Throwback uniform

Throwback uniform

Throwback uniforms and jerseys are one-time or limited-time variations on a sports team's uniforms styled to resemble uniforms from that team's past. First promoted in baseball in the 1980s, they have proven popular in all major pro and college sports in the USA, not only with fans, but with the teams' marketing and merchandising departments.

Throwbacks were first popularized in Major League Baseball, where teams not only wore renditions of their past styles, but also tributes to defunct minor league and Negro League baseball teams as well. Often, the games where teams will wear throwbacks are promoted as "Turn Back The Clock Nights". Throwbacks also make occasional appearances in college football games, National Hockey League games, and in National Basketball Association games.

National Hockey League

Throwbacks were first introduced in the National Hockey League in their 75th anniversary season of 1991-92. At the time, only the Original Six teams wore throwbacks, as well as the All-Star teams.

While the NHL had long since replaced the heavy wool sweaters with more modern air-knit jerseys, the patterns for the 75th anniversary throwbacks were consistent with the original versions, with a few exceptions (as noted below). Player surnames were worn on the back of the throwback jerseys, even though in most cases this wasn't originally the case; the NHL did not require names on the jerseys until 1977.

The teams that featured throwbacks included:
*Boston Bruins - circa 1933 designThe Bruins' colors were brown and gold during this era; the throwback jersey used their current colors of black and gold.
*Chicago Blackhawks - circa 1940 designThe Blackhawks' "barber pole" design would be used one more time, in a game against Detroit at Chicago Stadium in January 1994. The jersey will be revived at the 2009 NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2009 at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
*Detroit Red Wings - circa 1928 designAt the time the design was originally worn, the Red Wings were known as the Cougars. They would wear their throwback again in the aforementioned game at Chicago Stadium in 1994. The design would be used by Wayne Gretzky's team of All-Stars that toured Europe during the 1994–95 NHL lockout, and by the Adirondack Red Wings as a third jersey. For said Winter Classic in 2009, the Wings will don a all-white replica of their home uuniform from the 1955-56 season, which is in essence, a reverse of their home red jersey.
*Montreal Canadiens - circa 1926 designThe Canadiens' red jersey has changed very little; the differences between the throwback and their current jersey were the crew collar, and the duplicate Canadiens logo on the left sleeve.
*New York Rangers - circa 1940 designNotable as it was the style the Rangers wore when they had last won the Stanley Cup; they would win the cup two years later.
*Toronto Maple Leafs - circa 1940 designThe two-stripe design was used for many years by the Maple Leafs, and after over two decades of the single-stripe design, the Leafs adopted a new version of the two-stripe design the following season.
*Wales Conference All-Stars - circa 1952 design (white)
*Campbell Conference All-Stars - circa 1952 design (red)The stripes running down the sleeves of the All-Star jerseys were wider than the original versions.

As other leagues began using throwbacks, interest in retro jerseys increased within the NHL. Beginning in 1997, the New York Rangers began wearing 1960s-era versions of their blue uniforms; they would replace their white jerseys with throwbacks from that era a few seasons later. To celebrate new ownership, the New York Islanders wore a modified throwback design for one game in 1998; the Buffalo Sabres pulled a similar stunt for a game in 2003. The Toronto Maple Leafs would also bring back a 1960s-era jersey, as a third jersey beginning in 1998-99. In 2003-04, the NHL implemented a Vintage program, allowing several teams to wear throwback uniforms that were specially branded with a vintage "V" patch. Among the teams that participated in that program:

*Boston Bruins - circa 1970 uniformsNotable as the Bobby Orr-era uniforms. The black throwback would replace the gold third jersey in 2006.
*Edmonton Oilers - circa 1990 uniformsThe current Oilers only wore the white uniforms once, for the Heritage Classic. The Oilers alumni wore the blue version for the preceding MegaStars game. For 2008-09, this will serve as the Oilers' third jersey.
*Los Angeles Kings - circa 1987 uniforms
*Montreal Canadiens - circa 1946 (white), circa 1960 (red)The white throwback, similar in design to the red jersey with its blue stripe across the chest, continued to be worn as an alternate in subsequent seasons. The red throwback featured a tie-up collar, a design feature that has seen a comeback in recent years, although strictly for aesthetic purposes.
*New York Rangers - circa 1977 uniformsFeatures the team's shield logo, instead of "RANGERS" written diagonally across the chest. Ironically, these throwback jerseys were actually newer in design than their regular jerseys.
*St. Louis Blues - circa 1979 uniformsTheir then-current uniforms, introduced in 1998, were at least partially inspired by these uniforms.
*Vancouver Canucks - circa 1977 uniformsThe blue throwback would replace their screen-printed red/blue alternate in 2006. These throwbacks would serve as the basis for Vancouver's new uniforms in 2007.

A few teams also introduced faux throwback designs as alternate jerseys. The Colorado Avalanche introduced a burgundy third jersey similar in design to the New York Rangers' blue jersey, while the Minnesota Wild introduced a red alternate featuring a logo encased in a circle with the team's name, a feature previously used by the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2004 National Hockey League All-Star Game also featured faux throwback designs.

The Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and Canucks would use their throwbacks through 2006-07. The Buffalo Sabres would also wear a throwback blue and gold jersey for one season, returning in 2008-09. Although third jerseys were temporarily discontinued for 2007-08 so that teams could get used to using the new Rbk Edge uniforms (third jerseys will return for the 2008-09 NHL season), Boston and Vancouver have adopted new uniforms based on their throwback designs. On January 1, 2008, the Sabres and the Penguins would don throwback uniforms in the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, albeit with Reebok's "Edge" design template. The Pens would use the throwback as their third jersey for the 2008-09 NHL season. As mentioned earlier, at the 2009 NHL Winter Classic, the Blackhawks and the Red Wings will wear 1955-56 replicas at Wrigley Field.

In recent years, CCM, now owned by Reebok, has made additional replica throwbacks available for sale, in addition to those in current use. 1992 throwbacks such as Detroit's and Chicago's were among those reissued, while others included older-era jerseys of current NHL teams Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and New Jersey Devils when they had played in their former markets (Winnipeg, Québéc City, Bloomington, MN, and Denver). Also reissued were the infamous "Flying-V" uniforms of the Vancouver Canucks.

National Football League

Throwbacks were introduced in the NFL in their 75th anniversary season of 1994. The designs varied widely in their accuracy:

* While no attempt was made to simulate obsolete leather helmets which were phased out in the 1950s, teams simulating uniforms from the era of leather headgear simply removed all decals and striping from their regular hard-shell helmets.
* A rule imposed by the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 adopted the AFL's policy of all jerseys displaying the player's last name on the back side. This practice was not part of the NFL officially until after the merger, but in order to keep consistency with current rules, the names were placed on the back side of all throwback jerseys.
* In most instances the fonts and typestyles used were only approximate matches at best.
* Arizona, Chicago and Pittsburgh wore reproductions of uniforms that pre-dated large numerals on the front of jerseys, so instead smaller numerals were worn on the right shoulder [] .
* Dallas and Buffalo received some criticism for their portrayal of their throwbacks. The Cowboys wore their early 1960s uniforms with their current helmet, while the Bills wore their then-current uniforms with the old "standing buffalo" logo in white on their red helmets, in place of the current blue "charging buffalo" logo. Later that season, the Cowboys used the "double-star" uniform, which could be considered an updated version of the 1960's jerseys. Both teams have since adopted these throwbacks more accurately as alternates, with Dallas now using the original, plain star helmet and Buffalo using the original red "standing buffalo" helmet on white background. The New York Jets also received similar criticism for using their throwback logo on their then-current green helmets; when they adopted the throwback design full-time in 1998, they also went back to their original-style white helmets.
* The Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns hadn't had major uniform redesigns up to that point or only made subtle changes, although it should be noted that the Seahawks and Buccaneers had joined the league just 18 years earlier. The Seahawks and Buccaneers have also since redesigned their uniforms in 2002 and 1997, respectively, while the Dolphins made some minor updates in 1997, the Saints in 2000 and the Cardinals in 2006.
* The New England Patriots, who had just changed their uniforms the year before and had switched from the "Pat the Patriot" logo to the current "Flying Elvis" logo, wore their then-current uniforms with the Pat the Patriot logo on the helmets in place of the Flying Elvis logo.

All the teams were informed that they would be wearing the Throwbacks during Week Three of the season. Some teams continued to wear theirs throughout the season. The San Francisco 49ers wore replicas of their 1955 uniforms in their Super Bowl XXIX victory. The uniforms were well-liked enough that the 49ers brought them back, in slightly modified form, for 1996-1997. In 1998, the gold pants from before were returned, in more modern form.

Both of the NFL's New York City teams' throwbacks proved so popular with their fans that the teams returned to wearing them full-time soon afterwards: The Jets' replicas of their 1968 uniforms (with a darker shade of green than before), and the Giants' 1961 uniforms, with the lowercase "ny" instead of the underlined uppercase "GIANTS" imposed after moving to East Rutherford, NJ. Both teams have modernized the 1960s decals for their current primary corporate logos.

As a result of the NFL modifying its rules to allow teams to wear alternate jerseys in 2002, throwbacks still make occasional appearances. The Thanksgiving Classic games hosted by the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have been a showcase of throwbacks in recent years. The Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys traditionally wear their early 1960s throwbacks twice each season. Of note, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who dramatically changed their uniforms and team colors in 1997, have never worn their orange throwbacks, and owner Malcolm Glazer has forbidden NFL Properties from reproducing the Buccaneers' original logo and color scheme, in an attempt to bury the team's mostly woeful history from 1976-1996. The San Diego Chargers wore their 1960s style powder-blue uniforms with white helmets as alternates from 2002-2006 and in 2007 adopted a modified version as their full-time uniforms, while the San Francisco 49ers began wearing their 1980's-style home red uniforms as throwbacks in 2002 (in 2005 the team redesignated them as alternate uniforms), and wore them on the 2007 season opening night, September 10, as a tribute to their late former head coach Bill Walsh. On September 16, 2007, the Pittsburgh Steelers, celebrating their 75th season, wore a variation of their older early '60's uniforms that featured gold helmets with black stripe, black jerseys with gold numbers and stripes, and white pants with black-and-gold side stripes as they hosted Buffalo. They wore them again on Monday Night Football on November 5 against Baltimore. The Steelers enjoyed immense success in both games, winning each handily (26-3 vs. Buffalo, 38-7 vs. Baltimore), in direct contrast to the team's struggles when they wore those jerseys originally. On November 11th, 2007, The New York Giants, wore their red uniforms against the division rival Dallas Cowboys. The New York Jets wore their New York Titans replica jerseys twice - once at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, and once against their divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins.

The Eagles wore their powder blue and yellow throwback jerseys during the home game against the Lions on September 23, 2007. Though the Eagles had a big 56-21 victory, these particular Throwbacks were criticised as being very unattractive. During Sunday Night Football on NBC that week, Keith Olbermann named the Philadelphia Eagles the "Worst Persons in the NFL" for their blue-and-yellow throwback jerseys, citing "Throwbacks? Try "throw-ups!". The blue and yellow uniforms, which are the same colors as the flag of the City of Philadelphia, were used by the Eagles, and their predecessors, the defunct Frankford Yellowjackets franchise, until the 1940s when the more familiar pre-Jeffrey Lurie era kelly green was introduced.

Major League Baseball

One of the first Major League Baseball throwback uniform games occurred in Chicago, where the White Sox wore their 1917 World Series uniforms against the Milwaukee Brewers in 1990 as part of the White Sox celebration of the final season at Comiskey Park. During the game, the scoreboard and public address system were turned off, and the lineups announced with a hand-held megaphone. Since then, these games have proven popular not only among team fans but also with viewers of TV highlight shows. ESPN, for the highlights of the 1990 game, sped up the highlights and showed them in black and white. The team then adopted a modified version of the 1959 "Go-Go Sox" era jerseys for the first year at U. S. Cellular Field in 1991.

Some throwback nights will feature the Oakland Athletics wearing one combo or another of the gold/white/green uniform set it featured in the 1970s and 80s, or the Pittsburgh Pirates' black-and-gold combo from the same era. In 2003 the St. Louis Cardinals hosted the Baltimore Orioles with teams wearing retro St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns (the predecessor to today's Orioles, which moved to Baltimore for 1954) uniforms, respectively. ( The scoreboard that day said "Browns" and the stadium announcer played along with the fantasy as well. A recent (2006) throwback day saw the Houston Astros revert to their orange-and-red Rainbow Guts uniforms, also from that same era. Also, the Milwaukee Brewers, in recent years, have resurrected their old 1980's pinstriped uniforms with the old ball-in-glove "mb" logo on the caps for use as an alternate uniform. In 2008, the Toronto Blue Jays unveiled their new "Flashback Friday" powder blue throwback uniforms, similar to those worn in the 1979 season.

In the 1999 season, MLB turned the throwback uniform concept on its ear with a series of "Turn Ahead the Clock" nights. It was inspired by an independently-held promotion on July 18, 1998 at a game between the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals. During those nights, teams would wear uniforms as they might be envisioned in the year 2021. 22 teams ultimately participated over 13 different games in 1999, with some teams wearing the uniforms more than once. The promotion proved unpopular, and has yet to be repeated since. [ [ Turn Ahead the Clock Night - BR Bullpen ] ] In 2006 the New York Mets, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the 1986 World Series, held a "turn-back-the-clock-night" and wore their 1986 uniforms.

National Basketball Association

In the 1996-97 NBA season, the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary by introducing throwback jerseys. The Toronto Raptors were notable for wearing the uniforms of the long-defunct Toronto Huskies, an original BAA team. The Chicago Bulls wore script-logo throwbacks from the beginning of Michael Jordan's career. Some of the throwbacks that were introduced in this season have been brought back on more occasions since, notably the Golden State Warriors, whose throwback placed the players' numbers inside an angled cable car (a reference to San Francisco, where they had played in the early years in California).

In more recent years, throwback jerseys in the NBA have recalled some of the more gaudy uniforms of the NBA and the ABA, ranging from the aforementioned Warriors uniforms, to the Detroit Pistons' lightning bolt uniforms of the Dick Vitale era of the late 1970s, to the Atlanta Hawks' many color schemes (from the green and blue to the famous Hawks 1980's Dominique Wilkins-era jerseys, to the Miami Floridians throwbacks worn by the Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers' 1980's era jerseys worn by Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and Ron Harper. In contrast, the New York Knicks often wear throwback uniforms from the 1970s and 80s that are understated by comparison. The warmups and uniform shorts of that era feature an "interlocking NY" identical to the one worn by the New York Yankees on their caps and home jerseys. Most "Hardwood Classics" jerseys worn by current players for games, however, are based on modern fabrics, and not the classic fabric designs of the past.

Other North American sports

Throwback jerseys have even made their way to more esoteric pursuits. The Philadelphia Wings indoor lacrosse team ditched their silver, red, and black uniforms for a game to wear their original orange and white jerseys worn in the early 1970s from the original National Lacrosse League. For the 100th anniversary of the rivalry between Johns Hopkins and Maryland in men's lacrosse, both teams wore special retro jerseys. During the 35th anniversary of women's field hockey at Dartmouth College, the Big Green are wearing a special harlequin-design throwback uniform. The Texas Longhorns college football team wore throwback uniforms for a single game during their 2005 national championship season as a way of honoring the past. The throwback jerseys were similar to jerseys worn during their 1963 National Championship season under Coach Darrell K. Royal.cite news | url= | title=Texas Game Notes - Louisiana Lafayette | accessdate=2007-03-14 | | publisher= University of Texas & Host Interactive | format=PDF] cite news | url= | title=Texas’ throwback unis | | publisher=Bevo Sports | accessdate=2007-03-14] [cite news | url= | title=Longhorns will have throwback look in opener - UT football team will wear helmets, jerseys with 1963 look. | work=Austin American-Statesman | publisher=Cox Enterprises | author=Golden, Cedric | date=August 18 2005 | format=PDF | accessdate=2007-03-14]

The University of Virginia's football team wore throwback uniforms in a single game on September 6 2008 in honor of Virginia's teams from 1984 through 1993. The university's athletic department termed the game a "Retro Game" instead of using the term "throwback." [ [ Virginia vs. Richmond Football Game is a "Retro Game"] ]


The throwback uniform concept is also popular with various sporting clubs internationally, and are often used to celebrate a team's heritage much like their use in the United States.

Australian Rules Football

The Australian Football League features an annual "Heritage Round" that uses the concept. After the inaugural 2003 heritage round St Kilda used their heritage guernsey as their away uniform from 2004 till 2006. Also in 2003, Port Adelaide angered Collingwood by wearing their traditional black and white "prison bars" guernsey which was also the same colours as Collingwood. Collingwood’s anger was considered controversial seeing as Port didn't even play Collingwood in that game. In the intervening years Port have worn Heritage Round designs based on numerous other colours and designs the team wore previously to 1902 when they changed to black and white.

"Heritage Round" has recently been taking on themes based on certain era's. The 2006 round was based on the 1980s and the theme of 2007 to be based on the 1970s. This creates an awkward situation for Port Adelaide who were disallowed by the Collingwood Football club and the AFL to wear their SANFL Black and White "Prison Bar" guernsey from the 1980s due to overshadowing the branding of Collingwood's Black and White Stripes, although a deal has been done since that will allow Port Adelaide to wear the "Prison Bars" at all future Heritage Round matches played in Adelaide. Collingwood itself wears variations of its signature black and white stripes as worn in the relevant era.

The West Coast Eagles are also planning to wear the WAFL State of Origin guernsey for the 2007 1970s round as they did not exist until 1987. Likewise, the Adelaide Crows, formed in 1991, have worn SA guernseys as well as guernseys combing the Crows' colours with those of SANFL teams.

The designs of heritage guernseys and uniforms worn today can be found at []


The Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization has "Again 1984/1992" day once per month in commemoration of their league titles from those respective years. The team dresses in their old baby blue jerseys as well as their old cap, complete with the old logo. The "Again 1984/1992" games are usually the most popular games of the year in Busan, with the stadium as well as the throwback merchandising usually selling out fast. Due to this success, starting in 2008, other teams in the league such as Doosan Bears and SK Wyverns have started to incorporate a similar style of throwback day as well.


Throwback uniforms or 'retro shirts' as they are known in the United Kingdom, are also sometimes used in association football, albeit (as with the NFL) with modern fabrics. In 2005-06 fc|Arsenal changed their home colours from their traditional red and white to a variant of maroon known as redcurrant as a commemoration their final season at Highbury Stadium; this colour was the same shade the team had worn when they had moved to Highbury in 1913.

fc|Manchester United wore a replica of their jersey from 1958 during the Manchester derby game against fc|Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League on February 10, 2008 at Old Trafford to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster four days earlier. United also used the traditional "One to eleven" numbering scheme rather than using squad numbers.

More authentic reproductions of kits from the past have become popular fashion items, especially jerseys linked to successful or memorable teams.


When Lance Armstrong won his fifth Tour de France championship, his U.S. Postal Service team wore a special jersey sporting the old U.S. Mail logo from the 1970s.


In February 2005 at Eden Park, Auckland, Australia and New Zealand contested the very first Twenty20 cricket international match. Both teams appeared in retro 1980's style tight fitting one day international uniforms without team names, numbers or sponsors logos. The Australians wore their original "yellow and gold" whilst New Zealand were in "beige" inspired by the Beige Brigade sports fans. The game was played in a light hearted manner with both teams sporting 1980's style head bands, moustaches and hairstyles. []

ee also

* Mitchell & Ness
* special paint scheme - "Retro" paint jobs found their way into NASCAR in the 1990s


External links

* [ ESPN Page 2 looks at Major League Baseball throwbacks worn in 2002]
* [ NHL, visual history of NHL uniforms]
* [ NFL 75th Anniversary Throwbacks]
* [ Throwback Jerseys]
* [ AFL Heritage Round]
* [ Throwback Sports Apparel]
* [ NFL Throwback Jerseys]

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