top of page
  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Chicago White Sox Sweet Baby Blues


Photo by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


The Chicago White Sox has worn a myriad of uniform designs in its history and, at one time, switched out colors and styles more frequently than the University of Oregon football program. Fans almost expected a new look every five years until the club debuted its current set at the end of the 1990 season.


The red pinstripes (1971-1975), the leisure suite (1976-1981), and the Beach Blanket Bingo (1982-1986) looks were infamous and are now beloved by a generation of fans who never saw them in action at old Comiskey Park. However, lost in this display of haberdashery is one set that made its debut in 1964.


The Sweet Baby Blues may look tame by today’s standards, but it made a statement during its first season for the White Sox. It was somewhat unconventional for its time, but it was the first sign that the club was willing to think outside the box and set trends that other clubs would later adopt.


The Ogden Standard-Examiner was shocked by the uniform color choice


The Sox were not the first to wear a powder blue uniform, but it had been 20 years since the last major league club wore such a distinct look. The Chicago Cubs sported the road color from 1941-1942, and the Brooklyn Dodgers wore satin blues uniforms for night road games in 1944. The Cubs look was a vest jersey that featured a blue undershirt.


The Sox introduced the jersey on January 6, 1964, at a press conference at the LaSalle Hotel in downtown Chicago. General Manager Ed Short held up the “blouse” of manager Al Lopez to a group of reporters and then passed it down the row for inspection, prompting Bob Smith from the Sun-Times to quip if “this was on the level” and later added if the club was considering “pink or some other colors.”


Short, somewhat irked by the media’s response, chose the color because it showed up better on black and white television sets, perhaps even looking better on the color TV sets that would soon become the norm in many living rooms in the country.


The road jerseys were identical to the previous year’s design. The city name was arched in block lettering; the right sleeve featured the players’ number with a thin white outline, and the club wore a navy blue cap with an interlocking SOX logo in a similar font. Navy socks with three white stripes would accompany the wool uniforms.


“Management made this change essentially to spruce up the look of the team,” added Chicago Historian Rich Lindberg. “They took some informal fan polls back then, asking for feedback on the ballpark experience.”


Joe Horlen finished with a 1.88 ERA in 1964. File Photo.


The blue road flannels were the third colored jerseys introduced by an American League franchise in as many years. The Kansas City Athletics introduced vests with red jerseys in 1962 and then shocked the baseball world with all gold vests and green sleeves the following season. The Cleveland Indians also wore sleeveless jerseys with red jerseys beginning in 1963.


“This uniform change was mostly a reaction to the Kansas City A’s and their switch to green and cold," Linberg added. "It was done with the hope of giving the Sox a more distinctive look at the very beginning of an era when the introduction of new colors and styles in baseball uniforms was coming into vogue.”


Southside Aces Joe Horlen and Gary Peters in the updated Sox uniform in 1967, Photo Courtesy of Spokeo


Various newspapers at the time were curious and made mention of the striking new look when the Sox came to town. The Bristol (Pennsylvania) Daily Courier was a bit more tongue-in-cheek on the new duds. 


“The Chicago White Sox also have new road uniforms-powder blue. All they need now are bow ties, and they’ll be ready to “do the town” in their new look tuxedos.”


The Pale Hose debuted them at Fenway Park in Boston on April 17 and took two out of three in the series. Later that month, Finley challenged Short to a “fashion show” when his A’s came to White Sox Park for a doubleheader on May 6. Finley released the following statement to the newspapers.


“We want the White Sox to add some color to the game by wearing their pretty baby blue road uniforms that they adopted this year. For the second game, we’ll wear our Fort Knox gold uniforms trimmed in Pacific green. For the second game, we’ll wear our misty green.”


The A’s owner Finley was a man of showmanship and ahead of his time in baseball fashion. The Sox did not accept his challenge and wore their home pinstripes and swept the two-game series. However, fans would see the team wear them at home later that summer.


On June 26, the Sox hosted the Cubs at home for the 15th annual Boys Benefit Game. The Chicago 

Tribune reported that the Sox were the visiting team and donned their sweet baby blue road uniforms as the game was played at cavernous Comiskey to accommodate the demand and raise more money for the boys.


A total of 52,712 attended the game, and 3,000 fans watched the game from a roped-off section of the park. All balls hit into the densely packed crowd were considered ground-rule doubles. Renovations to the park prohibited many fans from being seated for the game that saw the Sox pound the Cubs 11-1.


Many AL cities newspapers had something to say about the club’s look. During a visit to Los Angeles, the Long Beach Independent couldn’t help mentioning the team’s road flannels in its game recap.

 

“The Chicago White Sox had their powder blue uniforms on display Friday night and then powdered the Angels 3-1.”


The new road colors might have been a bit of good luck for the Sox, who found themselves in a pennant race with the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles until the second to last day of the season on October 3. The Sox finished with 98 victories, one game behind the pennant-winning Yanks.


The second place finished preventing the powder blue uniforms from making an appearance in the World Series that fall. This wouldn’t happen until 16 years later when Philadelphia and Kansas City wore their road blues in the fall classic. The inability to clinch the pennant was a possible missed opportunity on the look to become sentimental to the South Side fanbase.


In 1967 the team removed the block CHICAGO across the chest and introduced a scripted font that featured the club’s name in the tail of the wordmark. The Sox would miss out on another pennant, losing a four-team race and finishing three games behind the Boston Red Sox that year.


When the team took the field for the 100th anniversary of Major League Baseball in 1969, something was different. The road jerseys were replaced with the traditional gray look. It was the same design from the previous season, but the white letter appeared “washed-out” in the gray flannels. That same year, two expansion franchises, the Seattle Pilots and Montreal Expos, donned powder blue wool flannels.


The White Sox sported a 432-378 record during its five seasons wearing the non-traditional look that by the end of the next decade would be fashioned by eleven clubs in the major leagues. Teams would continue wearing blue road uniforms until 1991. The look was considered a trend of the past is becoming popular again, with four clubs wearing complete powder blue uniforms and two more opting for tops with gray or white pants in 2020.



The White Sox celebrate the 50th anniversary of the A’s in Oakland in 2018. File Photo.


The Sox themselves would once again wear this era’s powder blue uniforms in 2018 when it celebrated the 50th anniversary of the A’s relocation to the Bay Area at the Oakland Coliseum. The look was the first time many had seen the club in light blue, and perhaps a few would hope the team would bring them back for a few throwback games from time to time at Guaranteed Rate Field.


The forward-thinking Sox were a little bit ahead of the curve and would introduce another set of powder blue uniforms in 1971, but in 1964 they were somewhat unconventional for the baseball purist. Perhaps the abundance of uniform designs and innovations by the club between the 1960s and 1980s have hidden this sweet look of a road jersey. The team has introduced a few retro looks in recent years, and one can hope the team could bring these “sweet baby blue” back for a few Sunday games sometime in the future.


------


Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com 

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page