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Bennett Lewis
Bennett Lewis

Baseball Uniform

A baseball uniform is a type of uniform worn by baseball players, coaches and managers. Most baseball uniforms have the names and uniform numbers of players who wear them, usually on the backs of the uniforms to distinguish players from each other. Baseball shirts (jerseys), pants, shoes, socks, caps, and gloves are parts of baseball uniforms. Most uniforms have different logos and colors to aid players, officials, and spectators in distinguishing the two teams from each other and the officials.

baseball uniform

Baseball uniforms were first worn by the New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club in 1849.[1] Today, sales of replica uniforms and derivative branded products generate large amounts of income for Major League teams through merchandising.

The New York Knickerbockers were the first baseball team to wear uniforms, taking the field on April 4, 1849, in pants made of blue wool, white flannel shirts and straw hats.[1][2] The practice of wearing a uniform soon spread, and by 1900, all Major League Baseball teams had adopted them.[3] By 1882 most uniforms included stockings, which covered the leg from foot to knee, and were used to differentiate one club from another. The uniforms themselves had different colors and patterns that reflected the different baseball positions.[4] In the late 1880s, the Detroit Wolverines and Washington Nationals of the National League and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association were the first to wear striped uniforms.[5]

By the end of the 19th century, teams began the practice of wearing one of two different uniforms, one when they played in their own baseball stadium and a different one when they played on the road. It became common to wear white at home and one of gray, solid dark blue, or black on the road.[3] An early example of this is the Brooklyn Superbas, who started to use a blue pattern for their road uniforms in 1907.[3]

In 1916, the Cleveland Indians became the first team to add numbers on their uniforms, positioned on the left sleeve of the home uniforms only. (Okkonen, p. 36, p. 120)[3] In 1929, numbers were first added on the backs of uniforms by the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. By 1932, all major league baseball teams had numbers on their players' uniforms.[3] The Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1952, became the first baseball team to add numbers to the fronts of their uniforms.[3][7] In 1960, the Chicago White Sox were the first team to place players' names on the back of their jerseys, doing so on their road jerseys; within a few years, this practice became almost universal in MLB, though to this day the Yankees only wear names on their uniforms for Players Weekend, a yearly event where alternate uniforms with nicknames are used.[10]

From the 1840s to the 1870s, baseball players wore various types of hats, or even no cap at all, since there was no official rule regarding headgear.[13] Examples included full-brimmed straw hats such as boating caps, jockey caps, cycling caps, and flat-topped caps.[11]

The Brooklyn Excelsiors was the first team to wear what would later become the modern baseball cap, with its distinctive rounded top and peak, in the 1860s.[11][14] By the early years of the twentieth century, this style of cap had become common, but some teams occasionally revived the flat-topped cap, such as the New York Giants in 1916 and the Pittsburgh Pirates as recently as during the 1979 World Series.[3] Over time, the peak has enlarged slightly to further protect the player's eyes from the sun.[15] More recently, players have worn hats with fold-down ear flaps in cold weather.

In the 1970s, as artificial turf became prominent on developed countries' baseball fields, modifications to footwear became necessary.[16] Detachable spikes became popular in the 20th century, as they helped players to avoid slipping, especially on turf, but they were banned in 1976.

In the 19th century and the first part of the 20th, baseball shoes were commonly black in color. In the 1960s, the Kansas City Athletics began wearing revolutionary white shoes, a tradition carried over when they moved to Oakland. Since then, some teams are wearing colored cleats corresponding to their team colors. For example, the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals now wear red cleats, the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers wear blue cleats, and some of the San Francisco Giants players wear orange cleats. In recent years, however, players are now allowed to wear cleats regardless of team color, and often customize them as a form of self-expression.

By the 1990s, new styles of close-trimmed pants legs made it possible for players to wear pants that ran clear to the shoetops, in lieu of the traditional knee-breeches style that had prevailed for generations. This led to a violation of the literal concept of a "uniform", in that different players on a given team might wear knee-length and full-length pants on the field at the same time. Players such as Manny Ramirez have taken this fashion trend to an extreme, wearing loose-fitting pants whose legs nearly lap under the heels of the shoes. Some, such as Gary Sheffield, have even developed straps that hook under the cleats. Meanwhile, players such as Alfonso Soriano continue to wear the traditional knee-breeches, though most of these players still lack the traditional stirrups.

In recent years teams that wear throwback uniforms usually outfit themselves with stirrups or knee-breeches, to simulate the look of a particular era. In addition, some teams began to wear stockings with stripes. Examples include the Tampa Bay Rays sporting Columbia blue and white striping on their navy stockings, the St. Louis Cardinals with navy and white stripes on their red stockings, and the San Francisco Giants in black stockings with orange stripes.

Major League Baseball and Nike introduced the City Connect series during the 2021 season to shake up uniform design across the sport in the most dramatic fashion since the league introduced the Turn Ahead the Clock alternates in the late 1990s.

Nike has worked with each MLB team to craft a uniform that expresses the personality and communities of the team's home city. The first year saw the launch of seven City Connect uniforms: for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants. The unveilings continued in 2022 with seven more: the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. This year, we've already seen the uniform for the Atlanta Braves. That one will be followed by the Texas Rangers (April 21), Seattle Mariners (May 5), Cincinnati Reds (May 19), Baltimore Orioles (May 26) and Pittsburgh Pirates (June 27).

After taking over as the uniform supplier for the NFL and the NBA, Nike pushed for radical uniform-design changes in those leagues, a move that is now making its way into the baseball world. While some MLB traditionalists have scoffed, many of the designs have sold out quickly after their unveiling.

Design inspiration: Colorado's uniform pays homage to the mountains that give the team its name, with a predominantly green look reflecting the state's signature pine trees. It features several flourishes, such as a new circle logo on the hat in red (for soil) and gold (for sunshine), along with the state's "CO" abbreviation. The logo and number font also pay tribute to the state's distinctive license plate.

Fan reception: The Rockies' uniforms received a polarizing reaction from fans. Many praised the look's local ties to their state's license plate, and some fans across baseball called them the best uniform since City Connect started (as we are doing here!). Others rated them among the worst, however, with some even likening their design to a beer ad.

Verdict: The Rockies have unveiled a design that is distinctive from the rest of their existing uniform set without feeling completely out of left field. The Rockies paid an exceptional amount of attention to detail, creating a look that feels both fresh and classic.

Design inspiration: Chicago's uniform displays "Southside" in gray Gothic font, a nod to the Greystone architectural style of Chicago. The team's dark gray pinstriped pants also provide a unique design touch not often seen in baseball today. The look resembles the Turn Back the Clock uniforms the team wore in tribute to the Chicago American Giants. Nike and the White Sox also say the design was inspired by the team's influence in hip-hop culture.

Fan reception: Of the various City Connect uniforms, the White Sox received the strongest positive reaction from fans, with the jerseys selling out quickly on the day they were made available in the White Sox team store.

Verdict: The White Sox became the first team in the series to experiment with pants that weren't white, and made a statement with the pinstriped look. While the Gothic-style font could be divisive and stands out as the most distinctive element of this uniform set, this set's ability to both differentiate itself while staying true to the White Sox makes it stand out from the pack.

Design inspiration: The Marlins went with a bright-red pinstriped uniform and a predominantly blue hat with a red bill. The jerseys pay tribute to the Sugar Kings, a Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds that played in Cuba from 1946 through 1960. Both the uniform patch and the logo on the hat call back to the original Sugar Kings logo. The uniform is not an exact copy of the Sugar Kings' jersey, which was white and featured red pinstripes.

Fan reception: A largely positive response on social media greeted the Marlins uniforms, which deviated from the "Miami Vice" theme that Nike could have easily defaulted to after the positive reception for the Miami Heat alternates. Given the history of bold uniforms in Marlins franchise history, the faux throwback to the Sugar Kings falls right in line with the team's closet of jerseys. 041b061a72


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