I’ve been thinking about this blog, well series of blogs, for a while. I wanted to write something to fill the gap from the holidays to spring training and opening day. It is one of the joys of being a White Sox fan that not everyone embraces, fellow fans and rivals alike. It is the ever-changing Chicago White Sox uniform. Very few teams have gone through as many changes as the White Sox and even fewer creating some of the most memorable and infamous uniforms of baseball history. I can think of at least one critic who loves to point out that the Yankees haven’t changed their uniform, but seeing how they couldn’t decide upon a name until they were in the league for ten years they really don’t have much room to talk. I love the fact that the one Yankee cap I own is white with red and navy pinstripes, proof that the Yankees didn’t always have the same look, contrary to what some would have you believe.
At first I wanted to go year by year through the White Sox uniforms, but not only would that involve over one hundred blog posts, as much as I love baseball uniforms that’s probably a bit much. Furthermore, while the uniforms changed a great deal over the course of a century, the White Sox did keep some of their choices for extended periods of time, with minor tweaks and changes before a wholesale change occurred. If all goes as planned, I’ll write a post or two a week about a uniform, give you some description as well as a picture or two and then give my two cents about the look and style of the kit. A couple of house keeping items; I am not much of a fashion critic so I’ll try and write as intelligently about the look as I can, but I make no promises. Second, any reader feedback is welcome, this is just my opinion after all, and a discussion of baseball clothing seems like a fun thing to do, at least until the season starts.
The Chicago White Sox were one of the founding teams of the American League, with a name they took over from the National League team, who stopped using the term White Stockings at some point in the late 19th century. According to legend the newspapers used the shorter term Sox in order to save column space prompting the name change. Looking at the uniform, it is fairly standard for the time period.
The home look was white with a half-button jersey and knickers-style pants. The away uniform was pretty much the same style, but in a solid gray. Neither hat had a logo, much like other teams of the time. Only the Detroit Tigers had a logo on their hat, a very sad looking tiger. No wonder they adopted the old-English D fairly soon afterward. The White Sox were the only team to sport white socks, both home and away, in the entire America League. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the White Sox wearing white socks isn’t all that common. The most identifiable feature on both the home and away shirts was a large red block “C.” I was certain that it was a looked shared with the Cubs (called Orphans at this time) but the National League team was rather plain, even by 1901 standards.
1902 brought about a change to the road uniform that went largely unchanged until 1916. It was a great look, especially for the era. Both jersey and knickers were a deep navy blue with white trim and white socks and really popping out was a slightly stylized “Chicago,” also in white, across the chest, very sharp.
The hat went through a couple of changes, starting as gray then a pinstripe with a navy bill. Unfortunately, they decided to go with a complete navy cap just making too much of one color. The white pinstripe or gray cap was a perfect accent to the uniform, but making it a monochromatic look was awful, turning the players into giant blueberries. A bit of trivia, the 1907 edition included an arm patch that read “World Champions,” recognition of the 1906 “Hitless Wonders” who defeated the Cubs in World Series that year. The patch was a nice touch, quite understated compared to the look that the New York Giants went with after their series win. Of course, expecting John McGraw to do anything understated is expecting too much.
The White Sox home uniform didn’t really change that much through the first decade. It remained white with navy trim, and starting in 1903 a navy “C” replaced the red. The C changed a couple of times, but within the same style. It is an ok look, but each new take on the logo needed to change more or just be left alone. All things considered, the White Sox home uniform looked pretty much like every other team. “Home whites” as my dad would say, were very much the standard of the time and it is a tradition that has stayed intact through the last century, though the White Sox have stretched that tradition from time to time.
All Pictures courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Dressed to the Nines On-line Uniform exhibit.