Some early Bass Masters Classic patches, 1971 to 1983. Photo Terry Battisti.

What I’m about to share with you is one of the most cherished collections I possess.  It’s a compilation of Bass Masters Classic patches from 1971 to 1994. This group would be enough to make any collector happy, but to me it’s not the patches themselves, but the person who gave them to me.

Back in May of 2015, I made a trip to Arizona to visit family and a close friend. The friend I was meeting with was none other than Stan Fagerstrom. Since 2012, Stan and I had grown close, often talking on a weekly basis about bass fishing, its history, and life in general. This trip would allow us more time to visit in person and strategize how to bring the history of the sport to the forefront of the community. Stan wasn’t just a contributor to the site, he was a staunch supporter of what we were doing here at the Bass Fishing Archives.

Soon after I arrived at Stan’s house, he took me upstairs to his office. I’d been in his office on prior trips but this time he opened it up to me. We looked through some of the boxes of black and white pictures he and his wife Anita had taken over the 68 years they provided photo support to the sport.

Stan and I spent roughly six hours going through these photos, many of which he gave me to share with the readers of this site. A majority of these pictures have never been published while many others had been published in the top magazines and books in the early days of the sport. I will be sharing these photos with you soon.

After spending time in his office going through the photos and other memorabilia, he took me downstairs to his garage. Like any other serious angler, his garage was filled with fishing gear. Tackle boxes, rods, reels, and containers with even more boxes of gear he’d collected over his fishing life.

He allowed me to take pictures of a lot of old tackle to use on the site. Tackle like Bagley’s plastic worms still on their cards, DeLong worms still in their tubes, Creme worms, Al Foss Shimmy Wigglers still in their steel boxes. The amount of gear he’d amassed over his career was truly amazing.

As we were going through his tackle, Stan asked if I had any need for patches. I sheepishly said, yes. He told me to pull down the big Rubbermaid container off its shelf and that I could have its contents.

If you’ve followed the site at all, you know I have a passion for anything that has to do with bass fishing memorabilia – and patches are a huge part of that. In this container was 50-plus years’ worth of patches. I emptied the container into a cardboard box and we went about looking at tackle again.

The drive back to my sister-in-law’s house was long. All I wanted to do was check out the contents of the cardboard box.

Bobby Murray and Ray Scott at the 1971 Bass Masters Classic at Lake Mead, NV. This photo was taken by Stan Fagerstrom and I believe it was never published.
DeLong plastic worms in original packaging circa 1950s to 1960s.
Jim Bagley's plastic worms in original packaging circa 1960s.

Finally, back at the house, I was able to placate my curiosity. I opened the box and was blown away. Staring back at me were original Bomber patches, Norman patches, Ranger Boats patches – you name it, if they had a patch for it, it was in the box.

What really piqued my interest was the 1971 Bassmaster Classic patch I saw buried under a couple of Voyager Battery patches and an old Motor Guide patch. That led me to dump the entire container and dig deeper.

After a thorough inventory, I discovered Bass Masters Classic patches from 1971 through 1994 minus 1972, 1984 and 1993 – the only three years Stan missed the Classic. I was amazed but more so, humbled that he’d even consider giving me such a treasure. I’m pretty sure many of you haven’t seen these patches, therefore, I’m sharing them with the BFA community.

On to the patches.

As you look through the collection, you’ll notice that the early patches are uniquely designed. You’ll also notice that some of the patches say Press Angler on them. This started in 1974, seems to have skipped 1975 and was started again in 1976. Stan was part of the press corps, which is why he had those patches.

Classic competitors received three Classic patches to sew on their tournament shirts for weigh-in. They were also given a Classic life vest with the patch. Press Anglers received the same except for the difference in the patches as described above.

The patches made for Bass Masters Classic I and II were the same design. The shape of the patch was a shield and embroidered on it was a cup surrounded by two jumping bass. This was placed over a globe with Bass Masters Classic written at the bottom.  The 1971 Classic patch was on a black background while the 1972 Classic patch was on a yellow background, if I’m not mistaken. I have only seen one 1972 Classic patch and that was at the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Museum located at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, MO.

But there’s a twist to the 1971 Classic patch.

Back in May 2015, when I originally posted this piece, Harold Sharp emailed telling me he didn’t recall a patch being made for the Classic and to ask Stan where he’d gotten the patch. I called Stan and he didn’t remember, thinking he’d gotten just like all the other patches he’d received.

When I told Harold what Stan had said, this is what he wrote back:

1971 Bass Masters Classic Patch. Does anyone know how this patch came to be? Photo Terry Battisti.

“I have watched the Classic film very close, and I do not see a patch in the film that looks like the one you posted in your article. I do see two painted on the scoreboard that look like it. Dave Newton was our contact in Vegas, he was the one that had this scoreboard made, so I believe that Dave designed the patch and had it painted on the scoreboard, but if so, then it was a logo at that time, not a patch. Dave passed away a few years ago so we cannot verify that. My belief is that the patch was made after the Classic and sent to the anglers and press and it was made from the logo that Dave had designed for the scoreboard.”

So, if anyone knows the story behind the 1971 Bass Masters Classic patch, please let us know in the comments.

The 1973 and ‘74 Classic patches were again based on the shape of a shield. Embroidered across the top was Miller High Life Bass Masters Classic. Below that were vertical stripes with a cup and a leaping bass above the cup.

The 1975 Classic patch deviated from the shield shape and was triangular, almost like a re-entry capsule from the Apollo space flights. It was made on a dark blue background, leaping bass at the top, globe in the middle and a red ribbon that wrapped around the globe with Bass Masters Classic written inside the ribbon.

In 1976 the shape of the patch changed again, this time to a circle. In the center of the circle was the globe with the B.A.S.S. shield and the year. Framing the globe were the words, Bass Masters Classic World Championship. This form of the patch lasted through 1977 with 1978 through 1983 patches losing the words World Championship. I cannot speak for the 1984 patch as I am missing that one.

1975 Bass Masters Classic patch. Photo Terry Battisti.

The 1985 patch went back to the triangle shape of the 1975 patch and does not have press angler embroidered on it.

After 1985, it appears the patches became standardized to resemble the standard B.A.S.S. member patch. At the top was Bass Masters Classic, and at the bottom was World Championship and the year. In the middle was the B.A.S.S. shield.

But there’s a curious deviation from that thought. It’s from the 1988 Classic. While at Greene’s Boat and Motor in 2014 I was shown several of Hubert Greene’s patches from the day.

Two 1988 Bass Masters Classic patches. Other than the Press Corps patches, was there more than one style?  Photo Terry Battisti.

In that group of patches was one for the 1988 Classic that did not resemble the standardized patch. This has me thinking there might have been two sets, a round set and a set designed like the B.A.S.S. shield.

What’s presented here is a collection of Bass Masters Classic patches and Classic Press Writer patches that Stan had accumulated over the 30-plus years he covered the event. It’s an amazing look back in time and we hope you enjoy it. Most of all I would like to thank Stan for trusting me with these priceless mementos and his nearly 70 years of documenting the sport.

If any of you out there were part of the press corps during the early Bass Masters Classic, please make a comment below as to the history of the Classic patches and what variations there were. It would be nice to solve some of these mysteries before they get lost to time.