The Tribe will be honoring Bob Feller with a uniform patch this season. What that final version of the patch looks like remains to be seen.
In a bit of uniform-related minutia, the hangup on the design stems from a copyright issue on a photograph the Indians want to use as the basis for Feller's image. Original plans called for something like the image seen at right. Now, however, the design features just the No. 19 and Feller's name. Why?
The silhouetted Feller, with the trademarked high leg kick, comes from a photo owned by Photo File. And it turns out that there really aren't any other good photos in existence that show off the leg kick quite as well as that one.
I wanted to know more, so I contacted Bart Swain, the Indians’ PR director, who explained that the silhouetted image on the patch is based on a photograph that’s owned by Photo File, and the team hasn’t been able to strike a licensing deal with them.
My initial thought was, “Eh, big deal — so you find a different photo and make a silhouette of that.” Like, the Indians must own the rights to some good photos of Rapid Robert, right? But then I did a bit of Feller photo research, and there’s no getting around it: The Photo File image really does seem to be the best, most iconic shot of him. There are a few similar images, but they’re not quite as good. It’s easy to see why the Indians might think, “If we can’t have that one, let’s just scrap the whole concept and come up with something else.”
The Indians tell Uni Watch that negotiations with Photo File are still ongoing, so if they wrangle a suitable deal the original leg-kick version could still be used.