Uniformity of Design

Uniformity of Design

Where do typography, fashion, and history come together every spring, summer, and fall? On pro baseball uniforms, is where.

Setting aside the gimmicky Johnny-come-latelies and their ever-changing logos and colorways (e.g., the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks), most teams in Major League Baseball take their on- and off-field design decisions—from uniforms to signage and logos —very seriously. The least Catholic are the New York Yankees, who haven't changed their pinstripes since the days of Babe Ruth; next come their bitter rivals the Boston Red Sox, an equally storied franchise, equally resistant to sartorial change. But the Sox have made some changes over the years; the most recent came when they announced a new look for their 2009 road grays that pays homage to the past—with some smart design decisions.

The most obvious change is a choice to hark back to the dark blue lettering of the notorious 1986 AL championship season (the year of Bill Buckner's bowed legs). Setting aside, if you can, the fact that the 1980s are now apparently considered old school, note that those 80s uniforms were themselves a throwback to the days of, well, Babe Ruth, and the blocky, sans-serif letters and numbers hand-stitched to baggy woolen uniforms.

The Red Sox have also cleaned up their logo, which appears on everything from bumper stickers to oversize beer cups. Better typography—and less of it—as well as small touches like diminishing the formerly too-big "TM" trademark make for a cleaner, better design. Some may think this kind of mass-market aesthetic housekeeping is trivial—or inappropriate to discuss here—but note that design is an environment like any other, and small improvements on a grand scale make the climate sunnier for all of us. (Especially for Red Sox fans.)



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