When I first heard that the White Sox were bringing back the 1976 to 1981 uniforms for tonight's game, I have to say I was pretty excited. Like many of you out there, these were the uniforms I grew up with. OK, I was reeeeeeeeeally excited.
Soon... pic.twitter.com/nEXjCLTnSr— Steve Peters (@Steve_p) August 20, 2015
So when quotes like this were even coming from the Sox, it bothered me a lot.
"It was the most comfortable – not the prettiest – uniform I ever wore," said Harold Baines, who made his major-league debut wearing the blue and white uniforms. "No belt, length of pants didn’t matter; you just had to put on your socks to be ready. I’m just glad I didn’t have to wear the shorts!"
It's been a week now and people still haven't been able to stop talking about the freaking shorts!
Tyler Saladino holding onto the shorts that Clay Carroll wore for the White Sox in 1976. pic.twitter.com/uMSCsnKPw8— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) August 24, 2015
You'd have thought that the White Sox wore them every game from 1976 to 1981. They wore them in three games in 1976. That's it. Not 100 games. Not 10. Three. Let's move on with the shorts.
As for why these uniforms were replaced, even as a kid it felt like the desire to replace these uniforms came from the new owners more than from anywhere else.
First let's set the scene. In the spring of 1981, the White Sox had just been sold by Bill Veeck to a group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn. The new owners wanted to make a lot of changes, beginning with the open-collared leisure suits the team had been wearing since 1976.
It was a pretty easy call to make. Players were embarrassed by the pajama-like uniforms (especially on the handful of occasions when the jerseys had been paired with shorts), and fans hated the design. As Einhorn told a UPI reporter in the spring of 1981, "People would be telling me in cabs on the street that we need new uniforms."
I don't know about you, but I think that handful of times should be at least five.
OK, I get that some of the players didn't like the stupid shorts. I also get that Reinsdorf and Einhorn wanted to make a statement with new uniforms for the team. But the idea that everyone hated the uniforms?
Like most of you, I get my White Sox clothing collection refreshed in the gift giving times of year. For myself, though, I make sure to refresh my navy blue Sox hat every few years. To me, these uniforms are how I remember the White Sox when growing up. There's are also a lot of good reasons to be proud of these uniforms.
Even though these uniforms were worn for only six seasons, the players and coaches that wore them definitely made their mark on White Sox history. Hall of famers Tony LaRussa and Carlton Fisk both started their White Sox careers in this uniform.
Should-be Hall of Famer Minnie Minoso wore this uniform in his last appearances as a player for the White Sox in 1976 and 1980. He also coached for the Sox from 1976 to 1978.
The core of the 1983 White Sox pitching staff, LaMarr Hoyt, Richard Dotson, Britt Burns, Dennis Lamp, and Jerry Koosman, also started their White Sox careers in these uniforms. Today, Burns and Dotson are still helping out the White Sox future as the pitching coaches for Birmingham and Charlotte.
Tonight's game will be a real test for me. The game will feature "retro photos and video" so expect to see Steve Stone, Ed Farmer, and Harold Baines in their blue and whites. It does scare me though. If it turns into shorts, shorts, shorts, and shorts, the night will turn inadvertently into something very Veeck-ian.
To me, these uniforms weren't ugly. These are the uniforms I grew up with. They're the ones I sat in front of a black and white TV to watch. They're the ones I dreamed of wearing while playing tennis ball baseball off of my neighbor's garage. To me, they always were and always will be the best.