For the most part, baseball uniforms are all pretty similar and business-like with the buttons down the front. For most of major league history, all home jerseys were white with the team’s name or logo on the front, and the road jerseys were grey with the name of the team’s city on the front. They brought in colour in the seventies, often replacing the road jersey, or just using the coloured jersey as an alternate jersey. Currently, every team in the league has at least one white home jersey and a grey road jersey. Then, teams have a bunch of other coloured jerseys as alternates, some with home and road alternates (generally, but not always, distinguished by the name on the front – nickname at home, city name on the road). None of the uniforms on this list are currently being worn in the majors.
A couple of notes on the list before I begin. One, I’m only counting jerseys that were worn in games by major league teams (not including gimmick jerseys, like the time the majors had futuristic jerseys). So no batting jerseys, which are often so experimental and gaudy that they’d need their own category. Two, while I list a year for the jersey, it isn’t necessarily the only year that particular jersey was worn, it’s just a year I know for sure it was worn.
10. Florida Marlins 1993 Alternate Home Uniforms– Ahhh… the nineties. Remember when everyone was into teal? What was that all about? Teams like the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets made a killing in sales with teal jerseys. The only hotter cooler than teal was black, the colour of choice for west coast gangstas everywhere. So what do the expansion Marlins do? Teal AND black. Genius! To make it even edgier, why not toss in silver? It’s as though the Hornets and the Oakland Raiders had a baseball-playing love-child. The team is still saddled with the teal, black, and silver colour scheme, but have wisely dropped the all-teal alternate jersey in favour of a black one.
9. Montréal Expos 1982 Road Uniforms- In the late seventies/early eighties it seems like every team thought that replacing grey with pale blue would be just the thing to recapture the fans they were losing to football. And, with the exception of the Kansas City Royals, they were all ugly. I had a bunch of pale blue riders to choose from in the era, including the Toronto Blue Jays, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Philadelphia Phillies. I went with les Expos because of the piping on the sides and top. It’s the extra dab of colour that really makes these extra ugly. The use of the “mexpos” logo to left side with the number on the right adds to the overall ugliness (the home whites were pretty ugly for the same reason). To top it all off, they wore pinwheel caps with these to complete the look. Well, okay, I kinda dig the pinwheel caps.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks 1998 Home Uniforms- It was a close call between the D-Backs and their expansion brethren, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as to whom would get the nod here. The D-Rays were plenty ugly themselves, but ultimately, Arizona went the extra mile to earn their spot. I understand that it’s getting harder and harder for expansion franchises to come up with names and logos that don’t violate another pro or college team’s copywrited nickname and designs, so team’s have to get more and more creative in coming up with team names. As far as new team names go, the Diamondbacks isn’t too bad. What it is, though, is too freaking long to be put on the front of a jersey. Look at it. It’s practically a hockey logo it’s so big. What a terrible design to boot. Plus, they made the unfortunate decision to saddle the team with a southwestern colour scheme. I can see them working there, since its regional and all, but doing so makes certain that their stuff can only be appreciated regionally. Ultimately, what I hate most about this uniform is the purple pinstripes, like they were going to trick us into thinking they’re the New York Yankees. In fact, I hate pinstripes on all uniforms but the Yankees, and maybe the White Sox. That goes for the Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, and New York Mets. You all need to stop.
7. Oakland Athletics 1972 Alternate Home Uniforms- The Oakland A’s were the first team in baseball history to wear coloured jerseys (well, at least a different colour than grey), when they busted out these double-knit golden yellow babies (or, alternatively, solid green and gold jerseys). They were the brainchild of maverick owner Charles Finley, who encouraged his garishly outfitted club to grow facial hair to fit in with the times. I gotta say “gold” is too nice a description for the colour. “Mustard” is probably closer to the truth. Like many jerseys of the era, this gets bonus points in the ugly competition for being a pullover instead of a button up.
6. Cleveland Indians 1976 Road Uniform- By itself, the jersey isn’t too bad. Garish, sure, but not as bad as the uniforms already mentioned. What set this jersey off to put it at number six is the fact that the Indians wore red pants to go with it. Yep, they were in all red. I don’t know why they didn’t lead the league in ERA that year, as I would think it hard to concentrate on hitting the ball when staring at that much red. It’s like playing against a tomato.
5. Houston Astros 1980 Home Uniforms- These ones are starting to come around lately as retro-cool, in the so ugly-they’re-cool category. I guess that’s true of a few of these, which is why they’re selling for $300 at Mitchell & Ness. I actually don’t have much else to say about these uggos. They pretty much speak for themselves.
4. Chicago White Sox 1976 Home Jerseys- I know what you’re thinking, sure the polo-style collars are gay, but is this jersey really uglier than the Astros one? Well, maybe not on its own, although the collars are pretty gay, but this is an ugliest uniform competition, and in 1976 crazy-ass owner Bill Veeck Jr (who once signed a midget to take one at-bat, and threatened to shoot him if he took the bat off his shoulder) filled this uniform out with shorts. I shit you not. The White Sox wore shorts with this jersey. Presumably, to show off their white socks.
3. Baltimore Orioles 1976 Alternate Uniforms- The San Francisco Giants has a similarly ugly orange jersey around the same time, but the O’s take the ugly orange jersey spot on the list because theirs are a paler shade of orange, making them slightly uglier, and they were complimented by, you guessed it, orange pants. These pumpkin-themed uniforms are perfect for Halloween, but pretty much terrible for the rest of the year. When you think about it, it’s a bit presumptuous for a baseball team to assume they’ll be playing on October 31st anyway (especially in the seventies, before the advent of the Divisional Series).
2. Pittsburgh Pirates 1979 Alternate Home Uniforms- The killer bee jerseys are ugly enough on their own. But, in truth, every uniform the Pirates wore in their “We Are Family” years were ugly. The black road jerseys and the pinstriped home jerseys too. The jerseys themselves were plenty ugly, but what puts them all the way at number two is the bucket caps they wore with them. Look at it. I’m not sure if you can get a true sense of the dimensions in the picture, but its shape is pretty much that of a drum major. It’s the little things that make you stand out in this list.
1. San Diego Padres Uniforms, pick one- Rather than dominate this list with Padres jerseys, I figured I’d just put them all at number one. Apparently, their owner had a big thing for brown (he also painted all his banks brown too), so his team wore shit-coloured jerseys for for a couple decades. But they’re not just shit-coloured, they’re piss-and-shit coloured! Huzzah! Hard to play well when you look so bad, and they didn’t. If you’re interested, the above jerseys are, from right to left, the 1973 home jersey, the 1978 alternate jersey, the 1979 road jersey, the 1982 road jersey, and the stupid-ass camouflage jersey they bust out for armed services day every year. There’s actually a bunch of other ugly-ass jerseys from these years that I could’ve shown too, but I figured this was a good sampling. When the team finally got a new owner, they changed their uniforms, which was a big improvement. Unfortunately, they changed to navy blue and orange, with pinstripes. It’s like they WANT to be ugly.
Note: I originally had erroneously written that the Padres had a purple and orange colour scheme, which is how it always looked to me growing up, but was not actually the case. It’s also possible that the bank thing is wrong, but this is the internet, so I’ll stick to passing off rumour as fact.