By Phil Hecken
In case you missed it, last weekend I ranked the best and worst logos of the American League, and today we’ll take a look at the Senior Circuit.
As I mentioned then, one can find MLB logos all over the interwebs, but the best (by far) collection is found on Chris Creamer’s fantastic website, sportslogos.net, where I found all the logos you’ll see below. For the National League, you can click here to reference all current NL teams. I’ll also link to each team page below so that you can see all the logos (or at least all that Chris lists) for a given team.
Unlike the AL, where most of the best/worst choices were fairly easy (or at least, straightforward), it turns out the NL squads weren’t nearly so clear cut — as I’ll note below. Sure, some were slam dunks (Milwaukee’s BiG, for example), other clubs had many really good (or bad) logos throughout their history, making selections tricky.
OK, here’s the NL
I’m sure my choices here will already generate controversy. Unfortunately, the D-Bax primary logos (a grand total of three) have always involved a slanted “A” featuring hints of, well, diamonds on the left side of the “A” (originally in teal and purple, currently in red and black), with what I guess is an image of the end of a snake’s tongue forming a portion of the horizontal line on the A. While this logo looks good (or at least OK) on a cap, it doesn’t really work as a stand alone logo, as it doesn’t convey a snake (at least to me) if you had no conception of the team’s name. One needs to look at secondary logos — and here at least the 2007-present “D” logo resembles a diamondback snake, with the creature itself forming the “D”. But to me, the best logo is the 2007 snakehead, formed by the lower-case “d” and “b” (I love the symmetry), although I’ve heard many complain of the phallic nature of the imagery. It’s not so blatant as to look exactly like a snake head (they’d tweak it by creating “eyes” and an attached tongue the next year), but it’s clever enough. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, it is — this team has never had particularly great logos. But they have had some bad ones, particularly their worst, which they used from 1998-2006, featuring the angry(?) snake eating a baseball, all rendered in teal and purple (and difficult to read), with the stacked “ARIZONA” over “DIAMOND” over “BACKS”. Isn’t “Diamondbacks” one word? Yes, yes it is. The problem is (and has always been), the team’s name is too long to properly fit on a jersey or a logo. The team already has the worst unis in baseball, they may have the worst logos overall too.
The Braves, like the Indians, are difficult to rate in that their primary logos (particularly their original) have always involved the use of native iconography or caricature. And while I don’t necessarily feel the use of the tomahawk is particularly offensive, it does seem exploitative. So, we need to look to the alternate logos. Again, we find all but one (the cursive-esque “A”, in use from 1987 to present) appropriating cultural stereotypes (I confess to liking the feather design as a uniform element, but one cannot divorce that from the iconography); the worst (of the worst) would be the 1967-68 logo which I’ve heard both described as a “laughing Brave” and as a “screaming savage.” Neither of those descriptors is good, the latter is worse.
OK, finally — I knew going in what the worst logo was going to be (1918), which they also wore as a logo on their roadies — and even threw back to! If you look at all the Cubs’ primary logos, they’ve almost all featured a large “C” with “ubs” inside the C — but those C’s were always curved and looked like the letter “C”. For some reason, the 1918 logo featured a ‘squared-off’ “C” — making the logo look more like “ubs” inside a box. Very difficult to read, and not attractive in the least. I was tempted to say the 1949-61 smiling cub was their best, but in the end, the more familiar, and nearly iconic current (1979-present) logo is their best. The 1919-26 wishbone C (with “ubs” in tiffany font) is up there, but let’s leave the wishbone C to the Reds. The logo the Cubbies have now tops them all.
For a 150 year old (well, they say so) team, the Reds haven’t had all that many logos, and most of them can be put into two categories: a wishbone C with “REDS” inside, and a representation of a player (variously known as Mr. Red or Mr. Redlegs). Only in their earliest years did the team simply use a stylized “C” for a logo — and of those, the 1905 “C” is the worst. It’s not even particularly bad, it just pales in comparison to the others. Really, take a look at the logos they’ve had — really not a bad one in the bunch. Choosing the best was tougher. You know I’m a sucker for smiling logo mascots, so it was simply choosing the best: easily the mustachio’ed chap over clean shaven (and in that instance BFBS) Mr. Red. But which one? Nope, I hated when the team (somewhat briefly) changed their name from “Reds” to “Redlegs” during the McCarthy era, and “Red Stockings” sounds silly nowadays, so I’ll take the current (2007-present) Mr. Red, all dressed in turn-of-the-(last)-century duds. Beauty!
Unlike recent entries into MLB (Marlins, D-Bax, Rays), the Rockies have always had good logos (and very few of them). I have always thought the interlocking “CR” (even if it is the then trendy “caslon” or “Bembo Bold” as Chris has it font) was a modern classic (2017-present) — and that logo will still look great in 2093 when the team celebrates its 100th anniversary. It’s sooooo good. Picking a “worst” logo (since there have been a grand total of five primary/alts in their history) is difficult, but in this case, I’ll simply go with the “purple mountains majesty” surrounded by black (2017-present). IMHO, the less black the Rockies have (especially since they “fixed” the purple last year) the better. I may not have always loved their unis (road pins and that black sleeveless jersey with black undersleeves), but their logos are top notch.
The Dodgers are another of those teams who’ve really never had a bad logo (at least since their move to the left coast in 1958). As such, picking a “worst” logo is less a function of finding a particularly bad one as it is finding the least “good” one. But the best first: there are several iterations of the Dodgers script atop a flying baseball, but for my money the thicker Dodgers script logo (1968-71) is the bees knees. And while I love the interlocking “LA,” I don’t love the 2002-06 version which contains both a white and silver outline. The non-outlined 1958-2001 LA is perfect. None of the (very few) logos are bad, the outlined LA is just the least good.
Ugh. As good as the Dodgers are good, the Marlins are bad. Seriously, check out their logo history — not a particularly good one in the bunch. And as dated and trendy as their original teal, orange (laces) and black logo (1993-2004) was, it’s still their best. And that’s the alternate. Every logo they’ve ever had has contained a marlin, but the comically bad “middle” (2012-18) logos were the worst, but even worse than those is their current (2019) logo: the fish is a little better than the one that preceded it, but black-heavy logo, with the terrible wordmark: and look — it seems to contain 3 different shades of “red” — fuchsia (block shadow), an almost “salmon” (on the Marlin) and reddish laces on the ball. I wish they’d play up the aqua more (and I actually like the fuchsia), but the overall logo is just…not good.
I hope my pal Todd Radom doesn’t hate me for this (or the Nats, which you’ll see below), but of the many logos the Crew have had, I really like his 1988-89 “Motre Bame” (so named because of the similarities to the interlocking ND of Notre Dame) the least. Some letters look really great when interlocked. “M” and “B” aren’t on that list. In Todd’s defense, none of the logos that followed (referred to as the Miller M) were particularly good, but metallic gold and green, with two bats behind and on a blue diamond, is just too muddled. It’s not bad design, per se, it’s just too many elements at once. Now, on the flip side of the coin, the “Ball in Glove” (BiG) logo, used from 1978-83, is, in my opinion, the best logo in all of baseball, so picking that one as “best” is a no-brainer. I’m sure everyone who reads Uni Watch is aware that “hidden” in the “BiG” are the letters “M” and “B” (genius). It even blows away another fantastic logo, the “Barrelman”, which would easily be the team’s best were it not for the BiG. The team needs to return the BiG logo to full time status STAT! And there are hints that 2020 will see it (coinciding with the team’s 50th Anniversary in Milwaukee). We can only hope…
Surprisingly (at least according to Chris) the Mets have had a grand total of 5 logos (3 primary and 2 alternates) in their 57+ years, and two of those (1962-92 and 1993-98) are almost identical. Notice the difference between those and 1999-present? Yep, they removed the subtle “NY” that used to exist just above the tail in the “M” of “Mets”. A change for the better, making the 1999-present primary logo their best. The Mets went full-on BFBS in 1999, from which we get their worst logo (1999-2013), which basically subjugated orange as a color, rendering the skyline in black, and changing both the wordmark and ball outline to blue. It used the orange for dropshadow and laces. A very dark period in Mets history to which I hope they never return.
I struggled with the PHightins, especially with their “best” logo. One could probably have chosen several (and they’ve had a bunch of good ones), but in the end, I went with their 1970-75 logo. That script (and in particular the “P” forming the negative space baseball) were great. But really, the maroon “P” or even the two logos which followed are both good. Now the “worst” logo — that 1946-49 dude sliding into home (with a bat below) is just … what’s the word I’m searching for here? … bizarre? And not in a good way. I never particularly liked Phil and Phillis either, but at least they were smiling.
“The Pirates”? Seriously? Well, that’s the logo the team used — and not just for one or a couple years — but from 1934 through 1957 (when they would change colors to the familiar black and gold). Look, it’s so bad they show it on their wall. Over the years, the Pirates have taken all kinds of approaches in depicting their namesake — usually not to good effect. But the best (IMHO) depiction, or at least representation, would be found in their 1967-86 logo, who appears clean shaven and smiling. I actually think the 2010-present roundel is really sharp, but I love the smiling pirate.
The Padres first biggest mistake was ditching the brown. Their second biggest mistake was ditching the Swinging Friar (1969-84) logo. I mean, c’mon — that is a top 10 MLB logo, and easily the best one the Pads have ever had. Now, technically the swinging friar is still around (2010-present), but rendered in blue and white? Nope. The current navy and white color scheme is so bad — made worse by rendering all their logos in those two colors — that I don’t even consider that the real logo of the squad. But as bad as the two-color logos are, the worst is the 2004-10 logo which featured a terrible script and included “sand” and waves atop home plate. I get SD is both a military city (well, there’s a huge naval base there) and also a coastal city (which explains the sand and waves), but you’re the PADRES. Ditch the camo and navy, and #BringBackTheBrown. 2020 can’t come soon enough. Hopefully the Friar will return — but if not, we can only hope a new logo will right the wrong that has been part of the color scheme since they ditched the brown for navy in 1991.
I really had a hard time picking a “best” logo here — in fact, I was torn between the 2000-2013 logo I chose and the simple and elegant 1958-67 logo the team brought with them from New York when Stoneham followed O’Malley to greener pastures, but I went with SF’s own design — it’s got a few features I don’t particularly love (the shade of gold and the Copperplate Medium font), but I love the interlocking SF and it’s a solid look. As for worst, the 1983-93 look isn’t horrible — but the “GIANTS” is just a little too compressed for my liking — in isolation and up close, it’s fine, but from any kind of distance it’s a bit hard to read. And that’s not a good thing for a logo.
The Cards have always had sweet logos, at least since 1922 when the decision was made to place birds on bat. Not all of them have been great, but the current (1999-present) is their best. The bat hasn’t always been gold (which matches the beak), sometimes it’s been black, sometimes the bat has faced a different direction, and for a long time, there were two birds on bat. But the current logo, with that gorgeous Cardinals script, has evolved nicely to become the team’s best. On the flip side, a couple of their alternate logos have been questionable, but the 1948-55, which should look three dimensional, actually looks two dimensional — maybe it’s just a trick of the eye — but the depth the designer is striving for just doesn’t look there. Yeah, that’s their worst.
Another tough one — because by and large the Nats haven’t had particularly great (or awful) logos over their short existence. I’m not particularly in love with their best (2011-present), nor do I particularly dislike their worst (2005-10) — which was designed by Todd Radom. I wish the team had not been forced to go with the curly W as a cap logo when their inaugural uniforms were introduced (also designed by Todd) — since that cap never jibed with the design of the unis. But as logos go, the interlocking DC had such promise. The problem is the beveling always threw my eye off — and when the team ditched that in 2011, they screwed it up — look at that again: the “D” should be closed on its right side and the “C” should be closed in the center. I don’t think we can blame Todd for that one (maybe I should say that one is the team’s worst), but if they could simply have gotten the interlocking DC down, that would have been a solid look.
OK — there you go. The NL’s best/worst — feel free to disagree. This one was a lot harder than the AL for sure.
The Greatest Two Minutes In Sports
[Editor’s note: The following is a column I’ve run in the past — but it’s always good on Derby Day (most of the links should still be good). Enjoy! — PH]
So, the Derby’s today. The Kentucky Derby. You know, the “Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports.” The kick-off to the triple crown. The Sport of Kings (or is that boxing?). No matter. It’s Derby Day!
Lets break the Derby down into its few basis elements.
The Hats: For many, it’s all about see and being seen. And that means sporting the classiest chapeau, the hottest hats, the largest lid or the tastiest topper you can find. Some are simply stunning. But usually, especially since the aforementioned mint julep is a part of the day’s activities, the choice of headwear is never boring, although frequently what is lacking in taste is more than made up for in original design. Of course, some might say this is the height of douchebaggery. But where else can you wear a funny hat, get liquored to the gills, AND walk away with more bank than you came? Not too many places.
The Silks: Those colorful outfits the jockeys wear? Yup, silks. And there’s nothing purdier than seeing them on top of the ponies on race day. Whether they’re heading for the gate before the race or just breaking on their run, there’s something incredibly beautiful about what can only be described as poetry in motion. When you get a muddy track or an overcast day, the men in silks just seem to burst into magnificent color throughout the race.
The Roses: They call the Kentucky Derby the “Run for the Roses.” Why? Well, because the winning horse gets a shitload of the pungent red flowers. Sometimes they even put ’em on the jockey. They’ve been doing it forever. It’s a nice tradition. Seems like every year the bouquets and blankets get bigger and bigger.
The Spires: No matter when the race, no matter what the year, there are few landmarks so associated with a single event than the famous spires at Churchill Downs. And why not? They make a fantastic frame for a shot. They are as much a part of the race as the race itself. Anytime you see a picture that includes this architectural icon, you know it’s Churchill Downs, and you can be pretty certain it’s from The Kentucky Derby.
The Starting Gate: Not nearly as iconic as the spires, but still an integral part of the race. There is usually a pretty large field in the Derby, and the gate used to be both beautiful and classic. As time progressed, however, it sadly became less classic and more of a corporate billboard. Here’s what it looked like in 2008. Can they put any more shit on there?
The Bugler: Some call him the trumpeter, others call him the bugler. But no matter what you call him, there is no more anticipated music maker on race day at Churchill Downs than the man in the funny red jacket. Well … maybe the people enjoy a rousing chorus of My Old Kentucky Home more than they do the call to post, but the bugler is the most anticipated
fat man in a red jacket fat man in a red suit in Kentucky on the first Saturday in May.
The Pose: Ah yes. The win. And with the win comes the pose. It’s not unique to the Kentucky Derby by any means, but there’s something about winning the Run for the Roses that makes the win all that sweeter. It’s like the ultimate aphrodesiac right there.
The Red Carpet: Wait…what? This aint the Oscars. No, but that doesn’t mean the really special people don’t get the Hollywood treatment. After all, what would the Derby be without Visa and some Grade B talent to share in the fun? OK — VY looks great in that suit, but really, you have to wonder
lic if he really likes the ponies or the attention. Seriously, are they there to hit the Exacta or just to show off a really nice hat?
The Jockey Room: I’m not sure what exactly they call the place where the jockeys hang out before and after they race. But it is a really cool place where they keep all the silks. So many to chose from. I wonder, do they just randomly pick one or what? “I like this purple one, I think I’ll wear this one today.” No?
The Rail: No photographer worth his salt would take a shot at the Derby without taking one from beneath the rail. It is the classic shot of the race. No matter what the year, no matter what the horse, you can always count on the classic shot perfectly framed by the rail.
The Finish Pole: That almost sounds like an oxymoron or a really messed up European. But in reality, while the horses cross an invisible “line,” they are actually passing the finish pole. Now, the lettering on the obelisk has changed slightly over the years, the grand finale of the race has always been accomplished by crossing the finish line and passing the finish pole. Yep. That’s one sweet sight for a weary rider after the most exciting two minutes in sports.
Enjoy the race today. Throw a party. Make some mint juleps. Wear a silly hat. Go on — you know you want to. It’s Kentucky Derby Day.
After being dormant for a while, the Uni Tweaks/Concepts have returned!
I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).
I received the following e-mail from Joshua Poe, who has three NFL tweaks. They’re not quite crayon/refrigerator art, but they have that same quality:
I thought I would give you my thoughts on the jerseys I drew up:
The Current Titans jerseys just plain suck. the shoulder thing is dumb and the navy helmet looks odd with the white and light blue in my opinion. I reverted back to the old white helmets but with a crisper, simplified logo. in addition, the new color scheme for this jersey is Red, Navy, and white. I edited the secondary sword logo and put it on the sleeves of the jersey. i also updated the number font. I wanted to clean up the messy jerseys the titans have now.
I personally don’t hate the current browns jerseys. I mean, the shoulder sleeves are dumb, but I kinda like the “Browns” word mark on the pants. However, I am aware that the Browns are getting a re-design in 2020, so I figured i could sketch something up. I reverted to the old brown jersey as the main jersey, with the old triple white with orange trim stripes. I also made the front word mark old-fashioned script, based on the end zone design used during the pre-season last year and in the background of the sketch. I also went with plain white numbers and plain white pants. a very throwback look but i think it would suit them.
The Bengals jerseys are an abomination that, personified, would come from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and would go on a rampage and fight some super hero like superman and wipe out New York City. I tamed this great mutant abomination by making the pants and jersey match, and adding a fading tiger stripe pattern from the side of the pants up to the arm sleeve. I then Ditched the dumb “B” logo (I get that “B” is for Bengals, but wouldn’t a “C” for Cincinnati make more sense?) and replaced it with the tiger logo. I also added sleeve numbers to add a bit of color to the otherwise plain sleeves. I did not change the helmet, however, because i think it looks good.
thanks for checking out my jerseys,
Thanks Josh. OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.
By Anthony Emerson
Baseball News: Cubs C Willson Contreras is the latest player to go with a sewn shut jersey (from Jeff Stark). … Cleveland first base coach Sandy Alomar came out in the wrong road uni in Seattle (from Phil Kehres). … Great American Ball Park’s scoreboards even got in on the fun for the Reds’ 150th anniversary game last night. … Speaking of the Reds, Yasiel Puig wore his belt backwards during the game (from many readers). … Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia is on a rehab assignment with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs — my hometown team — and his uni features an MLB 150 patch and the McAuliffe number font, which the Sea Dogs dropped this year in favor of their own proprietary font (from Heath Carignan). … Speaking of the Red Sox, Brian Ball found a picture of Johnny Damon and Rickey Henderson at Sox Spring Training in 2002, featuring Damon wearing an American League 100th anniversary sleeve patch, worn in 2001, and Henderson wearing No. 12 in a year he would wear No. 35 during the regular season. … The San Antonio Missions, Triple-A affiliates of the Brewers, are wearing Star Wars unis tonight (thanks, Phil). … Here’s our first look at the San Jose Giants’ churro-striped pants (thanks, Phil). And here’s a better look at the whole uni (via Paul). … The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class-A Advanced affiliates of the Cubs, wore jockey-silk-inspired jerseys last night for their “Kentucky Derby Eve” promotion (from Adam Vitcavage). … Louisiana Tech wore #RustonStrong warm-up tops last night, for those affected by the tornado that hit Ruston, La., a week ago (from Colin Ellis). … LSU and Bama softball went grey vs…darker grey last night (from Griffin T. Smith). … John Daly wore Astros pants at the Insperity Invitational yesterday (from Ignacio Salazar). … James Hayes found these cool retro baseball patches at a vintage store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. … “White Sox pitcher with some strange looking fake stirrups,” writes Conor McCarthy. Yep, they’re Stance brand (from Eric Spoonmore). … If you didn’t read the lede, or even if you did, you’ll notice the Pirates wall of logos. That’s actually thanks to this tweet from Noah Kastroll. … There was some question last night about is on Dee Gordon’s belt (from Derek Brownlee) — thanks to the rapid response from Chris Brooks, we have our answer. … The Tigers Mike Boyd has a late 90’s Sonics logoed cap in his locker (h/t Tod Hess). .
NFL/CFL/High School Football News News: The Ravens have announced their rookie uni numbers (from Andrew Cosentino). … So have the Browns (thanks, Phil). … Some CFL notes from Wade Heidt: The Grey Cup is getting a new base. … As the CFL adopts the one-shell rule, the Edmonton Eskimos have changed their alternate helmet. Here’s how it looked last season. … The helmet in the Hamilton Tiger Cats’ draft war room featured a yellow stripe, a look they haven’t worn regularly since 2011. … The Geico/Honda supercross team wore gear based on the Jets now old jerseys (from David West). … Bollingbrook (Il.) High will have black turf this forthcoming season (from Alex McCluskey). … Rashan Gary of the Packers has requested Clay Matthews’ #52, and apparently Clay isn’t too happy about that (thanks, Brinke).
Hockey News: Some event is honoring the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers, but it doesn’t have permission to use the Rangers name or logos (from @markkappy).
NBA News: Valley of the Suns ranked every uniform in Suns history (thanks, Phil). … Sixers F Jimmy Butler’s pink Air Jordans are honoring for Timberwolves teammate Tyus Jones’s mother’s fight with breast cancer (from Mike Chamernik). … ESPN used black score bug graphics for the Celtics last night, despite Boston wearing their home whites (from Ralph Domingo).
Soccer News: Yeovil Town F.C. asked its fans to pick new kits as the team was relegated out of the English Football League, and they have delivered (from @SkullyEqual). … The NWSL’s Washington Spirit have no front-of-shirt advertiser, but do have a back-of-shirt advertiser, for a charity. I’m okay with that! (Thanks, Jamie). … The following are all from Josh Hinton: Swiss side FC Luzern have moved on from Adidas, instead going with “Swedish functional clothing specialist” Craft. … Chelsea will have a new Cup font next year, and the design on their home kit is slightly different on each individual shirt. … Benfica’s home kit has been leaked and their away kit will be grey and pink. … New kits for Chattanooga FC (from Ed Żelaski). … Forward Madison’s third kit are, ahem, interesting (from many readers).
Grab Bag: Craig Ackers found some footage on YouTube of a Gaelic football match being played at Yankee Stadium in 1939. … Logos and unis revealed for teams in the Premier Lacrosse League (from Michael McLaughlin). … New logos for John Carroll University athletics (from @akose26). … A Twitter user posted a gallery of Florida Gators cheerleading outfits and wrestling singlets from the 70s (from @GatorsUnis). … USF is already canning its new logo (from Robert Steeg). … In the AFL, Collingwood is standing in the way of Port Adelaide’s plans to bring back its original guernsey design for its 150th anniversary in 2020, saying that the gurnseys are too similar to Collingwood’s modern strips (from Ewan Williams).