Major League Baseball has itself a pretty colourful palette, from the green and gold of the Oakland Athletics to the red and turquoise of the Arizona Diamondbacks there’s a team for a fan of pretty much any colour out there.
But it hasn’t always been this way. In this post we’ll take a complete look at every colour scheme ever used in Major League history, a full graphic showing this is at the bottom of this post. Be sure to check it out when you’re done reading this article.
Those who go on about there being too many “blue and red teams” should be glad they weren’t around to see the early years of the league. There were decade long spans where over 90% of the league wore either red or blue as it’s primary colour (you can thank the St. Louis Browns for breaking that one up). This drab era wasn’t without it’s share of oddities and short experiments, after trying out brown as a primary colour the New York Giants went purple for a few seasons in the early 1910s (in apparent support of NYU), the Phillies went all out green in 1910 and the Chicago Cubs added green briefly to their socks and shoes in 1918 (yeah, the Cubs were green more recently than they’ve won a World Series, maybe that’ll change this year).
The overall blue-and-red league pre-dated the popularity of colour film which may explain the sudden rise of bold new colours in the 1930s and 40s such as the Pittsburgh Pirates ending over 40 years of wearing red and blue for a sudden switch to the black and yellow we all know and love today; the New York Giants made their switch to black and orange permanent in 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers tried green for a season in 1937, the Boston Braves became the Bees for a handful of years adding yellow to their uniforms, and the Phillies added a powder blue when they adopted a bluejay as their mascot in 1944.
It wasn’t until the combination of expansion baseball and colour television that things really started to take off, the new clubs in Houston and New York both went heavy on the orange in 1962 just before the the Kansas City Athletics switched to green and gold uniforms, the next wave of expansion in 1969 saw four clubs added with only one of them adopting an old school blue and red colour scheme, the Montreal Expos, and as you know their overall look was anything but traditional.
Moving into the 1970s, the Phillies switched from red to maroon, the Houston Astros went full blown “Tequila Sunrise” on us adopting a colour scheme consisting of three different shades of orange in addition to red, yellow, and navy blue. Teams got fairly, hmm, crazy with the uniforms in this era, the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates head-to-toe yellow, the Cleveland Indians, and Baltimore Orioles doing the same with red and orange respectively. Powder blue road uniforms came and went just in time for the next big colour shift in the early 1990s when the Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins introducing teal to the league, the Colorado Rockies bringing purple back since the Giants tried it 80 years earlier; the Arizona Diamondbacks doing the same just 5 years later, as they joined the league with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who themselves went with a green-to-blue-to-yellow gradient for their set.
The rise of “black for black’s sake” began in the late 1990s and peaked in the mid 2000s, with traditionally non-black wearing teams like the Mets, the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Oakland A’s (among others) all adding the colour to their set. As quickly as it came, it was gone, all teams eventually reverting to more traditional colour schemes for their franchises.
It’s been 117 seasons since Major League Baseball entered the 20th century, thirty franchises – all of which have tinkered over the years, some moreso than others (*cough* White Sox). Even teams you never thought did anything – the Yankees for example, just adding grey, officially, to their colour scheme in 2010. While teams like the Cubs, the Reds, the Cardinals, and Dodgers have all played around very slightly with the various shades of the colours they’ve worn all these years.
So, colour-wise, who’s been the most consistent? The Colorado Rockies have never changed anything since they entered the league 23 years ago. Black, dark purple, and silver. Every season. Same shade of each colour. We’ll give the Boston Red Sox an honourable mention, they’ve used the same shade of blue and red since they became the Red Sox in 1906, but did drop the blue a few years in those early days.