I was looking through some 1968 and 1969 Topps football cards yesterday, and the Steelers’ “Batman” jerseys caught my eye. Looking at the Steelers cards together, I wondered if the Batman jersey photos had all been taken in the same session. It’s possible: I did some Googling and found that the Steelers wore the jerseys for only a season and a half, from the middle of the 1966 season to the end of 1967. My guess is that the photos were all taken before the 1967 season.
An article on team’s web site recounts the full story, but the gist is that, in the midst of the 1966 season, the Steelers decided they wanted their uniforms to be more distinctive. To achieve this, they incorporated a “golden triangle” into their jerseys. This was meant to represent Pittsburgh’s downtown, called the Golden Triangle because it sits between two rivers that give it a triangular shape. (A nice photo I found on Wikipedia shows the triangle.) According to Wikipedia, the players didn’t like the uniforms, because they thought the jerseys looked like Batman’s bat-suit. In 1968, the team reverted to a more standard uniform design, which you can see on 1968 KDKA Steelers cards. Too bad, I think. I kind of like the caped look.
Oddly, though the Steelers were wearing the Batman uniforms going into the 1967 season, the uniforms appear on only one 1967 Philadelphia football card, the Giants Play card shown here. This card shows the Giants and Steelers in their December, 1966, game in New York. All of the 1967 Philadelphia cards of individual Steelers, however, show them in older uniforms. The Batman jerseys didn’t appear on cards of individual Steelers until the 1968 Topps set, after the team had stopped wearing them. The jerseys also appeared on several 1969 Topps cards, and on one 1970 Topps card, Chuck Hinton.
Along with the 1969 Topps Andy Russell card above, here are all of the cards I found that picture players wearing Batman jerseys. Click on any card to get the details about it. There are also a few photos of the Batman uniforms–including a great team shot–on UniWatch’s 1966-67 Steelers flickr page.