The world series just finished game 2 with the Boston Red Sox up by two games, so it’s only natural that we would do a blog on the history of baseball uniforms. A few months ago, we did a blog on the history of football uniforms, so we need to keep the learning going. And who doesn’t love sports history? The team at Lucky Dog Custom Apparel sure does. And being on the east coast, we’re definitely rooting for the Sox.
Serving the communities of Pleasantville, NJ, with high-quality screen printing, embroidery, team uniforms, and more, we have a commitment to giving our customers the best. We use the most innovative technology to produce products that are beautifully crafted and designed. If you’re looking for custom apparel for your sports team, employees, or organization, we’re here for you.
History of Baseball Uniforms
The first organized baseball team started in 1845 and called themselves the New York Knickerbockers. A few years later in 1849, they established their first uniform — full-length blue wool pantaloons, white flannel shirts, and a straw hat. Even though the hat was abandoned not long after, the pants remained the same for years to come. This look was originally created to imitate high-class organizations like fraternities, which is why they chose to use wool instead of cotton. Wool is more expensive, but they wanted to distance themselves from working-class uniforms, which were made of cotton and was not a respected material.
The Cincinnati Reds were the first team to make a significant change in the look of the uniform. They went from full-length pantaloons to just-below-the-knee knickers. This change was more comfortable for the players and gave teams the opportunity to show off their colors.
One strange uniform strategy was before Lou Gehrig’s time, but if he played 45 years earlier, he would have been wearing a scarlet and white striped shirt instead of the classic Yankees blue, white, and grey colors. In the late 19th century, players wore certain uniforms based on the position they played. First baseman wore the same uniform regardless of the team they played on.
Pinstripes and checked uniforms began to make an appearance with the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Brooklynites. Brooklyn went on to try other uniform looks — in 1940 they tried out satin uniforms.
If you’re a Detroit Tigers fan, this is the year when they added the Old English-style “D” on their uniforms. The letter has undergone slight changes throughout history, but the design is still on either the front of the shirt or the cap.
The team may not have rushed the field with numbers on their uniforms, but Pennsylvania’s Reading Red Roses were the first to order numbered team uniforms to help fans identify the players. The manager, Alfred Lawson ordered the numbers one through 15, but skipped 13 because he was unsure if anyone would dorn the unlucky number.
The first photograph of a player with a number on his shirt sleeve was of José Mendez, from Cuba’s Cuban Stars. Mendez was a star pitcher who later on was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
It’s hard to imagine that baseball players went nearly a century without wearing helmets. In 1939, they started wearing helmets while batting, but it wasn’t until over a decade later when they were required by Major League Baseball.
Numbered uniforms were finally here to stay when the Cleveland Indians wore numbers on the back of their jerseys. The New York Yankees also had this idea the same year, but an April 16th game was rained out, so the Indians were the first team to play with numbered jerseys on the field. By 1932, a majority of major league teams wore numbered jerseys, except for the Philadelphia Athletics who didn’t join the trend until 1937.
The All-American Girls Softball League was established and the players wore belted tunic short sleeved dresses that could be no shorter than six inches above the knee. Their logo was a circular embroidered patch and they had elastic bands in their hats for a one-size-fits-all.
The Chicago White Sox were the first team to add the players’ names to the jerseys, and many teams followed suit. To this day, there is still one team without names on their team uniforms — the New York Yankees. Some say they don’t add names because baseball is a team sport.
The Chicago White Sox tried to make a fashion statement by showing off their legs in shorts. The uniform only lasted for three games.
Lighter, flannel fabrics became more popular, as well as shorter sleeves.
With innovation in materials, the jerseys became stronger and more durable, which only adds to their value. What’s the most expensive baseball uniform ever sold? That would be Babe Ruth’s 1920 jersey that sold for over $4.4 million.
Now, Lucky Dog Custom Apparel can’t guarantee that your custom team uniform will be that valuable down the road, but we can guarantee that it will be made with high-quality materials and it will be durable and well stitched.
Whatever name, number, screen printed logo, or insignia you want embroidered on your uniforms or other custom apparel, we’ll make it happen. Our team is passionate about creating pieces of clothing that will last through the years and that you’ll want to wear again and again.
Learn more about our screen printing and contact us today for a custom quote. And go Sox!