I usually stick to NFL uniforms and snide remarks in the comments, but the Phillies have a …UniTastic weekend series against the Braves, wearing Negro League throwbacks on Saturday and 1974 throwbacks on Sunday, so here's a quick run-down and review for Saturday's game. Some comments about Sunday's game later.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much background on the Negro Leagues, much less their uniforms, so this is more of a seat-of-the-pants review than anything grounded in facts and history.
That said, on to the uniforms.
The Phillies are wearing the uniforms of the Philadelphia Stars. You may have seen this logo floating around, but it doesn’t actually appear on the uniform. The uniform itself is plain, but has some nice details beyond just the novelty of them being throwbacks. Example, the old timey typeface of the arched wordmark and the numbers just gives the feeling of “old school uniform,” the simple, thin, and effective, red piping around the neck, connecting to the arm is a timeless feature which makes them look like a sports uniform instead of a shirt. The 1980s Mets and Indians (among other teams) experimented with this look, but the thin stroke does much more with less than the gaudy patches on those uniforms. Black (navy?) stroke around the lettering is a nice touch to increase contrast. The hat logo is extremely plain; it’s better than the Black Crackers hat, but it’s too plain to leave an impression.
A neat detail is that someone finally realized that “Philadelphia” has way too many letters to comfortably fit on a shirt and maintain readability, so they said “screw it” and abbreviated it to “Phila.” Genius. Really. For another example of the letter-overload hassle check out this prototype from the 1992 Phillies uniform refresh.
Special Note: The slide detailing the prototype is from the guide “MLB Game Worn Jerseys of the Double-Knit Era” by Bill Henderson (who happens to be from the Philadelphia area). He’s hosting a “Phillies Uniform History” discussion on May 26 in Philadelphia. If you’ve read this far into this entry, consider it a “must attend.”
The Brave’s Black Crackers uniforms, again, look like “classic” baseball without the old timey feel. It’s interesting to see that the letters and numbers get drop shadows instead of strokes (as drop shadows are generally considered a more modern look). Vertically arching the “ATLANTA” copy (contrast to the horizontal arching on “Phila. Stars”) gives a dynamic look considering it’s just a plain sans serif typeface with a drop-shadow. Unfortunately, the “A” logo, while unique is simply ugly and does not mesh with the typefaces used for the letters and numbers.
Closing out the review of the jersey, the most interesting detail is the piping down the placket is just like what the Braves have used since 1987. (well, maybe not “just like” – I can’t tell if it’s the same dark-red-dark pattern on both the Black Crackers and Braves uniforms because of the limited resolution of the single [thanks MLB!] picture released). The Braves also used this design in the 1930s, per this picture of Babe Ruth.
Finally, I'll group the pants/socks discussion together. Most uniform aficionados are probably going bonkers (in a good way) because the league (likely) compelled all player to wear stirrups. The Phillies are wearing solid red (not unlike what you see on Oswalt), but the Braves are wearing Navy blue stirrups with spaced White-Red-White stripes. Very cool. BUT, the best part of these uniforms are the off-color pants pocket flaps. We reward attention to detail, and those are awesome.
In terms of the game aesthetically, it looks good, but it’s not the most interesting combination if only because both teams are wearing uniforms where the primary color is Red with a dark accent color (either Navy or Black), but part of the appeal of baseball is the unholy number of games in the season, so even if they’re not the most interesting uniforms ever, it’s good to see variety on the Phillies (who have a pretty staid uniform “system”: one home/one away/one alternate) and it’s always good to point out and keep in mind that not all that long ago, the US still saw segregation to the degree that a whole portion of the population was not considered fit for the MLB for no reason other than skin color.