THEY CAN’T MAKE UP THEIR MINDS!
One-year, unique uniform styles are not very frequent in baseball to begin with. Even less common are instances in which MLB teams wore different one-year styles two seasons in a row! The Shirt will jump in the Wayback Machine and look at two American League clubs that, for a short time, couldn’t decide on a long-term uniform style.
KANSAS CITY A’S
Both the 1961 and ’62 seasons found the second-division tenants in totally different home whites and road greys in both years, not counting the extra spring training usage these styles got (see previous Shirt articles). Deciding to temporarily retire the script-front Athletics flannels with the classic elephant logo on the left sleeve, Kansas City went oh-so-briefly with a pinstriped home jersey (by Wilson) with a large navy A with red trim on the front, and similarly-hued sleeve and back numbers. The style can be found with or without embroidered tail tagging.
Rawlings contributed a road grey with a navy Kansas City front and sleeve number, as well as a navy back number. For one-year flannel styles, neither is terribly expensive, although the home version is slightly more available than the road style.
In 1962, the Athletics wore their first KC vest styles, a white home with navy/red print and numbers, and a grey road with similar team name and number. More variety was evident in the caps and undershirts that went with these Wilson-issued vests: navy cap and undershirt accompanying the home top, and a red undershirt and grey cap with red brim worn with the road duds. Again, tail-tagged versions and types with only a Wilson label can be found, and, again, prices are low compared with other one-year 1960s flannel styles. Neither is readily available, although examples do surface from time to time.
Keeping their uniform orders split between Rawlings and Wilson, the 1983 Rangers jerseys were a one-year design that made it into the hobby in quantity by virtue of a Hartel Sports bulk purchase in the late 1980s. Button-down fronts exist on both, as well as an attractive front patch with the team logo below the upper case RANGERS (home) or TEXAS (road). Home jerseys were, of course, white, but the roads were a solid blue in hue.
Come 1984, the team went with scripted Rangers print on the front, one version of which…a red alternate made by Wilson…was also a one-year uniform (the overall superb Mark Okkonen book is in error here, as the style was NOT worn in 1985). Again, the Hartel Sports bulk buy from the Rangers of 1980s jerseys allowed most of these to filter into the hobby. Like the 1983 single-season threads, however, most of what’s out there is in private collections, and examples offered for sale or auction are not readily encountered. The Rawlings 1983 homes utilized tail tagging (Rawlings label plus flag tag), while the two Wilson-made designs employ collar-located tagging (Wilson tag with year/set strip tag underneath).
While the A’s and Rangers did, indeed, have trouble deciding on uniform styles to stick with in these eras, the result is additional material for collectors to happily seek and own, at prices that, surprisingly, aren’t obscenely high for the eras they come from.