Those annoying little ® and ™ symbols, so symptomatic of our legalese-obsessed culture, are especially prevalent in sports, where any officially licensed team product—a Met T-shirt, say, or a Yankee bumper sticker—is sure to be festooned with trademark-related iconography. The one exception is on the field of play itself, where the team emblems on players’ jerseys, caps, and helmets are blissfully free of trademark symbols.
Except at Wrigley Field, that is. Look closely at the Cubs’ home unis and you’ll see that the team’s circular chest emblem carries an ®, just below the s in Cubs. This is unique not only in Major League Baseball, but among all the major sports. So if other teams aren’t cluttering up their unis with excess marks, why are the Cubs doing it?
“I’d like to give you a good reason,” said Cubs marketing VP John McDonough when this question was posed to him. “But I’ve been here 19 years and I really have no idea.” McDonough referred Uni Watch to the Cubs’ uniform manufacturer, Majestic, where a representative said the company was simply using the same design specifications it inherited three years earlier from the team’s previous outfitter, Rawlings, which no longer has any records on the matter. In fact, nobody’s even sure when Chicago’s ® began appearing, much less why. “I don’t mean to sound insensitive,” said McDonough after fruitlessly searching his files for relevant info, “but really, who cares?”
Ah yes, the middle manager’s favorite tactic: When flummoxed by a question, accuse the questioner of being pedantic. Granted, it’s a picky point, but McDonough’s indifference is precisely the sort of attitude that has allowed corporate graffiti like ® and ™ to proliferate in the first place, and the last thing we need is for this particular phenomenon to spread to other teams. Uni Watch has long maintained that the only logo on a team’s uniform should be that of the team itself—that’s what the fans are actually cheering for, after all. And given that the typical big-leaguer is already wearing Major League Baseball’s logo in three places (back of cap, back jersey collar, undershirt collar), the uniform manufacturer’s logo in at least two places (left jersey sleeve, above left pants pocket, and sometimes on undershirt sleeves), and a carnival of iconography on his spikes, wristbands, and batting gloves, it’s time to say enough is enough. Read Uni Watch’s lips: There’s no ® in Cubs.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 28, 2002