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Saturday, August 21, 2010
Chicago White Sox Uniform and Team History
Please click on the evolution of the White Sox uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.
In 1901 the Chicago White Sox franchise began, as did the American League. The Sox were called the White Stockings, a name that was borrowed from earlier Chicago baseball teams - in fact the Cubs franchise, which began in 1876, was initially known as the White Stockings!
In the beginning these White Stockings were owned by Charles Comiskey and managed by the their prize pitcher Clark Griffith. They won their first American League pennant in 1901, the first year the AL operated. In 1902 the team name was shortened to the Chicago White Sox.
This road uniform is from 1911, the White Sox’s second season at Comiskey Park - their home for the next 80 years! Note the upright collar on this road uniform which is not quite a “cadet collar”, a style worn a few years later by many major league teams. This jersey is a pullover style, button-down jersey. If you notice, there is a center belt loop on the pants. Players of this era usually wore their belt buckle to one side so they could prevent injury when sliding into a base. Note also the “W.S.” on the collar, which stands for White Sox, not World Series.
When we look at this jersey we can’t help but think of photos of a famous member of the White Sox of this era, Chief Bender.
This was a special World Series uniform to commemorate the United States of America’s involvement in World War 1. Notice the flags on both sleeves. Notice also that this collar is in fact a “cadet collar”, a popular style worn by many major league teams of this era.
1917 was a great year for the Sox - after a spectacular regular season with 100 wins and just 54 losses, they went on to defeat the New York Giants 4 games to 2 and win the World Series. This was the White Sox’ second World Series victory - their first came in 1906 against the cross-town Cubs. 80+ years later Sox fans around the world are still waiting for the 3rd World Series Championship - but patience is a virtue and we know our day will come!
This 1917 uniform is from two years before the infamous “Black Sox” incident. For those of you who don’t know baseball history, 8 Sox ballplayers were found guilty of betting against their own team in the World Series of 1919. All 8 were banned from professional baseball for life one year later. Those players included the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson who batted .375 in the Series, an average which certainly seems to suggest that he wasn’t trying to throw the series, leading to a debate which continues to this day.
What a beautiful uniform! Notice the unusual white collar piping on this black road uniform - see how it abruptly stops just above the lettering? In most jerseys the piping then continues down the front of the jersey, but not this one. Note also the fact that there are two white socks on the left sleeve, an early team monogram.
The beauty and simplicity of this home jersey speaks for itself. Notice especially the bat and ball incorporated into the SOX logo - simple and elegant design at its best. Notice also the upright blue collar - this is known as a “cadet” collar, a collar style that was popular in the late teens.
Note the fact that this jersey has a zippered front. During the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s many teams used zippered jerseys instead of the more traditional button front jerseys, while a handful of teams wore them well into the 70’s and even the 80’s. The Reds, Yankees and A’s were the three pre-1977 major league teams that never wore zippers. The 1937 Cubs were the first team to wear a zippered jersey, and as far we can tell the 1988 Phillies were the last to wear one. For the White Sox, the zippered front jersey began in 1938 and continued until the 1955 season.
The colors of this uniform are red, white and blue, done at least in part to honor the fact that America had entered World War II.
During the Second World War, the question is raised, should able-bodied athletes of baseball be fighting for their country rather than playing baseball? Baseball Commissioner Landis asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt what to do - here is part of Roosevelt’s reply:
“I honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before… Here is another way of looking at it - if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of their fellow citizens - and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.”
Wartime sleeve patches were worn by all levels of professional baseball teams between 1942 and 1945. A “Health” patch (seen on this jersey) was worn during the 1942 season, part of a war-time health and fitness awareness campaign, and from 1943-1945 a “Stars and Stripes” was worn.
After having no pinstripes on their uniforms since 1932, the Sox began wearing pinstripes on their 1951 home uniform and continued to do so until 1968. Also of interest on this home uniform are the uniform numbers on the sleeves of the jersey - a new addition. Uniform numbers first made their appearance on the front of a uniform in 1952 - the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jersey. The Braves followed suit in 1953, and the Reds joined in beginning in 1956. The 1916 Cleveland Indians actually wore a uniform number on their sleeve, but it wasn’t until the ’52 Dodgers that the number made it to the front. The classic Sox logo, as seen on this 1959 uniform, first appeared on the 1949 home uniform.
In 1959, after a 40+ year absence, the White Sox make it to the World Series. Despite winning game one 11-0 and having the great Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio in their lineup and a career year from starter Bob Shaw, the Sox fall to the now Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 2. This is the last year the Sox made it to the World Series, but hope springs eternal in the hearts of Sox fans!
The White Sox continue to change the look of their uniform, although they continue to come up with clean, classic looks. On both of these home and road uniforms, uniform numbers appear on the front of the jersey. Uniform numbers first made their appearance on the front of a uniform in 1952 - the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jersey. The Braves followed suit in 1953, and the Reds joined in beginning in 1956. The 1916 Cleveland Indians actually wore a uniform number on their sleeve, but it wasn’t until the ’52 Dodgers that the number made it to the front. The home jersey is reminiscent of a Tigers or Red Sox uniform.
The road uniform is more blue than gray, and has a great thick “swoosh” under the Chicago script - note how the swoosh has “White Sox” written on it. It’s unusual for a baseball jersey to have both the name of the team and the city on the uniform at the same time, as this jersey does.
After complimenting the White Sox on their great taste through the years, we have to say that the mid 70’s to early 80’s weren’t their proudest moment. Some people say the Sox had some of the ghastliest uniforms in all of baseball for a 10 year period, although we wouldn’t go that far (for proof, see the Padres!).
What we can say about both these uniforms is that they are of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. Notice also that the 1973 jersey brought back the zippered front, and the left sleeve patch is the Sox logo in a red circle.
The 1977 uniform was especially unusual. Note the collar on this pullover style home uniform. Professional baseball hadn’t seen collars this large since the early 1910’s. Also unusual was the fact that the Sox also wore this jersey with shorts - we’re not sure today’s ballplayer would put up with this fashion statement, but in the 70’s almost anything went!
We can’t write about the Sox without bringing up the name of the team owner Bill Veeck. Veeck was a famous promoter and among other things staged all sorts of wacky and fantastic events to bring people to the ballpark through the years. Perhaps the most famous was “Disco Demolition Night” on July 12, 1979. This was a promotion gone awry – thousands of fans ended up throwing their records on the field and at the players, and fortified by beer, then rushed the field. The field was torn up so badly that the second game of the double header had to be cancelled (and forfeited by the Sox)! If you haven’t heard of Bill Veeck, you should really read about him. Check out a book called “Veeck -- As In Wreck” by Bill Veeck with Ed Linn, University of Chicago Press, 2001. In many ways Veeck was years ahead of his time.
Do you love it or hate it? This home uniform is still the double knit pullover style, with the “Sans-a-Belt” waistband, but features a unique horizontal band across the jersey and arms with a funky “Sox” in the middle. The patch on the left sleeve commemorates the 50th All-Star game, held at Comiskey Park this year. Note also the unusual touch of putting the uniform number on the pants instead of on the front or sleeve of the jersey, something the Sox started doing in 1982. When we see this uniform we can’t help be reminded of the great catcher and Hall of Famer, Carlton Fisk.
As you can see on this home uniform, the Sox have finally left the double knit, sans-a-belt era behind them - thank goodness! This 1990 home uniform harkens back to a 1940’s style, and features a much more classic looking White Sox logo.
1990 is the White Sox’ final season at Comiskey Park, ending a run that began on July 1st, 1910. The next season the Sox moved into a brand new park, also named Comiskey Park, right across the street from the original. With the demolition of Comiskey I in 1991, America lost yet part of its past and yet another classic ballpark was gone.
The Sox had a number of different jerseys and pants as part of their uniform repertoire this year, and they would mix and match among them from one game to the next. This 1997 uniform jersey features the classic Sox logo from the 50’s, 60’s & early 70’s, as well as small white sock on the left sleeve. This black jersey really shows a lot of respect for the White Sox team history. And when we see this uniform we can’t help but think of Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas, a White Sox fixture and home run phenom.
If we could see the full right sleeve of this jersey, we would see a patch honoring the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. All teams wore this patch in honor of Jackie Robinson and all he achieved, and all MLB teams retired his number 42 - the first time in the history of the big four North American sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) that a number has been universally retired.
Text not yet written, but oh yeah, the White Sox win the World Series!
Celebrate the White Sox uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Chicago White Sox and the history of the White Sox franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 14 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 14 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.
These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)
If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Chicago White Sox YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcHYqwNCFSA or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Chicago-White-Sox-c139/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.
And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox
And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the White Sox.
This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 21, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at email@example.com !