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No More BFBS? Should Black Be Considered a ‘Neutral’ Color?

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A good Sunday morning everyone. Hope you all had a good Saturday.

Last weekend, after the Cincinnati Reds had unveiled their City Connect uniform, there was a bit of conversation in the comments which eventually turned to a rather interesting thought: what if the black uniform the team was introducing wasn’t what we have been calling “BFBS” (Black for Black’s sake), but rather, the uniform itself, while using black as a base color, was actually using black as a “neutral” color, much as white and gray have been used for more than a century?

If you scroll down to a comment made by Marcus Hall (posted at 9:36 am ET), you’ll note he is considering the black uniform not as, well, a black uniform — but rather a neutral canvas unto which the Reds crafted their uniform. I thought his suggestion was interesting, so I asked if anyone could render the new CC as a white-based uniform. That led reader “Casper” to do a quick and dirty photoshop, which I used as the basis for today’s splash photo. I wanted to see how the uniform would look if it were released as a white uniform, rather than as a black one. Here’s the original photoshop:

While at the time I was just curious to see how the uniform would look with a white base, I became more intrigued about the possibility of considering black to be a neutral color for a base. We’ve grown accustomed over the decades to seeing home teams in white and road teams in gray. But with the proliferation of alternate jerseys and CC uniforms, that’s no longer the case. And it’s also the case over the 120+ years of MLB that white and gray have not always served as the base colors for uniforms, particularly in the first decade of the 20th century.

This is just a sampling of the many dark-mono looks from the 1900s. Granted not every one is black (many are a dark blue), but it points out there is historical precedent for an all-black (or all-dark) baseball uniform. Those mostly fell out of favor after the first decade of the 1900s, but the Pittsburgh Pirates did introduce an all-black uniform as part of their mix-and-match set in 1977.

And, of course, there were the ill-fated 2019 “Players Weekend” uniforms in which MLB outfitted half its teams in solid black uniforms:

So, clearly there is precedent for a mono-black uniform in baseball, such as that introduced by the Reds. Let’s discount the ridiculous 2019 PW unis as those were more stunt than fashion decision. Would any of us consider the uniforms worn by the 1900s teams or the We Are Family Pirates to be BFBS (or perhaps “Dark for Dark’s sake” when considering the midnight blues shown above)? For at least a couple of those 1900s teams, the dark blue wasn’t in their color palette. Were they merely using the dark (or black) as a neutral color?

Let us also consider one of the pioneers of non-white/gray uniforms, the early 1940s Chicago Cubs, who introduced the first “powder” blue uniforms to the world.

While it didn’t catch on, several teams also introduced satin uniforms to be worn during night games during the early years of lighted baseball. One team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, wore both a light and a dark blue satin uni:

In both of those cases, you could say that blue was an official team color, so “of course” the non-white/gray uniforms weren’t neutral in nature, but rather an extension of the team’s color palette. But were they actually being treated as neutral?

What about the Kansas City A’s, who literally turned the baseball world upside down, fashion-wise, in 1963, when they sported an all-gold uniform?

Or what about the 1970s-1980s, when at one time or other, almost half the league wore road uniforms that were powder blue, rather than traditional gray? Were all those teams wearing powder blue as a neutral color? What about the leisure suit White Sox? They didn’t have a gray roadie — would you consider their mono-midnight blue uniforms to be neutral (at least in the same sense as gray or powder blue)?

And of course, don’t forget the San Diego Padres, who for several years wore gold uniforms (or sand, or tan).

I don’t think anyone would argue those gold/sand/tan uniforms were neutral (just as the A’s gold was definitely a team color), but do they serve as de facto neutral/dark uniforms, the way gray and powder blue do?

I could go on and on…but you get the idea. All of this, of course, is to ask — legitimately — whether a team wearing a black uniform (when black is decidedly NOT part of the team’s color scheme) should still be considered “BFBS”? Or should a black uniform be considered simply a neutral (dark) option — like white and gray (and powder blue) are? Can you take a team’s color(s) and rather than putting them on a white/gray uniform, put them on a black uniform and NOT have it be considered BFBS?

Let’s consider my Mets — a team who (in)famously began wearing “BFBS” in the late 1990s. Black never was a “team” color (at least until 1998, when the team added black blockshadowing to their home white and gray road jerseys, and also introduced a black jersey; their home pinstripe uniform wouldn’t add the black blockshadow until 1999).

A certain uniform columnist basically began his career discussing the BFBS Mets (thanks for that and everything that followed, Paul!). But if you look at the gray jersey juxtaposed with the black one above — they’re almost identical save for the base color. Blue and orange are the dominant colors in each, but we’d never consider the team to be “Gray for Gray’s sake” — so why do we consider the black jersey to be BFBS? Isn’t black really just a “neutral” canvas onto which to display the team’s primary colors?

[The above example deals ONLY with a jersey, since the Mets never wore black pants — which introduces a different category — the “softball” top.]

But let’s say the Mets had gone all the way in the late 1990s and added black pants. Would we have considered it BFBS then? Would we still consider it BFBS today?

I apologize for the bit of a rambling nature of this article, but the point (I hope) still stands? If black isn’t a “team” color, can we consider it a “neutral” color? Teams in the early 1900s weren’t turning out black (or very dark) uniforms for merch purposes. And in some of those cases, the black/dark uniform was serving as the traditional “gray” uniform.

Is it time to consider a black base color not as a black uniform per se, but as simply an alternative to white or gray? Most would agree that powder blue, in its prime, served as a neutral color; a substitute for white or gray. Can we make the same argument for black?


Jimmy Corcoran, Short Film Critic

Got a really fun e-mail this week from pal Jimmy Corcoran, who found this short film dealing with the “Perfect” 1972 Miami Dolphins. Check it out.

Obviously there are several recreations of a locker room scene using actors. Here’s Jimmy with his take:

I don’t know if you saw this short film, but they did a very good job on it and should be commended, when I saw the Kurt Warner movie, I couldn’t believe they spent millions of dollars on the film and couldn’t get the jerseys right, they had small Pop Warner style numbers. This film had a small budget, but they got a lot of things right, but being a guy who gets it, I saw some problems that could have easily been corrected and I have to point them out too.

First the good, the locker room, this looks like a 1970’s no frills locker room, Super Bowl 7 was played at the LA Coliseum, and though this locker room doesn’t look like the one there, it kind of reminds me of the ones in the Orange Bowl, especially the plain visitors’ locker room. The helmets look good, the first one that gets put on the shelf has a kind of youth helmet look but I also see some nice 70’s style helmets. The uniforms look good, the jerseys may be a little baggy, but they did a better job on these than most football movies did. Bonus points for the actors! look what a good job they did on casting, that really looks like Bob Griese and Larry Csonka and they hit it out of the park with the actor that looks like Earll Morral. With that flat top haircut he wore, I always thought Morral looked more like an astronaut for one of the Apollo missions than he did a football player.

Now the bad, Bob Griese did not have stripes on his jersey in Super Bowl 7, everyone who has ever seen films or pictures of this game have noticed some of the Dolphins do not have sleeve stripes on their jerseys and the number fonts are different on those jerseys. Also, Jim Kiick did not wear black cleats in the Super Bowl, he wore white Puma Rockets that he then spatted up for extra ankle support. But overall, it was a very nicely done piece, especially the 70’s attire the reporters are wearing.

Take care

Jimmy Corcoran

Thanks, Jimmy! I hadn’t seen this till you pointed me to it. Great Uni Watching!


Guess the Game from the Uniform

Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Charlie Schick.

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.


Guess the Game from the Scoreboard

Guess The Game…

…From The Scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Steven Saint.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.


And Now a Few Words from Paul

Hi there. In case you missed it on Friday, my Premium article this week is a new installment of the Uni Watch Power Rankings, with a look at the all-time best yellow uniforms (which teams usually like to refer to as gold, but come on — they’re yellow).

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack (which will also give you access to my full Substack/Bulletin archives). My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

Okay, now back to Phil!



Uni Tweet of the Day


And finally...

…that’s it for today and for me for the weekend.

Enjoy the Baltimore CC unveiling tomorrow.

Everyone have a great week and I’ll catch you back here next weekend!



Comments (52)

    Is it time to consider a black base color not as a black uniform per se, but as simply an alternative to white or gray?


    When clubs went away from dark uniforms in the early 1910s, it was presumably because the only thing worse than playing baseball in a flannel uni on a hot August day was playing baseball in a flannel uni that absorbed heat rather than reflecting it. So white and gray became the standard for practical reasons. (I have no idea how comfortable the Cubs’ powder blue or the K.C. Athletics’ gold were.)

    When the lighter fabrics came into use in the ’70s, teams started wearing some darker uniforms. But whether it was the Orioles in orange, the A’s in green, or the Pirates in black, it was a team color.

    But if you look at the gray [Mets] jersey juxtaposed with the black one above — they’re almost identical save for the base color.

    And if they’d used green instead of black, the jerseys would still be “almost identical.”

    You can, I suppose, claim that any color that’s not an official team color is “neutral.” But at that point, you’ve lost the value of team colors as a way to identify who’s playing. (Hello, City Connect.)

    The objection to BFBS isn’t that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with black. It’s that teams like the Mets use(d) it as a way to sell merchandise while diluting their identity.

    Well said.
    Gray became the de facto road color because it was less rifling than black when players wore wool and it was distinctive from white. Caps weren’t gray and gray was rarely incorporated into a team’s logo.
    What the Mets did was textbook BFBS. They have/had perfectly fine team colors of royal blue and orange and liberally added black as the body of a jersey AND a cap AND a drop shadow on another jersey AND on the team logo. Why black? Because it over merchandise.
    So yeah, BFBS is a thing. Black is not neutral in sports colors. Many teams use black as a team color and we’re using it before it became fashionable. Nobody used gray (save the Providence Grays and the Homestead Grays).

    Yes, and yes to the above. At the end of the day, gray and white have s century if history behind them. The As, Padres, OS and Pirates we’re bucking that history in s creative way with team colors. The Mets were not.

    If black is now considered “neutral,” then what isn’t neutral? Powder blue and sand are at least off-gray, black is not.

    apologize for being off topic but those chicago white sox uniforms are gorgeous, especially the socks.

    I always saw a disconnect between the lettering on the cap – very 70s – and the jersey lettering – very 1903.

    Interesting points. For me, it’s simple. If a team doesn’t have black as one of its colors…yet has a black uniform…that’s BFBS. That’s why it’s acceptable for the Pirates, but not the Reds or Mets. By the way, Dave Parker looks awesome. That’s how a uniform should fit.

    Agree. I hate when a team or school starts using black when it’s not one of their colors. My USC Trojans have black uniforms as an option in practically every sport except football, and even though some of these look pretty damn good, I strongly object to their use. I wonder how many schools or professional teams have added black into their official colors so as to try to legitimize using black? The Arizona Cardinals come to mind, but maybe they’ve always had black?

    Couldn’t agree more! In fact you stole my thunder! Lol. I hate black for any team that isn’t a black uniformed team and trim on those teams is also bfbs. Talking to you Reds.

    The Reds have used black (and at times maybe dark navy?) as a secondary color for decades so I have zero issue with them using black beyond the CC being rather ugly.

    Don’t recall even a hint of black on their uniforms back in their 70s Big Red Machine days.

    For me it’s about the greater context behind the design choice, or the reasons for the use of a different base color (neutral or not, when it underpins the entire jersey or uniform, it becomes the base color). For example, powder blue: someone did it first, a bunch of people thought it was cool, and then the bandwagon started to load up (at least in the 70s/80s). I understand that the GREATER greater context was the rise of color TV, but for me there are 4 teams that should be able to claim baby blue unis as logical: the pilots (brewers) and expos, who used them straight out of the gate, the mariners who kept the powder blue when they became seattle’s team, and the blue jays because powder blue plays into the concept of “blue jays” without having to do to many backflips to justify it (the royals seem to think that being named after a very specific blue allows them to use pretty much any shade of blue. I disagree). For any other team, the royals opinion applies: having SOME shade of blue in your design language does not justify claiming ALL shades of blue as logical extensions of the color identity.

    Black, however, poses an interesting situation. In the fashion world black is typically considered a neutral base color (as are most earth tones and all greys), and in sports, many teams use black in their uniforms or logos because black has long been a standard color for outlines, shadows, accents, etc, but those same teams may not claim black as part of their identity (until lately when merchandising has driven the idea that all possible color/design options are fair game for the sake of more product options).

    I think the latter (a team having a black drop shadow on their logo, for example) was used as a justification for many teams during the BFBS era (99s/00s) when more teams were simply copying something that some other team tried, looked cool, and sold lots of product (I, myself, am not a Mets fan, nor am I even from the eastern seaboard, but I had a black Mets hat. It was a cool hat, and it made me pay more attention to the team, start to like them more for baseball reasons, and eventually get a classic blue Mets hat. Like it or not, the strategy works). I believe we should look at having a black uni from the perspective of, is it a unique uni OR does it fit the team’s identity. The reds have allowed black to basically become part of their identity by letting it creep in more and more (they have had black hats, black tops) to where they are a red/white/black team in my mind, and the uniform is wholly unique to their wardrobe (as opposed to the Mets who simply color swapped the base). I like it and I’ll allow it.

    I also think things should be taken on their own merit. Is it or is it not a nice uni? Which is entirely subjective. I for one love the reds CC. I understand the LOGICAL arguments against it (ghosted text isn’t particularly legible at a distance), and I understand if locals/longtime fans don’t like it simply for NIMBY reasons (I hated the 49ers BFBS unis partly because they were so shockingly different).

    We also have to admit that uni design is fashion design, and fashion is prone to fads. The BFBS fad was concurrent with the dark for dark’s sake fad, and was followed by a less prevalent neon for neon’s sake fad (Nike tried so hard, but it really only took hold in Seattle, UofO, and Michigan state).

    Anyway, we better get used to it, because fashion is also cyclical so, for better or worse, we’ll see these looks again in 20 years or so. Hopefully, in the meantime, we get a few classics that look good and stick around.

    I think of it better to separate team color bases from neutral bases, when talking FULL uniform (pants included). One could say black is a reds color, no different than the A’s gold, Orioles orange, etc. Compare that to your typical white, grey, cream color, as well as charcoal (ex. – D-backs of late 2010s), even powder blue (for teams like St. Louis). Sand is an interesting one, because San Diego is really the only team that does it besides Arizona’s CC, who could claim that as a team color, whereas is sand really a team color for the Padres? So I’m not sure if it’s a neutral base or not. Did I miss any other “neutral” bases?

    The canonical example of BFBS is the 1990s Mets, and the example is canonical for a reason. The Mets didn’t use black as a neutral canvas on which to feature team colors; the Mets added black elements to their logo and team graphics and communications, effectively adding black as a tertiary team color. And the team did so for transparently marketing/merchandising reasons, chasing a perceived fashion trend to sell the team and its merchandise. The ease with which the Mets eventually ditched black as a team color without really changing anything about the team’s identity demonstrates how cynical and gratuitous the addition of black was. Thus, BFBS.

    Whereas the Reds have long used black as a secondary team color, and the CC unis clearly are using black as a color, not as a neutral canvas for highlighting non-black team colors. So the Reds CC unis are neither BFBS nor neutral black. They’re akin to Cleveland’s bloodclot red uniforms, where red was not a neutral canvas for highlighting blue elements, but a color unto itself.

    Still BFBS.
    White and gray are truly neutral. They literally go with every color, black does not.
    I didn’t consider powder blue as being neutral, but I’m pretty sure those teams all had red or blue as their base color. Those two colors go well with powder blue.
    Did any black-based teams sport powder blues? Maybe the Sox. I can’t remember.
    That solves the riddle for me.

    With ALL the teams who went to powder blue roadies (almost half of all teams at one point), I think you can make the argument teams were using it as a neutral base. Certainly some teams like the Phillies (link) had NO blue at all in their color palette were using it as a neutral. I could argue (though it would be solely my opinion) that the StL Cards (link) were using it as a neutral, despite the slight use of midnight blue as an accent — and their home whites were an exact copy, wordmark/striping-wise, as their powder roads (link). There are other examples, but those two should suffice.

    I’m not saying powder blue is neutral — but rather teams were using it that way.

    But unlike white/gray/black, powder BLUE is in and of itself a “color” (assuming one uses black/white/gray as the absence of other “colors”).

    To wit: This article (link) notes:

    “Neutral colors are muted shades that appear to lack color but often have underlying hues that change with different lighting. Examples of neutral colors include beige, taupe, gray, cream, brown, black, and white. While neutral colors are not on the color wheel, they complement primary and secondary colors. You can combine primary colors—like red, white, and blue—to make a range of other colors. Secondary colors are the result of mixing two primary colors, like green (yellow plus blue), orange (yellow plus red), and purple (red plus blue).”

    Interesting thought exercise, Phil! The premise is definitely worth discussing, especially in this day and age. My answer is that black should not be considered a neutral color because it so frequently overpowers the other colors around it as to make them far less noticeable (and, consequently, less important) in a color scheme.

    The Mets jerseys you used as examples are a perfect case in point. With the grey jersey, my eye notices the blue and orange lettering and numbering first, and the blue soutache on the placket and sleeves really stands out. Conversely, on the black jersey, the first thing my eye notices is the black. The soutache gets completely lost, and the only thing that saves the lettering and numbering from a similar fate is the white outline around them, which makes them feel that much more crowded. All of the design elements basically get lost or compromised because of the black as a starting point.

    I still think mono black can work in certain circumstances for teams that have already chosen black as part of their color palette and paired it with other colors that are good complements for it. The Pirates’ all-black bumblebee uniforms are a prime example. Few other teams can pull this off as well, including my Rockies, whose purple elements would almost certainly get muddled in the midst of all that black.

    All that to say, I wouldn’t necessarily object to more teams experimenting with all-black uniforms when they have the right color scheme to try it out. But I still don’t think it works in most instances for teams as a neutral color. Ultimately, it still just looks like BFBS to me.

    Thank you for expanding on my thought about black in the uni-verse!

    Dave mentioned the 49ers. Their black unis are horrible. A prime example of BFBS, with the prime motivation of selling merch. I’m not even sure if there would be a black uni that would look good for San Fran.

    Jerry in a way alluded to two things – tradition and comfort (avoiding overheating). My way of thinking that “it’s standard/that’s the way we’ve always done it” is limiting and is the equivalent of “groupthink”, which I am vociferously against. And while I would hate to wear a flannel uni that absorbs every ray from the sun and cooking me to a crisp, technological advances have led to lighter unis that I assume don’t overheat the players. When teams wear all black/dark, they don’t seem to be overheating any more than when they wear any other color.

    From a design perspective, again, are there horrible black unis? Yup. Just slapping a current design on a black base doesn’t always translate into success (Tennessee, I’m screaming your name). BUT, with intentional thought and design, I believe there have been some beautiful black unis for many teams, even though black is not a part of their color scheme.

    We have accepted that “white is right” for years. It has become the standard. I imagine how jarring it was for some folks when powder blues were introduced, as it wasn’t “standard”. But people grew to like them, and now it has both been used by teams with no blue anywhere in their color scheme and has also spread to other colors (hello powder purples). But not all unis need three stripes on the sleeves or stirrups or TV numbers or white at home and gray on the road. Variety is the spice of life, so there can be room for black as the base as well.

    (But there is NO room for unis with the logo on the upper chest and the number on the lower stomach of other side. That’s just wrong!)

    Hey Marcus! Thanks for *starting* this discussion. I was trying to keep this to baseball ONLY (since that’s the only sport where “color” uniforms have largely been discouraged in favor of white-home/gray-road). I’d love to further explore this for other sports at some point. And interestingly, I was going to use the 49ers and Vols as PRIME examples where teams simply swapped black for white. That’s for another time, but it’s an excellent pair of examples: if you simply swap black for white, why is it BFBS? Isn’t it then also WFWS? And at what point do we HAVE to include white as a team color? (Are UT’s colors orange and white? or simply orange?)

    Anyway, I was trying to keep today’s discussion to baseball only, but the other sports deserve a “Is it BFBS?” look as well!

    Excellent points, Phil. The decision of white as a required uniform option for teams (of all pro sports) is interesting, right? Clearly, the contrast of white versus non-white helps players, officials, announcers, and fans (both live and television). Black, then, is really the only color that provides the same level of contrast, because it’s the exact opposite of white.

    I personally enjoy color-versus-color games in all sports… as long as the contrast is HIGH, both in value and hue. In other words, I don’t “need” to see one team in white to enjoy the game.

    Here’s a short collection of old clips: link

    In most of them, the Steelers are wearing black. In the stadium, it was probably easy for fans to distinguish between the team wearing black and the team wearing red. But once (black-and-white) television came along, you can see how tough it would have been to figure out which player was on which team during the action. It’s much easier when one team is wearing white. And I’ll suggest that remains true even when we can see colors.

    So, once again, there’s a practical reason for white; it’s not WFWS. And black didn’t provide enough contrast.

    There is no WFWS. Fabrics not treated with dye were white (or off-white). Inks developed to color white fabric, just like inks were developed for white/off-white tree pulp that became paper. There needs to be a base, and white was the undyed default option. Colors by definition serve as contrast when, in textiles, white is the absence of pigment. On the other hand, black is the sum of all pigments, and provides less contrast to one degree or another.

    One slight problem with the reasoning here:

    “Let’s consider my Mets — a team who (in)famously began wearing ‘BFBS’ in the late 1990s. Black never was a team color (despite the use of black in the team’s blockshadowed wordmark and numbers).”

    The “[drop]shadowed wordmark and numbers” were added to the home white alternate and road grey jerseys at the same time as the BFBS jerseys and caps were adopted in 1998, then added to the pinstriped jerseys in 1999. Thus the parenthetical is misleading; it implies that the Mets’ uniforms already had black trim before the BFBS jerseys came along, which they never did.

    And yes, black is “really just a ‘neutral’ canvas onto which to display the team’s primary colors,” provided that black does not infect the other uniforms. Throughout that dark [no pun intended] era I always said that I could deal with the black alternates if not for the unsightly black trim on the other jerseys and the pairing of the two-tone caps with the white alternates and road grays (the latter exclusively, except for one game in 2008, robbing the world of the best uniform in baseball for over a decade), for that very reason, viz., black is just a canvas on which to display the team’s blue, orange and white graphics. I still don’t really like the black jerseys, because I can’t shake the memory of the team screwing this up so badly during the Charlie Samuels era, but at least they’re only worn once a week, predictably (i.e., only on Fridays), only at home, and the other unis have been left alone.

    Thanks, Jay — I agree it was confusing at best, misleading at worst. I removed that parenthetical and adjusted the wording.

    It still says “blockshadow” when it was actually a drop-shadow, as I understand uni taxonomy. Blockshadow as I understand it is where the “shadow” makes the numeral itself look like a three-dimensional “block,” usually in the same color as the numeral outline (e.g., link, link), whereas drop-shadow makes the numeral look like it’s hovering over the base fabric (like link) and is usually not the same color as the outline.

    It’s obviously a neutral color. Much more neutral than powder blue, which everyone just accepts because the general tone of the commentary and comments on this website is paleo-conservative when it comes to uniforms.

    But everyone is going to say it’s not a neutral color because they love getting mad about meaningless stuff and they’d be lost without it.

    If you consider this all to be “meaningless stuff,” why are you even here?

    This argument runs aground because certain teams claimed black as a team color, whereas others simply wore black jerseys. The solution would then be for baseball teams to codify all the colors they intend to wear. For instance, the Red Sox colors would then be navy, red, grey, and white. Wearing a black or navy blue solid uniform is a bad idea on a sunny day, but would be okay in a dome or at night.

    The sole qualification to me for BFBS is if black is in the teams official logo. The proliferation of black uniforms also came at a time when Nike established dominance in the north American leagues and began offering BFBS and then the various NBA and MLB 3rd and 4th jerseys ie City Connect.

    Some teams with black uniforms have black as a team color (Pirates). Others added black to the palette (Mets). And still others made a black jersey for shits and giggles (Athletics). Perhaps teams should codify any colors they mean to wear, meaning the Red Sox’ colors are navy, red, grey, and white. Wearing black on a hot sunny day should go over like a lead zeppelin, but are a viable choice for a dome or night games.

    Day late and a dollar short, and not related to BFBS, but the Reds should have used the City Connect to bring back another vest/sleeveless jersey.

    Context is everything.

    The Reds’ CC is an alternate home. Its BFBS.

    Grays, powder blues etc.were road colours. The colour said “road team” and then you would use team colours as the accents to show what you would he wearing at home.

    If Cincinatti scrapped their normal road grays for black, then I think it could work well as a neutral colour – with other teams possibly following as teams did with powder blue.

    But they are not using it as a neutral base for a road uni. They are using it as a hime colour.

    Wether it’s neutral or BFBS is kinda moot. All that matters is does it look cool. Most do.

    “Wether it’s neutral or BFBS is kinda moot. All that matters is will it sell merch. Most do.”

    Fixed it for you.

    Eh, that’s the fans’ fault then. Just cause something exists doesn’t mean you have to buy it. I love all sort of jerseys and caps, but have never bought anything besides a regular Yankee cap.

    The black merch does usually look great though. Especially the black on black stuff. Just no need to buy it.

    “The black merch does usually look great though. Especially the black on black stuff. Just no need to buy it.”

    My point still stands that these uniforms (Cincinnati’s City Connect uniform included) act as merch dumps to the detriment of the most basic functionality requirements of uniform design. Functional uniforms identify who the team is and which player is wearing the uniform (by way of numbers and NOBs).

    Whether the black-on-black merch “looks good” to the consumer is somewhat irrelevant. (Indeed, while not to my particular tastes, I can see why some would like the tone-on-tone caps as a personal fashion statement.) When none of those can be deciphered except in up-close television shots – or by the purchaser of the replica merchandise – then the uniforms fail their functional purpose and exist only as a promotion for the sale to consumers. And that’s a concession the owners and their merchandising partners seem all-too-willing to make nowadays.

    On a related note, the Mets are playing on ESPN right now. Not wearing their awesome classic blue/orange pinstripe set. Nope, going with black softball tops, solid white pants and green-ish caps. A true sartorial disaster. Ugh.

    Shockingly, I usually hate BFBS, but I don’t hate those Cincy CC unis. I think they were able to pull together something unique that’s refreshingly low-key. Maybe because it’s all black? I don’t know but there have been many worse uni transgressions in baseball.

    A neutral color like white or gray goes with anything.

    Black, as Phil often reminds me, does not go with brown. Not a neutral color.

    If it’s not your team color, it’s BFBS. And if you include stealth or even just low-contrast numbers, it’s a BFBS abomination.

    I’ve worn black and brown on many occasions. It absolutely can work.

    The more I think about this, the more I think this is just a question of context. CInCy is a City Connect uniform. Believe what you will about the merits of City Connect, it’s pretty safe to say that baseball’s traditions rules have been thrown out the window.

    Black, in this context, is the darkness from which the graphics shine (at least they do in the minds of the designers). It is intrinsic to the design.

    The 90s/00s black craze is a different context entirely. Slapping a team name on a black jersey, worn over white pants is hardly the statement being made with City Connect. But such were the days. I shudder at the abominations the Blue Jays wore during those dark times.

    I recognize the counter argument here is that the context is all the same: teams are trying to sell more merch. The Mets still like black and I get it. Blue and orange are not a very fashionable* combination of colors (though one of my favorite combinations in general). Again, it’s all about the merch.

    But that comes with the territory when we’re fans of for-profit organizations.

    *I wonder how many tourists buy a Mets hat in New York not associating the product with the Mets. Even worse, how many black Mets hats are sold to people thinking the NY is for the Yankees? Stranger things have happened…

    Very interesting topic. Both white and black are officially no colors to start with, but shades. We count them as colors but they are not. This means that every white or black MLB uniform (I will restrict this argument to baseball to remain with the original thread of the Reds CC uniform) is a variaton of color accents combined with a shade. I think any team can appropriate both these shades as their canvas, even if white or black is not part of their official team colors. Whether it looks good is a matter of taste.

    Very interesting topic. Both white and black are officially no colors to start with, but shades. We count them as colors but they are not. This means that every white or black MLB uniform (I will restrict this argument to baseball to remain with the original thread of the Reds CC uniform) is a variation of color accents combined with a shade. I think any team can appropriate both these shades as their canvas, even if white or black is not part of their official team colors. Whether it looks good is a matter of taste.

    Very interesting topic. Both white and black are officially no colors to start with, but shades. We count them as colors but they are not. This means that every white or black MLB uniform (I will restrict this argument to baseball to remain with the original thread of the Reds CC uniform) is a variation of color accents combined with a shade. I think any team can appropriate both these shades as their canvas, even if white or black is not part of their official team colors. Whether it looks good or not is a matter of taste.

    OK this post really got me thinking. I’ve always considered myself an ultratraditionalist. I hate softball tops and pajama pants and alternates of any sort. But looking back through the non-white/gray uniforms above, and thinking beyond it a little, I’m 100% sold. I grew up in the 80s, and my favorite team, the Reds, wore pullovers my entire childhood. The team I thought (and still think) had the nicest looking uniforms, the Blue Jays, wore powder blues. Tequila Sunrise. Beach Blanket Sox. The Pirates’ pillbox hats. And of course the A’s. All of these great uniforms from a golden age of baseball that happened to coincide with my childhood. Maybe I’m not the traditionalist I thought I was. After thinking through this a little bit, I’m starting to realize that my problem with the less traditional modern uniforms isn’t that they’re not traditional; it’s that they’re too traditional. They’re trying to shoehorn traditional uni elements into a non-traditional box, rather than embracing the novelty. Like, all a red Cardinals jersey with the birds on the bat logo does is remind me that the white Cardinals jersey with the birds on the bat logo is such a classic. A red Cardinals jersey with the STL cap logo would be better. A blue button-front Red Sox jersey with the Red Sox wordmark – the same. Maybe do a pullover with the cap logo on the left chest instead. The possibilities are kind of endless. This post has really opened my eyes. This was cool. Thanks!

    The thing I really enjoy about these Reds uniforms is how much the red can pop against the black. In this instance, it works ESPECIALLY well with socks and high cuffs, but I even like how the piping on the pants pops for the Reds. When I was in art school we frequently discussed how the display works, what color to display them up against. Typically, you’re looking at framing work against a white or black background (although my personal favorite is how gray plays with color).

    I really enjoyed this article because it has me seeing that I see uniforms as pieces of art and design. We all love a classic look. We all want our favorite teams to be timeless. The best match ups are classic… But sometimes, and I realize this might be a sacrilegious thing to say here, I think its okay for things to simply look cool for the sake of looking cool. Is it to sell merch? Yeah, usually. I know this is UniWatch, and we’re all die hards here. For us it is always that deep… but sometimes… maybe it just doesn’t have to be that deep. The Reds aren’t switching to this full time. I think its okay to be like “oh I like how they played with Black, they should try it this way next time.” After a season or two, it eventually becomes a footnote in Uni History, a tshirt in my drawer, and something to talk about the next time they try and alternate take.

    I read this article right after it was posted and sadly waited until now to weigh in on this great topic. My two cents: it’s not a neutral color for on-field apparel, though it could be for merchandise. And in the case of the Reds, I would say they have used black in their trim enough over the past 25 years that I would not call the CC’s BFBS. It’s more like the alt-color fad that even the NFL has dabbled in (Bears come to mind among others) I would also factor in that the Reds’ team colors are red and neutral white with black accents. By contrast, the Mets already have two colors other than white (orange and blue), so any black seems much more forced.

    Even then, the argument over BFBS could still be very case-by-case. One good example I can think of is Ohio State football. The Bucks are scarlet and gray (and white) but have also always had a decent amount of black accents. Using the above logic alone (since I think we all agree that gray is a neutral, meaning OSU has only one non-neutral color) it would follow that they could wear black more prominently and not be considered BFBS. However, their mono-blacks (including helmet), reek of BFBS, at least to me.

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