What Color Were Oorang Indians’ Uniforms

1923 Team photoFor years I’ve wondered what the Oorang Indians’ uniforms looked like, having only seen black and white photos of them. For those who aren’t familiar with the Oorang Indians, they were an early NFL team formed by Jim Thorpe and Walter Lingo, owner and operator of the Oorang Airedale mail-order kennel. A complete history of the team can be found in Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians by Chris Willis. A much shorter version is included in my book Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.

I had heard the team’s colors were maroon and orange but found nothing to confirm that. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio had neither a jersey nor a color photo in its collection. So, the question of what the Oorang uniforms looked like has remained a mystery to me.

Out of the blue last week, Channel Parrish sent me a photo of the 1923 team that the person who goes by djabamowin had colorized. The artist made the uniforms maroon and gold, with the cut outs on the jerseys in gold matching the pants. This was an attractive combination reminiscent of Carlisle Indian School’s colors: red and old gold.

Colorized photo

However, Willis’s book lists the colors as “predominately maroon, with the logo in the middle a dark orange, with the same color on the side and inner arm of the jersey. The canvas pants were brown.” This squares more closely with what I had previously heard but I have no physical evidence either way.

Sherman Pierce in Oorang uniformA black & white closeup of a player sheds a little light on this question. Where the colorized photo has the same color on the sides of the jersey as on the pants but in the black & white photo, it is clear the sides of the jerseys are darker than the pants. My guess would be that the jerseys are a different color than the pants, possibly orange. Although Spalding’s list their PTP style of pants as being brown in color. Photos I’ve seen tend to be tan (a lighter shade of brown) or gold (special orders were accepted). Since the pants in the Oorang photos aren’t shiny, I’d guess they are tan.

It would be wonderful if an old Oorang uniform surfaced so we’d know, but I’m not holding my breath until it happens.

 

 

 

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