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Uni Watch's Friday Flashback: The midsummer uni classic

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Best and worst MLB All-Star Game uniforms (2:38)

Uni Watch's Paul Lukas looks back at some of the best and worst uniform blunders in MLB All-Star Game history. (2:38)

Don't look now, but the MLB All-Star Break -- otherwise known as "that annoying period without box scores" -- is almost upon us. The annual Home Run Derby will take place Monday, July 11, at Petco Park in San Diego, followed one night later by the All-Star Game.

By now, you've probably seen the Home Run Derby caps and jerseys, which are patterned after the Padres' old "Taco Bell" uniform design, and the All-Star Game caps. This year's festivities will also feature new All-Star and Derby socks, though it's unclear whether we'll see much of them, as players won't be required to wear their pants high-cuffed.

Will there be any other uni-related surprises? Quite possibly because MLB's All-Star history is replete with uni-notable moments, many of which are shown in this selected timeline:

1933: The very first All-Star Game finds the two leagues taking different approaches to their uniforms. National Leaguers wear special uniforms for the occasion (which will turn out to be a one-year anomaly), while their American League counterparts wear regular team uniforms.

1934: All players wear regular team uniforms, but American Leaguers wear new uni numbers pinned over their normal numbers.

1964: With the All-Star Game taking place at the Mets' new home, Shea Stadium, Johnny Callison of the Phillies wins the game with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth -- while wearing a Mets batting helmet. This is the earliest documented case of what will develop into a frequent All-Star Game trope: when players forget or misplace their helmets and end up using someone else's.

1965: Giants outfielder Willie Mays forgets to bring his batting helmet to the All-Star Game, so he borrows Billy Williams' Cubs helmet, then switches to Johnny Edwards' Reds helmet (further info here). In addition, Mays' teammate Juan Marichal wears a Milwaukee Braves helmet. It is later reported that Mays and Marichal almost didn't get their uniforms in time for the game and might have had to wear inside-out Twins uniforms instead!

1972: Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk makes his All-Star debut -- while wearing a Brewers helmet.

1973: Dodgers outfielder Willie Davis hits a pinch-hit home run while wearing a Braves helmet.

1974: It's customary for the previous season's two pennant-winning managers to skipper their respective leagues' All-Star squads. But Dick Williams, who guided the A's to the 1973 championship, is no longer managing in Oakland. He has moved on to manage the Angels, so he becomes the first manager to win a pennant in one team's uniform and then skipper the following year's All-Star Game in another team's uniform. Dusty Baker will pull the same trick in 2003, when he wears his Cubs uniform to manage the National League All-Stars after winning the NL pennant with the Giants the year before.

1975: The A's have eight representatives at the All-Star Game (seven players plus manager Alvin Dark), and they dress in almost that many uniform combinations.

1976: With many National League teams celebrating the league's centennial season by wearing pillbox caps, NL All-Stars wear pillbox caps for batting practice and pregame warm-ups. They wear their regular team caps for the game itself.

1977: Pirates slugger Dave Parker wears two mismatched helmets in the same game. First, he dons a Padres helmet for an early at-bat, then he switches to a Reds helmet later in the game. Not to be outdone, Mariners outfielder Rupert Jones bats while wearing a Blue Jays helmet, which gives him a dual distinction: He becomes the first Mariner to appear in an All-Star Game and the first player to wear a Jays uniform component in an All-Star Game.

1979: Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson's uniform doesn't arrive in time for the American League's team portrait. The game is being held in Seattle, so Jackson dons a Mariners uniform. Fortunately, his Yankees uni arrives in time for the game. Meanwhile, Phillies first baseman Pete Rose plays the game in his maroon batting practice jersey. With BP jerseys still a fairly new and uncommon phenomenon at the time, Rose's move draws a lot of fan interest, which results in many teams introducing their own solid-colored BP jerseys and alternate game jerseys over the next few seasons.

1980: Reds outfielder Ken Griffey is named the game's MVP and is awarded a Stargell Star from National League teammate Willie Stargell.

1981: Two more helmet mix-ups, as Royals infielder Frank White pinch runs in a Brewers helmet and Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb (who, as an American League pitcher, never expected to hit) steps up to the plate in a Mariners helmet.

1982: The American League's starting pitcher, Dennis Eckersley of the Red Sox (still several years from redefining the game as an elite closer), comes to bat in an Indians helmet. Tigers catcher Lance Parrish later does the same.

1984: With Royals third baseman George Brett's helmet missing, Brett uses American League teammate Alvin Davis' Mariners helmet with the Seattle logo peeled off -- but with Davis' telltale "21" still on the brim.

1985: You can't make this up: With the All-Star Game about to start in Minnesota, Tigers infielder Lou Whitaker's uniform is missing, so he buys a replica Tigers jersey from a Metrodome gift shop and has his uniform number added in Magic Marker. Meanwhile, there's yet another helmet switcheroo, as Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan hits while wearing a Padres lid.

1987: With the game stretching into the 13th inning and the National League out of bench players, Cubs closer Lee Smith is forced to bat. He doesn't have a helmet on hand, so he goes with an Expos lid.

1992: Phillies first baseman John Kruk's jersey doesn't arrive in time for pregame workouts, so he wear Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone's jersey. Meanwhile, Cleveland pitcher Charles Nagy, who hits left-handed, wears a Rangers helmet while batting in the top of the eighth inning. He singles and then trades the helmet for a right-handed Rangers model, which he wears while running the bases and scoring a run.

1997: Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., who is named the game's MVP, wears a camera-equipped mask and a stars-and-stripes chest protector.

1998: Reds pitcher Jeff Shaw is named to the National League All-Star team but is traded to the Dodgers three days before the game. He becomes the first MLB player to appear in an All-Star Game while wearing his team's uniform for the first time.

1998-2000: In an attempt to make the game more visually interesting (or maybe just to sell more caps), MLB decides to have the players' uniform numbers and signatures sewn into their All-Star Game caps. The program is scaled back in 2001, when the personalized details are replaced by the All-Star Game logo.

2005: MLB and its official batting helmet supplier, Rawlings, decide to use the All-Star Game to showcase a new helmet model, called the Coolflo. With its side vents and reptilian-looking crown, the new lid is a major departure from previous baseball helmets. It's worn by most of the All-Star players and becomes MLB's standard headgear the following season.

2009: With base coaches required to wear helmets and the All-Star Game taking place in St. Louis, Dodgers manager Joe Torre -- a former star with the Cardinals in his playing days -- wears a Cardinals helmet while coaching first base. He becomes the first All-Star coach to wear another team's helmet. In addition, Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay wears American League teammate Evan Longoria's Rays helmet with the front logo decal removed.

2011: Players selected to the All-Star Game have little gold stars added to the backs of their jerseys and caps. The stars are worn for regular season games in the week leading up to the All-Star break and in the All-Star Game itself.

2014: For the first time, a new cap template is used for the All-Star Game. With the game taking place in Minnesota, players wear white-front-paneled caps that recall the Twins' 1970s batting helmets.

2014 also features one of the stranger All-Star storylines, as Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija is selected to the National League squad and then traded to the A's -- an American League team -- a few days before the game. This lands Samardzija in an odd form of statelessness, as MLB rules that he is ineligible to play for either league. He nonetheless appears at the game and is introduced with the National League team while wearing an NL batting practice jersey and a generic All-Star cap.

2015: Another new cap format, this time sort of a hybrid, pillbox-esque concept, which is supposed to evoke baseball's old-time mustachioed era but ultimately looks like, well, a cap with some stripes.

That brings us up to date.

One last thing to remember about this year's All-Star Game: Although the game is being played in San Diego, the American League is the designated home team, so National Leaguers will be wearing road uniforms. That includes Padres pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who'll have the unusual experience of wearing a road uni in his home ballpark. But it won't be the Padres' regular road uni; the team created a special All-Star design that is basically a gray version of its white home uniform.

OK, got all that? Good! Just don't try to keep score during an All-Star Game -- it's hopeless.


Would you like to nominate a uniform, uni element or event to be showcased in a future Friday Flashback installment? Send your suggestions here.

Paul Lukas made his Little League All-Star Team (and wore the right helmet when he batted). 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.