Saturday, January 27, 2007

Birth of the Uniform

What would become the most recognizable insignia in sports the interlocking "NY" made its first appearance on the uniforms of the New York Highlanders in 1909. The design was actually created in 1877 by Louis B. Tiffany for a medal to be given by the New York City Police Department to Officer John McDowell, the first NYC policeman shot in the line of duty. Perhaps because one of the club's owners, Bill Devery, was a former NYC police chief, the design was adopted by the Highlanders. It first appeared on both the cap and on the jersey's left sleeve, replacing the separated "N" and "Y" which had appeared on the left and right breast each season since 1903 with the exception of 1905. For that season only, the "N" and "Y" were merged side by side into a monogram on the left breast actually a forerunner of the now legendary emblem.

In 1912, their final season at Hilltop Park, the Yankees as they were now commonly known made a fashionable debut at their home opener on April 11. Their traditional white uniforms were now trimmed with black pinstripes, creating a look that would become the most famous uniform design in sports history. The Yankees, however, were not the first team with pinstripes and would actually abandon the look for the next two seasons. By 1915, though, the pinstripes were back for good and, with the exception of the cap, the uniform would remain relatively unchanged.

The Yankees utilized numerous cap designs including pinstripes from 1903 until 1922 when they finally settled on a solid navy cap with the interlocking "NY" insignia. Only one more element would now be needed to achieve a look that remains in place today. In 1917, the Yankees removed the "NY" monogram from the jersey and went with a plain, pinstripes-only look. The "NY" remained off the uniform except for the cap for the next 20 years until it was reinstated in 1936. The legendary Babe Ruth, therefore, actually played his entire Yankee career without ever wearing the club's now-legendary insignia on his jersey. With the exception of minor alterations including bolder pinstripes in the forties the Yankee uniform has remained unchanged for more than 60 years and has, of course, grown into another of the team's great traditions.

According to a year-long internet survey of sports fans, the classic interlocking NY symbol of the New York Yankees is the best professional sports logo of the 20th century.


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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:09 PM


  • Blogger Mike Edelman posted at 9:06 PM  
    I wonder what soccer fans would have to say about you claiming that NY is the most popular insignia in all of sports.
  • Blogger Steve Kenul posted at 9:33 PM  
    I never claimed it, the survey did. Here's the link:
    Survery results
  • Blogger Mike Edelman posted at 11:13 PM  
    Isn't that survey saying that the Yankees have the most visually appealing logo in all of sports? It was a survey of graphic designers and marketing professionals, not of fans. It was only of U.S. teams none the less.

    Interesting background on the uni though.
  • Blogger Mike Edelman posted at 11:14 PM  
    *North American teams
  • Blogger Steve Kenul posted at 11:47 PM  
    The judges (designers, marketers) picked the 250 logo's that would eventually be voted on by the fans.
    I would like to see where Bayern-Munchen would rank if the list became international.
  • Blogger Mike Edelman posted at 2:53 PM  
    Ahhhhh, OK. Yeah, I'm curious as to how soccer logos would match up as well. I'd much rather watch a baseball team but soccer teams certainly have a lot more fans.
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