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Monday, August 16, 2010

San Diego Padres Uniform and Team History

Please click on the evolution of the Padres 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.

Fall 2021: To purchase a reasonably priced 8" x 24" plaqued mounted version of the Padres poster that's ready to hang on your wall, please visit Heritage Sports Stuff.


The San Diego Padres joined the National League in 1969 as an expansion team along with the Montreal Expos. They began playing in a brand new facility, San Diego Stadium and through alterations, (in name and construction) would remain their home to date. The first uniform we see was worn on the road this season. It was a very simple design with “SAN DIEGO” written in brown capital letters with yellow borders. The patch on the left sleeve is in honor of the city of San Diego’s 200th anniversary, 1769-1969.

The 52-110 team finished in last place in the National League West division, (not unexpected for an expansion team) as did their expansion counterparts the Expos in the East division. The fans in San Diego did witness a great baseball moment this season when the San Francisco Giants came to town on September 22nd where Willie Mays hit his 600th home run.


This is the first Padres home uniform we see on the poster so far. It is still a simple design, with “PADRES” written across the chest and some brown and yellow trim around the collar and sleeves.

The Padres still finish in last place with a 63-99 record, but once again the San Diego fans bare witness to another great baseball moment. On June 12th the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis throws a no-hitter against the Padres, winning the game 2-0. After the game he would claim he was on LSD at the time. Just a sign of the times I guess.


Here’s another sign of the times, as this new home uniform for the Padres was all yellow (perhaps another LSD trip?) with brown letters and trim around the collar and sleeves. This is the first we see of the “Sans-a-Belt”. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt” because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. Quite the look.

Although the team hadn’t finished out of last place yet, this season would see first baseman Nate Colbert finish second to the Reds Johnny Bench for the home run title. Bench finished with 40 to Colbert’s 38. Colbert also hit 5 homeruns in a doubleheader against the Braves to tie Stan Musical’s record set in 1954.

Keen observers might note that in 1972 the Padres went 59-95, only playing 154 games instead of the usual 162 – why? On March 30 1972, Marvin Miller, executive director of the Players' Association, completes his canvass of players on the issue of a players’ strike. The vote comes in at 663 in favor of a strike, ten against, and two abstentions. Thus on April 6 1972, for the first time in history, the major-league season fails to open due to a general player strike. The strike, announced April 1, will erase 86 games from the major league schedule. The end of the baseball strike is announced on April 13 with an abbreviated schedule to start two days later.


Thank goodness the all yellow uniforms only lasted three seasons and as we see on this home uniform they have gone for a new look. The jersey is 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 are still the “Sans-a-Belt”. The “Padres” on the chest was new the season before and included a large “swoosh” under the team name.

This is also the first time on the poster we show a jersey with the players number on the front, (it was first done in 1974). 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.

In 1974 the Padres were about to move to Washington, when the founder of McDonalds, Ray Kroc bought the team to keep them in San Diego. For the first time in team history the Padres climb out of the cellar and into fourth place in the NL West with a 71-91 record. Another first as pitcher Randy Jones wins 20 games for the Padres and leads the league in ERA at 2.24.


This season saw the Padres change their road uniforms to a predominantly brown jersey with yellow on the sleeves all the way up to the collar. The “SAN DIEGO” on the chest was also yellow and brown trim was around each sleeve. The patch on the right sleeve is for the National League’s Centennial year, 1876-1976.

Randy Jones out does last seasons performance with 22 wins to lead the league and then was given the Cy Young award to top it all off. Also given recognition was pitcher Butch Metzger who won the rookie of the year award (shared with the Reds pitcher Pat Zachry) with an 11-4 record. Despite this, the team falls to fifth place in the standings, going 73-89.


The Padres go for a new look this season as we see on this home uniform. The “padres” on the chest is now all in lower case with different style to it. A small “SAN DIEGO” is just above the “pad” in “padres”. The sleeves are now brown, with a new patch on the left in honor of hosting the All-Star game this year. On the patch we see for the first time the image of the “Swinging Padre”. This character would be associated with the team from now on.

On the field the Padres finish fourth in the west with an 84-78 record. Veteran pitcher Gaylord Perry leads the league in wins with 21, and receives the Cy Young award for his efforts. Reliever Rollie Fingers also leads the league in saves with 37 for San Diego.


The tinkering on the uniforms is now year-to-year, as we see on this home jersey. The “padres” on the chest is much larger and arched across the front. They have also removed the small “San Diego” above the team name. Numbers make a return to the home jersey after a year off. This would also be the last year of the “Sans-a-Belt”, (thank goodness!).

The team would finish the season with a 68-93 record, while left fielder Dave Winfield leads the team and the league with 118 RBI, while finishing third in home runs with 34. The next season would see the Padres have three players with 50 or more stolen bases, a first in the National League. Also in 1980, the team would change its stadium name to Jack Murphy Stadium after the sports editor who campaigned for a team in San Diego and got his wish.


Both the pullover jersey and the “Sans-a-Belt” are thankfully long gone. The “padres” on the front of this home uniform is the same style as previous jerseys, but they have gone the way of the Astros when it came to color. The team has mixed yellow, brown and orange together to make quit the statement. These colors filled the lettering on the front, trim around the collar and sleeves. The letters “RAK” on the left sleeve are in memory of owner Ray Kroc who passed away before the season began.

The Padres win their first division title with a 92-70 record, while Tony Gwynn wins his first of 8 batting championships with a .351 average and would face the Cubs for the National League pennant. After being down 2 games to none and on the brink of elimination, the Padres came back to win game three 7-1, then took game four with a bottom of the 9th Steve Garvey two run home run to win the game 7-5 and force a deciding game 5. The Cubs took an early 3-0 lead, only to have the Padres come back to take the game 6-3 for their first pennant in franchise history. The ’84 fall classic featured the Padres vs. the Tigers. Behind starting pitcher Jack Morris the powerful Tigers took the series 4 games to 1, with Morris winning both games he started.


The Padres have changed their look once again, abandoning the color combination of yellow, brown and orange, while keeping just the brown and orange. As we see on this home uniform, the “PADRES” on the chest has been changed in style, while the main color is brown with orange as its border. The team has added pinstripes for the first time, (this was started by the Padres in 1985). On the left sleeve are the initials “RAK” in memory of owner Ray Kroc who passed away in 1984. The team wore his initials from ’84 to ’86.

The Padres finish fourth in the NL West going 74-88, and Tony Gwynn leads the team once again with a .329 average and leading the National League in hits with 211. Center fielder Kevin McReynolds was a standout this season as well, leading the team in homers with 26 and RBI with 96.


On this road uniform we see the intertwined “SD” logo the team adopted in ’85 for their jersey, which is similar to that of San Francisco’s “SF”.

The Padres, with a season record of 89-73, finish second in the NL West to the Giants, only three games back, while Tony Gwynn wins his fourth batting title in six seasons with a .336 average. Reliever Mark Davis finishes atop the league in saves with 44 and is named the Cy Young award winner, (he is the third Padre to do so).


The colors have been altered once again, as we see on this home uniform. The “PADRES” on the front is now blue, with orange trim around it. As well, the pinstripes are now blue as opposed to brown. The patch on the left sleeve is for the 25th anniversary of the ball club, 1969-1993.

The Padres finish dead last in the NL West with a 61-101 record, but set a team record on August 24th by scoring the most runs in an inning with 13, against the Cardinals.


This is the first time we have seen the changes the Padres made to their road uniform. They don’t have the pinstriped uniforms while away from home, choosing a gray uni with “SAN DIEGO” on the chest. The letters match the home jersey with blue and orange trim. The patch on the left sleeve is a Padres logo patch, which the team wore on both home and away uniforms.

The Padres season begins in a foreign land. They played their first series against the Mets in Monterrey Mexico. This was the first time major league games that counted in the standings were played outside the U.S. or Canada. By seasons end they find themselves in first place, one game ahead of the Dodgers with a record of 91-71. They take on the Cardinals for the divisional series and lose three straight. Tony Gwynn wins his third straight batting title and seventh over all with a .353 average, while Ken Caminiti leads the team in home runs with 40 and RBI with 130, becoming the first Padre to be named the National League MVP.


This jersey is what is referred to nowadays as a “3rd jersey”. A 3rd jersey is a concept that became commonplace by the mid 90’s. Most 3rd jerseys are worn occasionally at home as well as on the road, giving a team a third option as to what uniform to wear. And of course, the addition of a third jersey adds to the options fans can buy, thereby increasing apparel revenues and ultimately benefiting the team. More recently, teams have begun adding 4th and even 5th jerseys to their roster of uniform possibilities. This 3rd jersey was all blue, (a much better look than their all yellow look of the early 70’s) in color and had white trim that ran around the collar and down the buttons, as well as on the sleeves.

The patch on the left sleeve is the “Swinging Padre” we last saw on the poster in 1978. The patch on the right sleeve is a World Series patch that teams in the fall classic began wearing in the 90’s.

A second trip to the World Series for the Padres was in the cards for this season. They finished atop the NL West 9½ games ahead of the Giants going 98-64, and took on the Astros for the right to play for the pennant. They made short work of Houston, winning 3 games to 1, and set their sites on the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves for the NL pennant. In an upset, the Padres took the pennant 4 games to 2 and were on their way to their second fall classic, (the first was in 1984, where they lost to the Detroit Tigers). This time they face the Yankees and unfortunately the Padres aren’t much of a match for them, losing four straight, giving the Yanks their 24th championship.


This home uniform for the Padres is a real departure from some of the unis we’ve seen in the past. The orange is totally gone and only blue and white remain, while numbers on the front have made a comeback.

The Padres finish fourth in the NL West, 13 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks, with a 79-83 record. This season would mark the last year for future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who retired with a career average of .338 and 3,141 hits.


After making the post season by winning the NL West in 2005 and 2006, the Padres dropped back a notch in 2007 as they finished with a 89-74 record and missed the post season by a mere 1.5 games behind the Diamondbacks. On the field the Padres were led by 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez who batted .282 with 182 hits, 100 RBI and 30 home runs, and SS Khalil Greene who contributed 155 hits, 97 RBI and 27 dingers. On the mound, Jake Peavy won the NL Cy Young award as he led the way with a stellar 19-6 record and a 2.54 ERA over 240 innings pitched - the 19 wins and 240 K's led the NL. The only other Padres to win the Cy Young were Randy Jones (1976), Gaylord Perry (1978) and Mark Davis (1989).

This home white uniform is one of the Padres simplest yet most elegantly designed uniforms in franchise history. It serves as testimony that you don't need to overly complicate a uniform to make it attractive - sometimes simplest is best.


Celebrate the Padres' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the San Diego Padres and the history of the Padres 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 15 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 15 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 San Diego Padres YouTube video at or go directly to the artwork website 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 (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

And please search my blog archive for other blogs on the history of the Padres.


This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 15, 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 !

Many thanks!!!

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