Throwback Thursday: Retro Uniforms in Baseball

Yesterday, the Twitter account for the Tampa Bay Rays released this photo of the team’s manager, Joe Maddon, wearing the team’s “throwback” jersey from 1979 for an upcoming “Turn Back the Clock” game they’re playing on June 30. There’s just one issue: the Rays didn’t exist in 1979.

In fact, the team, first called the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, first came into existence in 1998. Throughout all professional sports, leagues decide to hold special games like “Turn Back the Clock” night, in which they break out old uniforms that are very clearly relics of their time. So instead of accepting the fact that their franchise lacks a retro-style uniform that most other teams in the Majors have been able to enjoy, the Rays just went ahead and made their own mythical ‘70s-style duds. I think that the uniform looks really swell (that’s old-timey talk for “cool”), and it inspired me to take a look for some of baseball’s more memorable throwback uniforms.

I’ve already documented my love of the old uniforms of the Houston Astros. I think these things are TOPS. Frankly, I wish that the team would go back to these. They’re unique, they’re bright, and they really convey the ideas of dudes hanging out near space ships. How could anyone not like these?

Fortunately for me, I found a pretty awesome online retailer, NFLJerseys.com, that sells relatively inexpensive replicas of these and lots of others, all coming to around twenty bucks or so for each one. It’s going to be very hard to resist buying one of these when I get my next paycheck.

Around the same era, the Chicago White Sox made their players wear, flat-out, some of the worst uniforms ever created—mainly because of the shorts. It’s not even so much that shorts can’t work on dudes in sports. It’s that no other team wore them…and they were kind of on the short-short side. The huge collars and long sleeves don’t really help the combo out. I’m not sure if you can get these anywhere. And I’m not sure that you’d want to. Fortunately, NFLjerseys.com has these equally misguided uniforms from 1972. Never let Chicago forget.

Then there’s the San Diego Padres. The look of the word “Padres” is pretty great for its classic font and style, but what really gets me happy about this one is the logo itself. That’s right, it’s a monk playing baseball. That’s amazing. In fact, I already have a cap with this logo on it, and I really love it. I wear it far too frequently for my girlfriend’s tastes (also, it’s kind of filthy). And, yes, NFLjerseys.com has you covered on this one, too.

Then there’s the Seattle Pilots, a team I didn’t even know existed until a few weeks ago when I read about them on another blog. The team only lasted for a year in the 1969 season, then moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. Their uniforms are pretty interesting looking. I love the really unique logo, but the real stars of the Pilots’ uniforms are the crazy gold laurel leaves on the brim of the cap. I love it—but also, I don’t think I’d ever be able to pull it off with any kind of confidence. It takes a certain kind of man to wear a hat like that—usually the kind of man who, you know, flies airplanes.

NFLjerseys.com hasn’t got any Pilots stuff, but MLB’s online shop has the cap available, while finding choices for jerseys takes some heavy Googling. I managed find this one at a reasonable price, though it doesn’t quite capture the glory of the picture above.

This is just scratching the surface, though. Maybe next week I’ll tackle the jerseys the MLB made their teams wear that they claimed came…from the future.



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