By Phil Hecken
I was recently asked on a podcast what I thought was the “greatest” baseball uniform of all-time. I hesitated a bit, but gave my answer (hint: look at the splash). But the answer wasn’t as easy as it seems. More recently, Graig Kreindler tweeted out his painting of Stan Musial in that very same uniform, and I remarked it was my “all-time favorite” uni. A bit later on in that thread, this question was posed to me:
I'd really have to think long and hard about this. But I'll start with those two.
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) March 5, 2019
Now, I’ve done a bunch of lists on Uni Watch and elsewhere, but one I’ve never undertaken is to identify (in my humble opinion, of course) the “greatest” MLB uniform for each team. I have picked the “greatest” uni year in baseball (1969), but of course not every uniform worn in 1969 was a particular team’s greatest.
I guess I’ve always thought I’d do a column like this someday, but always also thought it would be a daunting challenge: there are some obvious slam-dunks, but there are several teams for whom it would be very difficult to choose a “best” or “greatest” uni — and given that the choices for some teams would be very close (in other words, even in my own mind, I could waver on any given Sunday that a uniform I thought best yesterday I’d have second thoughts about the next day). Even now, I’m still unsure on a couple.
But I set myself to this task, and today we’ll look at my selections for the National League. These choices are all, obviously, just my opinion of the greatest uni for each team; you can (and should) argue for or against any of them. I tried to keep my choices limited to the current city in which a team plays; if a uni from a different era in a different city totally trumps a current city uniform, I note that. If there are some close seconds (or thirds), I’ll mention them, but I have to stick with one uni set for each team. As I write this, I hope I don’t talk myself out of any of these, so I better get started. Here we go.
Let’s face it, the Diamondbacks have never been blessed with particularly good uniforms in the overall scheme of things. Whether it’s the “bloody sock” sublimated snakeskin or the sedona red of their previous set, most would argue this team’s best look was something from the 1998-2006 timeframe. But which? My personal selection is the look pictured above: full sleeved, pinstripes, without the double-stacked wordmark of the early years. The D-Backs have never had great unis, but this is the best.
I bet some of you thought I’d select the feather sleeve version, (which I do love) worn so famously by Henry Aaron, but he wore a lot of unis for the Braves. No, this one was a fairly easy choice. They wore their greatest (or very similar unis) in Milwaukee, brought to them to Atlanta, and wore them for the first two years there before going through a multitude of unis in the late 60s, 70s and into the mid-80s. But the current home uni, which they basically re-adopted in 1987, was, and remains, their best. The headspoon, the jersey and pants piping, and of course the classic belt tunnels — all having the same width striping — this one is a modern classic. And their greatest.
Things immediately get tricky here. With well over 100 years of uniforms (many of which have been great), choosing a greatest is very hard. Here’s the thing, while I’m not generally a big fan of zipperfront jerseys, I love the Cubs in these clean unis. Even the cap is beautiful. Not only is it classically gorgeous, those stirrups are to die for. Yes, the various pinstriped models the Cubs have worn are great, but not their greatest. These are.
Cincinnati, like Chicago, poses its own set of problems — namely due to the shear volume of unis worn over 100 years (and we’ll get to see 15 of them this upcoming season!). I reeeeeeaally like the classic wool flannel numbers worn between 1967 and 1971, and even the polyester pullovers of the Big Red Machine-era have their appeal. But my favorite, and their greatest (IMHO) uni, was just a one-year wonder, and worn only on the road: a vested beauty featuring the loveable Mr. Redlegs on the left breast. Why they only wore this one season and only on the road uni is beyond me. Mr. Redlegs didn’t deserve such a fate.
Unlike the Marlins (who joined the league with them in 1993), and the D-Backs and Rays who followed, the Rockies have basically stuck with one solid home uniform for their existence. Yes, they’ve had sleeveless alternate jerseys and plenty of purple, but their home pins were, and remain, their greatest uni.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Other than changing “Los Angeles” to “Dodgers” and back a couple times, you might think the Dodgers road uniforms have remained basically unchanged since they moved out west from Brooklyn. And you wouldn’t really be wrong, because they have remained essentially the same over the years. The team wore “Dodgers” in their first year in LA (1958), switching to “Los Angeles” in beautiful script in 1959, and they’d keep it there until 1969. In 1970, they returned to “Dodgers” in plain blue script on a gray jersey. In their penultimate season in flannel, this would be a one year jersey. In 1971, a thin white/blue/white soutache trim was added to the shoulders and sleeves. They’d lose that in 1972, but by then they’d switched over to polyester double-knits and the beauty was gone a bit (they’d later add a white outline around “Dodgers”, along with piping on the sleeve ends). I’ve always thought the Dodgers have had great unis (and eschewed the softball tops except in very rare instances), and you could certainly argue the home is better than the road. But there’s something about that beautiful plain gray jersey with blue “Dodgers” and the red number below. It’s not that “Los Angeles” on the road is bad, it’s just that “Dodgers” is better. And this one is their best.
Like the Diamondbacks, the Marlins have never really had very good uniforms, and we have go back to then the team wore “FLORIDA” on their road grays to find their greatest. Sure, teal was a trendy color then (and the Marlins embraced it), but it’s still much better than the (always trendy) heavy does of black that would follow their early years. Nothing they’ve worn since then has looked better. So I was initially torn between the road grays and the home pins. But teal pinstripes aren’t dark enough to really see from distance and hey
you’re not the Yankees! (black pins aren’t so hot either), to the road grays, despite what I consider to be a less-than-perfect white/teal/black pants stripe are the winner by default. I mean, it’s not that bad, right?
Quick show of (virtual) hands: how many of you thought I was going to select the 1978-93 home pins (or even the 1978-84 powder roads)? Both are beautiful, and both have the greatest logo of all time (that’s the BiG) on the caps. Nope. Those of you who know me also probably know I love the colored sani look which the team featured on the road from 1974-1977. Nope. I think the 1970-71 powder blue flannels, which were basically repurposed Pilots roadies, are their greatest. There may be nothing more beautiful than a wool flannel blue uniform, and this hits the spot. I love how the team kept the odd lower-case “e” (which was NOT a repurposed “e” from Seattle — check the font, they’re slightly different). This endearing quirk only makes them better! Yep. The original roads were their greatest! (Yes, I still think of the Brewers as an AL team, so it’s no wonder their best unis came while they were in the American League.)
NEW YORK METS
Well, you knew damn well I wasn’t going to select the racing stripes or the snow whites or the … gah … BFBS softball uniforms, so why the 1969 roads? And weren’t those worn basically from 1965 (when they put the front number on) through 1973? Well, yes, but I chose 1969 for a couple reasons. One, while it’s not a “one year” uni in the classic sense, those are the only year the team wore the Jerry Dior patch. And two, almost all teams wore it during 1969, but the Mets were the only team to win the World Series (they were the “Miracle Mets” then, ya know) wearing it. And, c’mon, how beautiful is this? I could have gone with the ’69 homes, but I think the roads were their best uni ever.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Like the Reds and Cubs (and others), the Phillies have a deep uni history, and there have been some great unis. I particularly like the thin upright “Phillies” worn by the Whiz Kid-era players, and there’s always a soft spot in my heart for the powder blue maroon unis. But in 1938, the Phillies went blue and gold, to celebrate the city’s sesquicentennial by incorporating the colors of their flag on the uniform. They also did so on their home uni. Both unis had one of the greatest uni patches ever on their left shoulder. Unfortunately, the team went 45-105 that season (and a last place finish), so any memories of their greatest uni season were tempered by a terrible statistical season.
Yeah, the Pirates haven’t always worn black and gold, and I was really torn between picking the 1957-70 vested look (with gorgeous rups!) and the mustard accented polyester pullovers that followed. I don’t generally like the polyester era, but the Pirates were the first to make the switch, so they get special dispensation. However, the 1939 Bucs had such a glorious look, I selected it as their greatest uni. Their home & roads were basically identical, save for the white/gray color. Not only is the “Pirates” script a work of art, but the 1939 Centennial patch and the block blue belt tunnel really makes them stand apart.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
“Wait, what?” you might be thinking. OK, first of all, the Padres most beautiful uniform is likely their original 1969 set, immaculately rendered on wool flannel, and I admit to liking both the 1972-73 mono-gold (they wore that both at home and on the road) as well as the “classic” 1980-84 brown roads. But when all is said and done, the 1978 set, when they mixed/matched white, gold and brown jerseys with white and gold pants was just glorious. The raglan sleeves, the gold sanis — their greatest uni ever.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
This was another tough one. I was sorely tempted to go with their classic 1958-73 look (and indeed, that’s beautiful), and indeed, I still have a soft spot for the orange road jersey and sanis from 1978-80 with the classic funky angled “Giants” script. But for me, the 1983-93 roadie, with the headspoon and interlocking SF on the left breast is their greatest. I could go back to their New York days to nominate the 1911 World Series specials, the 1916 plaid numbers or even the 1940 red/white/blue editions, but I wanted to keep this to San Fran.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Ah, the “greatest” uniform of all time — or at least in my opinion — and the one that started this whole exercise. Let me say, I have loved the Cardinals unis since 1922, when they first put the birds on bat on the jersey (OK, I’m not that old — I mean, I’ve loved their unis for a long time, beginning with their 1922 uni). I think they still have the best uni in baseball today. The only year since 1922 I didn’t like was 1956, when they inexplicably dropped the birds-on-bat for the script “Cardinals”. That one year aberration would be corrected the next season. But the team’s greatest uniform is unquestionably the 1940-50 roads (which were identical to the homes, save for base color). But that look, with the sleeve stripes, headspoon and belt loop striping is just absolutely gorgeous.
This one wins, almost by default. I was sorely tempted to post an Expos uni here, but I’m going to give them their own section. The Nats, like the Marlins and D-Backs, have never had a particularly great uniform, in my opinion. Their current home whites are more than good, and certainly their best, but just not great. Sorry, Nats fans. If you want to talk Washington unis, then the 1905 homes (first team to place a nickname on a jersey) or the 1948-55 homes (and how great would this never worn prototype from the 50s have been?). But that’s not the same franchise. But now, it’s time to give a little love to the…
I have been vascillating between these beauties and the original road set for a while now, and it’s almost a coin flip. I mean, these are just drop dead gorgeous, and undoubtedly my favorite, but their greatest was the 1980-91 homes. The team made the red/blue racing stripes look good, but managed to do so while wearing button front jerseys and belted pants in the polyester era when pullovers and sansabelts ruled the day. It’s really a tough choice between the two, but the 1980-91 ekes out the title of “greatest” Expos uni!
Whew! And there you have it — the greatest uni for each National League team. I’m sure your opinions will differ (and that’s great — I welcome a robust discussion). What say you, readers? If you have better nominees, I’d love to hear what they are.
I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017, and more recently, in August of 2018.
For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.
Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.
Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):
Subject: Kankol, 1930s
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 30″ x 34″
When looking back upon baseball history, the Zulu Cannibal Giants remain a mere footnote in the lineage of the sport. If compared to some of the more well-known barnstorming teams throughout baseball history, they share many similarities with the House of David and the Weiss All Stars, yet still, amongst them, the Zulus remain largely forgotten.
It is perhaps because they were of African-American descent that we know so little about their profundity. With baseball being a segregated sport until the coming of Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby in 1947, African-Americans had been organizing their own professional ballclubs as far back as the mid 1880s. The Chicago Unions, Page Fence Giants, and later, the Homestead Grays and Kansas City Monarchs drew hundreds of thousands of fans to the ballparks to watch a game very different than those seen in the white leagues. Stars like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard became the luminaries by which baseball fans are taught a history of the sport.
Described by broadside posters of the day as ‘eccentric’, ‘weird’, and ‘primitive’, these ‘cannibals’ traveled throughout the United States and Canada, taking on amateur and professional baseball clubs alike. Formed by Charlie Henry, a former Negro League pitcher in Louisville, KY during the early part of the ‘30s, they donned war paint, long haired wigs, grass skirts and even played in their bare feet. Inspired by the Ethiopian-Italian conflicts of the era, the players even assumed tribal names and engaged in gibberish jabbing during game play.
Hailing from ‘Zululand’, these ballplayers were advertised as former lion hunters and war heroes – foes to be truly feared. It was said that under employment with the team, players were not to eat before games, in the hopes that they would become ravenous in the late innings to further intimidate the competition.
However, like some of the semi-pro teams they played against, the Zulus were simply thought of as a comical act, one that was never really taken seriously in the official Negro Leagues. And in the eyes of most Americans at the time, blacks would only succeed if they were clowns, engaging in antics rather than outplaying or outsmarting their opponents. But in terms of baseball, such a novelty was a profitable one. Their clowning on the diamond brought thousands to each ballpark they traveled to.
Over half a century ago, they were considered little more than an oddity. However, once we really educate ourselves to their existence, much like the Grays and Monarchs, underneath the facade of that machine were some of the best and most gifted athletes of the era.
This ballplayer’s name was ‘Kankol.’ That much we know – his real name has been lost to the ages. The same goes for most images of him and his teammates, be they promotional press photos or the grainy advertisements extolling their athletic prowess. And despite how jarring this image might look to us now, it was a reality of baseball’s pre-integration era.
Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.
Uni Concepts & Tweaks
It’s been a long while since I ran this particular feature as a sublede, but last weekend I ran a set of Chiefs uniforms. This week it’s time for another.
I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).
Here’s a set of Mavericks concepts I received from reader Bryan Spencer. The writeup is a bit longer than I’d like, but I’ll run it in its entirety here (future lengthy writeups will be subject to editing for length). But enjoy!
As a part-time design nerd aspiring to one day become an actual designer, I’ve always appreciated your content and insight. Reading the blog was really what first made me start caring about what teams wore when the took the floor, field, etc.
Similarly, Mark Cuban’s 2013 Crowdspring contest to design a Mavericks uniform was what first made me start designing uniforms. I was shocked when my admittedly terrible submission was not selected, but I fell in love with the creative process and have been designing uniforms ever since. You recently resurrected the Uniform Concepts and Tweaks feature, so I thought I would share some of my recent work with you.
Cuban recently went on the Locked On Mavericks podcast (February 25) and brushed off the possibility of the Mavs re-branding in the near future. I know there’s nostalgia with the current look because it’s synonymous with Dirk Nowitzki and the 2011 title, but let’s face it: the look is beyond dated, they have an exciting future with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and the time to re-brand is now.
I put together a set of concepts for them focusing on an updated color palette — the navy returns in a shade that’s a bit bolder, the royal blue is eliminated in favor of a cactus-like teal, and to keep things clean and simple white is the only other accent color.
Much like the pre-2001 set, these concept uniforms are stripped down compared to the current look. The goal was to create a modern, minimalist evolution of the current brand. To do this, the wordmarks and numerals receive sharp, angular lines to add some Western flair, the color palette is deliberately vibrant and contrasting, and each uniform in the set incorporates a two-tone teal cactus detailing motif.
I recently sent these concepts to Mr. Cuban, but didn’t receive a response. I wasn’t necessarily expecting one, but I was admittedly disheartened when I heard his recent remarks dismissing the urgency for a proper re-brand. Hopefully he’ll become open to the idea sooner rather than later.
As always, thanks for providing such great content for the sports design community!
Thanks Bryan. OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.
DIY Celtic FC Shorts
Got an e-mail from Colin Sherrod yesterday that contained a very cool DIY (his first, dontchaknow) for Celtic FC Shorts, “inspired by Uni Watch” no less. Here’s Colin:
In 2017 Uni Watch ran an article about Glasgow Celtic FC and the numbers, or lack there of, on their shirts.
I was blown away by this. I thought the shorts were the coolest uniform item I’d seen in a long time. So I decided I’d make a pair myself!
Practically speaking, I needed to make sure they were real functional shorts. So I needed pockets to hold keys, phone, wallet, etc. I already had an old pair of white shorts, so I just decided to use those.
Then I bought two pairs of green numbers on eBay and cut them to look like the proper font from the Uni-Watch article:
And I ironed them onto the shorts:
And figured out how to use my wife’s sewing machine (I must’ve sewed the legs together at least three times):
Finally, I bought a Glasgow Celtic FC badge on eBay for four dollars:
And I applied that to the front of the shorts!
This was my first DIY project, and I think it turned out OK! I know it’s not as impressive as most of the other ones that you guys post, but I thought I’d share anyway. Thank you so much for the inspiration!
Thanks, Colin! Great job, especially for your first time out too! Thanks for sharing — they turned out really well.
Threads Of Our Game
Occasionally I receive an e-mail update from Craig Brown, the designer and proprietor of the website, Threads of our Game. As the header explains, the website is a databuse of 1800s base ball uniforms. If you haven’t checked it out before, you’re welcome.
Anyway, got an e-mail yesterday with the subject line: “Take a closer look here — two famous baseball photos”. The body was as follows…
Hello baseball historians,
Threads Of Our Game takes a look at two 19th-century team photos that are very familiar to us: 1860 Excelsior and 1869 Cincinnati. Indeed, these are famous images of famous teams. But have you zoomed-in to take a closer look? Threads tries to answer the little mysteries within each photo.
1860 Excelsior, Brooklyn
A beautiful image for sure, but there’s very little photographic detail in the highlight tones of this print. So the question becomes: what exactly was Jim Creighton wearing that day? Had he discarded his bib before the photo was taken? Was there a wardrobe malfunction? Click the link and scroll through the photos for one possible answer.
In the Ferdinand Huff photo from this year, both George Wright and Fred Waterman brought out the bling—they’re both wearing medals on their Cincinnati uniforms. Do you know why? For the back story on this “heavy medal,” click the link and see photo B.
If you have additional information or opinions about these pages, please send me an email.
Thanks for your time. And thanks, too, to the growing number of researchers submitting uniform information to Threads. You all are great. (I need an admin to keep up!)
How great is that? Very! Thanks, Craig!
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: The
artist ballpark formerly known as “AT&T Park,” (I still call it…PacBell…not) now has a fourth new advertiser: It will now be known as Oracle Park at Camden Yards. Sigh (thanks, Brinke). … More information about this Lee County Strong sticker is in the CFB section below, but that’s Auburn baseball wearing the decal on their helmets (from Mark Palzcewski). More information on the baseball/softball teams wearing it here. … Virginia Tech went anthracite for anthracite’s sake Friday night versus Florida State (from Mike Lucia). … Normally I’d say “kill it with fire,” but since it would be for the Minor Leagues, I’m OK with this: TATC jerseys for MiLB teams (from OT Sports). … Check out these gorgeous powder blue uniforms for Southern (from Marcus). … Check this out: Brian Dawkins sporting a SCHMIDT/DAWKINS custom Phillies jersey (from Andrew Dillon). He introduced the Phillies yesterday. Love the double radially arched NOBS (and Dawkins wore 20 for the Eagles, while Schmidt wore 20 for the Phillies). … Good looking color vs. color matchup yesterday between Cal & LSU (from PodKATT). … The Yankees have a pitching prospect named Phillip Diehl, who has “Real Diehl” stitched onto his Rawlings glove. Adds submitter Nicholas Walz, “He’s projected to be up with the big club this season, so let’s hope he is indeed the Real Diehl!” … Tweeter Kate Witten thinks these Baylor baseball uniforms are pretty sweet. I agree. … Normally when I see a tweet that says this, “God. Country. Notre Dame. #ColorRush #PassTheShillelagh” I’m expecting the worst. But I kinda dig these mono-blue unis from ND (from Notre Dame Baseball). … Bryce Harper may no longer wear #34 now that he’s on the Phillies, but he’s still #34 in our hearts wearing #34 on his sleeve (from Robert Bonasty).
College/High School Football News: College Football season is still months away (though spring games are just around the corner), so the Auburn helmets at yesterday’s Pro Day event featured a ‘Lee County Strong’ decal in reference to the recent tragic tornadoes that killed 23. Several readers (including Clint Richardson) sent this in, and Mark Palczewski added the baseball team & softball teams wore it as well (see the MLB section above). Here’s another look. … Penn Football played a game in Shanghai (wearing their “home” uniform) yesterday (via Paul). Here are some more pics (from Chris Mycoskie). … Tweeter Russell writes, “I know of some people who will appreciate how local high schools are represented at the Big Shanty Barber Shop in Kennesaw, GA.”
Hockey News: ICYMI: Yesterday’s ticker featured the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL “taking uniform sponsorship to a whole new level” on Friday night (from Matt Straus). In yesterday’s comments, Rob S found a much better photo. Jeebus. … Here’s a look at Kurtis Gabriel still rocking the Pride Tape for the Devils (from bryanwdc). … “Check out the small bear patch by the captain’s C. Odd place for a non-commemorative patch,” says Timothy Jenkins. … All NHL arenas have a Ted Lindsay tribute on the boards until today, however it is not present at the Xcel center as the boards have MN state ads. Also, both uni’s for Greenway and Cathedral schools are INCREDIBLY beautiful (from Luke Gabel). … I’m not 100% certain exactly what this specialty jersey is for the Worcester Railers, but it is indeed special (from @daffy_dank). … It was (former Islanders GM) Bill Torrey Night at the Nassau Coliseum, and his sons were there wearing specialty jerseys commemorating the Isles four consecutive Stanley Cup winning seasons (from GOAT Jerseys).
NBA/College/High School Hoops News: Here’s a really in-depth article about the future of branding in basketball (from Adam Herbst). … More than 60 years after New Castle High’s fieldhouse was built, proclaiming itself the largest high school gym in the world, it is no longer No. 1 (from Gary Moore). Lots of cool info in that article. … Yesterday’s ticker contained the following from Andrew Cosentino: “Virginia Tech put the uni numbers of its seniors at midcourt for senior night — 5 for G Justin Robinson, 13 for G Ahmed Hill and 42 for G/F Ty Outlaw.” He left out one detail: “One thing I missed: The ‘FD’ is for senior manager Francis ‘Pope’ Duggan.” … Florida Gators AD Scott Stricklin writes, “This poster is from the first college basketball game(s) I attended as a kid (1982). My mom took my brother and me to Lexington to see the tournament. Mom later had this framed and it now hangs in the home office.” … William Wells asks, “I know it is done under the guise of corporate mess, but I sincerely dig this “Tobacco Road” jersey! Is this ticker worthy?” Yes, yes it is. … Interesting Pittsburgh themed sneakers for Kentucky’s Jonny David (from Matt Slavonic). … Film professor, and now Oscar winner, Kansas Jayhawk Kevin Willmott received this custom jersey yesterday (from Sam Wescott). … The old SEC logo was spotted at the LSU Basketball vs. Vandy in Baton Rouge (from Benji King).
Soccer News: Who said they weren’t fun before??? “The USL is making American soccer jerseys fun again,” says The Athletic. … Adidas have unveiled new home shirts for Germany, Sweden and Spain’s women’s teams ahead of this summer’s World Cup. … Josh Hinton writes, “Forward Madison FC on Instagram: ‘Blue at home. White away. Flamingos everywhere. Introducing our 2019 inaugural season jerseys!'” Some more pics here (from Ed Żelaski). … Tweeter (and reader) James Gilbert writes, “From last fall, framed jerseys for seniors feature old number type and old ‘NC’ logo. Compare to jerseys on players. Type/logo change done when these players were seniors in high school.” … More from Josh Hinton: New font for the USL teams on the back of the kits. … Here’s a look at some new gray/black uniforms for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, including a special 20th anniversary crest (from Ed Żelaski). They also have new white uniforms as well (also from Ed).
Grab Bag: A reader who goes by Mr. Haverkamp noted that a segment during the Golf Channel tournament focused on a tweet from the Winnie Palmer Hospital showed a newborn wearing a onesie that was provided courtesy of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament. “If you look at the picture in the tweet, you’ll see the newborn in their onesie that has the Arnold Palmer Invitational branding; but also includes the dreaded credit card company logo,” he adds. … Interesting article about William & Mary signing with UA, sent in by Noah Crouch, who adds, “many programs were already getting product from UA, except men’s basketball and football, who were still getting product from Nike. It also stated that Nike was a big sponsor of former football coach Jimmye Laycock’s football camps. Furthermore, it said Nike would continue sponsoring the football program and that UA was ok with that. After this past season, Laycock retired and W&M hired former Richmond/UVA/Howard coach Mike London as their new head coach. Now, in his official picture and all his summer camp info, London is sporting UA William & Mary year. Now that Laycock is gone, I guess UA gets football as well?” … Reader Stephen Wilkinson spotted this absolutely brutal apostrophe catastrophe at O’Hare Airport. … “Rocket Mortgage changed their logo. Noticed on the commercial. Old on left, new on right” says Jarrod Campbell. … Interesting logo on these seats in a secret upstairs area of Grand Central Station in NY (from Al N. Kreit). … “Just found out the New Westminster Salmonbellies of the Western Lacrosse Association unveiled their 130th season patch,” writes Wade Heidt. “This patch will be worn on their uniforms this upcoming season. Their season starts May 23.”
The D-Backs picture does not reflect your choice (but incidentally is a better choice with the monogram A on the left chest)
One of the things that never seems to get enough attention about the Braves going to their current uniform set in 1987 was that it was the first turn toward retro uniforms that I can remember. At a time when most teams still wore powder blue and loud colors, the Braves looked to their past and stood out in a great way for going old school.
Cubs without blue pinstripes (and a wishbone C on the cap!) and Phillies without red pinstripes? Pirates not in black and gold? Eh… no.
The Giants’ best look is the current home set – the cream base, the small gold drop shadow, NNOB. The Padres’ 1980-84 look (more orange, no raglan sleeves, arched team name) over the Winfield Era sets.
Beyond that, not too many arguments. And the Expos – très bien.
You could make a case for the Red Sox in 1979 as an earlier team to go retro, as they went back to belts and buttons and the classic home uniform with the headspoon after wearing pajamas for most of the 1970s. In addition, the Twins, while not doing a complete retro look, did bring back pinstripes in 1987.
The Twins brought back the retro look in 1986, mid-season. Just about the earliest new-uni unveiling I can recall. Full-button, pinstripes, solid cap. The script and cap logo were new, but the script in particular was an attempt to create a modernized version of a classic-style logo. I wouldn’t argue that the Twins were like the first or anything, but Atlanta’s 1987 changes were part of a trend that was underway, not a singular, groundbreaking innovation that the rest of the league followed.
Cubs without blue pinstripes
I actually like this look, and wish they would go back to it as an alternate. I don’t mind the red borders around the numbers that they now have, but I hate NOBs and wish they would go back to their classic look there too.
Agree on most uni choices but as a San Diegan I would go with the Padres 69-70 unis…I’m praying the Friars do it right when they bring back the Brown next year!
I would go the same with the Padres. Like them in just the brown and yellow in that uniform of 1969-70. Expect them in brown and yellow in 2020 which is what I want. I’m hoping the new brown uniforms will be their best of all time.
Although tough to choose best uniform so far because I do like the brown and orange uniforms of 1985-90.
Very interesting that you’ve got each of the two Pennsylvania teams wearing colors more associated the other team. Phillies in gold? Pirates in red?
Maybe this site could use the Baseball Think Factory’s “taking back the ballparks” initiative for referring to MLB stadia? For the Giants it’s as simple as calling the ballpark China Basin:
Agree with you Phil on many points. Diamondbacks better in purple and Marlins better when they were wearing predominantly teal. Teams like the Cubs, Reds, Cardinals had so many good uniforms to choose from. Hard to make a choice. Expos racing stripes white home uniform their best.
Can’t agree on the one-year-wonder blue and yellow Phillies. Just does not represent the look of the team. I like 1946-49 Phillies look.
I like the D-Backs vest uniform from this same period. And IMHO it seems odd that you prefer the gray flannel roads for many of these teams, especially the Dodgers. Nothing better than the crisp white with the Dodger blue and the pop of red front number.
Great local article on the Forward Madison FC uniforms:
Team execs weren’t satisfied with what their manufacturer designed, so they took the project in-house and gave a staff designer a weekend to come up with something better than Hummel’s design. A good reminder that the ultimate blame for bad or lazy designs doesn’t rest with Nike or UA or the suppliers but with the team executives who settle for crappy work and template-driven design.
Auburn football did not wear football helmets during pro day. Some website confused a photo of the white softball helmets for football helmets and ran with it.
I would have picked radically different uniforms than Phil for about half these teams, but my honest-to-goodness first objection to the list was, “Where are the Astros?” League realignment: The daylight savings time of Major League Baseball.
I can’t believe you didn’t mention the Mets 1987 Road uniform. It was beautiful.
I have slight quibbles with some but disagree strongly with two, the Pirates and the Giants. Overall, a very good job!
I agree with you, Phil, on the majority of your selections, but have to disagree on a few.
Cubs: I think their 1969 home is their best. Classic look and Ernie Banks wearing it.
Phillies: has to be the 70’s powder blues, which they are smartly using as a current alternate.
Pirates: I have to go with the late 50s flannel home with sleeves.
Cardinals: this one chose is just too busy. I think the 69 home is better and cleaner looking.
Braves: hard to argue with your choice, but will always prefer the blue feather jersey. Just such a unique and nice look.
For the other teams, I think you pretty much hit it correctly.
Thanks for an entertaining lede! Today’s other entry about the Zulu Cannibal Giants has me down the proverbial rabbit hole. A story that needs to be retold.
On the Mets: I’m with you on the racing stripes and the black, but I would put in a word for the first set of snow whites with the white cap.
(Is it just me, or did Jerry Koosman (#36) have his sleeves cut just a little shorter than everyone else?)
I always loved the *idea* of the Bumblebee Bucs mix-and-match, even though … shall we say, some combos worked better than others.
The red trim on the Cards uniform seems heavy to me, overbearing. I would go with the ‘60s, the flannel version of what they wear now.
I like the double-stacked DIAMOND over BACKS on their inaugural home unis.
“D-BACKS” on the front always reminds me of “D-BAGS” for some reason.
He picked the “A” on the front.
I’m aware. That one just says to me, “Here’s our Yankees uniform”.
The randomly-inserted lower case ‘e’ in those Brewer roads reminds me that mixing upper and lower case was a popular graphic style of the time. It reminds me of the opening credits of the Bill Cosby Show, his 1969-71 sitcom. HOOOO LAWD!!!
Regarding the Lindsay tributes in the rinks, there are actually several NHL teams not playing any home games from Thursday through today. Minnesota’s, Toronto’s, and Philadelphia’s next home games are tomorrow night; Montreal, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Winnipeg return home on Tuesday; Vegas (who last played at home on the 6th) aren’t back home until the 17th, while New Jersey (who last played at home on the 5th) won’t be back home until the 19th.
It does seem a bit disingenuous to say that “all 31 NHL rinks” would have the tribute during a period when 9 of those rinks wouldn’t be used by their respective NHL teams.
Can’t go wrong with the 1969 Mets road. The tailoring, the way they wore the stirrups, the patch, the shade of flannel, the letter positioning and spacing were all perfect. One thing casual observers miss, is that the road uniform of that era used a Wilson varsity number font, as it was a Wilson jersey. The Mets home unis wore the standard block font they still use today home and road. Strictly from a consistency perspective, the block numbers probably would have gone better with that road jersey, but sentimentally, I wish they would use the varsity font on the roads of today, especially during this 50th anniversary of 1969. It would not be too hard to do either…the font is still in use today, by the Braves and a few others, although the Mets version was extra thick.
Those 1939 Pirates are nice, but I think you were a year too soon. The ’40 and ’41s with the Pirate logo on the chest and the old red/blue scheme would have been my vote.
Obviously I could say a lot, but I don’t have time, as there are kids who need to be fed and laundry that needs to be folded.
So I’ll stick with just my biggest disagreement, and that would be the racing-stripe Mets. Those uniforms were beautiful – especially the grays – and are easily the Mets’ best uni of all time IMO. I loved them as a kid in the ’80s, and I still love them.
Never knew that Phil doesn’t Get It (TM)
I always loved the Celtic shorts with the number on the back of the shorts so as not to disrupt the hoops from going all the way around the jersey. DIY looks awesome and great idea for a project!
I don’t care if it’s Phil or Paul, but can we pleeeeease do one of these for the NHL???
[Insert thumbs-up emoji here]
Phil, your take on the Expos is quite confusing. In the article on 1969 being the greatest year for unis you stated the Expos original uni was “without question…the best uni the Expos ever wore. A new team, a new country — that crazy cap. Fantastic.”
Now you say, in the same paragraph mind you, the originals are “undoubtedly my favorite” and “their greatest was the 1980-91 homes.”
Did not realize until right now there were DIY Celtic shorts today.
Want to point out that, though the shorts are generally accurate, they only included the crest at the very end of the no-numbers-on-back era (early ’90s); before that it was either an Umbro logo in that position or nothing.
Re: Pennsylvania and piping – The 38 Phillies road is an interesting anomaly. The color photos point up a mistake in the Mitchell and Ness repo: the piping was only done in two colors on the originals. Not the typical three color piping seen on many jerseys.
The Pirates 38 roads seem to have only blue piping on the sleeves and collar, though one photo (colorized I assume) improves the piping to red and blue on the sleeves and blue/red/blue on the collar. I like it, but…
While it’s nice to see my favorite teams Cardinals uniform modeled by my namesake Stan Musial selected as the best uniform ever, I like the 1963 home and road uniform. The navy cap, classic birds on the bat without the headspoon, beautiful striped socks are the very best, in my opinion.
I must be the only one that likes the Brewers current M cap. The mit logo is nice but it is so ’80s. The M looks modern with a classic feel.
I also think it is their best look. Simple, modern, beer-y!
Celtic’s full name is “The Celtic Football Club”, as seen on the badge in today’s post. They’re commonly known as “Celtic” without a geographic identifier.
Yes, they’re based in Glasgow, but the New York Football Giants’ head office, training facilities and stadium are located in East Rutherford New Jersey & no-one calls them the New Jersey Giants.
Bryce’s 34 on his sleeve is his personal logo: BH with parts of both letters a different color to make it ALSO a 34. Has there been talk of him getting a new logo? or does he stick with a logo that no longer makes sense (to the extent that it ever makes sense for an athlete to have a personal logo)
Headspoon? Someone please fill me in here. I have no idea what he’s referencing.
Answered my own ? here…Thanks Paul!
The Hershey Bears regularly wore that bear patch on the upper right throughout the late 60’s. It wasn’t commemorative, it was incorporated into the design: link
Or just google image search Hershey Bears Jersey 60s
As a Marlins fan, I don’t like the teal dominance as much as the black with silver and teal highlights. The black F hat just looks better, to me.
This 2003 uniform is my pick for the best. (yes winning helps, but this uniform is classic and sharp.)