After 162 regular-season games and a bunch more in the postseason, it's finally time for the World Series. With the Dodgers and Astros set to face off on Tuesday night, here are 10 uniform-related storylines to keep in mind as the Fall Classic unfolds.
1. Déjà blue. For the second straight year, the National League team's colors include royal blue and the American League team's colors include a darker blue. Last year it was the Cubs (royal) against the Indians (navy); this year it's the Dodgers (royal) and the Astros (navy).
World Series fun fact: 2nd straight year AL team's color include navy (Indians, Astros) and NL team's colors include royal (Cubs, Dodgers). pic.twitter.com/smZ5jslaXm— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2017
Incidentally, the same thing would have happened if the Dodgers and Stros had lost their respective league championship series because then we would have had the Cubs (royal) against the Yankees (midnight navy).
This also marks the 12th consecutive World Series in which at least one team's colors include a shade of blue. The last blue-free Series? That was in 2005, when the Astros (who at the time didn't have navy in their color palette) faced the White Sox.
letter number day. Many fans over the years have wondered why the Dodgers' jerseys feature those red numbers on the front, which they've been wearing since 1952. After all, red doesn't appear anywhere else on their uniforms, so why have the red numbers?
The answer to that question was uncovered years ago by uniform designer and historian Todd Radom, who found an old article indicating that the Dodgers had actually planned to add the red numbers as a special addition for the 1951 World Series. As it turned out, the Dodgers didn't make it to the '51 Fall Classic (that was the year they were knocked out by the Giants, courtesy of Bobby Thomson's famous "Shot Heard 'Round the World"), but the red-numbered uniforms had already been ordered, so team ownership decided to use them for the 1952 season, and the numbers have been part of the Dodgers' look ever since. Additional details here.
3. Houston strong. In addition to the World Series patches that both teams will be wearing on their jersey sleeves and caps, the Astros have a "Houston Strong" chest patch. They began wearing it on Sept. 2 as the city was recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Good look at the "Houston Strong" patch that the Astros have been wearing since Sept. 2, to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. pic.twitter.com/KuiNEnhOMQ— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2017
4. Helmet happenings. The Dodgers are at the leading edge of the two biggest trends in MLB headwear: matte-finish batting helmets and raised, three-dimensional helmet logos. They pioneered the use of 3-D helmet logos last season, initially using a rigid plastic logo that mounted onto the helmet. But the plastic logos often chipped or cracked, so they began using a flexible, rubberized logo instead. Several other MLB teams have begun wearing similar helmet logos, but the Dodgers are poised to become the first team to wear a 3-D logo in the World Series. They're also the first to wear matte helmets in the Fall Classic.
World Series fun fact: Dodgers poised to become first Series team to wear matte helmet shell *and* first to wear rubberized 3-D helmet logo. pic.twitter.com/rvTtyYSASj— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 23, 2017
5. Letter imperfect. There's an admirable simplicity to the chest lettering on the Astros' home jerseys -- but there's also an unfortunate glitch. The "R" is positioned in the center, with three letters on one side of it (A-S-T) and only two letters on the other side (O-S), creating a lopsided effect that makes it look like the whole jersey is leaning to one side. Once you see it, you can't unsee it.
World Series fun fact: Astros' home jerseys have lopsided insignia. "R" in center, 3 letters on one side of it, 2 letters on other side. pic.twitter.com/bW5WYYNUGm— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2017
There's a reason for this: If they centered the lettering properly, the "T" would be split across the button placket, which could get messy. Several other MLB teams suffer from this same problem. Additional info here.
6. Those L.A. sew-and-sews. Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez, who had three home runs in the team's NLCS clincher against the Cubs, has an interesting modification made to his jerseys. Look closely and you'll see a little horizontal seam just beneath the third-from-the-top button. You might also notice that that his jersey doesn't billow at all along its button placket. That's because Hernandez, who doesn't like to deal with buttons, has his jersey sewn shut, which essentially turns it into a pullover.
World Series fun fact: See that little seam on Kiké Hernández's jersey? And see how his placket doesn't billow? His jersey is *sewn shut*! pic.twitter.com/hi11mO8fgA— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 23, 2017
The first Dodger to wear this type of jersey modification was first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who's currently on the disabled list. Hernandez liked it so much that he copied it. Additional details here.
7. Hands and band. Astros catcher-DH Evan Gattis is one of the few MLB players who don't use batting gloves. His bare-handed batting style also exposes an unusual accessory: a silicone wedding band on his left ring finger.
World Series fun fact: Astros catcher-DH Evan Gattis bats bare-handed and wears a silicone wedding band. pic.twitter.com/uniFxBUkUz— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2017
8. Hosiery hero. Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor's on-field look includes an MLB rarity: picture-perfect stirrups. And unlike fellow stirrup stalwart Francisco Lindor of the Indians, who muddies up the look of his 'rups by wearing them over spotted TruSox, Taylor pairs his stirrups with clean white sanitary socks, just as the baseball gods intended.
World Series fun fact: Dodgers CF Chris Taylor (left) wears real stirrups. Teammate Kiké Hernández wears socks knit w/ faux-stirrup pattern. pic.twitter.com/TxU22SyRFd— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2017
Hernandez, he of the sewn-shut jersey, also appears to be wearing stirrups. But the key phrase there is "appears to be." Look closely and you'll see that he's actually wearing socks with a faux-stirrup pattern. Not the same thing, and not nearly as satisfying, as what Taylor wears.
9. Road show. The Dodgers have two road jersey designs -- one with a "Los Angeles" chest script and one with "Dodgers." Technically speaking, the "Los Angeles" version is designated as their primary road jersey and the "Dodgers" version is the alternate. But according to SportsLogos.net's uniform tracker, they wore the alternate 52 times during the regular season, compared to only 23 games for the primary. They've also worn the alternate for all four of their road postseason games so far. So expect to see the "Dodgers" design when the Series shifts to Houston later this week.
World Series fun fact: Dodgers wore primary "Los Angeles" road grays 23 times in 2017 reg season. Wore alternate "Dodgers" grays 52 times. pic.twitter.com/FK7sLHdTMr— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2017
10. What might have been. If the Yankees had beaten the Astros and advanced to face the Dodgers, we would have been guaranteed of having the old-school spectacle of every 2017 World Series game being white vs. gray, because neither the Yanks nor the Dodgers have any solid-colored alternate jerseys. But the Stros could end up wearing the orange jerseys for a game or two, and they could wear their navy Sunday jersey for Game 5 in Houston on Oct. 29, assuming the Series goes that far.
The last time every Series game was white against gray was 2014, but that's only because the Giants and Royals both opted not to wear their solid-colored alternate jerseys. The last time a Series featured two teams without any colored jerseys in their wardrobe? That was in 2009, when the Yankees beat the Phillies.
World Series fun fact: Last WS without solid-colored alt jerseys was 2014 (SF/KC). Astros will probably wear Sunday navy jerseys for Game 5. pic.twitter.com/DjhRbiCOzl— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2017
Honorable mention: Over the rainbow. Many fans have been asking whether the Astros will wear their rainbow-striped throwback uniforms in the World Series. That's not going to happen, but you can still brush up on your Astros history by checking out these 10 things you might not know about the rainbow jerseys, along with this exclusive oral history of how the rainbow design was created.
Sadly, Astros won't be wearing rainbow uni in World Series. But here's the story of how rainbow design was created. https://t.co/WrEvkfoBf4— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 23, 2017
Paul Lukas always roots for the National League team in the World Series. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.