The Fall Classic, featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox, begins on Tuesday night, which means it's time for the annual Uni Watch World Series Preview. While others obsess about meaningless stats like WAR, exit velocity and launch angle, we know what you really want -- 10 intriguing factoids about the World Series teams' uniforms. And here they are:
1. Old-school. If you're a fan of classic uniform styling, this year's Series should be to your liking. Both teams have kept their basic look intact for decades, the Sox don't have player names on their home jerseys, the Dodgers don't have a solid-colored alternate jersey in their wardrobe, and neither team has an alternate cap. Heck, even the two stadiums are old-school! If the Sox can stay away from their red and navy alternate jerseys, this Fall Classic should be a traditionalist's delight.
2. Déjà blue. For the third straight year, the National League team's colors include royal blue and the American League team's colors include a darker blue. In 2016, it was the Cubs (royal) against the Indians (navy); in 2017, the Dodgers (royal) and the Astros (navy); and this year it's the Dodgers (royal) and the Red Sox (navy).
World Series Fun Fact: For the 3rd consecutive year, the AL team's colors include navy blue (Indians, Astros, Red Sox) and the NL team's colors include royal blue (Cubs, Dodgers, Dodgers). pic.twitter.com/Go14EB31U5— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 21, 2018
This also marks the 13th consecutive World Series in which at least one team's colors include a shade of blue. The last blue-free Series was in 2005, when the Astros (who hadn't yet added navy to their color scheme) faced the White Sox.
3. October surprise. If you watched the Dodgers during the NLDS and NLCS, you may have noticed shortstop Manny Machado's undershirt showing through his jersey. The base-layer design appeared to feature a very Orioles-esque script "O," leading many fans to surmise that Machado was wearing one of his old Baltimore undershirts. That would certainly make for an interesting subplot, but he was actually wearing one of the several October-themed shirts that MLB produced for the postseason.
World Series Fun Fact: No, Manny Machado has not been wearing one of his old Orioles undershirts during the postseason. It's one of MLB's "October" shirts (there are several different designs floating around). pic.twitter.com/TBGo7DSaHS— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 21, 2018
4. Capping it off. Red Sox pitcher David Price doesn't like wearing a squatchee -- the little button on the top of a baseball cap. He calls it the "ouch button," because he's 6-foot-5 and sometimes hits his head on the top of the dugout, so the button and the rivet that holds it in place can be annoying. For the past several years, he's had the squatchee removed from his caps, but seasoned uni-watchers were surprised to see him going squatchee-clad for his two starts in the ALCS -- which happened to be the best two postseason starts of his career. That creates an interesting situation for the World Series: Will squatchee superstition win out over "ouch button" phobia? Stay tuned. (For more on the term "squatchee," look here.)
World Series Fun Fact: Bosox P David Price usually has the squatchee (i.e., button) removed from his cap (top left), but Games 2 & 5 of the ALCS (top right and bottom) - which happened to be his best postseason starts ever. pic.twitter.com/ZFu3iXbn24— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 21, 2018
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 a year 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.
World Series fun fact: Dodgers' red numbers were originally intended as special uni addition for '51 Series, a historical nugget turned up by @ToddRadom. More info: https://t.co/X4Zh5XUv9o pic.twitter.com/PVAJfLKxN0— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 21, 2018
6. Numbers game. Fans often refer to Boston's familiar number font as "the Red Sox font," but it actually has a name: McAuliffe. It was created by and named after the Tim McAuliffe sporting goods company, which supplied uniforms for many MLB teams back in the day -- and most of those teams wore the McAuliffe number font. Today the Sox are the only team to wear it on their jerseys (although the Cubs, oddly, wear it on their batting helmets). For more info on McAuliffe, look here.
World Series Fun Fact: The "Red Sox number font," as many fans refer to it, is actually called McAuliffe, and it's been used by many other MLB teams over the years. Left to right, top row to bottom: Astros, Brewers, A's, Angels, Tigers, Reds, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs (helmet only). pic.twitter.com/yljGuPsU7V— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 21, 2018
7. To "B" or not to "B." The Dodgers and Red Sox have an unusual bit of shared uni-related history. Back when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn, their caps had a "B" logo -- which happened to be very similar to Boston's iconic "B" logo. There was much less standardization back in those days, so logos often changed a bit from year to year as new manufacturers and vendors took over. Still, even while accounting for some of the variations, the Dodgers and Sox definitely have some shared visual DNA. (For additional info, check out this Twitter thread.)
There you go. But Boston's didn't appear like this until 1936. pic.twitter.com/TPOpeuyjWd— ManCave Pictures (@ManCavePhotos) October 22, 2018
8. The high and the low of it. The Dodgers' pitching roster includes two players with atypical uni numbers: Hyun-Jin Ryu, who wears No. 99, and Julio Urias, who wears No. 7 -- a rare single-digit number for a pitcher. If Ryu were to be relieved by Urías -- which actually happened during Game 6 of the NLCS -- that would produce a uni number differential of 92, which would be a presumptive World Series record for one pitcher relieving another, at least until someone can demonstrate otherwise!
World Series Fun Fact: If Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (No. 99) is relieved by Julio Urías (No. 7), the uni number differential will be 92 - which has gotta be a World Series record, right? pic.twitter.com/uRRm9VWfsH— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2018
9. Name game. When J.D. Martinez joined the Tigers in 2014, Victor Martinez was also on the roster, so J.D. wore his full name on the back of his jersey. He kept doing that when he joined the Diamondbacks in 2017 and again when he joined the Red Sox this season, even though the D-backs and Bosox had no other Martinezes on their rosters.
Since joining the Tigers in 2014, J.D. Martinez has always worn his full name on his jersey - even when he's been the only Martinez on the roster (as was the case when he played in Arizona and also now in Boston). pic.twitter.com/15QLhsL1Hh— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2018
10. Letter imperfect. Boston's home jersey has a gorgeous symmetry -- three letters on one side, three on the other side, and a space in between. But their road jersey has the "T" positioned in the center, with three letters on one side of it (B-O-S) and only two letters on the other side (O-N), creating a lopsided effect that makes it look like the whole jersey is leaning to one side. Once you see it, you can't un-see it. (For more on this jersey phenomenon, which afflicts several other teams, look here.)
World Series Fun Fact: Red Sox road jerseys have lopsided insignia. "T" in center, 3 letters on one side of it, only 2 letters on the other side. Once you realize how lopsided it is, it's hard to un-see it! pic.twitter.com/osaQacjF2E— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) October 22, 2018
Honorable Mention. Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez has his jersey sewn shut, and he and teammate Chris Taylor have both been wearing excellent stirrups. But you already knew that if you watched last year's World Series!
(Special thanks to Phil Hecken for research assistance.)
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 and sign up for his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.