Sock removed, 'Sox' added to road gray jersey

A small change to the road uniform has elicited a sizable uproar in one sector of the White Sox community

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:

Guys,
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,
Brooks

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:

  1. The Black Sox uniform with the big “S,” and small “o” and “x.”
  2. Shorts! (we’d also accept “Huge collars!”)
  3. The black, white and red look from the 1950s.
  4. 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.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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buford

The aspect of the White Sox uniform that has always bugged me is that the White Sox wear black socks.
There has to be a segment of baseball fans around the country that reflect upon the 1919 Black Sox when seeing these black socks on today’s White Sox. How is that good for the brand?
This can be easily corrected by wearing both the high-stirrup black socks with white socks. Then white – not black – would be the dominant sock color. And our uniform would finally match our name.

fustercluck

Just tell yourself that “White Sox” refers to the hat logo, less cognitive dissonance that way. Also, Cubs team not really a member of the bear family. And Indians are not a misnamed indigenous tribe.

buford

Thanks for that viewpoint. I never considered that option.
But I always remember that our original name was the Chicago White Stockings (later shortened for newspaper purposes). And if the Boston Red Sox can wear red socks then …
I realize that debating fashion is simply a matter of preference and no one person is going to change the minds of the masses.
But, Brooks, some fashion choices are as obvious as black and white.

soxfan1

The change is just a way to sell a few more jerseys!
I loved the all-blue Sox uniforms. They wore them in ’68, I think, but they also lost ~100 games that year!!

fustercluck

It feels like the natural instinct is to cower in shame at the club’s past uniform missteps. In this age of ironic detachment, these terrible ideas are to be embraced for what they were: an ill-advised attempt to stand out from the pack. I would love to see the White Sox continue the legacy by trotting out more horrible uni designs every few years, closely followed by the triumphant return to sanity with one of the classics. Here are some bad ideas for starters:
— trucker caps
— ditch belts for suspenders
— plaid
White Sox merch has been a gangsta hit in the past. Now why not appeal to the hipster set?

alwayssox

I think I agree. The uniform changes is our thing.
Maybe they can begin changing uniforms during the game; like a concert.

knoxfire30

Maybe im not old enough to appreciate traditon, but uniform modifications usually make me think “who cares”… as long as the changes arent something crazy its probably something small to get crazed fans to the merchandise shop to get the new gear.
On the baseball side of things, that marlins trade of miguel cabrera not looking so hot, they gave up maybin and miller for about 10 cents on the dollar. A little disapointed the sox didnt make a play for miller, big lefty, tons of “stuff”, former first round pick, doesnt know if he is a starter or reliever, cant throw strikes, this guy meets ALL the criteria of a don cooper project!

jasonc23

Craig Calcaterra critiques the history of White Sox uniforms today: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/11/15/the-best-and-worst-uniforms-of-all-time-the-chicago-white-sox/
Thoughts on his choices for best/worst?

saltydog

I have to say, though, that I really like the cut of that Player kid’s jib. I think he shows a lot of promise.

fustercluck

And his generous carriage raises questions about his conditioning.

esternaman

Personally, I love the sock patch! Although it’s not the main logo, I still think it represents the White Sox brand. I think the sock patch is something fun and different. If the Sox are trying to increase their brand image by replacing the sock patch with the logo, why will the single sock remain on the black uniforms?