Beginnings of the Baseball Uniform

A baseball uniform is worn in order to distinguish the wearers’ role in the sport. Most uniforms have a name and number located usually on the back to help identify the player. Shoes, shirts, socks, caps, pants and gloves are all part of the baseball uniform.

But how did the baseball uniform come to be?

Baseball uniforms were first introduced by the New York Knickerbockers in the year 1849. Their pants were made of wool; they wore white flannel shirts and straw hats. Wearing a uniform soon took root and by 1900 all Major League Baseball teams were wearing them.

Before that time, those wearing a uniform also wore stockings which covered a player from foot to knee. Different colors and styles were used to show the differences between team members. By the end of the century each team would wear one of two different uniforms to differentiate between the home team and road team. It became popular to wear white at home and either black, dark blue or gray on the road.

From this time forward, the uniform began to evolve. Teams began making their uniforms even more unique adding purple lines or changing their colors entirely. Some started pin striping, which over the course of several years got bigger so that fans in the stadium could actually see the difference. Some used to say that pinstripes were added to the New York Yankees uniform to make baseball legend Babe Ruth appear slimmer, but since the team had been wearing the same pinstripes several years before he joined them, the legend was a myth.

The first numbers added to uniforms were in 1916 by the Cleveland Indians. They had them placed on their left sleeve and it wasn’t until 1929 that the numbers made their way to the back of the uniform. All major league baseball teams had numbers by the year 1932. It wasn’t until 1952 that the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first to add numbers to the front.

From the very beginning, logos were used to identify teams. Often times it was an Old English letter worn on the chest. Soon, picture logos began to be a popular site of team marketing. In the 1930’s, almost every team had its own logo or team nickname on their home shirts.

Today many uniforms sport both new ideas of the baseball uniform coupled with the old traditional style. Baseball and its uniforms are a huge part of American history and the traditional style a fantastic part of the baseball heritage.

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