As we wind-down and enter the last few days of the year, what better time than now to reflect upon this past year in baseball logos and uniforms?
Nearly every team in the Bigs did something new or special uniform-wise during the course of the 2011 Major League Baseball season, so many that I’m being forced to break this list up over three parts. For you today I’ll be recapping the uniform highlights for the first ten teams, alphabetically, of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
The Diamondbacks have never been one to wear a throwback uniform in the past, they’ve only been around a handful of seasons, but in 2011 they had an important milestone to celebrate and that was the 10th anniversary of their 2001 World Series victory over the New York Yankees. The Diamondbacks dropped their usual red, black and sands for one day on September 9th in exchange for their classic purple and teals which hadn’t been worn since 2006. They must’ve brought some magic with them as the D-Backs went on to beat the Padres that day 3-2.
Atlanta participated in several retro jersey games throughout the season, including a weekend against the Phillies where they wore a different throwback uniform each game. They first honoured the Boston Braves by wearing uniforms patterned off the 1944 team for a throwback game in Los Angeles, complete with Boston “B” caps.
The weekender mentioned above with the Phillies was done in honour the the Civil Rights Game, held that Sunday in Atlanta. The Saturday night the Braves wore Negro League throwbacks of the Atlanta Black Crackers and the next night chose to honour the great Hank Aaron with their 1974 home uniforms.
From August 21st through the end of the season the Braves honoured former player and play-by-play man Ernie Johnson by wearing this patch on their uniform sleeves.
The Cubbies honoured the memory of fan-favourite, and recent Hall of Fame inductee Ron Santo, who had died last December, by wearing this sleeve patch throughout the entire 2011 season. In addition to this patch the club also participated in a couple of turn-back-the-clock games, both on the road. First up was a May 4th matinee in Los Angeles in which both clubs wore their uniforms from the mid-1940s, the Cubbies sporting a uniform made famous by a Norman Rockwell painting.
Two weeks later they jumped back another 30 years to wear their 1918 uniforms for their first appearance in Boston to face the Red Sox since the 1918 World Series, not the most interesting of uniforms but what do you want? It was 1918.
The biggest change to the Reds outfit this season was to the uniforms they wear before anything counts – their batting practice jerseys. The Reds introduced a new “Reds” cursive script logo which goes across the front of their pre-game/pre-season jerseys.
The Reds played in throwbacks twice during the season, honouring the Cincinnati Tigers Negro League team with uniforms based off their 1936-37 set for a game in Milwaukee on July 9th. A month prior they wore 1940s throwbacks for a game in Los Angeles, like so many others did during the season.
Aside from altering their batting practice jersey (which every team did in one way or another before the season) the Rockies didn’t do anything for the 2011 season. They will be making a change, however, for the 2012 season, one which involves finally removing the pin-stripes from the road grey jerseys – returning to a road uniform more similar (but not the same) as their pre-2000 set.
Like their expansion cousins in Denver, the Florida Marlins didn’t do a thing before or during the season. Of course that was just the calm before the major storm they unleashed in November, but you all know about that one already – look for it in the 2012 season preview.
When owner Drayton McLane sold the club in May the Houston Astros were freed from their long-standing order from McLane to wear the brick red jerseys as often as possible, basically making them the unofficial full-time home and road jerseys. The Astros broke out the rarely seen road grey jerseys around the time of the sale and proceeded to wear them frequently throughout the season, even pairing them with an all brick-red cap for the first time in the history of that identity set.
The Astros switch to the American League has created a flurry of rumours and speculation about a major re-brand in store for 2013 but I can honestly say I haven’t heard anything regarding this, it may be too early to know by this point.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
The Los Angeles Dodgers needed some way to pass the time in-between anniversary seasons, 2010 being the 55th anniversary of their ’55 championship, and 2012 being the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium, they chose to fill the void with a random throwback jersey. The Dodgers played in their 1940s powder-blue Brooklyn Dodgers jerseys in a series of turn-back-the-clock games the team hosted throughout the season, six of them to be exact. Each of which featuring an opponent dressed for the occasion, those teams are covered in their individual sections throughout this article.
The Dodgers also paid tribute to their fallen Hall of Famer Duke Snider by wearing this patch all season on their uniform, and gave an additional shout-out to the Brooklyn Dodgers (did you know they used to play in Brooklyn?) by wearing their cap, along with their standard home LA jerseys for a game on August 9th. Also of note, the Dodgers made a subtle tweak to their primary logo for the 2012 season, the fun part is they made the switch mid-way through 2011 and nobody noticed.
The Milwaukee Brewers wore four one-game-only uniforms during the season, when you throw in their regular in-game rotation the Brew Crew wore eight different uniforms throughout 2011.
First up was a first for the Brewers, an all-gold jersey. The first time gold made an on-field appearance for the club they read “Cerveceros” across the front – which is Spanish for “Brewers”, worn for their annual Spanish-heritage game on June 18th. These gold jerseys were such a hit that they brought them back again, this time in English for a tilt against the Phillies on September 10th.
All that multi-lingual fun didn’t stop there, the Brewers became the first team to wear uniforms written in German when the “Bierbrauer” took on the “Piraten” in Milwaukee on August 14th. Milwaukee being the city with largest population of German speakers in North America it only made sense.
On July 9th the Brewers took the field wearing the uniforms of the 1923 Negro League club, the Milwaukee Bears against the Cincinnati Reds, the sixth consecutive season in which the Brewers have honoured their former Negro League teams.
In May the Brewers took the field against the Pirates wearing camouflaged caps for a military serviceman night. Finally, it wasn’t worn long but team groundskeeper Gary Vaden Berg died during the NLCS prompting the club to wear this memorial patch for the remainder of that series, a nice gesture.
NEW YORK METS
The 2011 season was our first tease of the entirely black-free New York Mets identity to come in 2013, and although the flashes of blue and orange were very brief (and sometimes botched), they looked great during those games.
On August 5th the Mets wore a blue jersey with mainly orange letters and numbers, something Mets fans haven’t seen in over a decade. The jerseys were worn for Spanish heritage night and featured “Los Mets” written across the front of the jerseys, many Mets fans snatched up the jerseys, unstitched the “Los” and walked away happily with their exists-only-in-their-dreams jersey.
Noticing the popularity of the blue duds the team wore their blue and orange batting practice jerseys in a game on August 29th against the Marlins. This one didn’t work out quite as well, they paired the blue and orange jerseys with an all-black cap, ruining that look. The Mets were a central figure in perhaps the most controversial uniform related news of the season when they were denied permission by Major League Baseball in their attempts to honour the FDNY and NYPD by wearing caps bearing their initials for the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
That’s all for part one of the 2011 Major League Baseball uniform and logo year-in-review, come back next week when I’ll do a similar recap for the remainder of the National League clubs as well as a few American League teams.
Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a very happy holidays!