Baseball Uniforms

Marc Okkonen wrote, "Americans love the game of baseball the way it IS, but they also worship the sport for what it HAS BEEN and they can’t always have it both ways. No matter, we accept and idolize the teams of our preference and seldom take issue with the way they are packaged — we adapt with changes in uniforms very quickly."

Whether or not that is true, one thing is certain; more than 4,000 different uniform styles have been worn by Major League ballplayers since 1876! In an effort to provide some insight into this aspect of baseball history, we have turned to the foremost authority on the subject — Marc Okkonen, author of Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century (1991).

Baseball Almanac is honored to present an unprecedented set of research regarding baseball uniforms. This research, which is the life-long work of Okkonen, is protected by copyright an no part may be reproduced without permission from Baseball Almanac and Marc Okkonen. The Baseball Uniforms research below has been reproduced with Okkonen's express written permission.

"A century of baseball uniform research and design, trial and error, innovation and experimentation, and you get a uniform (the Florida Marlins in 1993) that looks like it was painted by Earl Scheib." - Miami Herald Columnist Scott Ostler
Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century

by Marc Okkonen ©

Document Creator: Baseball Almanac © 2005. Published: 1991 by Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.



          Since the subject matter of this research deals with the twentieth century, we will defer any discussion of nineteenth century precedents. Certainly, the history of baseball uniforms is evolutionary and the uniforms of 1900 are a continuation of 1899 but the story of earlier uniforms is even more difficult to develop and we will reserve that information for future additional research. An important finding of such research will be establishing the starting point of use of separate uniforms at home and on the road, which was standard for all major league teams by 1900.


          Uniform fabrics in 1900 were either 100% wool flannel or a blend of wool and cotton. Summer temperatures and humidity were no different than now and the idea of playing baseball weighted down with these heavy uniforms seems unthinkable today. But play they did, and with as much vigor and dash as the modern, more comfortably clothed players of the 1980’s. The weight of these wool and cotton flannels was gradually reduced in half by the 1940’s but the problems of durability and shrinkage had not improved much. The advent of synthetic fibers in the post-WWII era (NYLON, DACRON, ORLON) paved the way for improved blends. The most successful of these was the WOOL / ORLON blend in the sixties — seemingly the "ultimate” material for baseball flannels. But the double-knit fabrics introduced in the early seventies provided so many more attractive and practical features over flannel: lighter, cooler, more comfortable, more durable, etc. etc. Traditionalists insist that the tight-fitting stretchy double knit suits cannot compare with the well-tailored flannel look of the sixties, but the use of the flannel materials for baseball uniforms is “history” — unless some new miracle fabric comes along that more clearly simulates flannel.


          Home uniforms for all clubs at the turn of the century were white, while road uniforms were either gray or a darker hue. The material itself was heavy wool flannel which must have been insufferably warm in mid-summer. Pin striping in the fabric first appeared around 1907 — a fine, narrowly spaced line on the road grays that was barely visible from a distance. The Chicago Cubs were probably the first to use this pattern, but the Boston Nationals went a step further with a discernable green pin stripe on their 1907 road suits. The Brooklyn club was yet more daring with a fine blue “cross-hatch” pattern on their ‘07 road grays. This “checked” effect would be used later by the New York Giants and again by Brooklyn (with wider spacing) on several occasions. The wider spaced, more visible pin striping first appeared on several major league team uniforms in 1912. The finer striping on road uniforms was becoming common and by the mid-teens, half the teams were sporting the more distinct pin-stripes on their home uniforms. The Giants in 1916 provided the ultimate —an almost “plaid” effect with a crossing of multiple fine lines of purple.

          A popular alternative to the gray-colored travelling suits in the 1900-1915 era was a solid dark blue or black material with white relief — often a “negative” image of their home whites. Although black and white photography may conceal earlier examples, the color TAN was introduced on the Dodger’s 1937 road uniforms (to complement the Kelly Green trim). Charles 0. Finley’s Kansas City A’s in 1963 challenged the entire tradition of home / road colors with a stunning gold and green combination. By the 1970’s, light blue was in common use in place of the gray color on road suits.


          Several styles of cap design were worn in the first decade by major league clubs. The “pillbox” or Chicago style usually incorporated horizontal striping much like a layer cake and was a survivor of the 1890’s. The so-called “Brooklyn” style had a higher, fuller rounded crown than the more common “Boston” style. The Boston style was the forerunner of future cap styles with a rounded close-fitting crown, more abbreviated than current styles and with the top button tilted more toward the front. Variations of the “cake box” crown resurfaced in later years — the A’s of 1909-1915, the Giants in 1916 and the Pirates in modern times. The standard modern cap has changed very little in recent decades — slightly fuller crown and larger sun visor than its antecedents.


          Baseball spikes, up to the TV age, were like Henry Ford’s Model T: you could have any color you wanted as long as it was BLACK. The shoe height dropped from just below the ankle bone to a basic low-quarter style by 1910. The KC A’s revolutionary white shoes in the sixties opened the door for color matching and hardly an all-black shoe can be found on today's major leaguers.


          Jerseys at the turn of the century were pretty much flannel pullover “shirts” with a standard fold-down collar and a buttoned or laced front. Even the sleeves were often full length with buttoned cuft and a left-breast pocket was common. It became fashionable with players later in the decade to wear the collar folded up and pinned at the throat. Undersweaters were becoming a part of the color scheme (some even had stripes) and elbow-length sleeves were worn to accent the sleeve colors. An unusual feature that provided a choice in sleeve length was the detachable sleeve — attached at the elbow with buttons.

          The first radical change in shirt design in the decade was provided by John McGraw’s 1906 Giants when they introduced the “collarless” jersey with a lapel contour curiously indentical to that of later decades. The fold-down collar was definitely on its way out but its popular replacement was to be the short, stand-up “cadet” style — first worn by the Cubs in 1909. By 1912, most clubs adopted the cadet collar and some even sported the almost collarless “V” neck style, the next popular trend. Some of the 19th century features persisted into the decade of the teens: the Boston teams had a laced shirt front as late as 1911 and the Detroit Tigers briefly resurrected the fold-down collar during World War I. The shirt pocket had disappeared forever by 1915.

          The “V” neck collar style, with a brief tapered extension around the neck, was pretty much the unanimous standard during the twenties. Sleeve lengths varied from ˝ to ľ to full length during the decade. By the mid-thirties, the collar extension disappeared and sleeve lengths were nearly all half (or elbow) length. The first zipper front made its appearance on the all new Cubs uniforms of 1937 and became popular with many clubs for a decade or so. The most innovative jersey of its time — the sleeveless vest — was also in troduced by the Chicago Cubs in 1940. The blue undersweater most often used with the vest was also novel — 3 red stripes (to match the sox stripes) just below the elbow and sometimes a white crown across the shoulders. The vest survived for 3 seasons and resurfaced in the fifties and sixties with several clubs. The zipper was pretty much history by the sixties, except for an occasional curtain call — most recently by the Phillies.

          By the 1970’s, the flannel fabrics were lighter and more comfortable with shorter sleeves, but the development of the revolutionary double-knit fabrics doomed the flannels forever. Many of the new-look jerseys were buttonless pullover styles, but the button front has remained popular — indeed current trends indicate a return to the traditional buttons by many clubs.


          Built-in protective padding was a standard part of ninteenth century baseball pants and this ‘quilting” survived on a few of the post-1900 uniforms. Separate sliding pads on the inside soon became the preferred choice. Belts were considerably wider and were furnished in a variety of colors and materials. Belt tunnels on the sides came into being after 1900 and are a standard feature even on many of today’s double-knits. Piping down the sides of the trousers existed in the early 1900’s, even before piping became a popular jersey trim feature. Considering the tailoring differences between the old, baggy flannels and the closer fitting double-knits of today, the basic “knickers” concept has really changed very little since 1900.


          Stockings in 1900 were made of heavy wool and were of one-piece full-length (above the knee) construction. The foot covering part below the ankle bone was white or natural wool and often created the illusion of stirrups. The true stirrup stocking, separate from the “sanitary” foot stocking, first came into being about 1905. The popularity of striped or multi-tone stirrup stockings ebbed and flowed in cycles, becoming widely used around 1910 and less common by the late teens. Except for a few "candy-cane” varieties (particulary by the Giants, Cardinals & Washington), striping was quite minimal during the twenties and, in contrast, enjoyed a revival of sorts in the early thirties. As pant legs became lower and stirrups were stretched higher and higher over the following decades, the stockings became a neglected component in the overall appearance of the uniform. In fact, since the sanitary undersock has gained more and more visibility, its traditional white color, in some cases, has been abandoned for a distinct color to complement the new colored variety of shoes.


          In the 1890’s stocking colors were the principal device in distinguishing one team from another (hence the team names White Stockings, Red Stockings, Browns, etc.) and graphic displays identifying the home city were merely extra window dressing. In fact, some clubs after 1900 elected to wear plain unmarked jerseys and left their unique identification to their stocking colors and caps (i.e. the Chicago Nationals and St. Louis Americans).

          Although trim colors were abundant in uniform schemes, the selection was limited to BLACKS, DARK BLUES, MAROONS or REDS, & BROWNS and seldom in combinations (some exceptions: Pittsburgh’s maroon & navy stockings, Detroit’s black stockings with a red stripe). Lettering styles for the home city name were usually in plain block capital letters (from the manufacturer’s standard stock) and the single letters or monograms were either a similar block style or a heavily ornamental Victorian or Old English type. John McGraw was quite unpredictable and often innovative in dictating the color schemes of his Giants. Once the team’s N-Y monogram style was established (c. 1909), he stayed with it but he boldly flaunted color traditions by introducing VIOLET in 1913 as a trim color. The Cubs in 1916 added a second color red to dress up the navy blue trim and a wave of patriotism in the WWI years encouraged a more generous display of red, white and blue on some major league uniforms.

          In the case of many clubs, team nicknames were an unofficial invention of the press and changed constantly. On the other hand, clubs such as the Cardinals, Tigers and Athletics were universally identified by fans and team management alike. However, display of the nickname (or representative symbols of same) on the uniform were rare in the early decades of the century. The first instance of displaying a graphic symbol of the team nickname was the small red tiger on the black cap of the 1901 Detroits. When the Boston Americans decided to adopt the new nickname of RED SOX in 1908, they did so with an unusual graphic display, showing a red sock silhouette (with the word BOSTON inside) on their shirt fronts. The small cub figure inside the Chicago National “C” in 1908 would be the only other such embellishment of this type among NL teams in the 1900-1910 period.

          The first spelling out of the team’s nickname on the jersey was on the Washington home shirts of 1905. Determined that they were no longer to be called the "Senators”, their now official name "NATIONALS” was displayed in capital letters across the chest. Simpler and more established nicknames [Cubs, (White) Sox, Reds] soon appeared. By 1910, the new cadet-style collar shirts placed a new emphasis on the front button lapel and it became fashionable to stack up the letters of the team name or city name in a vertical position. By the 1920’s, display of the team name had become common (even the conservative Yankees did it for a time on their road uniforms). Oddly, the Philadelphia Athletics had never in their long history displayed so much as a letter P to identify the home city, yet they were the last of the original 16 major league franchises to spell out the full nickname ATHLETICS — in their final year (1954) in the City of Brotherly Love.

          The Detroit Tigers in 1930 established an important precedent by using a script lettering of DETROIT in place of the traditional capital letters. By the end of the decade, the idea of slanted script letters with an underline flourish was widely used. Also, a second trim color became the norm for many other major league teams in the thirties. As for graphic symbols, almost every club by this time had displayed some pictorial version of club identification at one time or another. Even the Athletics exploited their elephant symbol (whose origin is a story in itself) as early as 1905 on their team sweaters and later on the uniform jersey. Many of the team nicknames defy visual identification (Reds? Phillies? Nationals? Dodgers?) and thus escaped usage. Perhaps the St. Louis Cardinals have the most notable and familiar graphic presentation with their 2-birds-on-a-bat design which began in 1922 and, with few interruptions has persisted to this day. In the last years before numbers became standard on the backs of the shirts, the Detroit and Boston NL clubs boldly displayed a colorful tiger’s head and Indian head profile respectively, on their backs.

          On rare occasions the entire team name (city and nickname) has been spelled out on th uniform. The Cubs in 1909 were the first with CHICAGO in vertical lettering down the buttor lapel and the CUBS emblem on the left breast. The last major league uniform to show the full team name was by the San Diego Padres in 1978. In recent decades, more imaginative lettering styles appeared — notably, the Indian with an unusual interpretation of American Indian-type calligraphy in the early seventies. Probably the most tasteful and attractive use of a modern type face is exemplified by the current BLUE JAYS uniform set.

          The proliferation of color TV coverage of major league baseball probably did more to invite the use of brighter and non-traditional uniform color schemes in the 1960’s. The Athletics’ gold and green ensembles started a color revolution that culminated in the bizarre “rainbow” jerseys introduced by the ASTROS in 1975. However, in midst of the color orgy, a handful of teams (i.e. the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers) maintained a fairly consistent conservative image, hoIding steadfastly to the dictates of a long tradition Even the trends of the double-knit revolution (pullover jersey, beltless trousers) seem to be reverting to earlier styles (buttoned jersey and belted trousers). The popular practice of stretching the stirrups far up under the trouse legs also seems to be reversing itself and once again revealing the heretofore unseen striping on the outer socks. Among the expansion teams, the two Canadian entries have maintaned stable, consistent uniform designs. The other side of this coin is the San Diego franchise, which has at times changed its uniform designs almost annually in their nearly 2 decades of existence in the majors.


          The first attempt to identify individual players with numbers affixed to their uniforms occurred with the Cleveland club in 1916. In this early experiment, the numbers were attached to the sleeve, not the back. For reasons unknown, the idea faded away and was not seen again (except briefly by the Cardinals in 1923) until 1929 when the New York Yankees (possibly inspired by earlier trials in the Minor Leagues) boldly took the field with large numbers on their backs, an idea that initially did not escape ridicule. Since teams and batting orders were relatively stable and not likely to change (especially the infamous "murderers row”), the first number sets reflected their position in the batting order — hence, Ruth #3, Gehrig #4, etc. Obviously, if the numbering system were to presevere, this system was eventually incompatible with roster changes in ensuing seasons. In any case, the new system met approval by the fans and this time it was here to stay. By 1932, all major league teams were “numbered”. In 1952, the Brooklyn Dodgers repeated the numbers on the FRONT of their home jersey and many other teams soon copied this idea. The sixties saw numbers appearing on the sleeves and by the seventies, even the trousers could not escape number identification by some clubs.

          Another feature which was probably inspired by increasing TV coverage, was the display of the player’s last name on the back of the uniform. The Chicago White Sox were the pioneers of this idea in 1960. Acceptance was not instantaneous, partly because of the fear of lost revenues from lower scorecard sales, but the fans liked it and almost every team today has adopted the practice. The most notable holdout being the traditionbound New York Yankees (ironically, the same Yankees who introduced numbers on the back in 1929).


          The first recorded use of a shoulder patch on a major league uniform was by the Chicago White Sox of 1907. Still gloating over their humiliation of the cross-town Cubs in the ‘06 series, this small patch triumphantly certified the new world champions — certainly a more modest statement than McGraw’s “WORLD CHAMPIONS” shirts of the previous summer. The patriotic fervor of the WWI period produced an abundance of American flags or red, white & blue shields on the major league uniforms of those years. The year 1925 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National League and the occasion was visually displayed on all NL team uniforms with a large attractive circular blue and gold patch. The city of Boston celebrated its tercentenary year in 1930 with a Pilgrim Hat patch on both Red Sox and Braves uniforms. Similar milestones in other major league cities in subsequent years have been observed with a variety of patches too numerous to list here. The St. Louis Browns commissioned a new official team crest and added it to the sleeves of their 1937-38-39 uniforms. A striking orange and blue patch promoting the upcoming 1939 World’s Fair was displayed on the sleeves of all three New York City teams’ uniforms in the 1938 season.

          The first patch to be worn on all 16 major league uniform sleeves in a given year appeared in 1939 to observe the centennial year of the game’s invention (an accepted consensus opinion — the argument continues as to whether baseball was really “invented” or evolved). Indeed, this patch was worn by all of professional baseball, including the minor leagues and it coincided with the grand opening of baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The World War II seasons of 1942-45 also produced a universally applied patriotic shield patch — In 1942, the word “HEALTH”, then, in subsequent war years, red stripes. The Philadelphia Athletics in 1951 celebrated Connie Mack’s incredible 50th year at the helm with a circular gold patch on the left sleeve. In the following season (1951), each league had its own anniversary patch — 75 years for the NL, 50 years for the AL. The third patch to be displayed by all teams, was the rectangular Major League Baseball centennial patch in 1969 commemorating 100 years of professional baseball. The nation’s bicentennial year of 1976 featured a variety of patches worn by most of the major league teams to celebrate the occasion. Many of the ballpark anniversaries have also inspired special patches and even eulogies to the recently departed have been expressed with patches rather than the traditional black arm bands of earlier decades.


          Certain uniforms worn from time to time deserve special mention here because of their unusual outward appearance or the atypical reasons for their existence. The first Baltimore Orioles road uniform in 1901, as personally commissioned by new manager John McGraw, is a classic case of an outlandish color scheme. Apparently inspired by nature’s coloring of the oriole, the cap, shirt and trousers were solid black with yellow-orange trim. A large letter “0” on the left breast, a yellow belt and bright yellow-orange stockings with black stripes highlighted the design and invited ridicule by the press in most of the AL towns they visited. The following season, McGraw had heard enough and reverted back to a basic gray road uniform with black trim, similar to the uniforms of the legendary Oriole teams of the 1890’s.

          When McGraw took over the New York Giants, he resurrected the all-black uniform (this time with white trimmings) especially for the 1905 World Series. Once again, the com ments were often derogatory (even by the New York following) but the psychological ploy seemed to work as the shabbily-clad Athletics were defeated. Since McGraw had also been heavily criticized for his refusal to participate in a post-season series in 1904, his smugness was unrestrained and he outfitted his new champions with the words “WORLD CHAMPIONS” across the chests of both the home and road suits for the 1906 season. When the Giants and Athletics met for an encore world championship series in 1911, all-black uniforms were once again specially made for the occasion by McGraw. This time, however, it didn’t work as rhe New Yorkers were sub dued handily by the awesome talent of Connie Mack’s Athletics.

          The idea of advertising the world championship on the game uniforms of the following season was repeated by the Cleveland Indians in 1921 and once again by the St. Louis Car dinals in 1927. The Cleveland version more or less duplicated McGraw’s ‘06 Giants, while the simple circular inscription of world champions around a solitary perched Cardinal bird in ‘27 reflected a more modest form of pride in acheivement.

          Occasional world tour and barnstorming teams were often outfitted with special uniform designs. The much heralded world tour by the Giants and Chicago White Sox in 1913 provided specially designed outfits for the Comiskeys, totally unlike their customary apparel in league play. The home (?) version featured pinstriping on a white jersey with the word CHICAGO arched across the chest in fancy capital letters of several hues. The road (?) version was a solid dark blue which also incorporated the name CHICAGO across the chest in plain block capital letters with a white outline. The Giants’ uniforms on the tour, were much like their official league suits — trimmed in the current VIOLET color, except that the city name NEW YORK was displayed on the shirt front of one version.

          Perhaps the most unusual fabric pattern of any major league uniform was presented by the Giants’ edition of 1916. Bands of 5 thin purple stripes were perpendicularly intersected to create a near “plaid” effect. An oversized N-Y emblem (also in violet hue) graced the left breast and the suits were topped off by a ressurrected “Chicago” style pillbox cap reminiscent of earlier decades. The following year, in keeping with the “God Bless America” mentality of the WWI era, the AL champion Chicago White Sox took the field for the 1917 World Series, in an honest-to-goodness, star-spangled, red, white & blue variation of their normal home uniform design. They even broke with an almost sacred team tradition by adding a red and blue stripe to their normally all-white hose. They won the series and immediately retired those garish uniforms — perhaps an appropriate fate for the last world championship team uniform representing the Windy City.

          When the first all-star game took place at Comiskey Park in 1933, the American League elected to allow their participating players to wear their everyday home uniforms. The visiting National Leaguers, in contrast, decided upon a specially made gray road suit with the words NATIONAL LEAGUE inscribed on the front of the jersey. The solid dark caps displayed an NL similar to the league’s um pire caps of a later generation. This uniform was also permanently retired — used for this one historic occasion only — as the National Leaguers also saw fit to wear their regular uniforms for the 1934 game and all future all-star games.

          The Cincinnati Reds introduced night baseball in 1935 and in the following year they commissioned the Goldsmith Company to produce a special uniform for occasional game use in 1936 and 1937. It is not clear what inspired this so-called "Palm Beach” version (possibly, it was the advent of baseball under the arc lights) but it presented some interesting departures from long standing Reds’ uniform tradition. In place of the standard C-REDS logo, the name REDS appeared in the now-fashionable red script lettering on the left breast. And the real shocker was the combination of white jersey and BRIGHT RED pants, which was only one version of the new Palm Beach emsemble.

          In keeping with the new color craze of the depression years, the Brooklyn Dodgers surprised everyone by changing their more-or-less traditional “Dodger Blue” trim to a striking KELLY GREEN for the 1937 season. All-green caps, stockings and undersweaters — not a trace of blue to be found. Even the normal gray color of the road uniforms was replaced by TAN. It was St. Patrick’s Day all season long at Ebbetts Field as even the ushers were outfitted in green jackets. The following season, the Dodgers returned to the real world with all new Royal blue-trimmed uniforms which, incidently, introduced the now-famous script Dodgers.

          The increasing popularity of night baseball also inspired an unusual “night-games only” shiny satin material on the game uniforms. The idea was that this more reflective material would add considerably to the viewing pleasure of baseball under the lights. Several National League clubs participated in this practice during the 1940’s — most notably, the Brooklyn Dodgers, whose road version of the night satins was bright powder blue with BROOKLYN displayed across the chest in white script.

          After baseball’s “P.T. Barnum”, Bill Veeck, re-purchased the Chicago White Sox in the mid-70’s, he furnished some innovative uniforms which upheld his reputation as the master merchandiser of the game. With a mix & match combination of whites and navy blues, he concocted a uniform ensemble that was totally new yet suggested features of an earlier age. The jerseys had a straight-cut bottom and were worn “pajama” style — outside the belt. The open collar design incorporated a "pseudo” fold down collar shape (not seen for 60 years) and the lettering style of the name CHICAGO was deliberately reminiscent of earlier Sox road unforms (i.e. 1930, 1902-1915). In another stroke of pure Veeckian “pizazz”, he presented a Bermuda shorts version in 1976, which was an instant public relations success and an equally instant failure in terms of player acceptance.

          The Cincinnati Reds, in their 1978 Florida spring training exhibition season, pulled off a publicity gimmick with their home uniforms that still has the fans buzzing. On March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day of course), they took the field in fully GREEN duplications of their red-trimmed home whites. The effect was mind-boggling — a visual phenomenon for Reds fans at the park. The practical joke was so much fun that similar green abberations of other teams uniforms have made their appearance periodically on this appropriate date in the years following. These Cincinnati GREENS uniforms have, since that time, become treasured collectors items — an irresistable conversation piece among baseball fans everywhere.

          In a brief episode in 1979 that most all Philadelphia Phillies fans would prefer to forget, someone in the front office decided that the popular Phillies uniform motif could be modified (for Saturday games only) into an ALL-BURGUNDY version with white trimmings. The reaction was instantaneously negative by everyone — the media, the fans, and the players. The idea was hastily abandoned and entered the realm of nostalgic novelties in major league uniforms.


          The outer garments for major league baseball uniforms as with 19th century uniforms is a fascinating, colorful story in itself and deserves more exhaustive coverage in future research efforts. At least a brief overview of trends is worth mention here. At the turn of the century the standard uniform coat seemed more appropriate for a Sousa band than a baseball team. Certainly “spiffy” in its day, it appears to be a garish overstatement from the viewpoint of the 1980’s. Double-breasted, fingertip length with large pearl buttons and 2-tone trimmings on the sleeve ends, pocket flaps and collar — a garment which elicits "guffaws” and disbelief from our eyes. These dressy “storm coat” styles faded out by 1910 and the big heavy sweaters became more the standard wear for cooler days and pitcher’s arms. But even the color schemes of some of these sweaters evolved into bizarre “Indian blankets” and colorful plaids by the late teens. By the twenties the sweater colors subsided and were soon giving way to shorter "windbreaker" style jackets. In the twenties and thirties, many of these jackets were combinations of high-grade felt, suedes and colored leathers. The windbreaker style with stretch waistband and wrists is still the popular trend, but newer fabrics (i.e. nylon) have displaced the leathers and felts.


          Since the wearing of protective helmets became mandatory in the seventies, they have become an integral part of the overall uniform motif. Usually they attempt to duplicate the regular home cap in appearance and the same helmets are used on the road even if the soft road cap differs in appearance. And often, for practical reasons, the batting helmets from previous years are retained for use even after a re-design of the soft cap. Colorful practice jerseys are now used by all the teams for exhibition games and pre-game practice. These jerseys have borrowed from the graphic identity of the game uniforms but usually with distinctly re-arranged color schemes. Many of the colorful pullover jerseys adopted as part of the game uniforms of recent years most certainly evolved from practice jerseys.


          For the rage of bright colors and multiple color schemes inspired by the color TV and double-knit age, the party appears to be about over for now. The pendulum seems to be swinging toward more conservative and traditional uniforms. Buttoned jerseys, pants with belts, standard whites and grays, and even black shoes are making a comeback. But it has always been cyclical since 1900 — a tug-of-war between tradition and innovation. Periods of new ideas are punctuated by years of conservative, stable preferences. With so many more new franchises in recent decades, the cycles are overlapping more and more. But when one examines the evolution of the uniforms of a particular franchise, these cycles are clearly evident. Americans love the game of baseball the way it IS, but they also worship the sport for what it HAS BEEN and they can’t always have it both ways. No matter, we accept and idolize the teams of our preference and seldom take issue with the way they are packaged — we adapt with changes in uniforms very quickly.

Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century

While scanning through early issues of The Sporting News, Baseball Almanac saw this early 20th century advertisement for Goldsmith Uniforms read:

          1. Double-shrunk virgin wool flannel
          2. Triple-stitched seams
          3. Ventilated crotch and armpits
          4. Tailored to individual measure. Plenty of roominess
          5. Choice of heavy leather or elastic belt
          6. Pure worsted ribbed hose made any color or style, with feet or footless
          7. Fully trimmed and lettered in any style and color

Did you know that during the 1978 Spring Training camp on St. Patricks Day, the Cincinnati Reds took the field wearing totally green uniforms?

Baseball Almanac did more than one year of research in an effort to bring accurate uniform numbers to the Internet! That research can be seen on every team roster and every player's statistical page in Major League history.