Every game has its own uniform, and baseball uniforms are totally unique. Like in other sport, in a baseball game all players from the same team must wear identical uniforms to identify of which team they belong and play for, as well as to distinguish themselves from their opponents.
Of course, you can only play a good baseball game with the proper equipment, gear, and uniform. Like many other sports uniforms, baseball uniforms have evolved throughout the decades. Thus, this article presents the baseball uniform’s history and essential elements.
History of the baseball uniform
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. There have been some pretty cool baseball t-shirt designs over the years.
The practice of wearing baseball uniforms soon became widespread. By the 1900s, baseball uniforms had become a standard as all Major League Baseball (MLB) teams had adopted them.
Around 1882, baseball clubs were originally distinguished by the color 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 uniform code style proved to be highly confusing for 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
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 on the road (usually black, gray, or solid dark blue).
Home-and-away uniforms produced some exciting designs. For example, the New York Giants uniforms during the 1910s had purple lines that gave them a tartan-like effect (the pattern usually seen at Scottish kilts). The color of Kansas City Athletics’ home-and-away uniforms was changed to gold and green. Some baseball teams used light blue uniforms from the 1970s through the 1990s for their on-the-road matches.
History of baseball caps
Baseball caps and hats have been integral to the baseball uniform since the 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 ones. Sometimes, they would go hatless, as there was no official rule yet regarding headgear.
During the 1860s, the Brooklyn Excelsiors started wearing caps with rounded tops and peaks, 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 specific cap was first known as the Brooklyn-style hat.
By the 20th century, many players and teams had adopted the Brooklyn-style hat, although some still insisted on 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 now, this baseball cap is still popular among baseball players and non-baseball players.
The history of baseball pants and stockings
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 the original teams used the color and pattern of their socks to denote who they were.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings, as their name suggests, 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 were 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 had been wearing either the traditional knee-length pants or full-length pants that covered the shoe tops with no elastic at the bottom.
The history of the baseball shoes
The first baseball shoes worn during the 19th century consisted of soft and durable leather. They bore some similarities to modern baseball shoes but were obviously less optimized or streamlined.
During the late 19th century and early 20th century, baseball shoes were mainly colored black. But in the 1960s, the Kansas City Athletics 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.
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.
The essential elements of the baseball uniform
Jerseys are traditionally made of cotton or wool, but nowadays, most baseball jerseys are made with stretchable polyester. This is the preferred fabric because it allows proper airflow, keeping the wearer cool.
The typical baseball jersey has a lettering or 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 as each other, you’ll be surprised to know that there are different types of jerseys:
- Normal – Normal baseball jerseys can have buttons at the top, like the polo shirt, but most of them do not have buttons.
- Button-down – Button-down baseball jerseys are worn like regular button-down shirts. Many baseball players wear these shirts with a few buttons at the top undone.
- Vest – A baseball vest is normally worn under the button-down baseball jersey.
A baseball cap is often the most visible part of a baseball uniform. Baseball caps are usually soft, making them comfortable to wear. The cap usually bears the baseball club’s name and/or logo. The following lists the main parts of a baseball cap:
- Crown – The crown is the main part of the cap, consisting of three panels or sections: the front, side, and back. Typically, a crown has six to eight sewn panels of fabric.
- Visor – 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.
- Button – The top rounded part of a cap. Baseball cap buttons are typically made of metal and covered with fabric.
- Strap – At the back panel of the baseball cap is an adjustable strap to adjust the baseball cap to your head’s size for the perfect fit.
- Eyelets – The eyelets are small round holes near 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 and amateur players. Polyester fabric is soft, flexible, comfortable, and sweat-absorbent. There are three types of baseball pants:
- Full-length – While the function is similar to regular pants, full-length baseball pants may restrict the player’s movements
- Dirty-mids – These pants generally go halfway down the shin, old-school style. They typically feature a band at the bottom to bunch the pants around the shin to prevent them from falling.
- Knee-length – As the name implies, these pants go down just below the knee. Like the dirty-mids, knee-length pants are often worn with stirrups.
Here are the three different styles of baseball pants:
- Solid – Solid features a single and plain color, seen in full-length, dirty-mid, and knee-length types. It’s the most basic and classic design, creating a clean look that many players favor.
- Piped – The piped style is seen in full-length, dirty-mid, and knee-length pants. It features a single color for the base of the pants with a single stripe down the sides.
- Pinstripe – The pinstripe style is also commonly found in all three types of pants already mentioned. It features a solid base color (like white or gray) accented by several colored stripes running vertically. These stripes may be of a single color or multicolored. The vintage look of these pants makes pinstripes popular among many players.
4) Socks and stirrups
Both socks and stirrups should come up to just below the knee. They come in different colors and designs. Socks and stirrups are an integral part of a baseball uniform, and every player is always required to wear both to prevent himself from getting cut up while diving or sliding.
The purpose of stirrups is 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 of 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.
Not wanting this tragedy to happen again, baseball players were now required to wear what was called “sanitary socks,” which exposed the ankles so players could wear their cleats. Players may now have the option to wear old-school, classic or modern stirrups that come in many designs and colors.
The surface of a baseball field is made up of grass (natural or artificial) and dirt. That’s why cleats are essential because they provide 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 – 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 – Molded plastic cleats are typically attached to the shoe’s soles. One of the advantages of molded plastic cleats is that they can be worn on any surface without wearing down – from grass to concrete. They’re also cheaper and last much longer than metal. However, plastic cleats do not have a firm grip on the ground compared to metal cleats, making plastic cleats ideal for soft or muddy surfaces.
Another essential part of the baseball ensemble, the belt is available in various lengths and colors. However, almost every baseball belt has one solid color. So, you have to buy a specific belt to match your uniform color. Like many other belts, baseball belts should be adjustable.
7) Sliders or sliding shorts
“Sliders” or “sliding shorts” are worn as an athletic supporter and undergarment to support and protect the player’s private parts, thighs, and buttocks from abrasions while sliding or diving. The additional padding can help the wearer guard himself against bruises and soft tissue injuries.
Although sports rules do not require or require sliders, they are otherwise highly recommended. They give the additional protection that every baseball player needs since baseball is a rough and physically demanding sport where accidents can occur.
Choose the right pair of baseball sliders to enable you to move confidently, which spells a big difference in 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. Some sliders 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 buy a pair of sliders.
Most consumers see “sliders” and “compression shorts” as 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 primary 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).