Last train to Midway
Winning the St. Paul Saints Jersey Design Contest is another feather in the hat for graphic designer and Hammond resident Chad Jeske.
Jeske’s jersey design was chosen out of 20 entries by Saints staff members to be in the top five featured on the Saints’ Facebook page for fans to vote on. The top five were selected based on originality, creativity and overall interest level, Jeske said.
The contest was announced June 23 as part of a one-night only jersey promotion. Jeske saw the announcement on uni-watch.com, a website that explores the world of sports uniforms. Voting on Facebook took place July 8-14. Jeske’s jersey received 450 likes, which declared him the winner. The other four designs received 369, 113, 78 and 66 likes, respectively.
Not only will Saints players wear Jeske’s design at their Aug. 8 game, but Jeske will receive four tickets to the game, his own custom jersey signed by the team and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Aug. 8 game.
Jeske, who has been employed at Preco Inc. in Somerset as a graphic designer since September 2013, admitted to being nervous in the last minutes before voting ended on Facebook.
“I always had the fear that the competition had votes in reserve and were going to pounce right before the deadline, catching me off guard,” Jeske said. “Much like those last minute bidding battles on eBay.”
Jeske was at work when the voting deadline ended at noon July 14 and doesn’t have a Facebook account, so he asked his boss to check the voting totals. Fifteen minutes later, he received an email from the Saints’ marketing department declaring him the winner.
“I felt very relieved and excited after getting the news,” Jeske said. “Relieved because I had friends and family who had ‘skin in the game.’ They were working very hard mobilizing their social circles to vote for me, and I didn’t want to let them down.”
The highlight of winning was his kids’ reaction to the news, Jeske said. He and wife Amy have an 8-year-old son named Chase and a 5-year-old daughter, Logan.
“My kids were in daycare, and the staff was careful to keep the news from them until I came to pick them up,” Jeske said. “I’ll never forget how their faces lit up when I told them that Daddy had won.”
“Before I do any designing, I first do exhaustive research on anything related to the subject,” Jeske said. “I spent hours researching the Saints’ current and historical logos, color schemes and fonts.”
Jeske chose a modern design with traditional touches. The design only uses three colors: the Saints’ traditional blue and cream, and black.
“I live by the design rule ‘less is more,’” Jeske said. “I struggled to keep my design as simple as it is. The simplicity of the design is what I am most proud of.”
Jeske said he chose horizontal blue stripes to create a sort of optical illusion.
“You could have the most out-of-shape player on the team wear this and he’d look like he was muscular and barrel-chested,” Jeske said. “Your eye is drawn to the wider bright blue stripes concentrated at the player’s pectorals and not so much to the black at the player’s belly area. The design is very flattering to the ballplayer.”
A round patch on the black sleeves reads “Last Train to Midway,” which is an homage to the campaign the Saints have promoted this season, Jeske said. The icon in the center is a set of railroad tracks trailing into the sunset.
“This is the last year that the Saints will be playing at Midway Stadium,” Jeske said. “There is a lot of train traffic near the field due to the Burlington Northern tracks to the north, just beyond left field, thus the reference to ‘the last train.’ A fitting tribute to the club’s 22nd and final season at Midway.”
Jeske said the most difficult part of the design for him was the Saints logo. He wanted to do a different approach than their current logo, which he says “evokes thoughts of religion and worship” due to the typeface. Jeske chose a letterstyle that he felt has a 1930s/40s retro feel.
“It’s an easy-to-read monogram that looks great at a distance as well as up close,” Jeske said. “Its square shape also lends itself well to social media avatars and marketing.”
Jeske graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in graphic design in 2002. He also has a degree from UW-River Falls. He grew up in Deer Park and has lived in Hammond for the last 14 years.
“I absolutely love designing,” Jeske said. “It’s rare, but if I have a weekend by myself and I have the opportunity to do anything I want, I will choose to sit in front of my iMac and attack a design project.”
Winning the Saints’ contest was not Jeske’s first design win. He won Minneapolis craft brewery Surly Brewing’s first annual coaster design contest in 2009.
“That was quite an honor,” Jeske said. “My winning design appeared on 100,000 coasters throughout the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. I’m a huge craft beer guy, so you can imagine how completely awesome it was to sit down at a bar, order a beer, and have the bartender set my beer down on a coaster with my name on it.”
While Jeske has no big projects on the horizon, his summer will be busy with family commitments and small design projects for friends and family, not to mention throwing out that first pitch Aug. 8.
“The running joke among my friends and family is that I’ll bounce the ball to the catcher,” Jeske said. “I very well might. I haven’t thrown a baseball since Little League with Coach Haupt.”