Sixty years ago, the Chicago Cubs first wore the look that’s become an enduring classic at Wrigley Field: white uniforms with blue pinstripes.
Prior to that, Cubs home uniforms had in general been all-white (or off-white) with various forms of logos on the front. 1957 was also the year when the now-traditional logo with the large “C” with a smaller “UBS” inside it first appeared on the home uniform. Different, similar styles of “CUBS” had been used in some past years. You can check out all of them at the Uniform Database at the Hall of Fame’s website.
1957 wasn’t a very good year for the Cubs. They lost 92 games. Thus, as you can imagine, there aren’t many extant photos of the team from that season that I have the rights to use. The photo at the top, of Ernie Banks with Hank Aaron, was taken at Wrigley Field that year.
You’ll note that Ernie’s 1957 jersey has a zipper front. The Cubs switched from zippers to buttons the following year.
1957 was also the year that the Cubs unveiled these unusual road uniforms:
It’s the only time in Cubs history that they had the city name and team name both on the jersey front like that. It was an odd look and the word “CUBS” was dropped after one season. This photo was taken at the Polo Grounds in New York; many photos from that era for various purposes were taken when teams visited New York as that’s where many national photographers were based.
Incidentally, that’s future major-league manager Chuck Tanner depicted above. Tanner was acquired by the Cubs on waivers from the Braves June 8, 1957 and played in 95 games for the Cubs that year, hitting .286/.336/.415, not bad for a spare-part outfielder.
1957 was also the year the current “C” on the Cubs’ cap was introduced. From 1930 through 1954, the Cubs had worn this style of “C” on their caps, similar to the current Chicago Bears logo (though I suspect the Bears copied the Cubs, not the other way ‘round).
You’ll notice white stripes on the 1957 cap. That was an odd look that lasted only one year; in 1958 they were eliminated and the game cap took on the look that it has to this day.
Here’s a bit more about the changes — most minor — to the Cubs’ home uniform set over the last 60 years.
Only small modifications made to the Cubs’ home jersey since 1957. In 1962, the cubby-bear patch was added to the sleeve. For two years, it resided on the sleeve opposite the player’s throwing arm, but in 1964 it was fixed to the left sleeve. That patch changed a bit over the years. The link above is a later version; here’s what it looked like in 1962. That photo shows the patch on Bob Will’s right sleeve -- he was left-handed.
In 1979, that patch was replaced by the “angry bear” that will appear on this year’s spring-training cap. That stayed on the sleeve through 1993, when it was replaced by another sort-of angryish bear logo that wasn’t very well-liked. That lasted just three years, 1994-96, and in 1997 the current “walking bear” logo that also appears on the Cubs’ blue alternate jersey was added as a sleeve patch to the home uniforms.
The Cubs retained the button-front wool jersey through 1971, when they switched (as did most teams) to a polyester-blend pullover style. In 1979, the circle around the “CUBS” was made thicker; that’s the logo you see to this day on the home pinstripes. The pullover style remained through 1989. Button-front shirts and belted pants (or “trousers,” as Pat Hughes calls them) returned in 1990.
The Cubs have worn various commemorative patches over the years since 1957: the Illinois sesquicentennial patch in 1968, the MLB 100th anniversary patch in 1969, a Cubs 100th anniversary patch in 1976, a 1984 N.L. East Champions patch during the playoffs that year, a Jackie Robinson 50th anniversary patch in 1997, the Wrigley Field 100th anniversary patch in 2014, and the “century of Cubs at Wrigley” patch worn in 2016. The Cubs also wear a National League patch on the sleeve of their blue alternate jerseys.
You can, of course, buy replica jerseys with this 2016 World Series champions patch on them. I don’t know if the Cubs will be wearing them on the 2017 jerseys, although they will likely (as other recent WS winners have done) be wearing jerseys with gold numbers at their first home game this year.
The basic pinstripe uniform with “CUBS” on the front, though, has now been the team’s home look for 60 years, save for a few times they wore the blue alt at home in recent years, and I’m glad they’ve stopped doing that. It’s a classy and classic look I hope lasts for many decades to come.
Many thanks to baseball historian Ed Hartig for his assistance with this article.