Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Waist Band

When we look back on the uniforms of the 1970's and 80's the word that comes to mind is "dated." The pullover-shirt-and-elastic-waistband look clearly belongs to a bygone era, but unlike the classic flannel look it comes across as a cheesy fad rather than an icon of baseball's glory years. Nevertheless, their mere association with the National Pastime gives those Bowie Kuhn-era threads a certain nostalgic value.

The waistbands have always been more interesting to me than the shirts. They seem so...un-baseball when you consider that belts were standard in the century that preceded their introduction and in the two decades or so since they've gone out of style. However, only five teams never had elastic waistbands at any point: the Expos, Phillies, Mets, Dodgers and Yankees. The Tigers are also notable in that they had one on their road uniform for a while, but never on their home.

I recently got to wondering what those ever-belted teams would look like if they'd adopted waistbands back in the day. The best way I could think of to do it was to edit some old photos in order to approximate the look. Of course, given that I'm not a graphic designer and that the only photo editing program I have is MS Paint, it should go without saying that my doctored photos would never be mistaken for the real thing. I do think though, that I got the colors close enough that it doesn't require much imagination to see the intent behind each edit. Therefore, share them I shall.

New York Yankees

For some reason when I think of the "Bronx Zoo"-era Yankees the player that comes to my mind is Graig Nettles. That's why I chose him to model both the home and road uniforms for the new waistbanded Bombers.

I won't lie, I'm much happier with the way the home uniform came out than the road. The home is based on the Cubs' basic home design from 1972-89, and I think it works pretty well.

(Thanks to and for the photos.)

Detroit Tigers

Who better to represent the Tigers of the 1970's than Mark "The Bird" Fidrych?

This was a unique case where I took out the buttons and piping on the top to make it a pullover. It looks like something they realistically might have worn back then, and it'd certainly match their road uniform.

(Thanks to for the photo.)

Montreal Expos

I ended up with Rusty Staub for the home and Ellis Valentine for the road. That Staub photo was probably from his original stint with Montreal, 1969-71, as the background setting looks a lot more like Jarry Park than Olympic Stadium. It's a bit earlier than my preferred timeframe, but it'll do.

Though the Astros did it for a while, uniforms with waistbands generally don't have piping on the shoulders and sides of the shirt. The Expos added that stuff to their uniforms in 1980, so I had to look for some Expo photos from before then. The pre-piping road uniform was much easier to find than the home. I can only presume it's because Canadian photographers don't get their photos as widely distributed as their American counterparts do.

(Thanks to Flickr and Random Forgotten Player of the Day for the photos.)

New York Mets

Here we have John Stearns for the home and Tim Foli for the road.

The Mets adopted a pullover in 1978 and added piping in 1982, so I figured editing the uniforms they had from 1978-81 would give the most authentic look for a waistbander. I'm fairly pleased with the way they turned out.

(A big thanks to centerfield maz for the photos. Mets photos from that era are surprisingly hard to find.)

Philadelphia Phillies

Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, the Phillies' two greatest players from the waistband era, were perfect for this exercise.

The home was pretty simple, since the collar was obscured. With single-color piping and pinstripes, a solid maroon waistband seemed to be the right choice. For the road one I had to add an elastic collar and make the waistband multi-colored. I originally tried a white-maroon-white pattern to match the piping, but it didn't look right, so I reversed the colors. It looks much better, I think.

(Thanks to Pine Crest Baseball and Defending Broad Street for the photos.)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Steve Garvey is probably the best-known Dodger of the 1970's, so he was my choice here.

I like the way this one turned out too. It kind of reminds me of the Reds' home uniform from that era. I originally tried to add piping to the pants, but it didn't look right, so I abandoned it. Since the Dodgers' home and road uniforms were nearly identical I didn't bother to do one for both.

(Thanks to iOffer for the photo.)

Once again, I apologize for the crudity of my editing, but I'm sure it gave you a good idea of what these uniforms would've looked like had their teams followed the vestiary trends of the day. We can only wonder what the current uniform landscape would look like if each of these designs had been implemented. Perhaps if it hadn't been for these traditionalist holdouts the waistband would be alive and well today.

1 comment:

  1. The whole comcept that old flannel jerseys are considered classics, while pullovers and elastic waistband pants are considered cheesy is backwards. To me, the pullover and sansabelt look actually look like athletic wear, they remind of NBA jerseys. Baseball would be wise to go back to the v-neck pullover and sansabelt pants. Much better than the flannel of yesteryear and the oversized and baggy look of today. The added stripes make the decision a no-brainer.