Figure 1 Some baseball uniforms are bona fide design classics
We can all agree that baseball is the best sport in the world. From playing little league in your local park in the summer to watching the World Series every fall, America’s favorite pastime has captured people’s imagination for generations. It is a classic piece of American culture that will always prevail.
Predicting the outcome of MLB games will always be a source of much debate among fans. But there is a more superficial element to the game that will also divide opinion – and has done for years. The uniforms worn by our major league heroes should not be the most important element of the game. But what our heroes wear does hold a special place in our hearts.
You may think that baseball uniforms don’t actually change that much. Some of the most popular – and some covered here – prove that if it ain’t broke there is no need to fix it. But there have been times over the years when the designers have attempted something new, and it hasn’t always had the best results. Everything is subjective, of course. But here are some of the best – and worst – baseball uniforms.
New York Yankees
We couldn’t really start anywhere else, could we? The classic Yankees pinstripes have been a part of baseball for just about ever and are what many people associate with the sport, let alone the team. There have been countless World Series triumphs wearing this most simple of designs. And it never gets old.
Although there are road uniforms and other special pieces of merchandise, the Yankees pinstripes have stood the test of time. The logo is just as iconic and can be seen in most cities around the world, even where baseball is not popular. It may not be a popular thing to say, but when you think of baseball, you think of the Yankees.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Speaking of iconic uniforms. Before anyone from Brooklyn gets too angry, we are well aware that the Dodgers stylings pre-date the controversial move to Los Angeles in 1958. The Brooklyn Dodgers obviously first stepped out in the classic baseball jerseys and the look was so good that the west coast decided to keep with it.
The royal blue writing on the white uniforms really stands out in the California sun though. So we are not going to completely do the LA Dodgers down. In fact, there is actually a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform from 1944 that is a powder blue color – all in silk. Maybe it was a good idea for the Dodgers to move after all!
It must be tough to be an expansion team. All the good color combinations and styles are already taken but you still want to make a grand entrance on the baseball world. The Seattle Pilots were only around for one season – but they managed to get on our list at least. The bad news is that it is our first ‘worst ever’ uniform.
The Pilots moved to Milwaukee in 1970 and became the Brewers and while it may be a little unkind to suggest that it was because of the uniform, it might well have been! A denim-look base color, with Seattle written in what looks like a child’s handwriting, and a darker blue cap, made for a fashion faux pas in our opinion.
Chicago White Sox, Mid-1980s
The thing about naming and shaming the worst baseball uniforms of all time is that what some people think was a disaster, others will hold up as a vintage masterpiece. The mid-1980s Chicago White Sox is an excellent case in point. Gone was the classic Sox font and style and in came some very 80s graphics.
These days you think of the White Sox in mostly white and maybe some black pinstripes and, well, some white socks. But the fashion consultants of the 1980s decided that the jersey should have bold red and blue stripes with ‘Sox’ written in large letters across the chest. We might not like it, but the jury is probably still out.
Houston Astros, 1970s
This one took the White Sox template outlined above and decided that the designers just hadn’t gone far enough. But the strange thing is, it kinda works! Stripes in shades of yellows and reds cascade down from the chest area (denoting the Texan sun, we guess) with a big lone star on one side.
‘Astros’ is then written above in what we assume was a futuristic typeface back in the late 70s. For another added touch, the player’s number appeared on the right thigh of the pants. It was certainly a bold look and we know that it had some kind of effect, because the current team has used it as an inspiration in recent years too.
Figure 2 The New York uniform and logo can be seen all over the world
Chicago Cubs, 1983
We do sometimes wonder why Major League Baseball teams think it would be a good idea to change a classic look. The Chicago Cubs have one of the most instantly recognizable uniforms in the sport’s history. All teams have a letter logo but the red ‘C’ on blue can only be the Cubs.
But in the early 1980s the north Chicago ball club decided to illustrate the letter with a baby bear – or cub – inside the letter on the jersey. The cap letter remained the same but the jersey took on a new look. Unfortunately, the bear cub in question was far too friendly and really didn’t make the players seem any more fearsome.
Montreal Expos 1970s
When it comes to classic baseball uniforms, nostalgia can play a large part in what is considered good or bad. As has been seen with some of the examples offered here, some people will like a look, while others will hate it. For us, the sands of time since the Expos were in the league have turned their logo into a design classic.
The first franchise located outside of the US, the Expos took their name from the 1967 World Fair that was hosted by the city. The red, white and blue of the bubble letters just worked in the 70s and 80s. Nothing last forever though – and the team relocated to Washington DC in 2004.