The Chicago White Sox are among the most storied teams in baseball, and their changing uniforms match them in famous and infamous ways alike. Since 1906, the Sox have donned over a dozen different uniform styles. The best have been timeless and classy, evoking immortal baseball jerseys like those worn by the Cardinals or Yankees. The worst… well, the worst may be some of the ugliest uniforms ever worn by a professional sports team anywhere.
At the turn of the century, the White Sox wore all-white uniforms with a large blue “C” (for “Chicago”) over their left breast. A uniform change took place in 1912: the new outfits featured dark pinstripes, and the “C” was replaced by a large “S” encompassing a smaller “o” and “x.” That uniform witnessed both the team’s greatest triumph–victory in the 1917 World Series–and deepest shame–the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal in which Sox players colluded with gamblers to throw the World Series.
The Sox adopted new jerseys in 1932, featuring a crimson “Sox” logo accompanied by a ball and bat. In 1939, the team adopted a variant of the 1912 model, with red letters instead of blue. A more lasting change took place in 1951, when the pinstripes returned and the word “Sox” was written over the left breast in black Gothic letters with red trim. That form remained essentially unchanged for 25 years, though the colors shifted to blue in 1969 and to bright red in 1971 (the pinstripes came and went as well). One other notable uniform change during this period: in 1960, the White Sox became the first MLB team to place the names of the players on the back of their jerseys.
The Horrors of the 1970s
In 1976, the White Sox adopted what is largely considered a fashion monstrosity. Bill Veeck came up with a pullover jersey with the word “Chicago” on the front and a simulated blue collar over a v-neck. It was intended to evoke classic baseball uniforms of the past. It resembled a disco inferno. Even worse, for 3 games in 1976, the Sox wore shorts which revealed their knees to horrorstruck baseball fans everywhere. The shorts soon vanished, but the uniforms remained through the 1981 season.
The Slightly More Tolerable Horrors of the 1980s
Things got better for the Sox in the eyesore department during the 1980s, but only just. Now rejecting the past, they instead adopted a futurist design for their jerseys spelling the word “Sox” in white across a blue stripe highlighted in red. ESPN described it as a “walking beach blanket”–augmented at times by a stylized figure of a baseball player–and though the decade witnessed a number of baseball fashion abominations (the Astros and Padres both come to mind), the White Sox held an honored place among them.
Someone in the front office finally came to their senses in 1987 and returned the Sox uniforms to something respectable. The Gothic lettering of the 1950s eventually returned, this time accompanied by a black jersey. The new uniforms commemorated the opening of the new Comiskey Park in 1991. White sleeveless pinstriped jerseys were added in 1999, but as of this writing, the Sox have maintained the same basic look since the early 1990s–including those worn in 2005, when they broke their lengthy championship drought to claim their first World Series title since 1917.