The History of Sports Uniforms
It’s time to play ball! Your favourite team takes the field. You love the colours of the uniform and the cool mascot on the jersey. Have you ever wondered what some team colours mean and how teams chose their uniforms? Here are the histories behind the uniforms of some sports teams.
Duke University’s Blue Devils
During World War I, the Chasseurs Alpins, also known as “Les Diables Bleus,” were popular French soldiers who gained attention when their unique skills were relied upon to end trench warfare in their native region French Alps. Their presence didn’t affect the cause that much, but experts recognized the Blue Devils for their courage, and their unique blue uniform with flowing cape and beret captivated the public interest. After the United States entered the war, some units of the French Blue Devils helped to raise money for the war effort by touring the country. Trinity College, now known as Duke University, chose the Blue Devils mascot and blue/white colours from nominations that included Blue Titans, Polar Bears, Royal Blazes and Blue Warriors.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, originally founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates, changed their name to generate fan support since the steel industry was the city’s primary source of employment. In 1962, Republic Steel of Cleveland asked the Steelers to use the Steelmark, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) logo, to honour the Pittsburgh steel heritage. The logo’s colours represent the three materials used to produce steel: orange for iron ore, yellow for coal and blue for steel scrap. The Steelers are the only NFL team to sport its logo on only one side of the helmet.
How did a hockey team choose the “Ducks” for its uniforms? The Mighty Ducks were actually founded in 1993 by The Walt Disney Company. The team’s name was chosen from the popular Disney movie The Mighty Ducks, a story about a group of troubled kids that turned their losing youth hockey team around and became winners. Disney created an animated series called Mighty Ducks that included a fictional Mighty Ducks of Anaheim team. The real team uses the Mighty Ducks logo on its uniforms to this day.
Other quick uniform facts:
The Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first baseball team to wear knickers instead of pants. The reason for this choice was to show off the team’s high red socks that the owner’s wife had designed.
In 1976, the Chicago White Sox wore shorts during the first game of a doubleheader. The players hated the shorts so much that they all switched back to pants for the night game.