Iconic jerseys of the MLB then and now
Looking at Major League Baseball jerseys throughout the years can tell you more about fashion than you might think. Take, for example, the styles of the 19th century. In baseball, baggy pants, almost like knickers, were all the rage, as were collared jerseys, mustaches, and even ties. Some teams, like the St. Louis Browns, would even sport cardigan sweaters on the diamond.
As the calendar turned to the mid-20th century, teams began adding more flair to their apparel, incorporating more colors and logos (before, perhaps pinstripes or a letter or city name might be the only characters to appear on the front of a uniform). Then, when the 1970s came around, all the reins were let loose and baseball fashion went haywire. No, there weren't bell bottoms or tie-dyed jerseys, but some garish color combinations were to be found throughout the majors.
In the 1990s, brighter colors like teals and purples became popular, as well as more futuristic designs, which could be hit or miss. Today, many teams have drawn on the past for more basic looks, as retro is cool once again.
Stacker went through the uniform history of all 30 Major League teams to compare and contrast a look from their early days to now. Some franchises not only changed threads, but locations and nicknames. Only a select few have kept the same look over the years, while others are still searching for the perfect style. These jerseys show, though, that baseball is more than caps and cleats. A team's uniform can capture a unique part of their city's history or even cause controversy by employing styles now considered taboo.
Click through to see the colors, mascots, and fonts that have made for some of the most iconic looks in sports history, and maybe garner an inkling of where baseball fashion is headed in the future.
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Then: Arizona Diamondbacks (1998)
Arizona had long been a favored Spring Training site among MLB teams from across the country, but when the Diamondbacks debuted in 1998, they went for a look that specifically resonated with the American Southwest. The purple and teal took some inspiration from the late 1990s fad of professional sports teams choosing flamboyant colors, while the copper was a nice nod to the state's history.
Now: Arizona Diamondbacks (2019)
The Diamondbacks still employ a similar hat logo (after employing a “D” for several years), but their color scheme has completely changed. In 2016, they became the first MLB team to drastically break away from traditional jersey styles, adding futuristic shading to the shoulders. At first, there were many naysayers, but these crisp uniforms have won fans over in the years since.
Then: The Boston Red Stockings (1874)
What may look ridiculous by today's standards was the norm 145 years ago. Baseball uniforms used to resemble something you might wear to the country club, replete with ties and collars. Before the Boston Red Sox began play in 1908, the Boston Red Stockings called the city home and eventually changed their name to the Braves, moving to Milwaukee and then Atlanta.
Now: Atlanta Braves (2019)
Over the last 30 years, the Atlanta Braves haven't deviated much in their look, a crisp style that evokes images of championship-winning teams from the 1990s. The tomahawk under the name is one of the more unique logo incorporations across the front of a jersey, and the club's navy and red cap is one of the more classic designs in the game today.
Then: St. Louis Browns (1908)
Much more fitting for a game of polo, these unique jerseys sported by the St. Louis Browns came with cardigans, which must have been brutal to wear during the Midwest summers. After spending 51 years in St. Louis, the franchise moved to Baltimore, where they've taken on a lighter approach to uniforms ever since.
Now: Baltimore Orioles (2019)
The Baltimore Orioles haven't changed much in terms of dress over the years, staying strict to an orange-and-black scheme. In the 1990s, the team had a full bird logo on its cap, but has switched to the more cartoonish and beloved Oriole logo since. Occasionally, the Orioles have added a patch on their sleeves with a nod to the Maryland state flag, breaking up the dominant Halloween-esque scheme.
Then: Boston Americans (1903)
These jerseys scream handlebar mustaches and high stirrup socks—a stereotype of any old-timey baseball player. Sort of resembling a milkman's getup, the Boston Americans (who became the Red Sox in 1908) included collars, ties, and the kind of caps more commonly seen on a train conductor than an outfielder.
Now: Boston Red Sox (2019)
The Red Sox are one of the few current teams to forego having names on the back of their jerseys. They also employ a unique number font, different than the block-style lettering seen on many teams' backs. Throw in the iconic “B” on the hat and you have one of sports' most traditional looks.
Then: Chicago Cubs (1908)
The last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in the 20th century, they sported a popular collared-jersey, although some semblance to the current team can be seen, as well. The “C” logo on the chest remains on some variations of today's uniform, as well as a “C” on the hat. The furry mascot seen front and center here, is nowhere to be found these days.
Now: Chicago Cubs (2019)
The Chicago Cubs, like the Boston Red Sox, have found that keeping with tradition breeds success. The blue pinstripe and relatively simple home uniform has been a staple for decades, conjuring up images of the ivy walls of Wrigley Field and Ryne Sandberg home runs.2018 All rights reserved.