Now we are entering upon the years that ultimately brought this series of blogs into being. Let’s face it; The Chicago White Sox and their crazy get-ups are one of the most famous aspects of the team’s history. Everyone who follows baseball knows that the White Sox had uniforms featuring shorts (though they only wore the short pants for one game) and that they sported wide collars at one point and, at one point, seemed to change their look on a yearly basis. That wasn’t the case, but from 1964 until the current look, the Sox took quite a journey through the baseball fashion world.
All things considered the morphing of the White Sox uniform started out in a rather subtle manner, made a radical change and continued to change rapidly until finally settling down into the modern look first seen in 1991. 1964 saw the home uniforms become very Yankee-like with navy and white as the color scheme. Even though the pinstripes were a regular feature since the 1951 season (and intermittently used throughout the club’s history) when combined with navy, well, it’s hard not to think of the Yankees. What will never be confused with a New York uniform is the Chicago away style of 1964.
For that season and most of the next decade, until 1976, the away kit was some shade of light blue. For 1964-1968 it was a powder or baby blue. This particular splash of color was unique to the White Sox, though like many uniform changes, the powder blue away uniform, in the American League at least, did not become synonymous with Chicago. Even though a number of teams adopted the “away blues” but if I had to associate the look with any one team it would be the Kansas City Royals, maybe Toronto. Even so, this was a pretty significant change for the baseball world and one we would see on a number of uniforms. Adding color was an emerging trend in 1962, very much in response to the staid colors of the conformist 1950s, with the Cleveland Indians adding red to their uniforms and the great color explosion that was the Kansas City Athletics of 1963 bringing the famous Charlie Finley colors of gold and kelly green to baseball. I must confess I have a weakness for the powder blue away uniform, though I only associate it with the aforementioned Royals, Phillies and Cardinals. Other teams used it, but in my mind those three teams were the blue teams.
Anyway, back to the White Sox. The uniform remained consistent through the 1966 season, 1967 bringing one of the more significant changes to White Sox uniform, specifically the away look. This was the year that introduced the script “Chicago” to the White Sox uniform. While the 1942 home shirt had a script “White Sox” this was the first time the away shirt had the “Chicago” script. I particularly like this change and am glad they have incorporated it in recent years as well. It set the White Sox apart from the Cubs in a very visible and stylish way. I don’t think the block Chicago on the older uniforms was bad by any stretch and I would doubt that anyone before 1967 thought the two away kits looked too similar, but with the change, the White Sox gave themselves a distinctive, and to my eyes, very Chicago look.
Unfortunately, the team made a bit of an error and changed the script Chicago from navy to white. White on gray looks washed out, as if it was once one color and had faded away. Also the white script looks out of place with the rest of the 1969-1970 away uniform. The prominent color is a standard away gray, with navy accents and right in the middle of the look is a splash of white. Perhaps a better comparison is that of a graying man’s hair with a shock of white down the middle, call it a skunk look.
On the home side of the ledger in 1969-1970 it wasn’t much of a drastic change but the team did away with the pinstripes and went instead with an all white uniform with navy piping, basically the Detroit uniform with the SOX logo. Like the previous home look it didn’t look bad, but derivative of an American League rival. All things considered, the 1969-1970 look seemed like a reactionary effort to the color and style that wasn’t only coming into baseball, but the rest of the country as well. This was the era of bold colors and patterns, of bell-bottoms and long hair. After the tumultuous events of 1968, especially in Chicago, a more conservative look may have been a welcome alternative. It was a short-lived reaction, however. With the 1971 season perhaps the boldest decade of baseball fashion was about to begin and the White Sox, like so many times, would be at the forefront of the style.