Every game has its own uniform, and baseball uniforms are totally unique for the sport. Of course, you cannot play a good game of baseball without the proper gear, equipment and uniform. Like many sports uniforms, a baseball uniform has evolved throughout the decades. A baseball uniform is not just for attire, it’s also for the identification of which team you belong and play for.
Below is a general and detailed information about baseball uniforms.
Different Parts of the Baseball Uniform
Here are the basic elements that make up for the proper baseball uniform:
A jersey is a clothing item which is traditionally made of cotton or wool, but nowadays most baseball jerseys are made with stretchable polyester. This is the more preferred fabric because it allows proper air flow which keeps the wearer cool.
The typical baseball jersey has a lettering or a logo which represents the name of the baseball club the wearer plays for. It also has the number and the name of the player who wears it.
If you think that baseball jerseys look the same to each other, you’ll be surprised to know that there are actually different types of jerseys, which include the following:
Normal baseball jerseys can have buttons at the top like the polo shirt, but most of them do not have buttons.
It is worn like a regular button-down shirt. Many baseball players wear this shirt with a few buttons at the top undone.
A baseball vest is normally worn under the button-down baseball jersey.
A baseball cap is often the most visible part of the uniform. Baseball caps are usually soft that makes them comfortable to wear. The cap usually bears the name and/or logo of the baseball club. The following are some of the main parts of a baseball cap:
the main part of the cap which consists of three panels or sections: the front, side and back. Typically, a crown has six to eight sewn panels of fabric.
All standard baseball caps feature a visor to protect the wearer’s eyes from the sun’s glare. It is also called a bill or a brim.
The top rounded part of a cap. Baseball cap buttons are typically made of metal, and covered with fabric.
At the back panel of the baseball cap is an adjustment strap to adjust the baseball cap to your head’s size.
The eyelets are small round holes located near at the top of the cap. The purpose of these eyelets is to provide ventilation to the head, keeping it cool.
The first baseball pants were purely made of either cotton or wool. But nowadays, pants made with polyester have become more popular among professional as well as amateur players. Polyester fabric is soft, flexible, comfortable and sweat-absorbent. There are three types of baseball pants:
While the function is similar to regular pants, full-length baseball pants may restrict the player’s movements
These types of pants go generally halfway down the shin, old-school style. They typically feature a band at the bottom to bunch the pants around the shin to prevent it from falling.
As the name implies, these pants go down just below the knee. Like the dirty-mids, knee-length pants are often worn with stirrups.
4. Socks and stirrups
Both socks and stirrups should come up to just below the knee. They come in different colors and designs. Both socks and stirrups are an integral part of a baseball uniform, and every player is always required to wear both of them to prevent himself from getting cut up while diving or sliding.
The purpose of stirrups are thought to provide another layer of protection, or simply to look good in the same manner as wearing a tie. There was a grim story behind the adoption of stirrups:
During the early 1900s, a baseball player died blood poisoning when he suffered a cut on his leg. In the early days, the color dyes of the outer stirrup socks were not safe as they are now, so the poison was absorbed into his wound which caused his demise.
To prevent this tragedy from happening again, baseball players were now required to wear what was called as “sanitary socks,” which exposed the ankles so that players would be able to wear their cleats. Nowadays, players may now have the option to wear the old-school, classic stirrups or the modern stirrups that come in many designs and colors.
The surface of baseball field is made up of grass (natural or artificial) and dirt. That’s why cleats are important because they provide a firm traction and grip on a soft or slippery surface such as the surface of the baseball field. The type and quality of cleats can significantly impact a player’s performance. The following are the different types of cleats:
Metal cleats provide the most effective grip because they dig into the surface deeper (compared to plastic cleats) such as grass and hard dirt infields. Metal cleats are also great for helping the batter secure his foot on the batter box so that he can bat the ball without slipping. Be careful when using metal cleats because they can cause accidents and injuries particularly when you (or the other players) suddenly change your direction. Another disadvantage of wearing cleats is that they can wear down when especially when worn on surfaces that are not grass or dirt.
Molded plastic cleats are typically attached to the soles of the shoe. One of the advantages of molded plastic cleats is that it can be worn on any type of surface without wearing down – from grass to concrete. They’re also cheaper and last much longer than metal. However, plastic cleats do not make a firm grip on the ground compared to metal cleats and this makes plastic cleats more ideal to use for soft or muddy surfaces.
A belt is also an essential component of a baseball uniform. There is a wide selection of baseball belts of several lengths and colors – but almost every baseball belt has one solid color. So you have to buy a certain belt to match your uniform color. Like many other belts, baseball belts should be adjustable.
“Sliders” or “sliding shorts” are worn as an athletic supporter and undergrament to support and protect the player’s private parts, thighs and the buttocks from abrasions while sliding or diving. The additional padding can help the wearer guard himself against bruises and soft tissue injuries.
Although sliders are not required or necessary by sports rules, they are otherwise highly recommended. They give the additional protection that every baseball player needs, since baseball is usually a rough and physically demanding sport where accidents can possibly occur.
You should choose the right pair of baseball sliders to enable you to move with confidence and that spells a big difference to your performance on the field.
Sliders are typically made of a snug-fitting fabric with strategically-placed protective padding. Some sliders are even located on the knees to keep them protected from cuts and bruises as players hit the ground. There are also some sliders which are specifically made to wick out the moisture to keep the wearer dry; this feature is often called “Dri-Fit.” So make sure to say “Dri-Fit” or “moisture wicking” the next time you’re going to buy a pair of sliders.
For most consumers, they see “sliders” and “compression shorts” as being one and the same, and they use these terms interchangeably. But according to retailers, it’s not quite so – sliders have protective paddings while compression shorts do not. “Compression shorts” get their name from their main function in compressing or squeezing the muscles, which is said to increase blood circulation.
Sliders come in various lengths that range from above the knee to full-length (down to the ankle).
History of the Baseball Uniform
The first baseball uniforms
The New York Knickerbockers were seen wearing the first baseball uniforms on April 4, 1849. Their uniforms consisted of blue woolen pants, white flannel shirts and straw hats.
The practice of wearing baseball uniforms soon became widespread. By 1900, baseball uniforms had become a standard as all Major League Baseball (MLB) teams had adopted them.
Around 1882, baseball clubs were originally differentiated by the color of and pattern of their socks. The uniforms themselves had different colors to represent different positions on the field. For instance: pitchers wore light blue uniforms, catchers wore scarlet, first basemen wore scarlet with white vertical stripes, second basemen wore orange with black vertical stripes, and so on.
This style of uniform code proved to be extremely confusing for both the players and fans, thus this was discontinued mid-season.
Home and away uniforms by the end of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century
By the end of the 19th century, baseball teams had also adopted the practice of wearing “home and away” uniforms. It became common for teams to wear white at home and other colors when they were on the road (usually black, gray or solid dark blue).
Home-and-away uniforms produced some interesting designs. For example, the New York Giants’ uniforms during the 1910’s had some purple lines that gave them a tartan-like effect (the pattern usually seen at Scottish kilts). The uniform of the Kansas City Athletics’ home-and-away uniforms were changed to gold and green. From the 1970s throughout the 1990s, some baseball teams had used light blue uniforms for their on-the-road matches.
Baseball caps and hats
Baseball caps and hats have been an integral part of the baseball uniform since the very beginning.
But during the early days of baseball, the sport didn’t have an actual headgear that it could call its own. Players would wear different kinds of hats such as boater hats, full-brimmed straw hats, cycling caps, jockey caps and flat-topped hats. Sometimes, they would go hatless at all, as there was no official rule yet regarding headgear.
During the 1860s, the Brooklyn Excelsiors had started to wear caps with rounded top and peak, thus the birth of the modern baseball cap. The cap featured a brim on the front which was meant to shield the wearer’s eyes from the sun. It was made from a material meant to wick out moisture from the wearer’s eyes and face. This certain cap was first known as the Brooklyn-style hat.
By the 20th century, a growing number of players and teams had adopted the Brooklyn-style hat, although some still insisted the flat-topped hat. However, the Brooklyn-style (or sometimes called New York-style) baseball cap still emerged as the most popular baseball headgear.
Even up to now, this type of baseball cap is still popular among baseball players and non-baseball players alike (such as the police, the military and mere casual wearers).
The first baseball shoes worn during the 19th century consisted of soft and durable leather shoes. They bore some similarities to the modern baseball shoes, but they were obviously less optimized or streamlined.
During the 1970s, artificial turf was introduced to baseball fields, so modifications to the baseball shoes became necessary. Detachable spikes became popular as they help with the grip, but they were banned during in 1976.
During the late 19th century and early 20th century, baseball shoes were mostly colored black. But in the 1960s the Kansas City Athletcis adopted white shoes – they carried this long-standing tradition over when they moved to Oakland. Since then, many teams have been wearing colored shoes and cleats to correspond to the colors of their uniforms.
Pants and stockinigs
Pants as well as stockings are also integral to the baseball uniform. The first baseball pants were knee-length or, to an extreme, to the middle of the shin. This was because of the original team’s using the color and pattern of their socks to denote who they were.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings, as their name suggets, had adopted the use of colored stockings as their way of distinguishing themselves from the other teams. Soon, other teams followed suit, that’s why teams had names like Chicago White Stockings and St. Louis Brown Stockings. Striped stockings are also used by other clubs (like the New York Giants), but it was rare during the 1920s.
By the 1990s, full lengths pants were used in the game, making it possible for players to wear pants that ran down to the top of the shoes.
By the early 21st century, almost all players have been wearing either the traditional knee-length pants or full-length pants that covered the shoe tops with no elastic at the bottom.
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