Bumpy Pitch: Making US Soccer History Fashionable


Many people don’t realize that organized soccer in the US dates back to the 19th Century. More precisely organized “football”, as the term “soccer” didn’t get widespread use until the first decade of the 1900’s. In fact the American Football Association was established in 1884, the second ever US sports league to form (Major League Baseball began eight years prior).

Bethlehelm Steel FC from Bumpy Pitch

Many early American football clubs were made up of workers from a particular company such as Bethlehem Steel F.C. (1911-1930), and The Clark Thread Company, whose team was named as part of a marketing campaign: “Clark Our New Thread” aka “Clark O.N.T.”.

Bumpy Pitch is an LA-based clothing company that makes shirts featuring the logos of some of these earliest clubs including The Brooklyn Wanderers and Bethlehem Steel, plus pro US soccer teams of the 60s and 70s like The Washington Whips, The Miami Gatos, and The L.A. Aztecs. They also produce a soccer culture blog called The Original Winger.

South Korea 2010 World Cup shirt

Bumpy Pitch recently collaborated with Five Four Clothing to create a special series of shirts for the 2010 World Cup honoring various national teams. Another limited edition shirt commemorates the US team’s 1950 surprise World Cup victory over England and features a grainy image of the aftermath of the winning goal–it sold out quickly.

Bumpy Pitch 1950 World Cup graphic

U.S. Soccer Federation, the organization that oversees all of the US national teams, has a timeline of soccer in the United States which begins with the pilgirms at observing American Indians playing some form of football. Not sure about that one.


Actor, nerd, poet, producer, writer mikl-em made his name short so you wouldn't have to. In addition to his blog you can find his writing in "Hi Fructose" magazine and witness him almost life-sized in various plays at The Dark Room Theater in SF's Mission district.

He tends to write about theater, humor, San Francisco culture and history, and stuff that's just plain weird. He thanks Scott for sharing the keys to the Laughing Squid virtual HQ and promises to uphold whatever it is that the mirthful cephalopod would prefer to be uplifted.