As you enter the ball park to take your seat, one of the first things that you notice is the players’ uniforms. There is a very good chance you don’t know a single one of the people on the field personally—it’s the colors on their uniforms that immediately tell you whether he is friend or foe. As well as helping you bond to the team, much like a flag for your country, they keep you aware of the fact that you are just a spectator, and that they are the professional baseball warriors.
Just as seeing your favorite players in their uniforms excites you and makes you proud to be a fan, for a player there is a huge sense of pride and belonging to walking on to the field with a team full of other players proudly wearing the same jersey, looking at all the fans out there. There, in one of the stands, a player sees a fan with his jersey on. Just as these uniforms remind the fans that the people in uniform are the players, these uniforms tell the players, “I am a soldier of baseball, and this is my team.
Ever since history has been recorded, throughout all the various battles and wars our planet has seen, there has always been a great sense of pride revolving around the uniform, or armor, a great aura that that you just can’t put your finger on. This as well applies to the brilliantly colored and designed uniforms of baseball.
History’s first record of an official baseball uniform was that of the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York City, and was introduced in 1849. The uniform consisted of a white flannel shirt, a straw hat, and blue wool pants. Today’s baseball uniforms are a far cry from this. Synthetic fabrics used in simple yet intricate patterns of colors. Well, are uniforms didn’t just change overnight, the styles changed, little by little, over time.
In 1868, knickers are introduced to the game of baseball by the Cincinnati Red Stockings. These were more comfortable to play in and allowed the players much more movement. These also showed a very important feature of the team’s uniform, their red stockings. Colors and patterns on uniforms were played with a lot between 1880 and 1890. 1882 saw the rise and fall of multi-colored uniforms to correspond to a player’s position, while the only discerning factor between the teams was their stocking color. In 1888, three major league teams, Washington and Detroit of the National League, and Brooklyn of the American Association, introduced stripes on their uniforms. The checkered uniform, though short lived, was introduced by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in 1889. Brooklyn remained as the trend-setters for baseball uniforms, bringing back their checked uniform again in 1907, 1916, and 1917. They also had a trial with satin uniforms in the ’40s and became the first major league team to put numbers on the front of their jerseys in ’52.
The timeline of changes can go on and on, down to the tiniest details, but thanks to the trial and error of baseball warriors and their commanders before us, we have the uniform today that is recognized by the masses, yet retaining the mystique and pride surrounding uniforms of all types.