50 Best Logos in Major League Baseball History

Doug MeadCorrespondent IMay 14, 2012

50 Best Logos in Major League Baseball History

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    For many years now, logos have provided a great form of advertising for any entity that uses them. Logos are seen as a small identifying mark for its company, and oftentimes companies are remembered and recognized through their logo.

    Practically everyone in the world identifies Nike with its little "swoosh" mark. Designed by Portland State University graphic design student Carolyn Davidson back in 1971, Nike owner Phil Knight incorporated the logo into every single marketing campaign implemented by Nike, and that logo is now one of the most recognizable logos in the world.

    FedEx, Google, Coca-Cola, eBay and Harley Davidson all have easily recognizable logos that they have used to help promote their brands. That has been the primary objective of logos—establishing and identifying a brand.

    Major League Baseball and its teams have followed the same exact principle—creating logos for its product in order to promote and advertise. While some team logos have been in place for many years, other teams have tinkered several times with logos to better represent their clubs.

    Rather than do a list of the best MLB logos in history, we will present the best logos from each MLB team, along with teams who are now defunct or who have moved on to other cities.

    Note: All logos seen in slideshow are courtesy of Chris Creamer's sportslogos.net

Arizona Diamondbacks: 2008-2011

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    I can't say that I've ever been completely enamored with any of the Arizona Diamondbacks logos since they came into existence in 1998.

    At least they got rid of those hideous turquoise, copper and purple colors.

Atlanta Braves: 1990-Present

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    The Atlanta Braves have been in existence since 1883, and through several name changes and cities, the franchise has used numerous logos in an effort to best define their club.

    The tomahawk chop has been used as a rallying cry for the Braves for quite a while, and this particular logo best represents that and is surely a whole lot better than the Native American head logo used by the franchise for many years.

Baltimore Orioles: 1966-1988

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    Since moving to Baltimore in 1954 from their former home in St. Louis, the Orioles have proudly displayed the state bird on their logo since that time.

    The logo used by the team from 1966-1988 (same logo was used from 1989-1991 with slight color variation) coincided with the Orioles' first World Series victory and subsequent dominance throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Boston Beaneaters: 1889-1896

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    When the Boston Beaneaters (now Atlanta Braves) first joined the National League in 1883, they adopted red as their color.

    In 1889, they went to the other end of the color spectrum, settling on blue as their color. Ownership was obviously torn, as they switched back to red in later years before becoming the Boston Braves in 1912 and undergoing several more color and logo changes.

Boston Americans: 1903-1907

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    Wow, talk about copycats.

    The Boston Somersets joined the brand new American League in 1901, changing their name to the Americans in 1903 before finally settling on the Red Sox in 1908.

    However, couldn't they have been just a wee bit more creative with their logo, considering their brethren in the National League used the same exact logo just years before?

Boston Braves: 1946-1952

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    The Boston Braves' logo that they incorporated in 1946 is largely the same as the one currently used by the franchise in Atlanta.

    Again, it's a far sight better than that ridiculous Native American head with the red headdress used for many years.

Boston Red Sox: 1960-1975

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    A pair of red socks was first introduced by the Boston Red Sox back in 1931, however it only lasted for two years.

    In 1960, management got smart and went back to that theme, which has been used in various forms ever since, and has become one of the most recognizable logos in Major League Baseball.

    This particular style was perfect—no need to clutter it up with team location or nickname.

Brooklyn Dodgers: 1938-1951

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    For many years, the Brooklyn franchise underwent several name changes, all the while using some version of the letter B as its primary logo.

    In 1938, after being established as the Dodgers for several years, they finally incorporated the logo that has become iconic in nature, and is still used in a different form by the franchise on the West Coast.

Brooklyn Superbas: 1909

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    Speaking of the Brooklyn franchise...

    Starting out in the National League as the Bridegrooms in 1890, the team name was changed to the Superbas in 1899, using a simple old-fashioned B in navy blue.

    That color is still in use today.

Brooklyn Robins: 1914-1925

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    Continuing on in Brooklyn...

    The Superbas became the Dodgers ever so briefly, switching back again to the Superbas for another year before yet another change to the Robins in 1914.

    Maybe they figured their play on the field would see improvement if they continued changing names?

California Angels: 1970-1985

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    The Los Angeles Angels just may be the only team in Major League Baseball history who actually changed their team name during the season (I'm sure some fact-finder will confirm this).

    Angels owner Gene Autry originally chose the name Los Angeles Angels as a continuation of a name for the team that had long been a part of the minor-league Pacific Coast League. However, in advance of the Angels' move to their new stadium in Anaheim in 1966, Autry officially changed the team name in September 1965, a month before the end of the season.

    This particular logo was a great representation of the team incorporating the entire state, along with its signature halo.

Chicago Cubs: 1979-Present

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    Easily one of the most recognizable logos in professional sports, this particular version was introduced by the Chicago Cubs in 1979 and has been in use ever since.

    Prior versions featured different color schemes, however, this one incorporated the dark blue seen on Cubs' jerseys for many years.

Chicago White Sox: 1917

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    In 1917, with the country in the midst of the Great War, the Chicago White Sox decided to honor the brave troops fighting abroad by taking their established logo and adding red, white and blue along with 13 stars to represent the original colonies.

    It's a far sight better than the current logo, which is all black. Too much of a reminder of the 1919 team that will forever live in infamy.

Cincinnati Reds: 1972-1992

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    The Cincinnati Reds have long incorporated the use of the letter C in their logo, however, in 1972 they added a new twist.

    Few teams use animation these days—this was one of the best.

Cleveland Indians: 1973-1979

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    The Cleveland Indians have steadfastly defended the use of their current Chief Wahoo logo, despite numerous protests from Native Americans who view it as offensive.

    At least for seven years they toned it down just a tad with this particular logo.

Cleveland Naps: 1910-1914

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    One of the charter members of the new American League in 1901, the Cleveland Indians started out as the Cleveland Blues, becoming the Cleveland Bronchos in 1902.

    However, after a highly publicized trade that brought prized second baseman Napolean Lajoie to Cleveland in 1902, the team changed its name to the Naps in honor of its prized star.

    Lajoie was the first established star to jump from the established older National League, and brought instant credibility to the fledgling league.

    Too bad the franchise couldn't come up with a better logo.

Colorado Rockies: 1993-Present

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    You have to give the Colorado Rockies credit. They selected their logo that would best represent their new team back in 1993, and are the only team in Major League Baseball history to continue using the same primary and alternate logos throughout its history.

    And why not?

    The logo is a perfect representation of an area well known for one of the world's natural beauties—the Rocky Mountains.

Detroit Tigers: 1922-Present

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    The Detroit Tigers have been smart—they don't mess with success.

    Used as an alternate logo since 1922 and as the primary logo since 2006, the calligraphed D in navy blue has served the Tigers faithfully and loyally for many years, and stands as one of the longest running logos in professional sports history.

Florida Marlins: 2003-2011

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    When the Florida Marlins first introduced their logo prior to their first season in 1993, I thought to myself, "Wow, that is a lot of teal!"

    The alternate logo in 2003 toned it down a bit, introducing the sunburst to add a stark contrast as well.

Houston Astros: 1975-1993

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    When the Houston Colt 45s changed their name to the Astros in 1965, they introduced a host of changes.

    Roy Hofheinz took over as sole owner of the team, introduced the new Astrodome and honoring the home of the nation's space program with the name change to the Astros.

    This logo was very cool, using baseballs literally "orbiting" around the Astrodome.

Houston Colt 45s: 1962-1964

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    When the cities of Houston and New York Mets were awarded National League franchises for the 1962 season, a city-wide naming contest was held in Houston, and the nickname Colt .45s was selected.

    Needless to say, it didn't last long.

Kansas City Athletics: 1963-1967

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    In 1960, Charles O. Finley bought a controlling interest in the Kansas City Athletics, and while Finley would became legendary for his many marketing strategies and other innovative ideas, perhaps the best idea Finely implemented was the above logo.

    After using an elephant as its primary logo for many years, Finley temporarily retired it after adopting green and gold as the official color of the A's and using the colors in the new team logo.

    The elephant is still around, but the green and gold has been a staple in the A's logos ever since.

Kansas City Royals: 1969-2001

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    With a classic emblem in the shield and topped with a crown, this particular logo adopted by the expansion Kansas City Royals in 1969 served as a great representation of the franchise for over 30 years.

    While the logo has changed somewhat, the use of the shield and crown are still in place for the monarch-like team in the Midwest. Playing like royalty, however, has been a challenge.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 1958-2011

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    Before the Dodgers' franchise relocated to the West Coast in 1958, they had endured numerous name changes and logos over their history in the New York borough of Brooklyn

    However, once the move to Los Angeles was made, they found a logo that stuck, and has been in place for 54 years and counting.

Miami Marlins: 2012

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    An explosion of color that would make David Bromstad of HGTV's Color Splash proud.

    Well, I'm actually not so sure about that.

    The Marlins gave new meaning to the term "extreme makeover" in 2012, with a new team name, new stadium, new uniforms and new colors.

    Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria likened his new logo to the "colors of Miami." Just not so sure he should have embraced every single color in the spectrum.

Milwaukee Braves: 1954-1965

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    We have already discussed the Native American head displayed on previous logos for the Braves franchise.

    At least during their stay in Milwaukee, they included the state of Wisconsin in the background for their alternate logo. It takes a bit of the sting out of seeing a screaming Native American.

Milwaukee Brewers: 1970-1977

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    The Milwaukee Brewers are the only team represented with more than one logo in this presentation.

    Seeing a beer keg swinging a bat was worth featuring the Brewers twice.

Milwaukee Brewers: 1978-1993

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    The second Milwaukee Brewers logo featured in this presentation is easily one of my favorites.

    Cleverly combining the letters M and B to form a baseball mitt was pure genius.

    Not only do the letters stand for the Milwaukee Brewers, but the phrase "baseball mitt" is covered as well.

    Pure genius.

Minnesota Twins: 1961-1969

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    When the Washington Senators moved their franchise much farther north to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961, for obvious reasons the logo needed a redo.

    The logo depicts two men—one from Minneapolis, the other from St. Paul, representing the Twin Cities—shaking hands across the Mississippi River, which flows directly through both cities.

    A terrific way to brand the new franchise location.

Major League Baseball: 1969

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    Prior to the 1960 season, Major League Baseball itself had no official logo, and from 1960-1968 they combined a red, white and blue flag with a baseball in the middle.

    In 1969, the new logo was revealed, and it was readily accepted for its simplicity and ambiguity. Its background has often been credited as a likeness of Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew, however, according to MLB.com, no one player is credited as having been the model, and an ESPN story in 2009 confirmed the identity of the original creator, Jerry Dior, who claimed that the design was based on a composite of several photos.

    Nonetheless, the logo has become the standard-bearer of MLB, and logos for other major professional sports were patterned after MLB's design as well, including the NBA and its Jerry West-based logo.

Montreal Expos: 1969-1981

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    It literally took me years to figure out exactly what the Montreal Expos were trying to convey in the logo that they introduced for their expansion franchise in 1969.

    A stylized letter M that also contains the letter E for Expos and the letter B for baseball.

    Ah, the light dawned on me finally.

New York Giants: 1908-1916

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    Sorry, Yankees fans, but your beloved team was not the first in the city with an interlocking NY.

    The Giants beat you to it by a few years.

    They would later abandon the interlocking letter logo, leaving the Yankees with a logo that has since become iconic and one of the most recognizable in all of professional sports.

    Too bad, Giants. Maybe Lady Luck would have shined on you with 27 World Series rings had you stayed with the interlocking NY instead.

New York Mets: 1962-1998

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    The original New York Mets logo, adopted by the franchise in 1962, is still in use today with a darker theme.

    With the backdrop of the New York skyline and one of the many bridges that connect the city, it was a brilliant original design that still defines the team today.

New York Yankees: 1936-Present

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    Without question, the New York Yankees logo is the most recognized in all of MLB and most likely all of professional sports.

    Not bad considering they weren't the original team using the interlocking NY.

Oakland Athletics: 1968-1982

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    After owner Charles Finley moved his Athletics from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968, he kept the primary colors of green and gold adopted by the team in 1963.

    Adding the Swingin' A's part was really a testament to the team that Finley envisioned building, which was eventually realized in Oakland in the early 1970s.

Philadelphia Athletics: 1940-1953

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    The image of the elephant depicted in the Philadelphia A's logo was the brainchild of former owner and manager Connie Mack, who literally ordered the design of the logo just for spite.

    Renowned New York Giants manager John McGraw was very vociferous in his disdain for the new American League, and proclaimed that "Philadelphia promoters had a nice large and juicy extravagant White Elephant on their hands" in trying to get the Philadelphia A's off the ground.

    Mack took McGraw at his word, literally.


Philadelphia Phillies: 1992-Present

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    The Philadelphia Phillies used the version of the letter P for close to 70 years after the team became a charter member of the National League in 1876.

    In 1943, they abandoned the letter P and tried six different logos until finally settling on its current version in 1992.

    It only took them 116 years to finally get it right—just a few years longer than it took for them to actually win a World Series championship.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 1968-1986

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates, much like their brethren to the east, the Philadelphia Phillies, also incorporated the letter B in some fashion as their logo up until 1935. Then, someone finally wised up and thought to put an image of an actual pirate in their logo.

    This is my personal favorite of all the pirate-based logos—incorporating the current black and gold theme adopted by the Pirates in 1948.

San Diego Padres: 1969-1984

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    Spanish Franciscan friars founded the city of San Diego way back in 1769, so the name Padres was a perfect match as a nickname for the new National League franchise awarded to San Diego in 1969.

    It wasn't altogether original—the Padres were the name of a Pacific Coast League that started play in 1936 and featured teenager Ted Williams—but the logo designed for the new franchise was indeed original.

    A happy Friar swinging a bat. What could be more original than that?

San Francisco Giants 1958-1976

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    The Giants franchise move to San Francisco in 1958, using a logo similar to the one used in New York before the relocation.

    While their caps still featured the interlocking letter feature introduced back in 1908, their wordmark logo also went back to the interlocking feature in 1983, and is used again today.

    It's back to the future, and it works.

Seattle Mariners: 1993-Present

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    In 1993, the Seattle Mariners decided to go in a completely different direction with their primary logo, tying in the strengths of the Northwest all in one.

    Combining elements of sea, technology and the outdoors, the Seattle region is finally well represented with the Mariners' change in design.

Seattle Pilots: 1969

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    They were only in town for one season before becoming the Milwaukee Brewers, but in 1969, the Seattle Pilots hit it out of the park with their primary logo.

    While the product on the field for the expansion team was less than stellar, their logo represented two major characteristics of the Seattle area—wings representing the airline industry for which the city became famous for, and the wheel of a ship, representing the strong fishing industry in the city as well.

    The Pilots have long been forgotten, but not their logo.

St. Louis Browns: 1936-1951

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    For the first 34 years of their existence, the St. Louis Browns utilized a variety of different brown-themed logos that incorporated the use of the letters of their city.

    The logos stunk about as badly as the team itself.

    In 1936, they finally smartened up and put some pizazz into their logo. While the team finally made it to a World Series in 1944, the new logo didn't do much to change their fortunes on the field.

    But at least they were styling for a change.

St. Louis Cardinals: 1922-1926

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    The St. Louis Cardinals first introduced the pair of redbirds sitting on a bat with the letter C hanging on the hat like a hook back in 1922, and they have used variations of that theme ever since.

    It's iconic, it's appropriate, and it simply works.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Cap Logo, 1999-2000

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    When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays came into existence in 1998, they used a combination of colors in the blue-green spectrum to create their design, incorporating an image of a devil ray in the process as well.

    Their cap logo for two years starting in 1999 certainly made them stand out on the field. That's about all it did, however.

Texas Rangers: 1984-1993

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    This particular logo used by the Texas Rangers always worked for me.

    Red, white and blue. Yes, patriotic—check.

    The state of Texas represented—check.

    An understated baseball not overly ostentatious—check.

    It all worked for me.

Toronto Blue Jays: 1977-1996

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    I'd love to know why teams feel the need to change something that isn't broken.

    This logo, used by the Toronto Blue Jays from its inception as a team until 1996, totally worked. A understated maple leaf representing the country of Canada, a cool looking blue jay—why change it?

Washington Nationals: 1955-1958

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    For the first 35 years of the existence of the Washington Senators/Nationals franchise, they used the letter W or the word Washington in several different forms.

    In 1936, much like politicians looking to make a name, the team finally starting getting creative. This alternate logo used between the years 1955-1958 was for me the coolest logo used during the team's time in the nation's capital.

Washington Senators: 1968-1971

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    The new Washington Senators took over the nation's capital in 1961 after the original franchise took off for the Twin Cities.

    In 1968, the Senators used this logo on their caps for their last four years in Washington before moving on to Texas.

    It worked, and it still works today for another team.

Washington Nationals: 2011-Present

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    When the Washington Nationals first started play in the nation's capital after 34 years of no baseball in D.C., they used a logo that was, well, just okay.

    In 2011, the Nats went back in time to dig up the remnants of the last logo used by the Washington Senators. For this fan, it feels right, and for loyal supporters of baseball in the metro D.C. area, combining elements of the past helps bring back the history of baseball in the capital city.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.