Top 10 Ugliest Baseball Uniforms of All Time

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In nearly a century and a half of existence, baseball has inspired uniforms of all different styles and colors.  Some have been timeless and classic, some have been ridiculous (the New York Giants emblazoned “World Champions” on their jerseys for an entire year after winning the World Series), and some have been… well, loathsome affronts to the eyes and soul.  Here, then, are ten of the ugliest uniforms to ever besmirch Major League Baseball:

10.  Seattle Pilots (1969)

SeattlePilots

If you’ve never heard of the Seattle Pilots, it’s because they only played a single season before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers.  And, if you looked at the picture above before reading this, you know why.  It takes a special kind of hideous to relocate a franchise after one season, and the Pilots had it in spades.  Part of it was the logo, a ship’s steering wheel with wings sprouting from it.  When you can’t decide what form of transportation best embodies you so you just choose both, that’s a problem; you might as well have a jackalope for a mascot while you’re at it.

But the biggest offenders were the hats, complete with wings meant to evoke either a decorated naval officer or an airline captain.  Possibly both.  As it turns out, the people of Seattle were not interested in questioning whether to salute or throw beers at their new local boys, and so Bernie Brewer was born.

9.  San Diego Padres (1972-1974)

sandiegopadres

Sweet Christmas, that’s a lot of yellow.  As a rule, yellow is not a flattering color, and it gets worse when you realize this was the early ’70s, when statistically speaking 87% of all players were horrifically unattractive (but gloriously mustached).  Green uniforms are good for masking grass stains, brown for concealing dirt, but I don’t want to know what the Padres were hiding with these.  Did someone really think it was a good idea to construct an outfit around the two colors we most associate with bathroom functions?

A Sans-a-Belt completes the ensemble, because no pitcher wants to be 8 innings into a no-hitter only to start worrying about his pants falling down.  Actually, you’ll never convince me they didn’t remove the belts to keep players from hanging themselves when they saw these uniforms.

8.  Philadelphia Phillies (1979)

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Philadelphia may be my team, but I’m not going to let them get away with this monstrosity unscathed.  For Saturday games in 1979, the Phillies wore uniforms that looked like they’d just finished playing 7 Minutes in Heaven with Optimus Prime.  Were the announcers having difficulty locating players on the field, or did some wiseass kids sneak in and dump a vat of ketchup in the washing machine one night?  We may never know the truth, but one thing’s for sure: after this, being banned from baseball is only the second worst thing to ever happen to Pete Rose.

7.  Chicago White Sox (1982-1986)

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Is anyone else getting the urge to watch NASCAR right now?  In all seriousness, both good and bad baseball uniforms serve as mini time capsules of the era they originated in, and no outfit better exemplifies what people in the 1980s thought the future would look like than this one.  From ditching the superfluous “white” prefix to rendering the “Sox” in bold block letters, everything about this uniform brands it as the New Coke of the baseball world.  And even though it’s red, white & blue, this is the sort of outfit Captain America would look at and say, “Whoa, hey…maybe tone it down a little, son.  Just a thought.”

6.  Baltimore Orioles (1971)

baltimoreorioles

Is it really so hard to grasp that if your team’s colors are extremely bright and striking, you want the shirts and pants to at least be different hues?  Apparently so, because here we are again.  You know the Orioles designer was patting himself on the back for getting to this one before the Tigers did; while the colors definitely fit the team’s namesake, these uniforms really needed a few dozen runs through the laundry in order to fade them to a less eye-searing level first.  On the plus side, orange & black are Halloween colors, and the Orioles were one of only two teams still playing baseball in late October.  Maybe they knew something we didn’t.

5.  Chicago White Sox (August 8, 1976)

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There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this uniform…if we’re watching a rousing game of futbol.  Admit it, you thought I accidentally posted a soccer image by mistake, didn’t you?  Nope — that is a genuine baseball uniform worn by the Chicago White Sox for exactly one game of a double-header on August 8, 1976.  The team was somehow bombarded with insults by the visiting Royals in the afternoon (yes, there was a time when the Royals were allowed to make fun of other teams) and traded out the shorts for pants for the evening game.  It was the right move — we hold our professional athletes to higher sartorial standards than our UPS drivers — but I’ll bet even today, there are a few mid-August games where players really wish shorts had caught on.  Those damned collars, of course, will never be okay.

4.  Pittsburgh Pirates (1979)

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We established earlier that bright yellow is a highly unflattering color on ballplayers, but what puts this one over the edge is the train conductor hats.  If Willie Stargell had walked by you wearing this uniform, you’d have to fight the urge to hand him your game ticket so he could punch it.  At least they remembered to put the three horizontal stripes on, otherwise it would’ve just looked stupid.  But hey, give the Pirates credit; they knew they were playing in the final World Series of the most fashion-challenged decade the world has ever seen, and they went for the gusto.  Gotta respect that.

3.  New York Giants (1916)

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It’s rare to find such a fashion faux pas occurring before someone moves to San Francisco, but the Giants wore this plaid number back when they were still playing in New York.  It may look funny to us now, but remember that it stems from an era when players were primarily paid in hot dogs and pennies hurled at them by unruly fans.  No doubt these uniforms were a big time-saver when the players had to finish a game and hurry back to their full-time lumberjacking gigs.  And it’s hard to imagine any modern player beating Paul Bunyan‘s record-breaking home run that landed in Arizona and created the Grand Canyon.

2.  Miami Marlins (2012)

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You can’t blame Marlins management for feeling the need to do something drastic after the last few years– their attendance is the second worst in baseball (thank you, Oakland), they can’t give away tickets, and they play baseball in a football stadium that’s been through a dozen name changes.  Building a new stadium was a step in the right direction, as was rebranding the team and hiring a new manager, but the new uniforms… holy crap, did these guys lose a bet?  I guarantee you Jeff Loria owes money to the Gay Mafia, because seriously, just look at that.  I’m a friend of the Friends of Dorothy, but there’s pride and then there’s just a Technicolor nightmare.  Guess which side of the line this falls on?

1.  Houston Astros (1975-1993)

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If you can say nothing else for all of the other entries on this list, at least they didn’t stick around too long — eventually sanity prevailed and all of the players were replaced with more aesthetically pleasing  uniforms.  What’s astonishing about the Astros’ old “orange rainbow” uniforms isn’t how garish they are, it’s how damn long they stuck around.  The ’70s are one thing, but these outfits existed in the same period in history as grunge.  Try to wrap your head around the fact that someone was wearing this, un-ironically, the day you first heard Pearl Jam.

Can’t do it, can you?  Whether it’s the yellow and orange hues that perfectly embody the concept of “space,” or the numbers on the pants that naturally draw one’s attention to crotch level, the question was never whether this outfit would make the list… it was simply how far ahead it would be of #2.

By Drew Anderson


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19 Comments

  1. Peter Boucher on

    Regarding No.5 with the Chicago White Sox, I vividly remember. I wouldn’t say that it was the ugliest team uniform, especially if they had Southwestern games to play which would keep their body temperature down. But what makes me cringe is how painful it would be if they had to steal second and third base or even home plate. I can imagine the scraps and open wounds on their knees when being in that situation. So bottom line, the wise decision was to go back to wearing baseball pants. Let me just say that Bill Veeck would have gotten a “howl” regarding this. Or……was it his idea to begin with ?

  2. i disagree with the pirate unis..they were very nicely yellow/gold colored mixed with the black and not nearly as bad as the padres unis that were further down the list…when i saw the title for this list my first thought was….HOUSTON BLEEPING ASTROS!!!! and you nailed that one at number one..why in the blue hell did anyone think this was a good design..and they wore it for almost 20 years!!!…glad those days are over..too bad every good Nolan Ryan card has him wearing the stupid thing..lol

  3. ok, the Houston Astros uniform is totally inappropriate to play a game of baseball, but…

    Is it wrong that I think the shirt is totally retro-awsome and want one for myself? (minus the “Astros” part, of course.)

  4. Totally agree with The Astros being number one. The only other worse uniform in sports was The Vancouver Canucks uniforms in the 80’s. They looked like someone threw up on them.

  5. The Astros unis were awesome (minus the number on the pants)! The Padres camouflage jersey’s should be on this list.

  6. The Astros “rainbow guts” were last worn in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS in Houston against the Mets. The white “rainbow sleeve” unis replaced them in 1987.

  7. I kinda liked the Astros and the White Sox (#7) uniforms. I LOVED the Pilots, especially the caps. The rest of this list is pretty much spot on.

  8. Peter Boucher on

    First of all, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on one of the Seattle Pilots Uniform and put it up for auction or put it on eBay. But second, Today’s baseball uniforms are made of what I believe is a polyester type fabric which is lighter and more “temperature control” for the player to wear. Way back when baseball was in its infancy as a professional sport, the uniforms were made of thick wool. Yep, nothing better to control your body temperature at a hot climate game then wearing a thick wool outfit. I don’t know how they survived it.

  9. The 70’s was the best era for baseball uniforms because of all the color,…it’s festive and artistic,… and goes great with the entertainment of team sport athletics. The past twenty years has been drab misery with baseball uniforms. Bring the 70’s back… with all those bright uniforms. Have fun,… don’t be drab.

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