The party line in uniform circles these days is that the uni-verse is in the grip of a modernist wave, with lots of newfangled designs, crazy colors, and so on. But someone forgot to tell the Giants and Royals, because this World Series has been a traditionalist's dream, featuring home teams in white with the team name on the front, road teams in gray with the city name on the front, and no extraneous bells or whistles. If you're a Fall Classic classicist, this is baseball -- or at least baseball uniform design -- like it oughta be.
Still, while these two teams' wardrobes may seem fairly straightforward, there are some interesting storylines lurking within them. With the Series now coming down to the wire, here are 10 uni-related bullet points to keep in mind:
1. I left my name in San Francisco. The Giants wear their players' names on the back of their jerseys on the road but not at home, and their home uni numerals are a bit larger to help fill the extra space. Only two other major pro sports teams go without player names: the Red Sox (whose jerseys, like the Giants', are nameless at home but include names on the road) and the Yankees (who've never worn player names at home or on the road).
2. Singin' those Kansas City (powder) blues. Lots of MLB teams experimented with powder blue road uniforms in the 1970s and '80s, but few teams are as closely associated with that trend as the Royals are. Lots of fans attending postseason games in K.C. have been wearing powder blue, and former Royals great George Brett wore a powder blue road throwback jersey when throwing out the first pitch for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium -- an interesting jersey choice, given that he never wore that jersey in that ballpark during his playing days. (Yes, the Royals currently have a powder blue alternate jersey that they wear at home, but that's not the design Brett was wearing.)
3. Sticking with the basics. During the regular season, the Giants wore orange jerseys for Friday home games and orange-brimmed caps for Sunday games. But those protocols have been shelved for the postseason, and so has their alternate road gray jersey, as the team has stuck with its classic home and road designs. Ditto for the Royals, whose two alternate jerseys have remained stowed away during the team's October run. It's as if both clubs are saying, "This is the big showcase -- let's not ruin it with our more frivolous looks."
5. How high can you go? The Giants' biannual trip to the World Series means people all over the country are once again pointing at Hunter Pence and saying, "What's the deal with the high pants?" Pence's penchant for cuffing his britches above the knee is unique, but it's not the only uni-unusual thing about him. While most MLB players wear batting gloves on both hands and a few choose to hit bare-handed, Pence is that rarest of species: a single-glover. He's the only player in the bigs to gear up this way.
6. Hosiery hero. Back in 2010, Giants owner Bill Neukom added orange stripes to the team's black socks. Most players wore their pants too low for the stripes to show, of course, and even most of the high-cuffers eventually went back to the solid black socks. But one Giant has stuck with the stripes: reliever Sergio Romo. It's such a good look -- too bad it's not used by any of the team's other high-cuffers. Are you listening, Hunter Pence?
7. "Are you ready to get Duffed? Oh yeah!" Giants rookie infielder Matt Duffy is nicknamed Duffman. So even though he made his MLB debut only about two months ago, he already has the coolest personalized bat knob decal design in the bigs. By coincidence, Royals pitcher Danny Duffy is also nicknamed Duffman, which led to an amusing tweet as the Royals were getting blown out in Game 4:
DUFFMAN IS READY TO PITCH, COACH. GET DUFFMAN UP IN THE PEN. OH YEAH! pic.twitter.com/uGzVh0LucT— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) October 26, 2014
8. Check your head. Each MLB equipment manager has his own system for keeping track of batting helmets. Many teams put the players' uniform numbers on either the brim or the back of the helmet. Others put the players' names in small type on the brim. But the Giants just put the players' names on the back of the helmet in big, impossible-to-miss letters. Equipment manager Mike Murphy has been doing it that way for years. Maybe it's his way of making up for the nameless home jerseys.
9. Getting the black out. From 2002 through 2005, the Royals were among the many MLB teams that added black to their wardrobe. Team captain Mike Sweeney even had a black drop shadow on his captain's "C." All the black trim and accessories never felt like a good fit for the Royals, and thankfully they ended up scrapping it. In a way, the timing has worked out well, because the Royals went through their black phase when they were playing poorly and, for the most part, flying under everyone's radar. Do you even remember those black-accented uniforms? Don't worry -- neither does anyone else.
10. What's that crazy scent you're wearing? OK, so this one isn't truly uni-related, but it's close: Royals catcher Salvador Perez wears women's perfume for every game. Why? So he'll smell better when the home plate ump leans in behind him. Hey, if it helps him get a borderline call now and then, it's worth it. Now he just has to find out which brand each umpire prefers.
Paul Lukas loves the World Series and hopes it goes the full seven games. If you liked 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, 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.