The New York Yankees logo may not be a primary reason for their ascension to the top of the sports world, but it sure hasn't hurt. Their elegant, understated and yet commanding look has long been a part of the supposed Yankee mystique.
More importantly, theirs has become the most recognizable brand in sports, and as such, it has made them hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandising and licensing.
Not every team has been savvy enough to find something as clean and simple as the Yankees' interlocking 'NY' design and stick to it. For many teams (even some of the most popular ones in the league), the optimal logo has been elusive.
From logos that were too anachronistic to those too desperate to be contemporary, all the way to those that out and out offended, there have been a lot of duds in the annals of MLB branding. Here are the worst logos in the history of every organization.
All images courtesy sportslogos.net.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have not been around long, and have had (essentially) two logos in total during their existence. Therefore, this was an easy choice.
This was the logo Arizona donned for the first nine years of its existence. In some sense, the color scheme invoked the desert, though ineffectively. That's the best that can be said for it.
The 'A' seems to be intended to look like a down-snapping snake's mouth, but fails, and the carefully screen-printed angularity of the whole thing made it boring.
The team did away with this look in 2007, and look much better in uniforms crafted around a more creative logo and a brick-red-and-black color scheme.
If you ever find yourself wondering what Native Americans object to when it comes to the use of their likenesses and caricatures as sports emblems, kindly bookmark this page.
Though the tomahawk may paint an unduly bloodthirsty picture of the Native American "Brave," it's certainly far preferable to this whooping oversimplification. The lack of a body dehumanizes the man depicted, though perhaps not as much as the puns perpetually used during coverage of Braves games back when they called Boston home.
Something about the 1990s had everyone fascinated with taking their usual logo, watering it down and trapping it inside a diamond or a baseball. The results were invariably poor.
I don't get the whole cartoon bird enchantment. I don't much like that it's coming back. As a logo, though, it beats the heck out of this yawner.
This really happened. For a while in the 1950s, this was how the Boston Red Sox represented themselves. They were literally socks (Christmas stockings, more like) who played baseball, or so the logo suggested.
It was preposterous, and yet not far out of step with the times. It may or may not show up in rating the worst logo for each team, but if we did the 50 or 75 worst logos of all time in MLB, a lion's share would come from among the cartoonish caricatures of the 1950s and '60s, and the drab diamonds of the 1990s.
When the Cubs actually donned this logo for a throwback day in Boston this season, there were plenty of jokes about how they ought to have demanded money of UBS, for whom they appeared to provide a three-hour advertisement.
The logo, though, predates the company itself. The Cubs have been around a long time and had many unimaginative logos, but for ugliness, this one edges out all others.
From 1912-48, the Chicago White Sox nearly always had some variation of a big 'S' with the 'ox' split between its top and bottom curves. This was the lone interloper in that run, a design used from 1932-35.
It displays the desperation to incorporate baseball shapes at the expense of actual aesthetics that characterized the worst of the 1990s, and sort of evokes the current diagonal logo—which also stinks.
I know a lot of people loved the Redlegs. It's a mascot the Reds still incorporate (in different ways) into alternative logos. I can't stand it.
Mascots are dumb. That tenet is nearly immutable. Making a logo centered around a mascot is almost never a good idea, and the Redlegs (that was their official name for six seasons; they actually named the team after the mascot) were no exception.
By comparison, the old-time Braves look tame. The Indians have never had politically correct logos, per se, but given the context of the modern era, to still have this red-faced mockery in towering profile around the ballpark and in the front office is nigh unfathomable.
The Rockies have only 20 years of history, but to their credit, they have not given in to the temptation to tinker during that time. They have had only two logos, and this (the lesser of the two) is still not bad.
It loses only by default, because I love an interlocking alphabetic logo.
That's a really terrible tiger. It's strangely marked, overwrought and moon-faced. It looks like the animal depicted recently suffered a concussion, and possibly also an allergic reaction. That would explain the perfectly round, puffy face.
Failing that, perhaps the Tigers simply hired a very bad artist. In either case, the result is neither intimidating nor pleasing to the eye.
I guess the 'C' is meant to be smoke from the freshly-fired gun. It doesn't matter.
Naming a team after a gun is the sort of peculiar foible only possible in Texas. Creating a logo built around that idea and making the gun itself a prominent pictorial part of the brand, should make even Texans blush.
It was an abortive idea, and after three seasons, it was aborted.
Though they have been around a bit longer, the Royals have been nearly as hesitant to mess with what has worked, as the Rockies have. They've made only superficial changes, and even this logo loses without disgrace.
The general notion—crown over shield, royal blue and gold—hasn't changed much at all, and that's a good thing.
Another product of the 1990s, another effort to force baseball imagery (this time, for some reason, crossed bats behind home plate) into an otherwise perfectly good logo. The result, as it so often was, was a look too busy and noisy to look good on a uniform.
That's a shame, too, because Mo Vaughn could have looked really good with a more slimming, toned-down emblem across his chest. Okay, maybe not.
This speaks for itself. Way back when, long before there were computers to make this logo look this pixelated, it still looked dumb. The whole thing looks thrown together, the letters poorly measured to look natural as they swooped downward, the flourishes hastily finished and off-kilter.
It wasn't on their uniform or anything, but this logo made the rounds in Brooklyn on billboards and fliers and a dozen other places.
The Marlins' original look was everything wrong with the 1990s, lots of steel-gray and teal and an oddly futuristic fish trumping a baseball. This variant, with an ill-considered infusion of the orange that is now one of the team's primary colors, only made things worse.
There's a diamond. There are bats. The bright blue and yellow that made up one of the greatest logos ever are gone, replaced by a mangled homage to Notre Dame in muted colors.
Any guesses when the Brewers wore this monstrosity?
In the history of logo changes, this was the worst, bar none. Milwaukee traded in an elite logo for an awful one.
No matter how many cartoons MLB teams draw, they're never going to create a good-looking logo that way. An overly hammy pair of smiling Minnesotans shaking hands is no exception.
Everyone uses red, blue and sometimes yellow, so it's hard to knock the color scheme—but I will anyway. It looks childish. The whole thing does.
Mascot-based logos: Bad.
Script-based logos: Good.
That should clarify any remaining questions. It's not a catch-all: The Cubs use script-based logos nearly all the time, but their best is the Cubs bear inside their trademark 'C.'
For most teams, though—the Mets most of all—the goony mascots with baseballs for heads are best left on lunch boxes. The skyline/baseball/snow globe with "Mets" emblazoned across the front is a much better look.
The Yanks have only ever had two prominent logos, so it's not hard to decide between them. The interlocking 'NY' is as widely popular a brand as there has ever been in sports.
CC Sabathia wore hats bearing that logo long before he signed a contract to play for the team. That's despite his being from California. It's a pervasive, meaningful logo, and it carries a lot of weight.
This one, for some reason, forever calls to mind "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
The rare cool uniform that lacked a cool logo as its partner. The A's in those days mostly wore the "A" alone on their jerseys and caps, so maybe it doesn't matter that this weird microcosm of the 1960s was the official logo.
Still, it actually reads "The SWINGIN' A's," and that sort of absurdity cannot go unpunished.
The majority of the Phillies' many logos have been just horrible. This is the worst, to my mind, but three or four others would have been acceptable.
This particular choice looks like something plucked off the box of a 1960s board game. Again, childishness rules.
For whatever reason, bad logos are an incurable plague on both Pennsylvania MLB franchises. The Pirates have gone through a series of bad cartoonish mascots as colorful and ill-executed as those of the Phillies.
Unlike the Phillies, Pittsburgh has yet to really escape that cycle.
It's not hard to see why a team with such a compelling nickname would want to bring it to life. Raising the Jolly Roger after home wins is neat. Mashing various pirate faces and silhouettes onto baseball tableaus is messy.
Most of the Cardinals logos down through the years have been very similar, so distinguishing and ranking is difficult. I prefer the twin birds to the lone bird, and in this one instance, the bat works. It's actually well woven into the fabric of the logo, acting naturally as a perch for the birds.
This logo lands the distinction of being worst mostly because I don't know whether that is sky, a cloud, or some sort of phantom menace creeping up on the birds. It's a badly dated technique.
Sometimes, the cartoon works. That was the case for the Padres' baseball-playing monk of yore.
Though the brown and mustard was a drab disaster, the Saved-by-the-Bell pastel orange that the team pulled out to put together logos like this one in the 1990s were worse. The faded pinstripes add a shopping-mall feel, not class.
The whole logo plays it safe, and safe stinks.
It's boring. It's computer generated. It's super-imposed onto a baseball. This logo was tailor-made to the mid-1990s, and though I always thought things like this looked sharp on the MLB bedsheets I had at age 8, I now see them as boring and boxy.
Even this very round emblem doesn't try anything outside the box.
It was short-lived and never fully incorporated into the logo, but the trident-shaped 'M' and the bright blue and yellow was a cool blend.
Like the Brewers, though, the Mariners gave away their whimsical, bright and classy logo in favor of something more muted and drab. The compass is actually fairly clever itself, but the navy and (is that aqua? dark teal? Can teal be dark?) is a cliche, depressive 1990s blend.
If the early and mid-1990s were about muted colors and living inside the box, the end of the decade was all about flash. Few MLB teams embraced it like the Devil Rays, and they regretted that decision for years.
Splashed onto the front of a jersey, this relatively livable symbol becomes distracting and disturbing. Cast in more and more colors before the Rays finally gave up on it, the design may have blinded the occasional opponent, but it probably damaged the team's feeling of professionalism more than it did anything else.
Another product of the 1990s, this one made powerful use of the star logo. The best explanation there seems to be that the Rangers wanted to piggyback on the Cowboys' popularity. The rest is self-explanatory, if one considers the era.
Faded pinstripes, a few clicks down the brightness spectrum from the previous logo when it came to red and blue, and a diamond casing.
Ding! Your generic logo is ready.
This winter, the Blue Jays are returning from whence they came in the 1990s, going back to the split font, sleek bird and dominant white-and-blue that once made them great.
Though they've churned through many bad ideas in the interim, this usurper gets the nod for being the design the team took when it initially abandoned its traditional emblem.
There are very few bad choices available in the history of the Nationals/Expos. Since moving to Washington, the team has used several logos, but they've got a good designer in-house there.
It's not that this one was so bad; it's just too busy. The original Expos logo was that central three-color "M," sans the circle. Adding that bit was not necessary and seemed only to clutter the landscape of the logo.
It looked crowded, but then, something had to look crowded in the latter years of Montreal baseball.