Baseball uniform

Baseball uniform

A baseball uniform is a type of uniform worn by baseball players, and sometimes by non-playing personnel, such as managers and coaches. It is worn to indicate the person's role in the game and, through use of logos and colors, to identify the two teams and officials. [cite web |url= |title=The American Chronicle ||accessdate=2008-06-25|author = Robert Riles | date =8 April 2008]

Most baseball uniforms include the player's name and uniform number, usually on the back (and sometimes the front) of the shirt, which helps the spectators identify the different participants within a team. Uniform items typically include shirts, pants, shoes, socks, caps, and gloves.

Baseball uniforms were first worn by the New York Knickerbockers Baseball Club in 1849. [citeweb|url=|title=Date when the New York Knickerbockers wore the first baseball uniforms and what they were made of||accessdate=2008-06-30] [cite web|url=|title=History Of Baseball Uniforms In The Major Leagues||accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=] Today, sales of replica uniforms and derivative branded products, generate large amounts of income for Major League teams, through merchandising.


Early developments

The New York Knickerbockers were the first baseball team to use uniforms, taking the field on April 4, 1849 in pants made of blue wool, white flannel shirts and straw hats. [citeweb|url=|title=Date when the New York Knickerbockers wore the first baseball uniforms and what they were made of||accessdate=2008-06-30] [cite web|url=|title=History Of Baseball Uniforms In The Major Leagues||accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=] citeweb|url=|title=Baseball Uniforms in the Major Leagues: The Evolution of the Battle Suit||accessdate=2008-07-15] [cite web|url=|title=The history of the baseball uniform at the National Baseball Hall of Fame||accessdate=2008-06-14] The practice of wearing a uniform soon spread, and by 1900, all Major League Baseball teams had adopted them. 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.cite web|url=|title=The history of the baseball uniform at the National Baseball Hall of Fame | |accessdate=2008-05-11] 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 utilise striped uniforms. [cite web|url=|title=National Baseball Hall of Fame - Dressed to the Nines - Uniform Database||accessdate=2008-05-02|last= |first= ]

Home and road uniforms

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. An early examples of this is the Brooklyn Superbas, who started to use a blue pattern for their road uniforms in 1907.

In 1916, on the Giants' road uniforms, purple lines gave their uniforms a tartan-like effect and another kind of road uniform was a solid dark blue or black material with white around this time. The Kansas City Athletics home and road uniforms were changed by Charles O. Finley in 1963, to the colors of gold and green. [cite web|url=,9171,917734-7,00.html|title=Charlie Finley: Baseball's Barnum||date=Monday, Aug. 18, 1975|accessdate=2008-06-28] Some teams used light blue for their road uniforms in the 1970s.cite web|url=|title=Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century by Baseball Almanac||accessdate=2008-05-02] Early striped patterns developed into long stripes along the length of the uniforms, called pinstriping. This was first worn on some major league baseball team's uniforms in 1907,cite web|url=|title=Baseball uniforms at Baseball||accessdate=2008-05-28|last=|first=] and the pinstripes were then widened in 1912, so that the crowd could see them more clearly.

The Brooklyn Bridegrooms started to use pinstriping in 1907, 1916 and 1917.citeweb|url=|title=History Of Baseball Uniforms In The Major Leagues||accessdate=2008-07-15] Satin and other items were added soon after pinstripes were added. [citeweb|url=–-pinstripes/|title=History of Pinstriping||accessdate=2008-06-29] Pinstripes were commonly worn on the uniforms of the New York Yankees. Legend had it that the stripes were adopted to make Babe Ruth look slimmer, [citeweb|url=|title=New York Yankees using pinstripes to make Babe Ruth look slimmer||accessdate=2008-07-14] but since the Yankees had already been wearing pinstripes a few years before Ruth played for them in 1912, the legend was found to be a myth. The Yankees' pinstripes on their home uniforms soon became a symbol of them and the team.citeweb|url=–-pinstripes/|title=Major League Baseball history of pinstripes||accessdate=2008-08-13]

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) In 1929, numbers were first added on the backs of uniforms by the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.citeweb|url=|title=MLB Uniform History - Jersey Numbers||accessdate=2008-07-15] By 1932, all major league baseball teams had numbers on their players' uniforms. The Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1952, became the first baseball team to add numbers to the fronts of their uniforms. [citeweb|url=|title=American Chronicle: History of Baseball Uniforms||accessdate=2008-07-10] [cite web|url=|title=Baseball Uniforms - History of Baseball Uniforms||accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=] [cite web|url=|title=National Baseball Hall of Fame - Dressed to the Nines - Parts of the Uniform|publisher=Baseball Hall of Fame|accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=]

Cap styles

Caps, or other types of headgear with eyeshades, have been a part of baseball uniforms from the beginning. [cite web|url=|title=A short history of the baseball cap.(The Home Forum) - The Christian Science Monitor — HighBeam Research||accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=] [cite web|url=|title=BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Happy 50th, baseball caps||accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=] Baseball teams often wore full-brimmed straw hats or no cap at all since there was no official rule regrding headgear. [citeweb|url=|title=Celebrating the rich history of baseball caps||accessdate=2008-06-29]

From the 1840s to the 1870s, baseball players various types of hats, such as straw hats, boating caps , jockey caps, and even cycling caps. Caps, or other types of headgear with eyeshades, have been a part of baseball uniforms since the beginning. [cite web|url=|title=A short history of the baseball cap.(The Home Forum) - The Christian Science Monitor | |accessdate=2008-05-02 |last= |first= ] [cite web|url=|title=BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Happy 50th, baseball caps||accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=] The Brooklyn Excelsiors were the first team to wear what would later become the baseball cap, with its distinctive rounded top and peak, in the 1860s. [citeweb|url=|title=History of baseball caps||accessdate=2008-06-29]

By the early years of the twentieth century, it became common for players to wear hats with rounded tops, but some persisted with flat-topped caps, such as the Giants in 1916, and the Pittsburgh Pirates as recently as during the 1979 World Series. In recent years, baseball caps have changed very little, although over time, the peak has enlarged slightly to further protect the player's eyes from the sun. [citeweb|url=|title=History of baseball caps and how it is made||accessdate=2008-06-29]


In the late 19th century, soft but durable leather shoes were the preferred choice of baseball players. Detachable spikes became popular in the twentieth century, as they helped players to avoid slipping, especially on turf, but they were banned in 1976.Fact|date=September 2008

As artificial turf became prominent in baseball fields, modifications to footwear became necessary. [cite web|url=|title=Baseball Shoes|work = Baseball information ||accessdate=2008-05-03|last=|first=]

In the 19th century and the first part of the 20th, baseball shoes were commonly black in color. The Kansas City Athletics designed revolutionary white shoes in the 1960s. [cite web|url=|title=Victory Custom Athletic - Baseball Uniforms - Baseball Team Uniforms||accessdate=2008-05-02|last=|first=] Today, very few major leaguers wear color-matching shoes and there are hardly any all-black shoes.


Inspired by the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the stocking colors of teams in the 1860s onward were a principal device in distinguishing one team from another (hence team names such as Chicago White Stockings, St. Louis Brown Stockings (or Browns), etc.). Except for a few "candy-cane” varieties (particularly by the Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Senators), striping was quite minimal during the 1920s and, in contrast, a revival of other sorts in the early '30s.cite web|url=,lukas,25337,3.html|||accessdate=2008-05-03|last=|first=]

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. Meanwhile, players such as Alfonso Soriano continue to wear the traditional knee-breeches.

Graphics and logos

From the beginning, graphic designs were used to identify teams. Often an Old English letter was worn on the chest. This style survives with the Detroit Tigers and their gothic style "D" on their home shirts. Road jerseys were more likely to identify the city, as with the Tigers wearing the word "Detroit" on their road shirts.

As official nicknames gained prominence in the early 1900s (in contrast to media-generated and unofficial nicknames of prior generations), pictorial logos began emerging as part of the team's marketing. Some early examples include a small red tiger on the black cap of the 1901 Detroit Tigers, as they were officially the Tigers from the beginning; and a bear cub logo on the Chicago Cubs shirts by 1907, as that unofficial nickname was then adopted officially by the club.

In another famous example, the Boston Americans (an unofficial designation that merely distinguished them from their across-the-tracks rivals) adopted the Nationals' abandoned red stockings in by|1908, and have been the Boston Red Sox officially ever since then. [Cite web|url=||title=History of the Boston Americans and their uniforms|accessdate=2008-05-27]

By the 1930s, nearly every team had distinctive logos, letters or the team nickname on their home shirts, as part of the team's marketing. The trend of the city name on the road jerseys continued. In recent years, with team nicknames being so strongly associated with the clubs, logos that were once only used at home also turned up on road jerseys, in place of city names.

Modern merchandising

ee also

*Throwback uniform
*History of baseball team nicknames (includes further detail about major league team uniforms and colors)


*Marc Okkonen, "Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide", 1991.


External links

* [ History of the Baseball uniform] at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
* [ ESPN: A pain in the butt(on)] - history and potential nuisances of the baseball jersey

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