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WSI News - Season Features

White Sox Interactive EXCLUSIVE Sox Fans

White Sox Interactive EXCLUSIVE
Sox Fans' Guide to
Sox Uniforms!

by George Bova

In 1900, Charles Comiskey moved his St. Paul franchise of the Western League to Chicago's South Side.  The newly-re-christened American League was challenging the established National League for baseball supremacy and Chicago was ground zero for their assault.  Playing at 39th Street Grounds (just four blocks from their current home) Comiskey's White Stockings won the league championship that season, and won the pennant again in 1901.


Intelligent Sox Fans know their team's history!

For over 100 years now, the Sox have called that same neighborhood--Chicago's Armour Square-- their home.  It's the longest unbroken string of any professional sports franchise in America.  Though most of the teams through the years have been mediocre, the stars of the Sox have been amongst the greatest ever to shine in baseball.   The franchise's history, like its uniforms, is a colorful one.  And while the uniforms have changed--sometimes dramatically--the tradition is unchanged.  Sox Fans LOVE a winner, and simply won't tolerate a loser.  Sox Fans, don't ever forget what make us unique among Chicago's baseball fans! 

Chicago Proud for Our Sox!

White Sox Interactive is pleased to bring Sox Fans the internet's most complete summary of the uniforms of our Chicago White Sox.  For a complete review of this subject (and all other major league baseball uniforms too), White Sox Interactive strongly recommends reading the definitive reference, Marc Okkonen's "Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century" (1991, Sterling Publishing) from which most of these illustrations are courtesy.

Sox Fans, who loves ya, baby!

Introduction

Club founder Charles Comiskey was a South Side native.  He moved his St. Paul Saints to Chicago with the express intent of setting up his ball club in the neighborhood he and his father had roots.  He chose "White Stockings" as the team's nickname to conjure up the ghosts of the championship tradition of Cap Anson's White Stocking teams of 20 years earlier.  That name had long since been abandoned by the losers we now know today as the Cubs.

The Sox have used ten basic uniform designs since the franchise became a charter member of the American League over a century ago.  Each of these uniforms went through numerous minor revisions.  The most noteworthy of these revisions are included in this discussion.  Commemorative patches are not detailed here.


1901.  Various "C" logos adorned Sox uniforms from the team's inception through 1910.


Chicago's first world champions, the 1906 White Sox.  They beat the 116-win West Side Flubbies 4 games to 2.  Read more about it here.

1901: 
White Stockings.

Here is where the the basic Sox uniform traditions started.  The Sox were forbidden to use the word "Chicago" on their uniform by the owner of Chicago's National League team, the Orphans.  Comiskey got around this by using a block-C design.  This same "C" could later be found in the masonry design of Old Comiskey Park  beneath the Arched Windows of Comiskey's Baseball Palace of the World.  By 1902 Comiskey thumbed his nose at the future Flubbies, putting "Chicago" across the chest of navy blue road uniforms.

Note the white stirrups over white sanitary socks.  All ballplayers of that era wore white "socks" under their colored socks for a very practical reason:  the ink used to dye the socks caused blood poisoning.  Thus white socks helped prevent serious injury in the event of getting spiked.  Comiskey's White Stockings simply wore white stirrups over their white socks, "sanitaries" as they are commonly known.

Also note the navy blue road uniform and Victorian lettering of the 1906 world champion uniforms.  This uniform design became the basis for the untucked shirts that Bill Veeck introduced in 1976.  Like most of his ideas, Veeck's "throwback" uniform style was twenty years ahead of baseball's establishment.  It would be the Sox that led the league again with a famous  throwback uniform style in 1990.  "Turn Back the Clock Day" is now a tradition throughout baseball but the Sox did it first!

The sportswriters soon shortened the team's name to White Sox to better fit the glorious headlines they wrote about Chicago's winning baseball team.  Back to back pennants in 1900-01 were followed by a spanking of the over-hyped, overrated, over-confident 116-win Cubs for the world championship in 1906.  The cruelest cut of all for Flubbie fans?  The Sox had higher attendance, too!  As Ron Santo might say, "Oh, noooooooo!"

The Sox wore various "C" logo designs through the 1910 season.  


1912.  The basic "S-o-x" logo was used through 1931, second in longevity only to the current Old English logo.

1912: 
"S-o-x" logo debuts.

In 1911, the Sox finally ditched the "C" logo, never to return.  While the "C" logo could be confused with several  "C" teams of the era (Cleveland, Cincinnati, and the Flubs, of course), the 1911 Sox made a bold move to introduce a unique name that nobody else had: the simple term "Sox" spelled down the button palette.  In 1912, the transformation was complete with the introduction of the now famous "S-o-x" logo.  With the exception of five seasons (1942, 1987-90) the simple term "Sox" has adorned Sox uniforms ever since.  In fact the Boston Red Sox have never used the simple "Sox" name on their uniforms, yet their insufferable fans lay claim to the moniker just the same.  Media dolts across the country repeat the error, too.  Well, let's consider the source, eh Sox Fans!

It was a version of this uniform style that the Sox wore in 1917, Chicago's last world champion baseball team.  A special patriotic red, white, and blue uniform featuring a star-spangled flag, and "S-o-x" logo was worn for the World Series.  This was a salute to America's mobilization for World War I, or as it was known then "The Great War."  It happened so long ago you didn't need to attach Roman numerals to differentiate your global conflicts.  Chicago's baseball fans have been waiting for a baseball championship so long, it only seems like ancient times since we experienced the last one. 

Take comfort, Sox Fans.  At least our franchise doesn't attempt to play us for fools by inventing loser traditions like throwing back opponents' homerun balls.  Only losers think losing is cute!  

The Sox wore this basic uniform style through 1931.  It returned briefly in 1936-38.  Some versions had pinstripes; others didn't.  Some road uniforms were navy blue, while others were gray.  The 1926 road cap was navy blue with interlocking white socks.  A bold new style was around the corner!


1932.  A colorful update on the "S-o-x" logo, featuring bats and balls!


1939.  A block-S version of the classic "S-o-x" logo debuts!


1942.  A script "White Sox" uniform style, the first to ever feature the team's entire nickname.

1932: 
Bat & Ball design.

The Sox hosted baseball's first-ever all-star game at Old Comiskey Park during Chicago's World Fair in 1933.  While the losing of the 1920's continued unabated, the team under Charles Comiskey's son, J. Lou Comiskey, was sporting a new look.  The bat and ball design was the first significant change in twenty years!

An alternate "horse shoe" shirt style made a short one-season run in 1932, too.  For the first time ever, the White Sox were wearing anything besides plain white stirrups for their regular season uniforms.

A "fancy" version of the old "S-o-x" logo returned for for a brief run, 1936 through 1938.  This design broke no new ground, simply another version of the design that debuted in 1912.  In contrast, the bat and ball design has never returned.

1939: 
Block-S logo debuts.

The White Sox updated the classic "S-o-x" logo with a colorful red and blue block-S design in 1939.  The uniform featured a zipper-front shirt with red and blue piping down the shoulders and around the sleeves.  The Sox featured all-time greats Luke Appling and Ted Lyons, but the team kept losing.

With one big exception (see below), only slight revisions were made to this design through the 1940's.  Most notable of these was the addition of a red and blue stripe to the stirrups (1946-1947), and a slightly smaller block-S (1946-48).  The 1948 uniform is also noteworthy because it is the last time the Sox ever wore plain white stirrups--a tradition that began with the founding of the franchise in 1900.

1942: 
Script "White Sox."

For one year only, the Chicago White Sox wore a uniform that featured the team's full nickname.  The 1942 home uniform style lasted just one season, replaced by the block-S design that preceded it. 

Today this uniform is best-remembered as being the basis for a modern update on the script "White Sox" style, featured on double-knit Sox shirts, 1987-90.

Under the ownership of J. Lou's widow, Grace Comiskey, the Sox of the 1940's had little more direction than to place aging veterans Luke Appling at shortstop and Ted Lyons on the bump for Sunday doubleheaders.  The situation changed dramatically when her son, Chuck Comiskey, and new general manager Frank Lane took control of team operations.  A clear break with the team's usual on-field mediocrity and uniform style was about to happen!


1949.  The Old English Sox logo has been used longer than any other in franchise history and remains a favorite with Sox Fans.

1949: 
Old English Sox.

While most Sox Fans identify the 1950's with the Go-Go era, the uniform style they remember those great teams wearing traces its roots to 1949.  This new uniform style was noteworthy for many reasons.

First, the Sox dropped their basic navy (or plain) blue uniform color that dated all the way back to 1902.  In its place for the first time was black.  1949 was also the debut of the long-time Old English logo that remains central to the team's identity to this very day.

Perhaps just as revolutionary to the uniform was the Sox finally abandoning their traditional white stirrups--the first uniform to do so in the 50-year history of the franchise.  The 1949 uniform featured black stirrups with white and red stripes.  Each subsequent uniform of the Go-Go era included black stirrups too, each season featuring a new stripe pattern.

This uniform design underwent minor modifications in 1950.  The Sox added black pinstripes and red accents around the logo.  The famous block-lettered "S-O-X" logo on the cap debuted that year, too.  This famous cap logo lasted through 1968.  Red was added as an accent color to the road gray uniforms, then removed in 1955.  The 1959 A.L. champion team wore white stirrups with red and black stripes for the World Series.  Bill Veeck added the players' names to the back of their shirts in 1960--yet another of his fantastic  innovations that everyone complained about when introduced, but well-accepted throughout baseball today.

These black uniforms became the basis for the reintroduction of the Old English Sox logo in 1990.  However, 1949's Old English logo has enjoyed more longevity than the black uniform color did!  Black was replaced after 1963.


1964.  Navy blue replaces black as the basic uniform color.  Color television broadcasts lead to the debut of powder blue road uniforms, too.

1964: 
Navy replaces black.

Under the ownership of Art and John Allyn, Comiskey Park was renamed White Sox Park, the seats repainted light blue and red, and a more colorful base color added to the Old English uniform design.  Navy pinstripes debuted in 1964.

More striking were the new powder blue road uniforms--yet another uniform innovation by the Sox that others soon accepted, too.  Gray road uniforms were too boring for color TV broadcasts.  By 1974, seven other teams were wearing them, too.

In 1967 the Sox added a small numeral on the front of the shirt.  The arched "Chicago" block lettering was replaced with a script "Chicago" design that featured an underline flourish containing the nickname "White Sox."  Thus the Sox became the first team to include the team's full city and nickname on a uniform. 

The "Chicago" script would live on for two more uniform designs through 1975.  The script "C" of this design would later achieve a bit of notoriety, too, the basis for the infamous pig-tail caps of 1987.


1969.  Classic look or just bizarre?  White stirrups over blue socks is a style that has never been repeated by any team!


The road uniforms of the 1969-vintage uniforms was actually powder blue, not gray, as Joe Horlen's baseball card pictured here at Old Yankee Stadium clearly shows.


1971.  Red Adidas paired with red pinstripes!

1969: 
Blue sanitary socks!

Give the Sox credit:  they were willing to try almost anything in the 1960's!  With the need to wear white sanitary socks to prevent blood-poisoning a thing of the (ancient) past, the Sox took the logical leap of reversing their sock pattern.  Thus was born a uniform with WHITE stirrups covering BLUE sanitary socks.  The pinstripes were replaced with a plain white shirt with collar and button palette piping. 

Navy blue was replaced with royal blue and road uniforms featured white lettering with blue accents.  Needless to say, the lack of color contrast made the road uniforms difficult to read.

If that wasn't enough change, the Sox also updated the block "S-o-x" logo on their caps, replaced with the familiar Old English design.

In 1970 the Sox lost 106 games, a franchise record for futility.  Attendance was in the dumper, the result of Art Allyn nearly moving the team to Milwaukee.  He sold to his brother John who knew the entire franchise needed a complete makeover to its public image.  It was time for another bold uniform statement and the Sox would not disappoint!

1971: 
Red Pinstripes!

The classic Old English Sox uniform design never got a more outrageous makeover than it did with the debut of these ultra-hip red pinstripe togs of 1971.  Soxette cheerleaders wearing short-shorts and red go-go boots, an infield of artificial turf matched to a natural grass outfield, and the coolest pair of shoes--red Adidas spikes with three white stripes--make these Sox uniforms some of the most memorable and loved in Sox history. 

Aesthetically speaking, their beauty is highly debatable.  Of course this is the 1970's we're talking about, so bad fashion statements were more the rule than the exception! 

The bright red lettering on the powder blue road uniforms were as distinctive as any uniform ever worn by the Sox.  For the first time the Sox were wearing red stirrups.  Perhaps noting their faux pas, a white White Sox logo (a batter swinging over a white sock) was added near the top of the red stirrup.  Naturally the players' pants leg covered most of the logo, so the gesture towards franchise tradition was futile.

American League owners attempted to get Sox owner John Allyn to move his franchise to Seattle in 1975.  Instead, he held firm to keep the team for Chicago's South Side, selling to Bill Veeck after an extended civic campaign to save the Sox.  If you like change, you haven't seen nothing yet!


1976.  Love 'em or hate 'em, Veeck's un-tucked shirts were baseball's original throwback uniforms--1970's style!

1976:
Veeck's throwback jammies.

At a time when baseball's uniform designs were never more radical, colorful, or outrageous for breaking with traditional uniform design, Bill Veeck again proved himself prophet of the future with baseball's first retro-inspired uniforms.  The Victorian lettering and navy blue shirts and pants were all taken from the world champion Sox uniforms of the early 1900's.  It would be another ten years before most other teams had taken a step back to traditional uniform designs.

In another tribute to the team's uniform traditions, Veeck incorporated plain white socks (no stirrups) and changed the pattern of blue stripes each season.  Even the modernized Sox logo on the cap was taken from a vintage pennant, seen here in this 1920 opening day photo.  Veeck was a real student of Sox uniform history!

The most distinctive feature of these uniforms were the un-tucked shirts, an unpopular design element no team has ever repeated.  The floppy collars have never been picked up again, either.  It should go without saying that the shorts they wore in Game 1 of a doubleheader in 1976 has never been repeated, too.

After Eddie Einhorn and Jerry Reinsdorf bought the team in 1981, the Sox limited themselves to the all-white combination for home games, and blue tops with white pants for the road.  They also sponsored a fan contest to design a new uniform for the 1982 team.  If you think Veeck's pajamas were bad, check out the funky styles that were amongst the 1600 entries the Sox received from fans.

 

As the above examples illustrate, funky double-knit designs were still the rage with the fans--if not the fashion forward crowd--back in 1981.  Six designs were selected by a panel of experts, and fans allowed to vote for their favorites from these.  Some of these designs are obviously inspired by the ugly Houston Astros uniforms of the same era.  Sox uniform traditions were NOT a high priority.


1982.  Unrepentant red socks, circus-tent caps, pullover double-knit shirts, and a big elastic waist band. 

1982: 
Pullover double-knits

The throwback elements of Bill Veeck's pajamas were all plowed over by the new uniforms chosen by the fans.  Only the modernized "Sox" lettering (originally taken from the 1920 pennant design) was salvaged.  Red stirrups returned, but unlike 1971, there was no Sox logo to address the obvious incongruity of the White Sox wearing red socks.

The numeral on the pant leg is a direct rip-off of the Houston Astros who started doing the same thing eight years earlier.  The giant elastic waist band that had been de rigueur for uniform fashion back in 1970 was already fading in popularity by the time the Sox introduced this design. 

The uniform is fondly remembered by most Sox Fans.  The Sox won a championship wearing these uniforms, the first of any kind for Chicago's fans since the 1963 Bears won the N.F.L. championship.  Unlike Bill Veeck's bizarre combination of old and new elements, these Sox uniforms were much in keeping with what most teams had been doing with the stretchy double-knit fabric for the past ten years or more. 

Unfortunately, these uniforms simply didn't build on any of the Sox uniform traditions, and they failed to anticipate baseball's looming trend towards more traditional styles either.  Thus they were retired in 1986 after a short five-year run.  Tradition was coming back.


1987.  It's back to 1942 to update a style that signaled a return to more traditional uniform design.

1987: 
Script Throwbacks.

The Sox may have been threatening to leave Chicago, but it was strictly back to tradition with these new uniforms.  The script "White Sox" logo was inspired by the 1942 uniform.  The pig-tail "C" was often confused with an "E."   Thus many angry Sox Fans accused owner Eddie Einhorn of creating a cap to honor himself.  Presumably the Florida White Sox wouldn't want a "C" on their cap. 

Of course the "C" was actually taken from the script "Chicago" logo used on all Sox road uniforms from 1967 through 1975.  If Einhorn wanted to honor himself, there are better ways to do it than an ugly pig-tail cap.

The numeral on the pants leg was removed after 1987 and a series of red and white stripes added to the stirrups in 1988 after G.M. Larry Himes complained publicly about Sox players not leaving enough of the their stirrups showing beneath their pants leg to satisfy his personal tastes.  Himes decreed that he would fine any Sox ballplayer that didn't have a least one red and white stripe showing on his stirrups.  Not surprisingly, the Sox kept losing.

Himes was better at selecting talent in the draft (Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas, and Alex Fernandez in consecutive years, 1987-90) than he was as a motivator of ballplayers--or uniform design.


1991.  These uniforms were unveiled in July, 1990 for the 1991 season.  Fan reaction was so positive, the Sox moved up the debut to September at Old Comiskey Park.


The Sox began wearing an alternate sleeveless vest in 1999.


In honor of the American League's centennial in 2001, and as a charter member of the league, the White Sox wore throwback uniforms based on their victorious appearance in the 1917 World Series.

1990-91: 
Black is Back!

With a new ballpark nearing completion across 35th Street from Old Comiskey, the Sox unveiled their new silver and black uniforms.  The Old English logo, the pinstripes, and the black base color were all back!  The return of a white sock logo was popular too, an update on the flying sock logo of the 1950's. 

These uniforms are a direct descendent of the 1949 model, the inspiration for the team's uniform designs the next 27 years.  The "Go-Go" uniforms are considered the golden era of franchise history by virtually all Sox Fans.

Response was so positive, the Sox moved up the scheduled 1991 opening day debut of these uniforms  so the team could wear the new togs for the closing of Old Comiskey Park. A black shirt was introduced in 1991 and became something of a tradition for "Black Sundays" at New Comiskey Park.

In 2003 these uniforms enter their thirteenth consecutive year of service, already surpassing the longevity of every other Sox uniform style except the earlier Old English logo (27 years) and the original "S-o-x" logo uniforms (20 years).   Only minor changes have been made in that time.  Additions include names on the shirt backs, and a three-color Old English logo.  A sleeveless vest uniform was introduced for the 1999 season.  In 2001 the Sox also wore a throwback uniform each Sunday home game inspired by their star-spangled 1917 world championship uniforms. 

Still, the uniform remains largely unchanged since it debuted that last month at Old Comiskey Park.  Most Sox Fans agree that is as it should be!

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