MLB Power Rankings: Rating Each Team's Best Throwback Uniform
Over the years, baseball uniforms undergo a great deal of change. There can be subtle modifications from year to year, or it can be a drastic change, like the Miami Marlins had this past season.
We all remember the ridiculous uniforms that the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros had back in the day; among others, some were great, and it's nice to see them during jersey-throwback nights.
On the following pages, I review the best throwback jersey of each baseball team. I'm looking at the complete history of the franchise, so the Nationals could have an Expos uniform, while the Twins might have a Senators uniform.
The only requirement I had for the Orioles' throwback is that it had to have the underline. For whatever reason, it makes their uniforms look so much better.
Since that's a recent addition, it limited the options; my favorite is actually the current road uniform, as "Baltimore" looks better than "Orioles" on the jersey.
As a result, I chose a similar uniform. The 1960s/early 1970s uniform looks crisp, clean and it's hard to believe that it's from nearly 50 years ago; it could fit in today's game.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox uniform has really not changed recently; the most recent one was making the "BOSTON" lettering blue a couple of years ago after it had been changed to red.
A century ago, though, they had a simple uniform. They didn't even have anything on the front except for a short time, namely in 1912. It was clean, and while I would have preferred the current lettering, the above is all you need.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have nearly had the same uniforms throughout their entire existence. Sure, they had a period where the logo wasn't on the front, but that was it.
During a short time, though, their road uniforms said "YANKEES" rather than "NEW YORK." It was during the late 1920s and early 1930s, so it more than deserves inclusion just based on that.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the two newest franchises, yet they've already had a uniform upheaval after getting rid of the "Devil Rays" in favor of just "Rays."
During that time, though, their uniforms were quite nice. Even back then, they only put "Rays" on the uniform and it looked modern and sleek. Since they're winning now, however, I'm sure many fans prefer what they currently have.
Toronto Blue Jays
I'm going to have to bend the rules with the Toronto Blue Jays. This past offseason, they changed the uniform design back to what it was for most of their existence.
It's a very nice uniform, and is their best, so I'm glad they went back to it. If I have to pick something different, I'll go with the old powder blue road uniforms, which were pretty much the same, design-wise.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are a team that took a while to find a great uniform. Their current set is great, and they've had it for some time now. Before that, most of their jerseys were really head-scratchers.
After the crazy 1980s uniform, the White Sox downplayed the red in their uniforms (finally) and tried this one out in the late '80s. It was nice, and while it was nothing spectacular, it helped them get on the path to the uniforms they have now, as the road one isn't that far off.
The funny thing about the Indians' uniforms is that their 1948 jersey and current uniforms are very similar, despite the fact that in those 60 years, they had some radical transformations.
Their best uniform actually came back in the 1930s. The "C" and trim were red, and it looked way ahead of its time. They held onto it until the post-war years, and given how close it is to Cincinnati's letter, I don't know if we'll see them bring it back.
The Detroit Tigers are another one of those teams, right up there with the Red Sox and Yankees, whose design is timeless. Very little has changed with their uniforms, especially the home one, because nothing's needed to.
Between the contemporary cursive road uniforms and the nearly identical ones of years past, the Tigers tried block lettering on the unis in the 1980s. It worked very well, and recalling memories of the Lou Whitaker-Alan Trammell combination certainly doesn't hurt, either.
Kansas City Royals
Perhaps surprisingly, the Kansas City Royals have not really changed their uniforms all that much. Their home uniform hasn't changed, and their road uniform has only had slight modifications.
That is, of course, with the exception of the all-powder-blue uniforms of the 1980s. Add in white lettering and you have a washed-out uniform that's tough to pull off. Somehow, the Royals did that, and the understated uniform is one that perhaps isn't appreciated enough.
The Minnesota Twins have had a very similar uniform throughout their existence, so for something different, we have to go back to the Washington Senators.
While the Senators had a "W" on their jersey at times (plus, they were the first team to use a team name on a jersey), they often simply had a blank one with a "W" on the side, and it actually worked. Nowadays, it would be too boring, but it made the players' performances speak for themselves.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels have tinkered with their name, as well as the uniform, over the years. It always ends up coming back to the "A" with the halo around it, and little besides the simple red and white, which is all that's needed.
During most of their years as the California Angels, they used the above font, which I think looks a bit nicer than today's. It's very similar to today's uniform, though, which simply means they haven't needed to alter much.
Since moving to Oakland, the Athletics have kept their colors consistent, though their uniform has undergone a few overhauls. Their current uniforms are nice, but for me, nothing beats the jerseys of the 1970s.
The green jerseys with "A's" on them, as well as the yellow-and-white ones, looked nice and simple at a time when teams started trying to do too much with their uniforms. It helped that they mostly kept white pants; the era of a yellow jersey and yellow pants was a bit much.
Of the Seattle Mariners uniforms throughout history, my favorite is the current one. The "S," in particular, looks great on it. When it comes to throwbacks, however, the choice is tougher.
Back in the 1980s, the Mariners relied more on the blue helmet and long sleeves, and with the jersey, it actually worked very well. Sure, the current colors are better, but looking at it, you can tell it worked back then, and while the jersey itself is just alright, the entire uniform works.
The Texas Rangers have a very nice uniform now, as the bold letters work perfectly for them. Their era of using red in the 1990s was nice as well. One thing I haven't gotten, though, is why they don't use a stronger blue more often.
From 1983 to 1985, they had the above jersey as an alternate uniform, and it's very nice. If you combine the lettering of today's jersey with this color and cut, then you'll have yourself a great Rangers jersey (which they now have as an alternate uniform).
Since moving to Atlanta, the Braves' jersey has not changed much. During their time in Boston, there were a lot of shifts in design, especially during their short time as the Boston Bees.
The best known throwback jersey is Babe Ruth's from 1935, but I find the emblem in the middle off-putting. The 1920s version with the "B" on the right side was their best, since it made them look classic and strong despite the fact that they were cellar-dwellers back then.
The Miami Marlins have really only had two sets of uniforms; the new ones this season and the original Florida Marlins jerseys.
As a result, determining the better throwback comes down to the road vs. home jersey. I like the road one a bit more, since it incorporates the logo nicely and gives it a good look, one that's better than the mess they have now.
New York Mets
If there's one team whose uniforms have been a model of consistency, it's been the New York Mets. The pinstripes, the blue with a hint of orange in the name and the New York road uniforms have largely remained the same.
Of course, changes were made; they just weren't as radical as most teams had. The Mets were one of the few teams that could pull off racing stripes well, which they had for about a decade, primarily in the 1980s. It was a unique modification that I wouldn't mind seeing make a comeback.
Unlike the past few clubs, the Phillies have undergone a good deal of uniform changes, though it helps that they've been around forever. The current uniforms are close to the ones of the 1950s, but nothing like the 1930s, and definitely far off from the 1970s and '80s.
The Phillies' uniforms for that last 20-year period were divisive; you either loved or hated them. Personally, I loved it.
The pale-blue-and-burgundy combination isn't one that sounds like it should work, but it does, and the "P" is made in such a way that it looks great. Having the baseball inside the "P" makes it that much better.
I like the current Washington Nationals uniforms, and as a whole, I like how they look, as it's traditional with just enough modern about it.
I'm a sucker for the Montreal Expos' uniform, though. The pale blue with the racing stripes and large logo remains one of my all-time favorites. Their move away from it in the early 1990s was disheartening to see.
The pinstripes and the Chicago Cubs logo combine to make one of the most recognizable uniforms, and it's great to see that they've kept it for so long.
Their road uniforms back in the 1980s were simply a blue top with the same Cubs logo, and while their current road uniform is nice, I don't know why they didn't keep this. It just looks perfect for the Cubs, and while they have a similar alternate uniform, it doesn't have quite the same charm.
The Cincinnati Reds are yet another team that figured out the look they were going for very early, and they have mostly stuck with that. The long "C" with the small "Reds" is iconic, and their current uniform is one that certainly does not need changing.
The one in the 1950s was a bit different, but not overly so. There was no "Reds" text inside the "C," just the simple wishbone "C" and the number in red text. It was nice, and it led to the uniform we know and love today, even if it went through a pinstripe phase on the way there.
Honestly, the Astros have never really had uniforms that were all that great. The current ones are nothing special, and those with the star were nice, but didn't seem that great to me, either. Plus, what can you say about this uniform? That is one where a picture is easily worth 1,000 words.
For the best one, I have to go with the first, from the Colt 45s. It's nice without being gaudy, and how often do you get to have a gun on a uniform? You know that would never happen nowadays. It's on the simple side, but the Astros don't give me a lot of good options.
As we've all figured out, there are some teams that look great in pinstriped uniforms, and those who don't. The Yankees need those pinstripes to really be the Yankees, and while the Brewers have very nice uniforms now, I do miss the pinstripes.
The uniform of the 1980s was great. The blue and yellow worked well, and I love the helmet they had back then. They kept the pinstripes past the '80s, but after they added the sweeping cursive writing and removed the block lettering, it wasn't the same.
The Pirates are one of those teams that has a huge lineup of uniforms from back in the day. The black and gold were added in the 1940s, and since then, all uniforms have had a variation of that.
The best of that bunch was the sleeveless jersey. Not too many teams used it, but the Pirates pulled it off wonderfully. It made the team look tougher and added some more black without taking away too much of the gold.
St. Louis Cardinals
Over the years, the Cardinals' uniform hasn't changed too much. They went through a powder-blue phase, but the cardinals on the jersey have always had their place just above the team name and number.
During the 1940s and 1950s, they had the button-down uniforms, making the bat the cardinals rest on pop out, and making it look a bit more dapper. It's subtle compared to others on this list, but there hasn't been much the Cardinals have modified.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who have only been around about 15 years, underwent an image upheaval only recently, moving to red and black from their original green and purple.
The color scheme doesn't go well together, but somehow, they were able to pull off both that and the pinstripes. Granted, winning a World Series while wearing that uniform helped, too.
In 1998, the Seattle Mariners tried a "Turn Ahead the Clock" night where they wore futuristic uniforms. All teams tried it the following year, and nearly all of them were laughably ridiculous.
The Colorado Rockies were perhaps the exception, as their jersey was awesome. The uniforms looked like something out of a video game, and since they're a team that naturally puts up a lot of offense, it makes sense for them, even if few other teams could pull off such a jersey.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have used the cursive script and blue-and-white combination on their uniforms since before they were in Los Angeles; their uniforms now are very much like what they wore even during Jackie Robinson's time.
The few alternate uniforms they've had have been bad. They had plaid uniforms in 1916 and 1917, and an all-blue uniform in 1944 was not that good, either. In the mid-1930s, they simply had Brooklyn on their jersey. It was basic, but it probably was second-best, trailing only the current uniform group.
San Diego Padres
My favorite Padres uniform is actually the camouflage alternate they bring out once in a while. That doesn't count as a throwback, but despite only being around since 1969, they have a very wide variety of options to choose from.
I actually don't like their current color combination; I much prefer the one from the 1980s, and the uniforms that went along with it worked nicely. The pinstripes blended well with that, though if you tried it with their current uniforms, it would fail.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have always had the combination of black, orange and grey, even back during their New York days. Still, they had a period in the 1980s where they did modify their uniform, and it worked out well.
Rather than do anything drastic, they changed their road uniforms to the logo instead of the words "San Francisco." It actually worked well, since it kept the same colors and was just different enough to look cool.
They've since moved back to spelling out the city, but the logo is always something they could revisit.