The Cavs have those infamous T-shirt jerseys. The NFL and NHL are constantly modernizing—or throwing back—their team logos. Even college football, that bastion of traditionalism, has introduced some fire new designs this century.
Baseball? For all of its Iverson-style arm sleeves, its knee-high socks and even the sunglasses, baseball seemingly hasn’t wanted to be that cool with on-field fashion. But a new generation is trying to change that, says Tzvi Twersky, the baseball category director at Stance, which recently started its first full season as the official sock of Major League Baseball—on-field knee-highs included.
“The younger guys are getting into it,” Twersky says. “There might be resistance from some of the older guys or the traditional teams, but as teams have played each other and guys in the minors experienced the socks, it's grown on them. It's a testament to the teams having an open mind and be willing to try something new.”
MLB uniforms have barely changed since the Cincinnati Reds became the first professional baseball team in 1869. The button-down jerseys, the pants, the caps, the belts (belts!)—all have changed incrementally, but little has come close to the evolutions in football and basketball gear. As the official switch to Under Armour as MLB’s uniform supplier approaches for the 2019 season, baseball franchises are in position to capitalize on new design trends while also invoking nostalgia.
Oftentimes, baseball teams swing and miss badly with new uniforms or reverse course before a look is in style: The huge logos of the '90s have, with the exception of Detroit’s new big “D” throwbacks, largely been replaced; the neon yellow of Kansas City’s yesteryear is out in favor of the more subdued alternates from Oakland and Pittsburgh; and let’s not even talk about those shorts the White Sox wore during the first game of a doubleheader in ’76.
More so than many other sports, America’s pastime does have a large group of untouchable classics—the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox and Cardinals, just to name a few.
But with the good come the bad and unmemorable, and baseball certainly has a few of those.
B/R Mag’s effort to Make Baseball Cool Again has already heat-checked 14 bold ideas to change the game with MLB players, surveyed influencers from Ken Griffey Jr. to Bryce Harper and introduced a swaggy 17-year-old who might redesign what a superstar looks like, single-handedly.
Still, we couldn’t help taking a crack at fashioning a few new unis of our own. Not to pick on these five clubs, but our intention was to stay true to history—and add a little oomph.
Miami Marlins, with a Fish on Top
Yes, we know the Marlins updated their logo this season after a complete overhaul in 2011 and that the Giancarlo Stanton jerseys are selling just fine—though they aren't exactly an in-the-club fashion statement. But a stylish city like Miami, with 25 years of franchise history in the books, deserves a more timeless look for the kings of Little Havana.
Without getting into the whole teal-and-pinstripes vest debacle of the late '90s and early 2000s, we focused on more Marlins blue while relegating that burnt orange to an accent rather than a garish dominant color. The new wordmark stems from art deco, like the hotels on South Beach, and the M is a bit more upright. We even brought back the old fish mascot because, hey, the Edgar Renteria glory days weren’t that long ago.
Texas Rangers: Kickin' It Bush Style
More than a dozen MLB teams use red, white and blue, and the Rangers are among the most boring of the bunch. While keeping the same color scheme, we changed their uniforms just enough to make them different—and added a little Lone Star flair.
Our wordmark ditches the block serif for classic cursive similar to the script style of the Dodgers, Royals and Yankees, which the Rangers actually used in the '80s and early '90s—until George W. Bush gave up ownership. The team name would now be red, which hasn’t been seen on a Rangers jersey before, across a powder blue jersey (hey, it’s working as an alternate in KC) with sleeve stripes. And we’ve added numbers to the front because, as another blue-jersey’d star of the region would say, why not?
San Diego Padres: Brown and Yellow, Brown and Yellow
For years, many Padres fans have clamored for a return to the brown and gold of the '60s, '70s and '80s, and we’ve done here what only the occasional alternate does to hike sales.
“You have the Padres, who may not be hesitant to do things a little bit crazy, a little bit different,” Stance’s Twersky says. “With them, we came out of the gate with tie-dyes and different designs that we work closely with them on, but they can only pull off because they are willing to try things and be receiving.”
Today’s piping remains, but we’ve ditched the interlocking S and D for the Tony Gwynn-heyday wordmark, which has the best of the Cardinals and Braves unis in it. Leave the boring, old navy behind and keep it distinctive, San Diego.
Chicago White Sox: Just Add Red—and C.R.E.A.M.
The White Sox are not the problem: With a statement logo and a black-and-white simplicity, they’ve still got the coolest jersey in Chi-town, rocked since an early ’90s rebrand by MCs, OGs and MJ himself. But the team’s design principles have been erratic, and it’s time for something consistent for Chance the Rapper to make truly legendary.
Here, we’ve emphasized an orangey-red from the '70s and '80s that the team has begun to reintroduce in some alternate looks. (Its old navy accent was a little too Red Sox.) We’ve also added a little cream for added vintage-meets-C.R.E.A.M. effect.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Unleash the Snake!
When the D-backs first unveiled their purple-and-teal look as an expansion team in 1995, it looked out of place in the conservative color palette of baseball. Flash-forward a couple decades, and we kind of like the all-caps wordmark they unveiled last year. Certainly beats years of an illegible letter “A” and trying to make a rattlesnake look like the letter “D.”
Still: Something felt...missing. Gone are the gradients, the shoulders, the dark gray pants. We’ve brought back copper to pair with sedona red. For a nod to baseball’s nostalgia, we’ve taken inspiration from the Cardinals, who incorporate the bat and birds, and decided to go big on the snake. The Diamondbacks may be a sartorial travesty right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re too far gone to save.
Joon Lee is a staff writer for B/R Mag. Follow him on Twitter: @iamjoonlee