[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site. Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month, although Paul is still on the clock over at ESPN and may be popping up here occasionally.]
By Phil Hecken, with Jimmer Vilk
You don’t want to get on Jim Vilk’s lawn anytime soon, of that, I can assure you.
Ah. It wouldn’t be August unless I included one Jimmer (vs. Phil, sorta) think piece. This one is actually kinda cool: basically, Jim has, in his own inimitable way, chosen his favorite uniform for each MLB club that exists, and a few that don’t. That’s right, he went back through like 117 years of MLB fashion and come up with what is, in his humble estimation, the uni that each ballclub should be wearing today (because it’s the best they ever wore).
When Jim and I were planning this post, he asked me if I wanted to “play along” and also give you my favorite MLB uni for each team. I don’t have the time to go over 117 year of unis (even though I have a pretty good damn idea regardless), but I will play along to the extent that I’ll comment and correct
every entry where I feel he’s off. Which if you know the differences between Jimmer’s tastes and mine, will likely include just about every team, every year. Let’s get this out of the way now, I argued four summers ago that 1969 was the greatest uni year in baseball, so many of my preferences will come from this year. There were several exceptions however. Not every team wore it’s finest duds in ’69.
Anyway, enough yakkin’ — let’s get to Jimmer’s intro and then his (and sometimes my) rundown of what every baseball team should be wearing, every day. I haven’t even looked at what Jimmer has chosen, but you can bet it’s going to be a lot of colored tops (and possibly bottoms), pinstriped roadies, zippers and pullovers. Of course that’s just a guess. Let’s find out.
What Every MLB Team Is Wearing In My Head Every Day
By Jim Vilk
Baseball has really gotten on my lawn lately. Between all the holiday alternate uniforms, the special occasion unis and whatnot, I’ve had enough. And don’t get me started on the minor leagues. I’ve been completely ignoring them for more than a year now with their nonsense. It’s gotten to the point that I want to stage a coup and install a commissioner who will say, “You get one home and one away uniform and one alt and that is it.” That got me thinking, what would I like to see each team wearing day in and day out? What (in my opinion) is each team’s Best Ever Uniform? So I went to the Dressed To The Nines website, entered 1900 to 2018 on the search and looked at all the unis for all the teams. What follows are my picks for each team’s everyday unis. We’ll deal with the alts some other time. Two things: If I picked a pre-1929 uni, of course it would now have numbers on the back, and if I picked a uni from before a team moved, of course the caps and/or jerseys would reflect the current location. With that being said, let’s begin in the NL East.
Right off the bat I’m waffling with Atlanta. It’s hard to decide between the stripey goodness of 1927 or the great pullovers from 1972. I’m leaning towards ’72 (two words: Hank Aaron), although those ’27 caps are simply fantastic.
Phil says: I think Jim got this right. Although I’d prefer the ’74-75 version of this which is slightly different and one could argue, is their signature uni.
With Miami there’s no waffling. Some teams just get it right the first time! I’d prefer they stayed Florida, but if they insist on Miami you can tweak away at the cap and road jersey.
PH: Well done. No question here. And that’s definitely their signature uni.
I tried to find middle ground with New York. Between the original button-ups and the racing stripe pullovers there was this very nice henley jersey from 1978. Also, as you’ll see, I’m a sucker for a good sleeve patch.
PH: No. The 1969 unis are the best. I’m surprised you didn’t pick the racing stripes.
Yes, this is twice in one division, but don’t worry; I’m only going to waffle four times in this whole piece. Philadelphia has two standouts for me: 1923 (stop cringing, Phil, you enemy of road pins) or 1979. If I go with ’79 I guess I’ve dealt with one alt today.
PH: I swear I didn’t read this far ahead when I mentioned he loved the road pins. I liked the one worn by the Whiz Kids.
If Washington could take the curly W from the team now known as the Rangers, they could just as easily have taken the 1954 block W from the team now known as the Twins. And they should.
I tried to go easy on the road pins and the pullovers. When it comes to Chicago, however, there’s no going easy. You go 1978.
PH: I’m not sure what the Northsiders best uni year was, but this ain’t it.
For contrast, I went with 1968 for Cincinnati. It looks like the Big Red Machine era but with buttons. No sleeve patch or stripes here. I wanted the oldest team to have a simpler classic look.
PH: ’68 & ’69 are basically the same, so, ok. No argument here.
Let’s get two things straight, Milwaukee: you’re not a National League team and you moved here in the 70s. Own it with the 1978 ball-in-glove and powder blue and go back to the AL!
PH: I could argue with this. But I won’t.
You might think it’s the pullovers that got me picking 1971 for Pittsburgh. Wrong, it’s the cap. The pullovers are just a nice added benefit. Now if they wore that cap in the 50s or 60s I’d be waffling for sure.
No pullovers for St. Louis. And while I love the current classics I am, as you’ll see, a sucker for sleeve numbers. I could honestly see the Cardinals in these 1923 beauties (the second and fourth ones) every day. I suppose I could deal with one more alt today…the yellow bat unis would be it, even though I like that third uni…
PH: Not bad, but I prefer this 1940’s uni (yeah, it’s a zipper front), but I can over look that for the greatness that is the rest of that uni.
If you know me, you know I don’t care how a team played in their unis. How they looked is what matters, so Arizona‘s 2001 title is just icing on the cake. Enough with the “D-Backs,” just go back to this!
Both teams who started in 1993 got it right the first time. Remember when you used to Respect The Placket on your road unis, Colorado? Get rid of the COL()RADO jerseys and go back to these.
PH: The team is best when their roads are just gray, not pinstriped. So any of the early years (or current) would be A-OK with me. Nothing special really in their history.
Los Angeles have worn a variety of sleeve patches over the years and I always liked it when they did. I chose 1969, with a tweak: instead of the MLB centennial patch, just make it the regular MLB one.
PH: I prefer my Dodgers roadie to read “Dodgers” as “Los Angeles” is always a bit off, to my eye.
My pick for San Diego surprised me a bit. I was ready to go with 1985 until I saw 1974. I like when teams go with a pullover and a button-up, especially when the button-up Respects The Placket. Bring Back The Brown (and these), Padres!
PH: There is no arguing here. 1978 it is.
I’m waffling again with San Francisco. I could totally see the Giants in a modified version of these 1916 beauties (first and fourth ones). Yes, Phil, I love those so much I’d keep the pillbox caps! If today’s manufacturers couldn’t pull that off with today’s fabrics I’d be just as happy with 1983.
PH: Waffle, schmaffle. The best Giants uni was worn in New York by the Say Hey kid in the 1950s.
Bonus NL pick: Montreal. Phil’s signature look for the Expos is my Best Ever Look. 1980 was great not only for the racing stripes but for the contrasting red numbers on the powder blues. If/when you come back, please do so in these.
While I loved those 1969 beauties, the 1980-91 racing stripes were their signature. I won’t argue this too strongly.
I actually tame it down a bit here in the Junior Circuit, for the most part. We start off, though, with a 70s classic (and a pullover alt) for Baltimore. The only thing from that era I wasn’t fond of was the ribbon stirrups but with or without them the rest of the uni is superb.
PH: I’m genuinely surprised you didn’t pick the traffic cones, but the orange alt top doesn’t surprise me in the least.
One could make a case for Boston‘s current look, given that they actually wear red socks. You know what…between that and the sleeve patch on the road jerseys, I am making a case. You’ve never looked better than now, at least when it comes to the whites and grays.
PH: I’m genuinely surprised you didn’t pick the red helmets and pullovers. Shocked, in fact.
For New York I’m going back to 1936. Same as with the Reds, the Yankees don’t need sleeve stripes or sleeve patches. This was the beginning of their classic look and it never needs to change.
PH: Basically they’ve been wearing that home uni since 1936, so yeah. Again, kinda surprised you didn’t go with the pins & interlocking NY, but OK.
Man, both Florida teams got it right the first…oh yeah, that was revisionist history. Still, Tampa Bay‘s “1979” look is unequalled. And as long as they’re playing in the Trop it’s such a suitable look for the Rays.
PH: I honestly can’t argue with you, although those dark green numbers the team sported for a while were nice…ish.
You thought I was going with 1977 for Toronto. The more I looked at the 1989 button-ups, the more I realized I had to go with them instead. Sometimes I like symmetry and this time I like an off-centered bird. Again, the fact that they won a few years later in these is coincidence.
PH: They’re button-fronts, not button ups. Pullover-schmoolover. This is tough for me because I loved the original powder roads. I’ll let this one slide.
PH: As long as you didn’t pick the Beach Blanket Bingo we can stay friends.
Surprise, Phil! I hope you didn’t have money on which uni I’d pick for Cleveland. I was ready to pick the caveman set until I saw 1916. I’ll take a sleeve number over a sleeve Wahoo any day. A great look for the Wahoo-less future that awaits the Tribe and a great complement to the team in the southern part of the state.
PH: You know those were the first sleeve (or uni) numbers ever, right? Screw the Yankees. And again with the road pins? But no, the Caveman unis were both signature AND best. I’ll show myself out.
For Detroit I picked another button-up/pullover combo with 1972. the home uni is up there with the Yankees. Never change it.
PH: Easy there Magnum. 1968 (or 1969 — same uni) was their perfection. Nirvana. Those flannel roadies where the bee’s knees!
One more team got it right the first time, and that’s Kansas City. As with the Dodgers, tweak the MLB sleeve patch and you’re good to go.
PH: Nope. 1983-91 was their best look. It was also their signature.
Given my love of road pins you’d think I’d pick 1987 for Minnesota. Nope, it’s 1976 all the way. That home cap is up there with the ’71 Bucs on the awesomeness scale and the twins-shaking-hands-across-the-Mississippi sleeve patch is wonderful.
PH: I’m surprised you didn’t go with the WS winning duds, but I know you love that polyester pullover with the red cap so much. Their original unis were their best tho.
I’m still calling them the California Angels. 1970 was the only year they had the combination of the blue/red halo caps, “ANGELS” on the jersey and the California sleeve patch, so that’s my choice.
PH: As long as you picked one with a halo cap, we’re good.
I’m almost getting used to Houston in the American League. I’d feel even better about it if they could go back to these 1972 zipperiffic orange-capped unis! I suppose you could replace the Astrodome patch with an MLB one.
PH: No surprise here. You’re wrong though, the original Astros unis were their best.
Sleeve numbers strike again, this time for Oakland. Even though it was from the Kansas City days this 1964 set (first and third ones) with a tweaked cap would be great for the A’s.
PH: Not bad, but my ONE polyester pullover love is the 1973-80 sets. If any team deserves to wear a colored, softball pullover in multiple colors, it’s the A’s.
I like teal, but I like Seattle‘s trident M even better. I’d love to see the Mariners win a title in the 1981 uni so people will stop calling the trident cursed already.
PH: I’m gonna give you this. There are few teams who made racing stripes look good but the M’s did. It’s not *quite* their full signature look, but it’s close.
There are those who think Texas should stop straddling the fence and be either a red team or a blue team. I’m not one of those people. Keep straddling and do it in this fantastic 1984 combination. So I guess I’ve dealt with another alt, then.
PH: I never get tired of telling you you’re wrong, Jim, but you ain’t even close. Yeah, it may have been a henley, but the 76-80 with “Rangers” in that font, that was the best.
Bonus AL pick: St. Louis. No, I don’t think it’ll ever become a two-team town again, but just in case, we could Bring Back The Browns in these splendid 1937 unis. And if some other team *cough*Cleveland*cough* wants to rebrand as them, just swap out the St. Louis patch for an MLB or Brownie the Elf patch.
PH: Not gonna argue. Too tired.
So now you know what I picture in my head when I listen to baseball on the radio, or if you see me with my eyes closed while baseball is on TV. What do you picture?
It’s tough to fathom what is in your head whether you’re watching baseball or any other time, really. But, even though we disagreed on most of your choices, I enjoyed playing along.
Readers? How’d we do?
Raffle reminder: In case you missed it earlier this week, our friends at Vintage Brand are raffling off two free items from their extensive catalog for a pair of lucky Uni Watch readers.. Full details here.
By Anthony Emerson
Baseball News: MLB released the 2019 Spring Training logo yesterday afternoon (from Chris Cruz). … Paywalled, but The Athletic has a great piece on why Jeff Bannister had “BK” written on his cap (from Sam McKinley). … Frank McGuigan noticed that José Bautista played his first Phillies game on Tuesday evening wearing No. 12, but changed his number to 19 — which he wore for most of his tenure in Toronto — for last night’s game. … The popular app-based live trivia game HQ had a White Sox shorts question yesterday (from Geoffrey Harm). … The Mets started a game in their grey unis, had it suspended, and then finished the suspended game in their blue softball tops as the first part of a doubleheader, and then brought back the greys for the second half of the doubleheader (thanks to @metspolice, @Clark_X_Addison, Don Sanchez, and everyone else who sent this in). … The Dayton Dragons, Class A affiliates of the Reds, have unveiled their 20th Season logo (from Mike Sellers). … Rudy Giuliani wore a big ol’ Yankees ring during an appearance on Meet the Press (from J. Max Weintraub).
College/High School Football News: This is so cool: all Huskers now have their home area codes as 3D nose-bumpers (from Brett Baker, Jamie Rohrig, Mike Vamosi and everyone else who sent this in). … Maryland’s new helmets inexplicably feature an American flag decal with only 48 stars (great spot by Clint Glaze). … Rice has added a logo above the nameplate (from @SWCfootballNow). … Minnesota will wear white at home against New Mexico State in Week 1, because the Aggies’ white road unis have yet to arrive (thanks to Brandon Baumgartner, Mike Wice, Lance Johnson, and everyone else who sent this in). … Florida State will *sigh* go BFBS in Week 1 (from Chris White, Alex Breitmaier and @brock1984). … Duke is going white-blue-blue in Week 1 (from @ACC_Tracker). … Arkansas is going all white against Eastern Illinois (from Sean Patton). … Washington State will go red-white-white against Wyoming (from @BallardCoug206). … Syracuse is going orange-white-orange against Western Michigan (thanks, Phil). … Lindenwood will go black-black-gold in Week 1 against Washburn.
Hockey News: The Wild have added the outline of the state of Minnesota to their center line (from Braden Claassen). … The Golden Knights have started painting their center ice logo, and it has some slight alterations (from Bryan Harper).
NBA & College Hoops News: I’m (still) calling it the Omni (from Mike Chamernik). … Mizzou’s new hoops uniforms have been released with a Twitter video (thanks to Drew Lincoln, Jacob Bischoff, Steve Johnston, and everyone else who sent this in). … Wake Forest is getting a new court (from Thomas Hill).
Soccer News: Manchester United have finally formally unveiled their long-rumored (and long-confirmed) pale pink away kit. According to Adidas, the pink is inspired by the Manchester Evening News‘s defunct soccer publication The Football Pink. … Bayern Munich have released their third kit. Footy Headlines notes that the template is identical to Manchester United’s and Real Madrid’s third kit templates. … Clapton CFC, a twelfth-tier English side, is finding that its kit is popular among Spain’s leftist communities, as it’s based on the flag of the anti-fascist Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … In 1983, Michael Jackson always looked fly, but he looked especially fly in a 1979-80 OGC Nice jersey (from @profjimmyc). … Adidas has an astonishing 49 teams wearing its Condivo template. … FootyHeadlines has published its 10 worst kits of 2018-19 gallery.
Grab Bag: French rugby team ASM Clermont actual jersey has tons of ad patches, but they sell an ad-free version — along with ad-full version, natch — at the club shop (from Ragnar Danneskjöld).