importantly, 3-2 against Navy, winning three straight against the squids and 2 Commander and Chiefs trophies.

But this is a football game, it is bragging rights for 364 days of the year for whoever wins. There’s a win on the line but there is also a trophy to be added to the cases on both campuses. They play for the Commander and Chiefs trophy which is played between Army, Air Force, and the Naval academies.

The trophy itself stands 2.5 feet high and weighs 170 lb, so when you win it the three captains of the winning team receive it and raise it as one. The trophy is named for the U.S. President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of all U.S. military services under the U.S. Constitution. The President has awarded the trophy on a number of occasions.

This year’s game is even more special, as this is the 120th time that both teams will face off. Both teams will again wear custom jerseys for the game. With the Squids being Under Armour and Army being Nike, this has become the game before the game, who has the best uniform.

For Army, the 2019 Army-Navy Uniform tells the story of the soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division and the birth of air mobility during the Vietnam War. The division is unique in that throughout its existence; the Division has served as a Cavalry Division, an Infantry Division, an Air Assault Division, and an Armored Division. They will honor the past by re-telling the story of the “First Team!” A story of valor, courage, and sacrifice. Inspired, humbled, and motivated by the soldiers that came before us, we don their patches, adopt their mottos, and hold their deeds close to our hearts.

The Squids, have produced two Heisman Trophy winners in their history, with Joe Bellino winning the award in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963. The uniforms they wore featured a traditional squid blue contrasted with brilliant gold accents, a brilliant look for some of the best teams in the nation during their respective seasons. This era provided the inspiration needed to outfit the current Squids squad for Saturday’s rivalry game.

But this game will be just like others in recent memory. You can throw out the record when Army (5-7) and Squids (9-2) meet as seven of the last eight meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less.

It’s been a massively disappointing season for an Army team that won 29 games over three years, however, an ugly five-game losing streak has turned their season upside down. It is unclear who will line up under center for the Black Knights on Saturday as Kelvin Hopkins Jr. was knocked out of the Hawaii game and with the second and third-string QB’s both injured it may leave them with freshman Jemel Jones at the helm. But expect whoever under center, will have to have the game of their lives if Army wants to come out with a win.

The squids running game is back and the triple option is working the way it’s supposed to, leading the nation with 361 rushing yards per game. The Midshipmen have Senior QB Malcolm Perry leading the charge in the running and passing department with 1,500 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns, adding 1,027 yards and six TDs through the air to earn Offensive Player of the Year honors in the American Athletic Conference

Army will win this game because the class of 2020 is undefeated against Navy (3-0). They will run the option to its fullest extent. Then they’ll be able to hit the play-action pass that has worked all year. This will be a low-scoring game, as the Army defense will take away Malcolm Perry as a runner and will force the squids into uncomfortable situations.

I’m predicting a 24-14 Army win, upping their current win streak over the Squids to four. It won’t be an easy task for the cadets, who are 10.5 point underdogs. But in the typical Army way, we will grind our way to success and we will come out victorious. GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!

Duke joins pro sports leagues, other universities in fighting counterfeit goods

It’s gameday in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and you want a jersey to fit in with the Crazies. You can either go to Duke Stores and spend over $100 on an authentic Duke Basketball jersey from Nike or scour the Internet for much cheaper counterfeit apparel.

Duke wants to make sure that you show up to Cameron in the official version and has taken legal action to ensure it. The University—along with the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and IMG College Licensing—won a significant legal victory against counterfeiters in a lawsuit decided May 1.

The plaintiffs sued three websites—customcheapjerseys.com, teamjerseyscustom.com and sportsjerseyscustom.com—for trademark infringement. The websites failed to respond to the lawsuit in time, so Judge Edmund Chang of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered a default ruling.

“This Court further finds, in light of the default (which triggers the finding that the allegations are true), that Defaulting Defendants are liable for willful federal trademark infringement and counterfeiting…, false designation of origin…, and violation of the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act,” the order stated.

Now the websites are banned from using the plaintiffs’ trademarks, and the court order required that the domains be turned over to the plaintiffs or disabled altogether—along with financial compensation for damages. The judge also ordered any companies that the websites relied on for their business—like domain name registries and credit cards—to dissociate with the defendants and help shut down their operations.

The three websites sold non-licensed clothing, jewelry, jerseys and other goods, and each one awarded Duke $50,000. The judge offered several ways for Duke to recover that money, though it’s unclear how much will eventually find its way to Duke as a result of the lawsuit.

The case is only one of the latest in the fight against counterfeit athletic products. Duke is one of several universities, along with professional sports leagues, that have sued Chinese counterfeiters in an effort to stem the flow of fake goods that are sold online.

“This was the outcome of one of a series of lawsuits filed over the past several years by major league sports associations and universities to combat counterfeiting of licensed products coming from China,” wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email. “The universities rotate as lead plaintiffs, and it was Duke’s turn in this particular case. Any funds that are recovered get divided up among the participating schools.”

The lawsuit also fits with Duke’s reputation as one of the most active trademark litigants in the country, though the University usually sticks to opposing legitimate—though still potentially unlawful—trademark applications.

The Chronicle found five additional cases where six other universities, along with the four professional sports leagues and IMG, a sports marketing firm that represents NCAA-affiliated university, sued a web of counterfeiters. The other universities include Oklahoma University, University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Auburn University, West Virginia University and University of Nebraska.

The plaintiffs use the same language across cases. The defendants are “individuals and business entities who, upon information and belief, reside in the People’s Republic of China and other foreign jurisdictions,” and they create thousands of online stores that appear authentic but consistently sell counterfeit products.

In each case, including Duke’s, the plaintiffs were represented by Grier, Burns and Crain, an intellectual property law firm based in Chicago. Attorneys from the law firm that represented Duke and the other plaintiffs did not respond to a request for comment from The Chronicle.