Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve had a ball writing about White Sox uniforms. I know it hasn’t been the most consistent series of posts, but when I get a chance to add to the story it is great. Now, however, we are hitting the big time, making so much what I’ve already covered simply pre-game. Coming into the 1970s and 1980s we are hitting the climax of White Sox fashion. If you hate the bold, gaudy uniforms of this era, you might want to stop reading. It is going to get ugly, in a really good way.
I left off talking about the 1970 uniforms and how they were fairly consistent through the 1960s. There were a few changes and modifications along the way, but things didn’t stray too far from one year to the next. The exception being the introduction of the blue away kits that became all the rage from the sixties through the eighties. Well, rage might be overstating it a bit, but a number of memorable teams adopted a light shade of blue for road games.
In 1971, the White Sox did away with all tradition, even changing the hue of their away blues. When seen up close, the road uniforms from 1970 until 1975 are at least one or two shades of blue darker than what one would consider a powder blue, say like the KC Royals. Even more startling, however, was the choice of primary color used on both home and away, a bright, almost cherry red. What makes the home uniforms even more striking is that that red is present in pinstripes, not a common look in any era. In some fashions you might see a red garment with white stripes, but this seems pretty out of the ordinary. The Old English SOX was retained, again in red making the overall uniform very visible. If I were slightly more ambitious I would love to look up contemporary accounts of the uniform change, but, well, I’ve got deadlines (at least in my head. Oh, and I should mention my overall laziness too.) Even so, it is one of the most radical departures in sporting fashion you’ll ever see. Most teams, baseball in particular (don’t even get me started on soccer) are very tied to their uniforms, their “look.” What’s more, when a team makes a uniform change, especially in recent memory, it is to look more traditional, more of the staid baseball-classic look. Which makes the White Sox of the 1970s so much fun; they bucked tradition at every turn, even embracing the times. The blue uniforms with the zipper front in particular remind me of that great 1970s garment, the leisure suit.
The fun was just getting started. When Bill Veeck took over the team in 1975, a new (though a little throw-backy) look came about, the first White Sox uniform I remember thanks to my first complete Topps baseball card set (1978). I must admit, I find these uniforms very ugly. The block lettering of Sox on the hat, the wildly flared collars and the completely different font on the uniforms makes for a truly hot mess. Even more, I find the use of “Chicago” on the home whites idiotic. The whole tradition of putting the city name on the away uniform was to identify the visitor’s home city. Putting “Chicago” on the home shirt was just silly and inconsistent. Knowing Veeck, he probably got a discount. The all navy, almost black, away uniforms are also particularly garish. There is something with a dark monochromatic look in the summer that just doesn’t seem right. My guess is that it would absorb a lot of heat during the day and even though played under the lights, would look washed out for the evening games.
The alternates for the years 1976-1980 were ok. At least they broke up the single color look of all home whites and all dark aways, switching the trousers so the colors had a bit more balance. I must admit I do like the alternative hat as well white with a blue bill and blue block “SOX” on the front. If this run of uniforms had any saving grace it was this hat. Like many of the Sox fans my age who have an attachment to the “Winning Ugly” uniforms of the early 1980s, I have a great fondness for these uniforms. You never forget your first I suppose.
Quick Update 1
With spring training in full swing, I'm going to give it the old college try and do a preview of the upcoming season, probably two or three weeks before opening day.
Quick Update 2
I have signed up for the 2013 Chicago Marathon, so there will be marathon posts yet again. You've been warned.
Quick update 3
I have a new podcast, The History of the United States. When I have all of the particulars about how to get it on iTunes I'll post all the possible links here. It is approved by iTunes, now it's just a matter of figuring out how to make it "look" how I want. Any advice on podcasting, I am all ears.