Baseball is considered more than just a sport and pastime – it’s an American institution. It has entertained us, excited us, and gotten us to the edge of our seats for over 100 years.
Along with the evolution of this sport are the changes in the uniforms of several baseball clubs. Since the 1920s, some teams have stuck to the original roots, while others have changed their names, cities, and uniforms.
Apart from some subtle changes to the uniforms, the fundamentals have remained very much the same. A standard baseball uniform consists of shirts (jerseys), pants, socks, shoes, caps, and gloves. When it comes to sports uniforms, baseball is unique in many ways as it is one of the only handful of teams wearing pants.
Most teams have stuck to specific traditions in their uniforms, like in the case of the New York Yankees, who have kept the distinctive pinstripes since their early years. The uniforms of most teams have remained remarkably consistent throughout the decades, with some minor transformations.
Check out the evolution of baseball uniforms, including the history of early baseball uniforms, of some of the baseball teams featured here.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have worn the iconic pinstripes for more than 100 years. In the above photo is baseball legend Babe Ruth in the 1920s. The pants are cuffed just below the knee, while the socks cover the rest of his lower legs. These pants are called knicker pants, which are shorter and looser, and the design allows the player to move freely. The buttons are noticeably placed down the center of the uniform.
There are several myths surrounding the Yankees’ uniforms, the most famous being that the team introduced them as an attempt to make Babe Ruth look slimmer. But the pinstripes were actually introduced even before the portly Ruth became a Yankee, so there’s no truth to these rumors.
The Yankees have sported the iconic pinstripes since 1912. They also introduced jersey numbers in 1929, which are now a standard in baseball uniforms. The interlocking “N” and “Y” logo was introduced in 1936. Up to now, it still appears on their home uniforms and caps.
Home and on the road, the Yankees’ uniforms look nearly exactly the same as they did in the 1930s. But the color, cut, and fabric have been changed to go with the times.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals started as the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1882. They changed their name to St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Perfectos in the 1890s. When they were still playing as Perfectos, they sported red-striped stockings and jerseys with red trims. When someone remarked on the red accents as a “lovely shade of cardinal,” that comment stuck with the team. In 1900, the team changed its name from Browns to Cardinals.
During the early days as Cardinals, their uniforms still featured the familiar tree branch with two cardinal birds perching on top.
In 1922, the Cardinals began to wear uniforms for the first time featuring the familiar two cardinals perching atop a baseball bat over the name “Cardinals,” with the “C” hooked over the bat. From the 1920s to the 1930s, the Cardinals’ uniforms didn’t change that much.
Over the years, the Cardinals’ uniforms have remained consistent, except for a touch of wackiness in the 1970s when they began wearing powder blue uniforms when they were playing away from home.
Other than that, no team in major league baseball history has maintained stricter adherence to similar home and away uniforms as the Cardinals.
Despite not winning a World Series in so many years, the Chicago Cubs are still one of the beloved clubs in the major leagues.
In the 1924 newspaper photo (or illustration) of Cubs first baseman Hooks Cotter shown above, it doesn’t even look like this uniform fit him. The knicker pants and high socks were the style of choice during this decade. The baseball cap had a shallow brim.
The uniform was of solid color during the Cubs’ early days, except from 1911 to 1912, when they debuted with faint pinstripes. In 1957, they re-introduced the pinstripes to their home uniforms, and this has been a feature since.
In 1908, the Cubs introduced a logo of a bear within the letter “C”, and the “C” was added to the cap. When they introduced the pinstripes again in 1957, the Cubs added a full-circle logo to it.
For road games, the Cubs have been wearing gray uniforms since 1997. This design features “Chicago,” in blue letters and white trim, across the chest. The player’s number is displayed on the left side of the uniform, in red with white trim. The back of the uniform features the player’s name in blue with white trim and numbers in red with white trim.
The Cubs also wear an alternate blue uniform with a logo of a “walking cub” inside the letter “C.” This design hasn’t changed since 1997.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers started out on the other side of the map as the Brooklyn Grays in New York in 1883. Since then, they have changed their names several times. In 1913, they played as the Brooklyn Dodgers, then changed their name to Brooklyn Robins a year later. In 1932, they returned to being Dodgers again. They played as the Brooklyn Dodgers for 26 years until they moved to Los Angeles, California, before the 1958 season.
As for the Dodgers’ uniforms, they have remained very much the same since the 1930s, with only minor changes such as outlines and shading. Even the franchise’s move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles did little to change the overall look of their uniforms, keeping the traditional design and the signature “Dodger blue” coloring over the decades.