Brown Uniforms a Matter of Identity for Padres

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: USA Today

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.

Wil Myers at the 2016 Home Run Derby | Credit: Bring Back the Brown/Twitter

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!

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Eric Boose
Eric, 19, University of San Diego. A soccer player and fan my whole life, I now have the distinct privilege of covering 1904 FC for the East Village Times.

3 thoughts on “Brown Uniforms a Matter of Identity for Padres

  1. I would rather have winning as an identity. We could have some really cool brown uniforms, and the same junk on the field, then what? Of course, money will drive the ultimate answer.

  2. I think this train has already left the station based on the owner’s comments. But, for San Diego, this is not easy. Wearing brown, if you are a loser, will identify you as a loser. Older fans or those who study the game recognize Brown as the Stl Browns, whose overall record the Padres are closing in on and whose overall record in Brown is worse than the blue. Younger fans wouldn’t know this however. In business, NO ONE wears a brown suit or a brown tie. In general it is not a popular color, and finally, the religious aspect of friars and priests wearing brown is anecdotal. Now, it’s pretty clear, this is going to happen, god forbid we go back to pinstripes, leave that to the Yankees, Cubs and Mets and erstwhile Phillies, Diamondbacks retro…In the meantime, lets play some good baseball, so that whatever we play in, we’re recognized for that, rather than odd fashion choices.

  3. Baseball in run by some really archaic, dull witted and not branding savy people. There is almost no branding in baseball. Just copying what everone else is doing. There is so much they could do, yet dull is the geneal theme over all of baseball. They even tried the dull down the iconic green-gold of the A’s ( Vida Blue’s unit are the best ever in baseball ). Good luck with that!

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