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Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century

Since the subject matter of this research deals with the twentieth century, we will defer any discussion of nineteenth century precedents. Certainly, the history of baseball jersey is evolutionary and the uniforms of 1900 are a continuation of 1899 but the story of earlier uniforms is even more difficult to develop and we will reserve that information for future additional research. An important finding of such research will be establishing the starting point of use of separate uniforms at home and on the road, which was standard for all major league teams by 1900. 

Uniform fabrics in 1900 were either 100% wool flannel or a blend of wool and cotton. Summer temperatures and humidity were no different than now and the idea of playing baseball weighted down with these heavy uniforms seems unthinkable today. But play they did, and with as much vigor and dash as the modern, more comfortably clothed players of the 1980's. The weight of these wool and cotton flannels was gradually reduced in half by the 1940's but the problems of durability and shrinkage had not improved much. The advent of synthetic fibers in the post-WWII era (NYLON, DACRON, ORLON) paved the way for improved blends. The most successful of these was the WOOL / ORLON blend in the sixties — seemingly the "ultimate" material for baseball shirt. But the double-knit fabrics introduced in the early seventies provided so many more attractive and practical features over flannel: lighter, cooler, more comfortable, more durable, etc. etc. Traditionalists insist that the tight-fitting stretchy double knit suits cannot compare with the well-tailored flannel look of the sixties, but the use of the flannel materials for sublimation hockey jersey is "history" — unless some new miracle fabric comes along that more clearly simulates flannel.  top button tilted more toward the front. Variations of the "cake box" crown resurfaced in later years — the A's of 1909-1915, the Giants in 1916 and the Pirates in modern times. The standard modern cap has changed very little in recent decades — slightly fuller crown and larger sun visor than its antecedents. 

Baseball pants, up to the TV age, were like Henry Ford's Model T: you could have any color you wanted as long as it was BLACK. The shoe height dropped from just below the ankle bone to a basic low-quarter style by 1910. The KC A's revolutionary white shoes in the sixties opened the door for color matching and hardly an all-black shoe can be found on today's major leaguers. 

The V neck collar style, with a brief tapered extension around the neck, was pretty much the unanimous standard during the twenties. Sleeve lengths varied during the decade. By the mid-thirties, the collar extension disappeared and sleeve lengths were nearly all half (or elbow) length. The first zipper front made its appearance on the all new Cubs uniforms of 1937 and became popular with many clubs for a decade or so. The most innovative jersey of its time " the sleeveless vest " was also in troduced by the Chicago Cubs in 1940. The blue undersweater most often used with the vest was also novel — 3 red stripes (to match the sox stripes) just below the elbow and sometimes a white crown across the shoulders. The vest survived for 3 seasons and resurfaced in the fifties and sixties with several clubs. The zipper was pretty much history by the sixties, except for an occasional curtain call — most recently by the Phillies.

By the 1970's, the flannel fabrics were lighter and more comfortable with shorter sleeves, but the development of the revolutionary double-knit fabrics doomed the flannels forever. Many of the new-look jerseys were buttonless pullover styles, but the button front has remained popular — indeed current trends indicate a return to the traditional buttons by many clubs.

TROUSERS AND BELTS

Built-in protective padding was a standard part of ninteenth century American football jersey and this "quilting" survived on a few of the post-1900 uniforms. Separate sliding pa

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