The beauty of the throwback: how a MiLB team bucked a trend and made a gem

The Jackonsville Suns' new road jersey is a classic that looks straight out of the Ebbets Field Flannel catalogue.

The Jackonsville Suns’ new road jersey is a classic that looks straight out of the Ebbets Field Flannel catalogue.

Out of all the major sports, baseball jerseys are probably the most normal sports jersey to wear around town. It might look a little strange to rock your 1995 Michael Jordan jersey made by Champion, but a baseball jersey is a nice, generally button down shirt, with embroidered logos, patches, etc.

With baseball season upon us, one of my greatest nerdy obsessions has returned: the love for baseball uniforms. They might seem a little dated (I mean, really, hats and polyester button down shirts, along with belts?), but baseball uniforms represent far more than the team on the field. They can represent an era in history, a strong memory you might have for a player or team who once wore a particular uniform, or you may simply appreciate the aesthetically pleasing look of a classic baseball jersey. 

Everyone once in a great while, I like to window shop on Ebbets Field Flannel’s website. They have hundreds of throwback minor league, negro league, national teams, and independent teams’ jerseys. All are made-to-order, using period appropriate materials to create an almost perfect replica of a bygone era. Most of the jerseys are in the $200 range, which is about the same price you’d spend on an authentic on-field MLB jersey from Majestic. In lieu of what MLB players wear today, you can sport a very Braves-like 1949 Hartford Chiefs home jersey, a 1964 Alaska Goldpanners jersey, or a gorgeous, charcoal grey, 1959 Atlanta Crackers road jersey.

Those examples are among the dozens of beautiful options from Ebbets and almost all of them are enough to turn your head. They may not be jerseys you want to wear to a sandlot game, but rocking an old Crackers jersey at an Atlanta Braves game is sure to get a few people asking you questions. There’s something amazing about a real throwback that allows you to wax nostalgic about the game and some teams are taking notice.

As great as Ebbets Field may be, this post is not about Ebbets, it’s about how one minor league team took the idea of the throwback and beautifully incorporated it into its uni set for 2015. In fact, it may be the best minor league jersey I’ve ever seen.

Earlier this week, the Jacksonville Suns (AA affiliate for the Miami Marlins) unveiled a stunning new road uniform that harkens back to the jerseys of old. The grey pattern with a simple “J” on the left side and the number on the right, along with a Suns logo patch on the right arm is almost perfect. The grey nearly resembles the color used by the Suns during the late 1960s and is so welcome in an age where MiLB teams where the most ridiculous jerseys conceived to sell a few tickets. Sure, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Wizard of Oz, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed uniforms are fun, but there’s something so pure and simple about MiLB that it almost demands the same type of jersey sold by Ebbets Field Flannels.

Jacksonville nailed it with their new away jersey, which is saying something because their gold-throwback alternate jerseys are already pretty great, but what’s more important is how Jacksonville is bucking the trend towards the ridiculous. MiLB teams regularly have fun with their jerseys, with wild logos and color combinations that would seldom see the light of day in the Majors. Rather than embracing the endearing cartoon goofiness of fellow Southern League team the Montgomery Biscuits, the Suns opted for something classic and it’s perfect.

Other MiLB teams should look at Ebbets Field Flannel’s website and take note. You can use modern materials and still make a uniform that would be a perfect fit in the 1950s and 1960s. Do that and baseball purists will snatch them quicker than any team dressing up like a stormtrooper.

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