Wednesday, October 14, 2009

THE MOST FORGETTABLE UNIFORMS OF THE LAST 30 YEARS





















On this day off, I promised a crazy list and I think I have delivered.

Take a good look at the current Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres uniforms.

They aren't good.

It's not that they are ugly or garish. They are just completely unmemorable.

Someday, and I am guessing that day will be soon, the Blue Jays will abandon the JAYS across their chest jersey for another design. (I've been advocating the throwback jerseys.)

And the Padres will no doubt do their fourth uniform overhaul since the brown and yellow Taco Bell uniforms of the 1984 World Series.



Wait WHAT? you say.
They've changed their uniforms how many times?

A lot... and chances are you have forgotten some of their uniforms.

Which brings me back to my original observation.

Some uniforms are classics and have stood the test of time.

The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Dodgers, the Tigers, the Cardinals, the Cubs and the Giants all wear uniforms that are classic and bring back memories of the past.

Some uniforms are so ugly or unusual that they too have become classics in a different way.

The orange rainbow unis for the Astros, the aforementioned brown and yellow combos for the Padres, the lapels and shorts of the 1976 White Sox and the horrific S-O-X across the chest of the 1983 White Sox come to mind.

And then there are the others... the completely forgettable uniforms. The ones that when you see them in an old clip or on a baseball card you say "Oh man... I forgot they ever wore those!"

This is Sully Baseball... which means I am going to list them.

Setting up a criteria for the most forgettable uniforms, I am only going to include those worn in my baseball watching life. I have no memories of old K.C. Athletics uniforms nor St. Louis Browns jerseys.

I started really watching baseball in 1978... that's my start off point. And these are all uniforms no longer in use.

And again, these aren't the worst... just the blandest and most forgettable.

Although no doubt the current Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres uniforms will be on a future edition of this list.

Giving credit to where it is due... I used the National Baseball Hall of Fame website as my source, specifically the Dressed to the Nines - Uniform Database. It is a wonderful time waster!


THE MOST FORGETTABLE UNIFORMS OF THE LAST 30 YEARS


1972-1982 Texas Rangers

Lots of charismatic players, a few Hall of Famers and managers like Ted Williams, Billy Martin and Whitey Herzog all wore these unis... and I can't still can't remember these threads.

They are just white tops and bottoms, frontier Texas font and nothing at all worth remembering.

The hat is only memorable because it is identical to the Toledo Mud Hens hat that Klinger would wear.



1973-1982 Kansas City Royals (Away Jerseys Only)

The home jerseys are fine, if a little too close to the Dodgers for my liking.

But the away uniforms... the powder blue and block letters... they were so boring that it actually made an impression on a 7 year old Paul Sullivan.

How often does a 7 year old think "Man, those are dull"?

Just to show I am not just picking obscure or bad teams here, the Royals made their first 5 post season appearances with these. They finally won when they changed their road uniform.

Coincidence?
Yes.



1978-1985 Cleveland Indians


Bland block letters. CLEVELAND on the roads. INDIANS on the home. Upper case C on the hat.

It didn't have the ugly maroon tops and bottoms. The hat didn't have the c shaped like a tomahawk. It doesn't have the racist Chief Wahoo.

This could be any minor league team's uniform.


1981-1986 Atlanta Braves

Was there ever a less memorable uniform than the pajama pullovers and the blue caps?

Gone was the lower case "a" to bring back memories of Hank Aaron's 715th homer.

And they hadn't brought back the tomahawk across the chest.

Yeah the Braves won the 1982 Division in these unis, but they sure didn't look exciting. I am sure a lot of people flipped past TBS when guys wearing these threads played in an empty Fulton County Stadium.

These are best remembered as the uniform worn in The Slugger's Wife. In other words they are not remembered at all.


1983 Texas Rangers

I truly did completely forget about this uniform.

For one whopping season, the Rangers of 1983 changed their font to all caps and had an awkward TR on their belly where the number should be.

As far as I know TR means Texas Rangers and not Theodore Roosevelt.

I am guessing these didn't exactly fly off of the rack. If you own one of these, give your pal Sully an e mail at info@sullybaseball.com



1985-1986 Oakland A's

I guess these were the airlock years between the bright green Charlie O uniforms of the 1970s A's and the more stately script Athletics uniforms.

Seeing the team was about to have an identity change, I guess it makes sense to leave the team name off of the uniform all together.

But exactly how much thought was put into the block OAKLAND across the home and away chests?


1985-1990 San Diego Padres

I guess a lot of people complained during the 1984 World Series that the Padres Taco Bell uniforms were kind of ugly. Instead of embracing their ugliness, the Padres took a right turn to dullsville.

They kept the brown in their uniforms, but without the yellow in the cap, it just looked like a boring minor league uniform.

The interlocking SD on the away jersey was a nice idea... but seriously, would you rush out to buy one of these or the brown and yellow Steve Garvey specials?


1987-1990 Chicago White Sox

Between the all red uniforms of the early 1970s, the lapels and Bermuda shorts of the late 1970s and the S-O-X uniforms of the 1980s, the White Sox have had some of the most memorable bad uniforms in history.

Then they went back to their classic uniforms and eventually won a World Series.

But in between they tried out a totally forgettable boring script uniform that featured an unusual cursive C hat.

How forgettable were these? The Official White Sox website has a page devoted to the history of their uniform... and they forgot to include it in their time line!!!!


1987-1993 Houston Astros

Look, if you are going to have an ugly uniform... have an ugly uniform! Don't do it half way!

From 1975 to 1986, the Astros had the Orange Rainbow uniforms that were so garish and so ugly that they came right back around to beautiful. I even owned one! They were distinct... and the Astros played 2 of the greatest NLCS in history wearing them.

But after the 1986 NLCS, they reduced the orange to a stripe down the sleeve but kept the rest of the uniform the same. So now it was just a bland "Astros" and a star.

It's like seeing a coloring book before your kids can color it. Someone throw some orange on those threads!!!!


1988-1992 New York Mets (Away Jerseys Only)

The Mets won a World Series with away jerseys that just said "Mets" scrolled across it. Then in 1987 they changed their away jerseys to a terrific script "New York."

Inexplicably they changed it the very next year to a generic ugly block letter "NEW YORK" that resembled the Yankees away jerseys.

They lost the 1988 NLCS in these uniforms and devolved from a potential dynasty in the late 1980s to the worst team that money can buy in the 1990s.





1992-2004 Montreal Expos

The Expos were a cool and kind of exotic franchise that I truly miss.

Their announcers spoke French, their logo was unusual and they had the great three color "beach ball" hat and wonderfully understated uniforms.

Then they changed into a more generic uniform. Gone was the beach ball cap and replaced with a single color hat. And they went indecisively with a script with a flourish AND pinstripes.

They spent more than a decade in these bland threads.



1992-1994 San Diego Padres (Away Jerseys Only)

Actually the home uniforms that the Padres introduced in 1992 are my favorite San Diego uniforms. I could do without the pinstripes, but the new color scheme and the two colored S and D on the hats are the best they've ever had. I wish they'd go back to those.

The road jersey was a generic, no imagination, should have been worn by Cool Hand Luke on the chain gang.

In 1995 they changed the uniform and gave "SAN DIEGO" a nice outline, ergo creating the best uniform combination in their team's history. Of course they changed it eventually.


1993-1998 Cincinnati Reds

I know the Reds were trying to go back to traditional uniforms... but I ask why for three reasons:

1. They were only three years removed from a World Series title where the team wore the same unis as the Big Red Machine. Why mess with success?

2. The old fashioned hats and sleeveless uniforms looked anachronistic in the '70s cookie cutter park Riverfront Stadium.

3. Let's face it. Those white hats made the players look like the Good Humor Man.


1993-1994 New York Mets

The Mets wore these uniforms for two miserable seasons. For some reason the standard script Mets now included a flourish underneath it. It never quite looked right... and in its first season they had a big payroll, had Vince Coleman chucking fire crakers at kids and Anthony Young seemed to lose all 103 of their games.

Met fans would like to pull an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and erase their memories of that season... and those uniforms for that matter.



1994-1996 Chicago Cubs (Away Jerseys Only)

Man, the NL Central around the time of the strike was a division of some lousy threads.

The home jerseys of course are the classic Ernie Banks specials (and they weren't wearing the blue tops with the bear on it... that top stinks.)

But look at that awful away jersey. The script Cubs with a flourish? Can you imagine if the Cubs had finally won wearing that ugly jersey? Could Cub fans even enjoy it?

(Then again, Broncos fans seemed pretty happy seeing Elway with two Super Bowls in the ugly new helmets, so what do I know?)


1994-1999 Houston Astros

The Astros used to have a wacky George Jetson identity. They had a futuristic name, they played in a futuristic stadium with futuristic grass and they had wacky futuristic uniforms.

And for whatever reason (taste?) they decided to abandon the orange color scheme for possibly the blandest and least colorful uniforms since the advent of color television.

Seriously, which ones are the road uniforms?

Granted, not everyone was thrilled with the orange horizontal lines... but maybe a little color to break it up. Perhaps they were emulating silver jumpsuits... which are always futuristic.


1994 Milwaukee Brewers

Now I've already written about this... but it is worth bringing up again.

The Brewers should NEVER have abandoned the M-B baseball glove hat.

The result was the mess of a uniform unspooled in 1994. The M-B interlocking on the hat was too cluttered... as I said before looked like Motre Bame.

As if that wasn't bad enough, on the uniform they included the MB but thought "It's not busy enough!" So they put the M-B in a diamond and then stuck two bats in there just to make it a complete travesty.


1995-1996 Baltimore Orioles (Hat Only)

Remember the premise of this post is uniforms that completely slipped my mind. And in looking through old uniforms I have stumbled across a few that made me actually say "Wow! I have NO MEMORY of that!"

Case in point, the alternate Oriole cap.

It's bad enough they abandoned the smiling bird, but I covered that already.

But they wore gray hats sometime? REALLY? I watched a hell of a lot of baseball in 1995 and 1996. '95 was the year Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's record. They made the ALCS in 1996. And they wore gray hats sometime? Cal Ripken wore that dull cap with the sideways bird during his streak?

I don't think I forgot that... I plum never knew it!


1995-1996 Florida Marlins (Away Jerseys and Hats only)

Fans of ugly baseball uniforms rejoiced with the creation of the Florida Marlins in 1993.

They wore TEAL HATS! TEAL HELMETS! They had a big Marlin jumping over their name. They were truly ugly.

Then just two seasons later, they muted their home jerseys adopting the black hats. Yet, they kept the teal caps, but only for the road uniforms.

Don't they know that you have the colorful hat for home and the dark cap for the road?



1995-1996 Milwaukee Brewers

The final two seasons of the M-B hat were just as bad as the first.

But here's the forgettable part:

Did you remember the Brewers had a green bill on their away cap?

You did?

To quote Joe Wilson, "YOU LIE!"


1997-2001 Anaheim Angels

The California Angels uniforms of my lifetime were always cool. The A with a halo on it and the lower case letter looked good on Reggie and Rod Carew (but not Fred Lynn, but that is just me.)

And then in the mid 1990s, they brought back the CA on their hat for their best ever uniform.

Then Disney bought the team from the Autrey's the name was changed to Anaheim and this uniform was vomited on the field.

Angel wings on the hat? An overly busy "ANGELS" logo across the chest with pinstripes working against it? It gives me a headache looking at it. It isn't even worthy of a fun Hall of Shame a la the White Sox shorts or the Brown and Yellow Padres unis.

It's just a horrible example of marketing people trying to design a new uniform and failing miserably. I went to Angels Stadium this year... didn't see ONE of these hats or uniforms.

1997-1999 Milwaukee Brewers

Man the Brewers had a run of forgettable uniforms... and I will argue that the 1997-1999 uniforms were the most forgettable of my lifetime.

The bland M hat.

The lifeless uniforms.

These look like uniforms they would use in a beer commercial where they couldn't get the rights to MLB logos and want to have a generic looking team play.



1997-2000 Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have always been pretty reliable in their uniforms. They currently wear the sleeveless uniforms and black caps that Roberto Clemente or Ralph Kiner could have worn.

And in the late '70s during the We Are Family title years, they were wonderfully wacky with the different uniform combinations and the flat caps with the Stargell stars.

But in the mid '90s they altered the font of PIRATES, making the P and S bigger and giving it a curve like the Giants uniforms of the late 1980s. And like the 1995-1996 Orioles, they inexplicably would alternate to a gray cap that I have no memory of.

Then again, the 1997-2000 Pirates were hardly teams of legend.




1997-2003 Toronto Blue Jays

Why do teams mess with uniforms that are already working???

The Blue Jays had a cool logo and unusual fonts on their uniforms... and they wore those during the George Bell years and the back to back World Series titles years...

You know, their GLORY YEARS!

So naturally they altered the cap to have the Blue Jay sitting in a giant maple leaf. Yeah, we know you are from Canada.

The cool font from the original jersey was scrapped... and the hat even had an awkward red bill.

People love the old uniforms. DON'T MESS WITH SUCCESS! (And have more retro jersey nights!)


1998-2000 Arizona Diamondbacks

Supposedly manager Buck Showalter had a hand in designing these uniforms.

Yeeesh! Nothing screams "Arizona Fall League" more than the DIAMOND Back home jersey.

Plus could we have SOME consistency in the color scheme? Or did Showalter have a thing for Purple... and Teal... And Black... And Orange?

By the time Showalter was canned, they mainly played with the A on their chest and mercifully the cumbersome DIAMOND Backs home uni was phased out.


2001-2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The original Tampa Bay Devil Rays uniform was so ugly that the Walt Disney Company (the people who brought you the wings on the Angels hat) fudged history in the movie The Rookie.

Jim Morris in real life wore the laughable pajama top with the Ray on it, but in the movie he wore the lower key "Tampa Bay" jersey that they started wearing 2 years later.

While the new uniforms were no longer embarassingly ugly, they were flat and generic. It didn't even say DEVIL on it and hid the swimming ray under the RAYS. Like the Astros before them, if you are going to have an ugly uniform, embrace it... don't do it half assed.


So there you have it. A closet full of forgettable tops and bland hats.

Granted with a few exceptions these were uniforms for teams that weren't any good. But the Royals, Astros, Orioles and Diamondbacks played in October in these threads.

But if any of you readers wear any of these often, please e mail me at info@sullybaseball.com.

First one who doesn't know me personally to e mail me a photo wearing one of these jerseys gets a prize!

24 comments:

  1. Greg Lee6:34 PM

    Agree on all counts... except the old Royals powder blue! Ahh, the images of U.L. Washington flood over me...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm still undecided about which uniform I hate more, the above mentioned "TORONTO" and "BLUE JAYS" nightmare from the late 90s-early 2000s or the steroid-taking BJ Birdie flexing around an oversized "T" that was phased-in before the generic, not-blue-at-all jerseys of today. One thing is certain though, and that is you are completely right: the old logo was one of the coolest in MLB history.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! So thorough and so right - I agree with almost every one of your entries.

    There should be some type of binding legal action that prevents teams from screwing up great uniforms: The A's of the mid- '70's; The Padres in the early '90's with their blue and orange colors; the Braves since the mid- '90's. Once a team comes up with a great uniform, no one from the marketing department or the owner's family or MLB can change it. Sully, I think you should be the uniform czar of baseball, and I'll volunteer to be your assistant. First orders of business - bring back the smiling Oriole, the teal hats of the Marlins, and remove black from all Mets' uniforms.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah this is really a comprehensive list! They're trying to update their uniforms but it just isnt working.

    On a side note, I know the yanks have a classic uni but for some reason, i associate their white with blue pinstripes with jails and prisoners.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous6:47 AM

    I have an old baseball uniform that ive had for at least 20 yrs...it's older than that. It was a jewler and optical team out of Peoria,Il.. Which is wher i'm origanally from. The business is since out of business...Allnatural4219@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. A picture of a happy American Indian on a sleeve of a uniform is not racist. If you have some "white" guilt that's on you. Is the University of N.D. racist?
    They pick these names because they have pride in them. Stop being ignorant and get educated. --P.J.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's not white guilt
    It is a caricature of a racial stereotype. It just is. Sorry.

    I didn't say "Change the name of the team." And I am not mister wring my hands sensitivity.

    But if it was a Sambo black face or a buck tooth Chinese guy, I'd say the same thing.

    No I don't think the University of ND is a racist logo. It isn't a silly cartoon depiction but an attempt to make a dignified looking warrior.

    Usually my nasty comments are Anonymous. Thanks for at least tying your name pj

    ReplyDelete
  8. No matter how repetitive the uniforms at baseball are, I still love them! And I shall wear them for as long as I want! Haha! Sorry, guys I'm a certified baseball addict.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous1:03 PM

    I agree with almost all of the entries you have posted except for the powder blue unis of the Royals from 1973-1982. Those uniforms were in my eyes simple, but good looking. My favorite uniform of all time, but that is just me. I wish KC would wear those or the 1985 button up uni w/ the script 'Royals' on them instead of the hideous light blue ones they have now for day games at home.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like the Braves home jerseys, the white ones. Those things are just all time classic.

    ReplyDelete
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  12. Anonymous3:23 AM

    You are right on the nose about a lot of these, but I agree w/ anonymous, that the 1973-82 KC Royals road is great! It also is my favorite all time uniform, but that was when I was growing up as a Royals fan. I do wish they would wear these and the 85 model occasionally. The fans in KC for the most part would love it! And, the Padres should have never switched from brown and gold to blue and orange.

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  14. I always liked those late 80's White Sox unis. I thought they were the nicest ones they ever wore. I especially liked the cursive C on the cap with the red visor. Also liked the uniform number on the pants. Sad that the organization seems to like to whitewash over them, especially since those were the unis they wore to close out the old Comiskey Park.

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  17. I think the teams might have forgettable uniforms, but I believe that they just used the uniforms that are comfortable with them. Well, don’t get me wrong, but I guess the way we think about the styles of the uniforms depends on how we appreciate how it was made. I mean, if you ask me, I’d love some of these uniforms, especially if my favorite team is using this. :D

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