Whether these are new to you, or a long-lost love, the story of Mimsbandz is WPW REQUIRED READING for its historical significance. Back in the mid-80s, a young man named James Mims from South Central Los Angeles, who was looking to get into business for himself, convinced Dusty Baker, then playing for the Athletics, to wear a wristband with Dusty’s face on it. Dusty reluctantly agreed to a hand-sewn sample and started wearing them to work.
Some of Dusty’s Athletics teammates laughed at him at first, but Dusty loved them and soon enough, it caught the eye of some other guys around the league. Before James knew it, he was outfitting over 100 MLB players. Baseball legends like Darryl Strawberry, Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Frank Thomas, Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey, Jr. were wearing them, with their face, autograph, and a short (and sometimes ironic) slogan like Bonds’ “SAY NO TO DRUGS.”
Bonds, whose father Bobby grew up with Dusty Baker, was one of Mims’ most loyal customers, wearing the wristbands religiously, like when he out-clubbed cross-town behemoth Mark McGwire in EPIC fashion in the 1996 Home Run Derby:
(actual recording of the Derby… skip to 1:45ish to see Barry hit 3 straight bombs in the final round, then rip off an absolutely merciless bat-flip for the fatality)
On first landing Bonds as a customer while Bonds was with the Pirates:
“Barry came into Dodgers Stadium, and I am in the old dugout seats… ’87 I believe. I walk up to the railing and introduce myself and we talked. Dusty told me to mention him, but I wanted the product to stand on it’s own. Barry and I talked for over 30 minutes. I heard things about him, but like Reggie Jackson, I treat people the way they treat me…..and Barry was AWESOME! We still are in contact today. His only request was that he wanted a little yellow on the top of his bandz and the rest all black, and he wanted to be the ONLY one with it because it was his idea.”
With Bonds and the other greats retired, Mimsbandz were just a lost relic in 2011 when James approached Brandon Phillips, a meeting that Mims recalled in an interview for Classic Kicks (check it out for some more great stories from James):
“I said, ‘do you remember the wristbands with the player’s likeness and autographs on it?’ He turned around and his eyes lit up! He said, ‘You’re the one? Barry Larkin was my favorite player and I was always wondering where I could get them. When I came up to the Big Leagues with Cleveland I had my agent try to find you and nobody could find you.'”
After Phillips brought them back, Tulo and a host of other new school ballplayers caught wind of it and wanted that one-of-a-kind swagger that their childhood heroes had.
Mims contacted WPW a couple of weeks ago and I was thrilled to hear from him. He was gracious enough to send through some Mimsbandz from the old and new school so that we could show them off and let you know that Mimsbandz are now on sale to the public for the first time ever.
You can buy classic AND current Mimsbandz on Mimsbandz.com. They are very reasonably priced between $12.50 for guys like Phillips and Tulo and $49.50 for the greats like Ozzie, The Big Hurt, and Mr. October. UNTIL THE END OF MARCH, WPW READERS GET 25% OFF NON-HALL OF FAMERS WITH THE CODE “WPW3/1/15” at checkout.
On the site, which is still under construction (but taking orders), Mims hints at a future custom offering, and once we have more details on that, we’ll fill you in immediately.
Check out the gallery above for some of the Mimsbandz from past and present, including Tulo, Reds great Eric Davis, Carlos Gonzalez, and others. Just within the past few days, James added Adam Jones to the Mimsbandz roster.
Keep an eye out as we’re going to put together an Instagram giveaway soon. One of the rules of the contest will be to FOLLOW @MIMSBANDZ ON INSTAGRAM. You can do so by clicking the follow button above.
Finally, would you rock one of these with your face on it?