Bacon Sports reader @TagLineTom requested I discuss MLB powder blue uniforms as part of #AskBaconSports (you can ask us anything.) Since everyone loves throwbacks, and today is Throwback Thursday, it’s a perfect time to discuss MLB’s foray into light blue road uniforms.
Contrary to popular belief, the first powder blue road uniform was not unveiled in the 1970s or 1980s. In fact, it was the 1941 Chicago Cubs who rocked a new shade of blue gear. A few years later the Brooklyn Dodgers went with powder blue, and they added a thick white racing stripe down the shoulders and sleeves. Those Dodgers threads were actually made out of satin to provide a reflective sheen. I would have included them in my rankings, but unfortunately there aren’t many good photos from the 40s. If anyone can find one, please post it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.
Of the 13 teams to Smurf it up, here are my rankings for 12 of them (the Dodgers would have been #4, for what it’s worth.)
- Milwaukee Brewers
I’ll be the first to admit that I am biased. I was a huge Robin Yount fan as a kid, and when I think of baseball powder blue uniforms, I immediately think of Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982. They combined offensive prowess, the league MVP, and, to top it off, both Yount and Rollie Fingers provided fans with some of the best mustaches in baseball history. The yellow and two shades of blue just pop together, and you can’t beat that ball-in-glove logo. To this day, some fans don’t even realize it’s a lower case m and b that form the three-fingered glove. Just a side note, the Brewers franchise actually started out in powder blue uniforms because the Seattle Pilots wore the color in their only season before moving to Milwaukee.
- Kansas City Royals
Bo knows a lot of things, including how to rock powder blue. Those Royals teams were fun to watch with George Brett, Brett Saberhagen, and Hal McRae. The ’85 Royals beat St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series most likely because the Cards chose to ditch the powder blue they wore in 1982. I don’t think that’s scientifically accurate, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Obviously the popularity of this look prompted Kansas City to bring back powder blue alternate uniforms in the last few years. Powder blue is now an official secondary color for them.
- St. Louis Cardinals
Ozzie Smith! Need I say more? Willie McGee might have been one of the ugliest baseball players in the history of the game, but he still looked good in that powder blue! The 1982 World Series between St. Louis and Milwaukee featured two teams with light blue road uniforms. That’s something that will clearly never happen again. It was so 80s, and so awesome!
- Montreal Expos
Does anyone else watch the Nationals and still think of them as the Expos? Maybe I’m showing my age, but I catch myself doing that from time to time. Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, and a young Randy Johnson all wore Montreal’s light blue threads with the blue and red racing stripes. Most people still think of this look when the Expos come to mind. I’ll be honest, the Expos powder blue look is better than anything the Nationals have worn since they moved to the nation’s capital back in 2005. I could see Bryce Harper launching bombs in this look…maybe. The Nats should, at least, consider bringing these back as an alternate one night.
- Philadelphia Phillies
Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose wore these, and the original versions actually had zippers instead of buttons. The Phillies current look is so classic, that many people forget about the maroon and baby blue days. The cool number font helps with the look, but since Philly has won more in their current look, don’t expect to see these come back any time soon. They might make a cool alternate, though.
- Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto tried to bring these back as an alternate, but it didn’t seem to catch on. The great thing about Toronto’s powder blues is that it influenced the 90s look, which is similar to what is worn today. The custom font is great, and the Jays logo has always been a favorite of mine.
- Atlanta Braves
Dale Murphy and the Atlanta Braves went with a bland powder blue look in the 80s. Today’s Braves wear a road cap similar to the ones worn in the powder blue era. It was trendy, but this is by far the worst look the Braves have ever had. Even the Hank Aaron uniforms, with the feather on the sleeve, looked more distinctive than these.
- Minnesota Twins
Kirby Puckett wore these in his rookie season. Rod Carew made them popular. The Twins had a pretty cool identity, but their late 90s and current looks are better. Powder blue didn’t fit them the way it did some of the previous entries.
- Seattle Mariners
Seattle had its second powder blue phase after the Pilots skipped town for Milwaukee. Complete with racing stripe, I enjoyed this look, but it always seemed like they were just trying to pull what was popular from everyone else. The Mariners current look is, by far, its most iconic. The resurgence of teal has supplanted the desire to ever see powder blue again.
- Texas Rangers
The Rangers had a hard time finding a good look in its early years. This was proof of that. While the powder blue, itself, wasn’t bad, the goofy font ruined the whole thing. At least they had Gaylord Perry playing for them.
- Chicago White Sox
The White Sox? In red and powder blue? Yep, believe it. In the 70s, Dick Allen was the big gun who got to wear these threads. A few seasons ago the ChiSox wore throwback home uniforms from this era before switching to their more famous 80s look. It was probably the second worst looking powder blue uniform, and I’m glad I don’t have to see these anymore.
- Chicago Cubs
Unfortunately, Chicago gets the dubious distinction of having the two worst powder blue uniform looks. Reverse pinstripes? Who thought that was a good idea? The Cubbies may have been the first to introduce powder blue, but they were far from the best at making it work. Sorry Cubs fans, you’re last…again.
If I had to choose teams to bring the 80s look back, aside from Kansas City since they already did, I’d vote anyone in my Top 5, plus the Dodgers. Everyone else has better looks today than they did in the past. Throwing back isn’t always a good idea for everyone. For instance, mutton chops. Yeesh!
I’d love to hear from other readers. Do you think this list should be reordered? Why or why not? Do you own any of these powder blue jerseys? We’d love to see it. Tweet a photo to @BaconSports or hit us up on Facebook.