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The White Sox only wore their road gray jersey a couple dozen times last season, so it took me a second look to figure out what will be different about them next season.
See if you can figure out. Spoiler below the image, courtesy of Chris Creamer’s amazing sportslogos.net.
Yes, the Sox are ditching the single/flying sock patch on the sleeve, opting for a repeat of their logo instead. Occasional commenter hiimskot tipped me off to the White Sox Interactive thread on it, and Brooks Boyer explained the change in response to those who e-mailed him:
I want to thank you all for your notes about the road uniforms. Although none of you are happy with the decision, I do appreciate the feedback, good or bad.
Hopefully, you all know each other, or, know of each other through the blogs. I hope you guys do not mind one response to all rather than the same response sent out to each of you.
We have talked quite a bit about the road greys for a few years after getting input from our players, staff and even some fans. The most alarming thing I received from a fan was the stat showing how little we are wearing our road greys in favor of the black uniforms. That is something we plan to correct going forward.
After looking at the road greys, we determined that the uniform should contain our main logo, our brand, and have decided to replace the flying sock with the White Sox primary S-O-X logo. This was one of several possible options.
I know this is not a popular decision with you guys and I am sorry to disappoint. In the eent any or all of you are at SoxFest, please find me if you would like to discuss further.
Again, I truly appreciate the feedback. Sorry this email response was not what you wanted to hear.
All the best,
I’m no expert in the marketing or fashion fields, but it seems aesthetically redundant to me. And it might be unintentional, but it looks like another example of the White Sox following the Dodgers, and that’s a relationship I’m already wary of.
I have the feeling it will look a little off historically, too, since every World Series celebration photo features the road gray jersey with the sock patch.
On the bright side, the single sock will still be on the black tops, which the Sox wore 115 times last year according to a WSI count. So even if the marketing department is able to affect the jersey choices somewhat, you’ll still probably see it around half the time.
While it may be disappointing to the see the flying sock go, Boyer’s point about emphasizing the main logo is heartening in another respect.
My post about grace periods made it onto Baseball Think Factory, and the discussion turned to my calling the Sox “historically insignificant.” In defense of that statement, I pointed to the fact that they’ve changed uniforms and colors so often that there isn’t a generally agreed upon notion of what White Sox even look like.
If you think of some of the older MLB franchises, I think most people will get the same picture in their head. Rattling off some examples:
- Yankees: Interlocking NY, pinstripes.
- Cardinals: Interlocking STL, birds on the bat.
- Cubs: Blue, white and red, big “C,” small “UBS.”
- Tigers: Old English “D.”
- Reds: Red, with the Bears-ish “C.”
- Pirates: Black and gold, pointy font (for lack of a better word).
- Orioles: Orange, white and black, “Orioles” script across the front.
- Giants: Orange, white and black, interlocking SF.
- Red Sox: Boston “B,” white, red and navy blue.
Now, if you ask baseball fans what the White Sox used to wear, what do you think is the first uniform that pops into their head? Here’s my Family Feud-style list guessing the four most popular answers, and three of them aren’t particularly flattering:
- The Black Sox uniform with the big “S,” and small “o” and “x.”
- Shorts! (we’d also accept “Huge collars!”)
- The black, white and red look from the 1950s.
- The 1980s look that was so 1980s.
Another example: Last week at work, our sports columnist who loves himself some baseball minutiae sent me a picture from the late 1960s that he came across. He didn’t remember them ever wearing blue in that era (which is my favorite White Sox look of all time); he could only remember them wearing red. When you look at how drastically the White Sox switched up their look over that 10-year period, it’s hard to blame a Mets fan for not keeping up to date.
I’ve only had introductions to marketing and advertising strategy, but even I can say the White Sox have been as bad at branding as they have been at baseball. It’s not optimal that a 110-year franchise’s iconic look just turned 20, but at least they found one, and current management is sticking with it. It’s just unfortunate the flying sock is collateral damage in the matter.