History of EyeBlack
To American athletes and fans, eye black is a staple in our sports culture, equivalent to sweat bands or high socks. We never stop to question the history behind the trend or how it came to be. Well, if you ever wondered why, you’ve come to the right place.
Babe Ruth reportedly started the trend by smearing grease under his eyes during afternoon baseball games to reduce the glare. According to Paul Lukas of ESPN, Andy Farkas is credited as the first football player to sport the mark in the 1930’s and 40’s. Local athletes began to emulate the look by burning the end of a wine cork and smearing the ashes under the eyes.
As eye black began to catch on, it spread through baseball and football. Players incorporated smudging the grease under their eyes into their pre-game rituals. It slowly became a regular sports practice, but simply remained a functional product for years.
Eye black took a turn in the 80’s when professional wrestlers such as the Ultimate Warrior (James Brian Hellwig) and the Road Warriors (Michael Hegstrand and Joseph Laurinaitis) used designs and colors to create an intricate pattern that covered much more of the face, generally forming the shapes of triangles under the eyes.
In the early 2000’s, eye black broke into the lacrosse scene after the famous Mikey Powell emulated the Ultimate Warrior and donned the black triangles in games. Powell is one of the most decorated collegiate lacrosse players, with four All-American awards and two Tewaarton Trophies (the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse). High school and college lacrosse players nationwide began to decorate their faces with a long “warrior” look too.
Eye black transformed again in 2005, when football players began using the product as a tool to display personal messages. Reggie Bush was one of the first college athletes to take part in the trend, by sporting 619 (his San Diego area code) on eye black. Other players such as Marc Sanchez followed, and eye black took on another purpose. It provided a means of public communication and inspiration; a “shout out” to your mom, paying homage to your home town or honoring a fallen family member.
Beginning in 2005, EyeBlack.com created a new means for utilizing eye black by introducing the notion of “branded” eye black. The company took popular shapes of eye black from different sports, such as the warrior (triangle) shape for lacrosse, and combined it with an endless possibility of product designs. There is literally something for everyone. Not to mention removing the greasy mess factor from the equation.
EyeBlack.com took a product that was traditionally relegated to athletes and extended it to reach fans. Now, the “EyeBlack.com Revolution” connects the team and its followers on a new level. When athletes look into the crowd and see fans wearing the same EyeBlack, it creates a mutual sense of unity and a symbol of support.
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History of EyeBlack
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