Baseball remains to be one of America’s favorite pastimes, aside from football and basketball. From little league to professional, this bat and ball sport has made history and made legends of Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. Their jerseys have likewise become famous through time, and custom baseball uniforms for players have stories as colorful as the people who wore them.
The first baseball uniform was worn in 1849 by the New York Knickerbockers when a baseball club was formally organized four years earlier. The colors were white and blue: white flannel shirts and blue woolen pants, called pantaloons. Between 1906 and 1907, there were many firsts that happened to the American baseball uniform. The New York Giants donned the first collarless jerseys; the club Reading Roses of the Atlantic League tinkered with numbered uniforms, and the Boston Doves or the Braves, charged the fields in pinstriped shirt-and-pants garb.
Hitters and pitchers during this period in American baseball history donned various sport outfits, and events added color to its history. In 1927, the St. Louis Cardinals won the championship and became the last team to wear their status on their shirt front. In 1939, the first uniform jersey “Lou Gehrig #4” was retired when the baseball great became seriously ill.
Just like the historic custom softball uniforms, the evolution of baseball uniforms continued with members of the All-American Girls Softball League showing their heavy-hitting prowess in tunic dresses with short sleeves and belt. In 1950, the Pacific Coast League Hollywood Stars replaced baseball pants with shorts. In 1960, the Chicago White Sox was the first to have baseball garb with players’ names on the back of their tops. Others followed suit, which allowed the easier identification of players.
It was all about color when it came to this baseball era. In 1963, the Kansas City Athletics wore uniforms in bold Kelly green and gold shades. The short-lived Seattle Pilots had golden braids inscribed on their caps’ bills, while players of the Chicago White Sox, then one of the oldest pro-league baseball teams, donned navy blue shorts in their games.
From the early Eighties till today, changes in baseball uniforms were about celebration and commemoration of events and personalities. In 1987, the Atlanta Braves brought back the tomahawk look in honor of players who came 25 years ahead of them. For more on this topic, visit exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/timeline.htm.
A Brief History of Custom Baseball Uniforms