Vintage

These patches were created before the current revival of roller derby (ie; pre-2000).

This patch celebrates the New York Chiefs' win at the 1972 season championship game held in January 1973 in New York City's Madison Square Garden.  The Chiefs wore green-and-gold uniforms, hence the colors on the patch. I don't know who played against the Chiefs in the finals, but the Chiefs beat the San Francisco Bay Bombers in the semi-finals. This may have been the last world championship from the International Roller Derby League -- it folded not long after in part due to rising gas prices and transportation costs.  Other derby organizations existed, but none lasted very long.

One interesting difference from modern derby: the number of games each year was vastly higher.  A modern team might skate 8-12 games per year, back then a team was expected to skate 120 games during that time.  The Chiefs were a busy team indeed.

Also worth noting: the Chiefs' name and logo would be viewed by many in modern derby as racist and culturally insensitive.

 

The Baltimore Washington Cats were sometimes called the Baltimore Cats or the Atlantic Cats.

The Bay Bombers, also known as the San Francisco Bay Bombers, are (according to some) the most famous team in pre-WFTDA roller derby history. 

This was a patch used by the Bay Bombers.  The exact year is unclear, but it would be the 1960s or early 70s.

This patch was sometimes worn on the front of the Chicago Pioneers (aka Midwestern Pioneers) jackets.  It's actually the logo for the band Chicago, but was co-opted by some members of the Chicago Pioneers.  Your call whether it counts as a derby patch or not -- I'm listing it here so this bit of knowledge isn't lost.

This is a 1954 satin jacket and back patch worn by the Chicago Westerners.

The Eastern Warriors were based out of Philadelphia.

I don't know the story behind this patch, other than the logo is similar to that of Roller Games, one of the two main roller derby organizations of the late 60s and early 70s.

This appears to be a pair of patches.  I don't want to separate them to preserve the historical context appearing on the same jacket together.  The top patch is for the International Roller Derby League, an derby organization which came to a screeching collapse in 1973 and finally died when Jerry Seltzer sold the rights to Roller Games, a rival league based in Los Angeles.  (Roller Games lasted another two years before it died as well.)

The IRDL peaked in 1972 a game that was a grudge match of sorts between competing organizations when the Los Angeles Thunderbirds (Roller Games) played against the Midwest Pioneers (IRDL) at an event attended by 50,118 people in the audience.  No derby event before or since has reached that level of attendance.

The bottom patch refers to the Bay Bombers, one of the IRDL teams.

This is the front patch of a jacket typically worn by the Jersey Jolters.  It would have been worn around 1971-73.  It's worth peeking at a picture of the full jacket front.

This is another version of the Jersey Jolters patch, this time in blue.

This patch is made of felt -- a common material for patches at the time, but much less used now.  (It's also prone to being eaten by moths, hence the holes in this one.)

Judi was beloved by her fans, hence why they formed a fan club / following.  I asked a number of old time roller derby aficionados and got the following information from them: Born June 23, 1940 in Peekskill, NY, Judi won state speed championship at 15, then won again at Nationals. Followed flat-track skating pals Mae Hansen & Pete Mangone into Derby. Selected for Training School at 9th Regiment Armory. Trained by Gerry Murray, emulating the legend's skating style. Married Murray's son, Mike Gammon. From the start, Judi was a giant on the banked track, never backing down from larger or more experienced skaters. All-Star in '65 & '66, again throughout the 70s as number one female scoring star. Playoff MVP '66 & '71. Joined National with husband Mike when the Warriors came East in October '67. Returned to Derby in '69 with Mustangs & Bay Bombers. Skated national tour with Bombers, with Cardinals during the regular season, before becoming the centerpiece of newly-reorganized Chiefs in Fall of '71. Continued being an exciting skating star, one of the greatest distaff scoring stars of all-time, thru the end of the 70s. Widow of Charlie O'Connell.  She is still living and answers fan mail. She's 80 years old as of 2020.

This patch is thought to be from 1969.  It could be worn on the front of a Midwest Pioneers jacket.

The Midwestern Pioneers were one of the earlier roller derby teams.  It was sometimes rebranded or billed as the Chicago Pioneers.

This is the team jacket with back patch of the Midwestern Pioneers.  The extra patches were briefly sold to "select" fans through the Pioneer Boosters Club.  (I'm not sure exactly what this is but I'm guessing some sort of fan club.)  The Midwestern Pioneers was sometimes called the Chicago Pioneers -- teams reformed and rebranded a lot as the years went by.

Another patch from the New York Chiefs.  A notable collector told me he'd never seen this on a team jacket in any picture so it may have been marketed toward the fans.

This patch is approximately six inches in diameter.

This is the team jacket with back patch of the New York Chiefs.

I don't know the full story from this patch.  The Oakland Tribune newspaper was somehow involved in a roller derby event back in 1949.  There are pictures in their newspaper from the time about this event, but precisely what the Tribune and who the "dealers" are is unclear to me.  (I'll update this as I learn more.)

This is a commercial patch for Roller Derby brand roller skates. The company was founded in 1936 by Oscar Seltzer, the brother of Leo Seltzer who pioneered the sport of roller derby.  The word "official" means it's an official patch and does not reference referees, NSOs, etc.  The company still exists today and is based in Litchfield, Illinois.

One source I looked at said skaters typically wore this on their jackets between 1969 and 1971.  The Roller Derby Hall of Fame said this was a 1972 patch.

This patch was typically worn on skater jacks in the mid-60s.  It was replaced around 1969 with a newer design.

The Roller Derby Hall of Fame said this was a 1973 patch.  It's part of a series of similar looking patches worn by skaters of the time.  The patch itself appears to be printed on cloth, although the border is stitched.  This differs the most other vintage derby patches.

In the 1950s and 60s there were several centers around the country that trained roller derby skaters including Chicago as well as Alameda and Oakland, California.  It is unclear which training center this patch came from, or whether it's a patch multiple centers gave their students and/or staff.

I know nothing about this patch, other than that it's in the Roller Derby Hall of Fame's archive of vintage patches.  I've asked them if they know anything more about it.  I do know that over the years Japan developed its own roller derby culture using its own rule set, but whether that relates to this patch or not is unclear.  I'll update this if/when I learn more.

The sport of roller derby has a somewhat convoluted history, but it's enough to know that in the 1960s there were two rival roller derby franchises.  Each had a series of teams that traveled around the country playing each other.  The first, owned by the Seltzer family, had a monopoly on the name "roller derby".  The second referred to the sport as "Roller Games" and did business internationally under various names such as the National Roller League, Canadian National Roller League, and Japanese National Roller League.  Due to dwindling popularity by the mid-1970s both franchises were effectively out of business although they continued to reincarnate themselves in periodic (often brief) attempts to revitalize the sport.

The Roller World Training Center was a banked track derby "school" in Alameda, California. In 1974 it was one of only two such schools in the United States.  This patch was used in 1974-75.

This is the team jacket and back patch of the San Francisco Bay Bombers.