Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Top 5 Best & Worst Toronto Blue Jays Uniforms

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What's in a uniform? Simply put ... everything. Everything a team stands for can be found within every stitch and thread of its uniform. So it's not surprising why baseball uniforms are serious business. After all, a club's image rides on it.

At 37 years old, the Toronto Blue Jays may be a relatively young franchise, but they've certainly had their fair share of uniforms over the years. Many have touched on both ends of the scale; some have been timeless classics, others have been quite forgettable.

So it only made sense to include them all in one all-encompassing list - Top 5 Best and Worst Toronto Blue Jays uniforms of all time.

Top Five Best Blue Jays Uniforms
Top Five Worst Blue Jays Uniforms

Introduction


Firstly, the judging criteria; all uniform sets were considered (home/road/alternate/special event), save for Spring Training/Batting Practice uniforms. MLB puts out a slightly different version every year, so it was just too many iterations to consider.

There were some instances where I grouped very similar uniform sets together as one entry (for example the late 80’s/early to mid 90’s home white uniforms). Treating every single uniform on its own would just bog down the whole process.

I also asked for some help from the foremost expert when it comes to pro sports uniforms, Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.net. He provided lots of input to help fact-check regarding many of the uniform sets.


Top 5 Best Blue Jays Uniforms

1.) 1989-1996 Home White Uniform



There’s something about this set that just feels right. It’s familiar, there’s a great deal of history behind it, and most importantly, it still looks sharp to this day. The home whites are a timeless classic that will never get old.

Although there were slight iterations (one with the white panel cap, one with the full blue cap), my vote goes to the one with the full blue cap.

After the Blue Jays wore these for the Back2Back reunion in 2009, I was convinced the team would revert back to the golden years uniforms for their uniform update in late 2011.

We all know that didn't happen, but the current uniforms are an homage to the old uniforms engrained in most fans' memories by the 1992 and 1993 World Series Champion teams.

The two hues of blue compliment each other perfectly here, and not only offset each other in the logo itself, but also in the striping in the side of the pants and the cuffs of the sleeves. Odds are you probably own one of these in your closet somewhere.


2.) 2012-Present Alternate Blue Uniform



The current alternate blue uniform ranks ahead of the late 90’s version because of the choice of blue. While the old one was more of a navy blue, the current one is a bit of a more powerful blue, something closer to a royal blue.

The font is a slight differentiation on the classic split-letter font, the current one having a slight serif to the lettering. For my money, I actually prefer the current Blue Jays lettering over the old one.

When describing garments, I don’t throw around the word “beautiful” all that often, but these Toronto Blue Jays uniforms are exactly that: beautiful.

My only issue with the current Blue Jays uniforms is the absence of some sort of a primary letter in the logo. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the Blue Jays are now the only team in Major League Baseball that do not feature a letter in one of their cap logos at all.


3.) 1981-1988 Away Powder Blue Uniform



Now this is what I would call "retro". These are the true throwback Toronto Blue Jays jerseys; they're the uniforms which most will remember from the 80's and the days back at old Exhibition Stadium.

A lot of people have a love/hate relationship with the powder blues, but I have to say they’re quite eye-catching. For me, the white panel cap is what makes the whole look.

Another thing I’ll remember about this uniform is the absence of the belt, but rather it’s an elastic waistband pant. This was also the first and last time the Blue Jays donned a pullover-style jersey.


4.) 1989-1996 Away Grey Uniform



Ordinarily, road greys are quite mundane uniforms, but the somehow Blue Jays managed to make these road greys look quite respectable. There is a bit of history to this uniform as well, as the Blue Jays won their first World Series sporting their away greys in 1992.

Also of note, 1989 was the first year the Toronto Blue Jays debuted their fully blue caps on these away greys. Prior to that, the Blue Jays only sported white panel caps.


5.) 1997-2000 Home White Uniform



Number five on the list is a pretty unassuming set, but still a very respectable uniform in the Blue Jays history.

The 1997-2000 home whites were the first introduction of the player's number on the front of the uniform, and I’m kind of surprised the Blue Jays didn't attempt that earlier and that they haven’t used it since.

The block letter font was pretty apropos for the time in the late 90’s, and the red, blue and light blue piping looks pretty decent. The only knock on this set I can think of is the somewhat underwhelming cap logo ... but at least it’s not the T-Bird.


Top 5 Worst Blue Jays Uniforms

1.) 2006 Special Event Uniform (Canada Day)



Want to know how to make an unappealing uniform in the first place even worse? How about shoehorning any semblance of red onto the jersey in celebration of Canada Day?

Out of all the uniforms I’ve seen, this one is the most blatant cash grab with the least amount of effort put forth to make an original design. Plain and simple, it’s ugly and uninspired.

The only saving grace of this set is that it only ever saw the light of day for one single game, on Canada Day in 2006. The uniform had everything going against it with the mid-2000’s uniform set, and somehow managed to make it even worse.

Chris also pointed out to me that the Blue Jays actually recycled the "Canada" and numbers on the back of the uniform from the 1997-2000 blue alternate uniform (save for the blue split).

Throw a Canada flag on the sleeve and all-red lettering on the back of the uniform for good measure, and you have what is absolutely the worst uniform in Toronto Blue Jays history.


2.) 2001-2002 Home Alternate Uniform



There are so many things wrong with this set. First of all, the vest-style jersey is probably an era of the late 90’s/early 2000’s the most teams would rather forget. And there’s something about the blue sleeves with the white torso that’s visually off-putting.

Secondly, there are two completely different Blue Jays logos on the very same uniform. That’s a huge no-no in the baseball uniform business, and of course the critically panned T-Bird was one of the logos featured on the front of the uniform.

The cherry on top is the blue piping on the front panels of the uniform to tie it all together, albeit quite horribly. Not to mention, this set had not one, not two, but three Blue Jays logos combined on the jersey and cap. Complete logo overkill, if you ask me.

You may be wondering how this particular uniform was declared the second worst Blue Jays uniform while a similar iteration made the top five best uniforms. While the designs are admittedly similar, the vest-style uniform and two different logos are inexcusable.


3.) 1997 Special Event Uniform (Canada Day)



I have nothing against patriotism, but sometimes it’s better off to just wear the regular uniform rather than attempt to create some sort of special jersey for special occasions like Canada Day.

There’s a lot of different colours going on here, and it’s almost too much for the senses. You would think red and blue would be complimentary colours here, but they just clash way too much. And the "ketchup red" was just a poor overall choice to make front and centre.


4.) 2004-2007 Grey Road Uniform



Typically, road greys aren’t designed to be visually flashy anyway (which could detract from the home team, right?), but at the very least they should be legible.

This Blue Jays uniform is not; the “Toronto” on the front just reinforces the horrible font choice, and the cap itself became dated within a few years.

Also, the grey-on-grey lettering and number on the back of the uniform is a huge faux pas, and just makes the reverse of the uniform look completely washed out.

The crucial mistake the Blue Jays made (and many teams of that era as well) was that in by attempting to go ultra-modern with their primary logo, ironically it became outdated very quickly.

In retrospect, it looks more like something someone in the 80’s would craft up trying to envision what the year 2014 would look like.


5.) 2004-2005 Home White Uniform



While this entire set is lacking in the style department, the greatest injustice of all is the grey cap. It’s no coincidence that not a single team in Major League Baseball has grey as their primary cap colour.

I can see what they were trying to do here by working the grey in the shadowing on the “Jays” to the cap and the name and number on the back ... but it just doesn’t work.

Even Alex Anthopoulos himself referred to this era of Blue Jays uniforms as "ugly and embarrassing". One of my big qualms with this era of the Blue Jays uniform is nowhere does it say “Blue Jays”, or really have any sort of blue in the uniform at all.

Looking at the uniforms, you’d think the Toronto Blue Jays were trying to shorten their name to just the “Toronto Jays” ... which Chris says was a serious consideration during the second half of the 2003 Blue Jays season prior to the 2004 rebrand.

Many thanks to Chris Creamer from SportsLogos.net for some assistance with this post, and of course for the images of all the Toronto Blue Jays Uniforms. Check out SportsLogo.net to check out the extensive Blue Jays uniform database.

Feature image courtesy of Adam Finley

6 comments:

  1. I think this road set from 2008 is an even worse variation of #4 -- http://content.sportslogos.net/logos/53/78/full/wfe4hfo28jepi3f6yfhmhk7dh.gif

    Also, no mention of the toothpaste T cap??

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    1. I thought that road grey was okay - it didn't really fit the cap, but I don't think it's as bad as #5 up there.

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  2. The issue with the 2004 away set is that it was originally intended to be a graphite-like shade of grey instead of the lighter shade of the final set. The "artefact" of the change was that the lettering retained a charcoal background.

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    1. I think Chris mentioned that to me, that the original mock-up was much, much darker (nearly black). So I'm not sure how that would have looked, but I can't imagine a dark grey would be a good choice for an away colour.

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  3. Great post, Ian - thanks for writing it. For another best uniform, how about this one, the blue alternates of 1994-1996? http://www.sportslogos.net/logos/view/f8xgjo8zu0s4gt0omidk28yo2/Toronto_Blue_Jays/1994/Alternate_Uniform

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Admittedly, I kind of grouped that one in with the 2012-Present blue alternate. That was the first ever Blue Jays jersey my parents bought me, in fact I still have it to this day!

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