For the past decade, the Padres have become an afterthought outside of America’s Finest City.
The Padres’ last winning season was in 2010, and the team’s last postseason appearance was the 2006 National League Division Series.
The Friars’ farm system is arguably the best part of Padres baseball, and beyond the baseball side of the team, the Padres remain generally lackluster. Aside from the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field and Austin Hedges walking up to “Careless Whisper”, the Padres fade into a blur of boring, blue and white uniforms.
The Padres are one of 17 teams to wear a blue hat (and one of 11 teams with a navy blue hat) in the majors this year. Of those 17 teams, 14 wear a white jersey at home, including the Padres. For many of those teams, blue has been their color from the beginning, but that is not so for the Padres.
In San Diego’s case, the switch to blue and white was an act of identity-sucking conformity that ought to be undone, and soon. The Padres wore brown until 1991, when the team switched from brown and orange to blue and orange. The blue and orange uniforms lasted all through the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, before the club ditched their classy pinstripes for the plain blue and white color scheme in 2004.
Now, the Padres only break out the brown on Fridays, and the pinstripes are even more rare, making their first appearance of 2018 on June 6.
Uniforms are a crucial part of a team’s identity.
Take the Brazilian soccer team’s jersey, arguably the most recognizable jersey in sports. The basic uniform has not changed since 1950, a solid yellow shirt with green trim. Add blue shorts and white socks to create every Brazilian home uniform in the past 68 years. For the Brazilians, the uniform is about national pride – it features the same four colors as the nation’s flag.
In baseball, Yankee pinstripes are just as iconic. For the Yankees, the pinstripes are about class. Add the stripes and the club’s prohibition of facial hair, and the Yanks have the image of a buttoned-up, organized baseball team.
The Padres gain nothing from their uniforms. The modern uniforms do nothing for the team’s image, nor is there any sense of pride associated with them. Even during the 2016 All-Star Game festivities, Petco Park was adorned in brown and gold, not blue and white. That year’s Futures Game and Home Run Derby reminded the rest of the baseball world that the Padres’ identity was in the brown uniforms of old, not the new blue jerseys.
It makes sense that the Padres would wear brown. After all, brown is the color worn by the Catholic “padres” the team is named after. However, the brown uniforms are children of the 1970’s, when fashion was very different from what it is today. While sports uniforms certainly are not required to be on the cutting edge of fashion, they should be a bit in-tune with the style of their day. Fortunately for the Padres, fans on Twitter have done the hard work for them. There are several alternatives to an ugly brown uniform. There is no reason that the team cannot wear fashionable uniforms that celebrate the history of the team. Go Padres!