Rare Yankees Throwbacks

The Yankees will wear these 1912 New York Highlanders uniforms today at Fenway Park. Photo by New York Yankees

Today, the Red Sox and Yankees will mark the 100-year anniversary of Fenway Park’s opening, and they will do it in appropriate fashion.

While the Red Sox have sported ancient throwbacks in the past (like last season against the Cubs), this change is a very rare thing for the Yankees.

Since the Yankees became the Yankees in 1913, they pinstripes have been a staple of the uniform, giving them no alternate or even throwback to go to like most of baseball these days. Now, the Yankees will dress as the New York Highlanders, and don the 1912 throwbacks for this momentous occasion in Boston.

The uniforms themselves are pretty standard, and that’s a good thing. Baseball was simple back in those days (at least that’s what I hear), so it’s always fun to see guys like Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury dressed more than a little differently for a game.

The Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig even provided a little history on the Yankees’ throwbacks for this afternoon, and why the team has been so hesitant to use them for so long.

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White Sox will go red

The White Sox will don these 1972 throwbacks for Sunday home games this season. Photo by Chicago Tribune

An interesting little baseball tidbit to help you get through the winter here, this one courtesy of a report from the Chicago Tribune.

Back in the 70s, the Chicago White Sox tried some crazy things with their uniforms to spice up their franchise, and now we’ll see some of that for 13 Sunday home games this season.

They will also include red hats and red socks to further confuse the fan that is going to watch a Chicago White Sox game. Look for the debut on April 15 when Prince Fielder and the Detroit Tigers come to U.S. Cellular Field.

 

AL East Retro Party

The Blue Jays will go back to featuring blue as their primary color when play begins in 2012.

I know I’m very late to this party, but with football winding down and no more crazy Maryland football uniforms to discuss, it’s time to look at a few changes made in baseball over the offseason.

We’ll start with the AL East where the Orioles and Blue Jays have decided to turn back the clock in their uniforms for the upcoming 2012 season. In both instances, there are slight variations and the looks get the Style Points seal of approval.

The Blue Jays have ditched the space-age type look they employed in recent times to use this more retro look.

Tornoto had chosen to use a retro look for select home games recently, but these new permanent uniforms. The biggest difference here are the hats. The thick white stripe (if you can even call it a stripe) in the front of the hat will not be featured next season, but the same logo will be used.

The logo on the uniform will also move from the middle of the jersey to the side, making it look cleaner and more organized.

Overall, this is a very smart move by the Blue Jays. The black and silver look just never felt right. They are called the Blue Jays afterall, and the return of blue as the primary color is definitely a welcome change.

The Orioles will introduce a new orange alternate and a retro hat for home games this upcoming season.

Meanwhile, the Orioles have gone retro as well.

For a while, catcher Matt Wieters has featured a retro catching helmet. The one with the white middle and the cartoon oriole featured as the logo. I always thought it was really neat he was allowed to go that and now the rest of the Orioles can.

For home games, Baltimore will go back to the white and black hats with the cartoon bird, and for road games, they will go with a neat black hat with an orange bill that features this cartoon bird logo.

The road hat is my favorite because it combines the retro hat with the black hat that was used with the actual oriole in recent years.

Both of these changes should make play in the AL East very interesting this season, considering these two teams haven’t actually contended for a division title in the past decade.

Classic Mets

Lucas Duda, left, David Wright, middle, and Ike Davis will likely be the headliners for the Mets in these new, but classic uniforms in 2012.

Meet the Mets new uniforms … well, at least that’s what the team is saying.

The Mets will be celebrating their 50th anniversary this upcoming season, and what better way to mark the milestone than with new, well old, uniforms. New York will go back to the look of its inaugural 1962 season for 2012. (Of course that team had a record 120 losses.)

The biggest difference in the uniforms from the past decade is in the road uniforms.

In 1998, black was added as the third official Mets color to go along with blue and orange. From that time on, black dominated the road hat, whether it was accompanied by a blue bill or not. Now, the Mets will go with a blue hat on the road as they did prior to 1998, with the exception of one road game against the Yankees in 2008.

This is a fantastic move. Blue and orange should always be the colors of the Mets, the black uniforms never really felt like they belonged, although they will still be used as a road alternate in 2012.

The other adjustment from last season’s look is the loss of the drop shadow behind the lettering on the home jersey. Honestly, that drop shadow was only noticeable for the detail obsessed so the change makes the uniform cleaner, but is too subtle to make much of a difference.

As a a Mets fan, it is nice to see these changes. My favorite uniforms have always been the pinstripes with the blue hats, especially for day games. The more I see this uniform, the better. Hopefully, there will be some uniform karma transferred to the field for the Mets in 2012.

Miami Marlins: Not that bad … but pretty bad

We showed you a bit of a preview of what the Miami Marlins might look like when they take the field in April a few weeks ago. Well, now the official uniforms have been released and some of the most offensive features are gone, but there’s still enough there to make you cover your eyes.

Most of the uniforms here are only slight variations from what the Marlins used to wear (and no we are not talking teal.) The only one that really caught my eye was the orange home alternate.

How could one possibly think this would be a good uniform for a game played outdoors and in the summer. It’s just so bright and wrong.

At least Miami had enough sense to not use an orange hat with a yellow brim to go along with this, the black hat at least offsets the loudness of the uniform just a bit.

One last thing, I always find these sports fashion shows pretty hilarious. Really, why doesn’t Ricky Nolasco walk the runway all the time, he’s clearly found his calling based off this video.

Please let this be false

These standard Miami Marlins unifoms are tame compared to the alternates.

The Miami Marlins will open up play when baseball resumes next spring.

This will come with a complete makeover. Everything from the stadium to the team name to yes, the uniforms.

When the Florida Marlins first came into the baseball world, they made teal a baseball color. They quickly went away from that color, but frankly, it would be better than the amount of orange the Marlins might introduce.

Now, these uniforms have not been confirmed by the team, it is just scuttlebutt, but let’s hope Miami can come up with a better idea by the time the season rolls around.

The orange alternates here might be the worst uniforms in baseball if they are actually worn by the Marlins this upcoming season.

The orange alternates are simply gross. There is no way the Marlins could think these are viable uniforms. They could be offset with a black hat, possibly, but the orange and yellow brim is just wrong.

The black alternates aren’t too bad, but the orange brim on the black hats ruin the look. Let’s hope this is all false, but if not, expect some very bright games in Miami this season.

World Series preview: Searching for an identity

Please welcome our second contributor, Tim. While he’s not painfully enduring following Mets games while working at Fenway Park, he’s coming up with astute observations on uniforms. He’s an authority on baseball, hence, here are his thoughts on the aesthetics of the upcoming Fall Classic.

Cardinals closer Jason Motte has continued St. Louis' success this postseason, and it has come in the classic look of the birds on the bats. Photo by Getty Images

The Cardinals and Rangers will meet tonight in Game 1 of the World Series. It will represent a clash of organizations that have very little in common. St. Louis has been around since the 1800s, and it is the most successful National League franchise—both ever and recently. Texas has existed only since 1972 and has never won a Fall Classic.

In terms of uniforms, however, the teams display many similarities. But it’s their differences—however subtle—that illustrate important concepts of uniform design, identity, and tradition.

The Cardinals have one of the best and cleanest looks in Major League Baseball. The birds perched on a baseball bat across their chests has become iconic; it’s been a part of their uniform since 1922 (with the notable exception of 1956). Since then, however, their uniforms have pretty much been the same, give or take some cool stirrups here and there, the inevitable pullover- and light blue-ization of the uniform in the ‘70s and ‘80s,* and the way St. Louis went all Volstead Act on the concept of front numbers in 1979-80.

*I don’t know about you, but that Major League Baseball teams still wore pullovers as recently as 1992 seems very weird. In a way, the full-fledged re-adoption of button-downs in MLB marks the stylistic end of the ‘80s, no?

Like the Rangers, the Cardinals have experimented with both red and blue. While the letters and outlines on their jerseys have always been red, the Cardinals have often worn navy caps, beginning in 1940. For nearly a quarter-century, they only wore navy caps, until the current red-at-home, navy-on-the-road model was adopted in 1964—a good year in St. Louis. It lasted only that season—much like Yogi Berra’s first tenure as Yankees manager—before disappearing itself for 25 years, with the Cards wearing only the red hats. The road navies reappeared in 1992 along with button-down jerseys. The uniform has not changed since.

Michael Young and the rest of the Rangers reached their second straight World Series in this puzzling two-toned look for home games. Photo by Getty Images

The Rangers, meanwhile, do not possess nearly the same pedigree as St. Louis, either as a franchise or in their uniform styling. Texas has had five different logos in its relatively brief 40-year existence; the Cardinals, on the other hand, have had seven in 110 years. The Rangers have therefore struggled to forge a consistent identity. Their first uniforms went with an old-time Western font that included lowercase lettering—something very rarely seen in non-cursive wordmarks.* They had an anomalous 1983 with a weird “TR” logo never seen before or since. The Rangers wore their first tenable uniforms in 1986 before overhauling their look in 1994. The overhaul was very much welcome; the old, flat T was replaced by a beveled one that is, in my estimation, the best T in all of sports.

*Think my use of “rarely” is unmerited? The Twins are the only current MLB team to employ this style of wordmark; in the past, the Astros, Padres, and Angels are the only squads to have done it (that I can think of). It’s not even common in other sports. The Steelers are the lone football team with lowercase print in their wordmark. The Red Wings and Capitals do it in hockey. It has a bit more currency in the NBA, dating back, I think, to the Blazers and Bullets.

The Rangers also switched to red in 1994, a move that seemed welcome at the time but which has caused all sorts of quandaries ever since. Starting in 2000, Texas has bounced back and forth between red and royal before settling—sometime this season, I believe, although it could have been last—on wearing red hats at home and royal ones on the road.

You’d think this is pretty much the same thing the Cardinals do, and thus it should be celebrated. The problem, though, is that the Rangers’ red hats don’t in any way mesh with their home white jersey, which still has royal font (with red outline). The resulting look isn’t clean. Now, if you want to say that the Cardinals’ roads pair a navy hat with a jersey with red lettering, well you’re right. And it’s not clear to me if the reason this looks fine to me while the Rangers’ homes don’t is some sort of traditionalist bias (unlikely, just because the new Nationals’ uniforms look good doing the same thing) or the apparent fact that navy and gray intrinsically go together (they certainly do to me; pretty much everything I wore in high school fit that color scheme).

Cliff Lee led the Rangers last season when they stuck with blue-on-blue as their primary home look.

Now, to answer the obvious “How do the Rangers fix this?” question, we have some preliminary, theoretical ones to address. First, how important a role does a team’s uniform play in its identity? Second, is carrying on a two-toned identity feasible, let alone preferable? If it isn’t, what color are the Rangers?

My answer to the first is, almost everything. Your colors are your colors,* and it’s very difficult to up and change them after an identity has been forged. That’s why the Rangers could go to red in the first place; they had never made the playoffs. The Diamondbacks can get away with going from purple to red; the first look never worked anyway. But it’s a lot harder for the Atlanta Hawks to go from red to navy, the Denver Broncos to go from orange to navy, or the Utah Jazz to go from purple to navy. Fan reaction, both regionally and nationally, is typically strong, eventually resulting in a reversion to the old look. All three of those franchises have gone back, Jack Shepard-style.

*Imagine me placing extra emphasis on the second “colors” here, similar to EA Sports’ “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game” motto; that might get the point across.

And so I think we’ve established the significant tie between a team’s primary color and its identity, and that’s what makes the Rangers’ two-tonedness so unappealing. The Cardinals can get away with navy hats on the road; their uniforms are still primarily red, and they have been for 110 years. Their chromatic identity is secure. The Rangers, on the other hand, don’t have that track record. Although they have been blue far longer than they’ve been red, the Rangers first rose to prominence when they switched to red. Their first three postseason appearances came when they were red.

That’s what makes the last question—what color are the Rangers?–impossible to answer. They aren’t red or blue; they’re both, in which case they’re neither.

The solution, then, is for Texas to embrace royal blue. Ditch the red hats and the red alternates entirely; ditch the blue alternates, too, but less for identity reasons than “These are ugly” reasons. Although the franchise’s first run of success came in red, it can now be disregarded, as it is no longer its only run of success (or its most successful period). As the Rangers continue on the franchise’s golden age, it should be in royal blue.

Baseball Basics

Brandon Inge did well and looked good while doing it with a home run in Game 4 of the ALCS on Wednesday. Photo by Getty Images

As the baseball playoffs get closer and closer to the World Series, two of the teams remaining (at least as of 4 p.m. on Thursday) sport a classic look that has some variance depending on where they play.

I’m talking about the Tigers and Cardinals.

The astute observer notices that these teams go beyond the typical white/gray when playing at home or on the road, and it’s fantastic.

We’ll start with the Tigers. When at home, they have one of the nicest uniforms in baseball. The Detroit logo on one side of the chest is very simple. The dark blue trim on the uniform that goes throughout the body is also a very nice detail that gives the uniform a nice classic look.

Meanwhile, when the Tigers take their show on the road, the uniforms changes dramatically. In fact, it even introduces a totally new color in a very prominent way .. orange.

First, the hat changes from a white Detroit logo to an orange one. Then the logo goes away on the chest, and it is replaced by a cursive Detroit, since they are on the road. It is almost a complete change from the home uniform, but works well since it is a road jersey.

Then there is the Cardinals. I would go as far to say their home uniforms might be the best in the National League. The red hats along with the cardinals on the bats, makes for an extremely stellar look. The entire look is classic and looks great against the red background of Busch Stadium.

The birds on the bats across the chest is also a very nice and classic look. Keith Herandez always lets Mets fans know how much he loves this look on SNY broadcasts all season.

When going on the road, the Cardinals make a slight, but very noticeable change to their uniforms. They keep the birds on the bat and the red numbers on a gray uniform. However, the hat changes to a dark blue with a red St. Louis logo.

I really enjoy the contrast of the blue against the red numbers and lettering on the road uniforms. Theses classic looks are what make baseball special, and I will say I am hoping we have a rematch of the 2006 World Series by next week.