St. Louis Cardinals need one more element to make new uniform complete

The St. Louis Cardinals trotted out a new uniform this week that they will wear on Saturday home games during the 2013 season. The new alternate jersey has a great retro look, but the franchise could’ve taken one more step to truly take the new look back in time.

The new jerseys will be an off-white color similar to the San Francisco Giants home uniforms, and “St. Louis” will grace the front of the jersey along with the traditional birds on the bat. It will also have red piping run down the middle, which hearkens back to Stan Musial‘s playing days.

All of that makes for a nice look, but the Cardinals also should’ve brought back the hats the team wore when Musial led the team through the 1940s and 1950s at Sportsman’s Park.

In those days, the Cardinals wore a hat that had a navy blue top with the red, interlocking “STL” logo and a red bill. The hat, combined with the uniform style, made for one of the best looks in the history of the franchise. If the Musial’s statue outside Busch Stadium was painted, it would depict him wearing that style hat.

Instead, the Cardinals will wear the common all-red hats with the new uniform. That is still a fine look, but the Cardinals missed an opportunity to go all the way and have a completely new, yet historical uniform.

Now, before we go on for too long about how great the new uniform is, the Cardinals are likely to receive a fair amount of backlash for messing with the team’s current home and away uniforms. They were one of four teams, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, to have just two uniforms: white at home and gray on the road.

The lack of uniform choices is something only historical franchises do because newer teams had no traditions to step on when creating their looks, and others just want to have plenty of fashion choices in an age of extreme marketing and one when football teams hardly wear the same uniform twice in the same season.

People’s concerns about the Cardinals jumping in the pool of alternate jerseys aren’t crazy. The Cardinals are a franchise that has some of the best looking uniforms in the sport in part because they are clean and consistent. Fans know it’s game time when the Cardinals take the field in their home whites. Any colored jerseys are for batting practice and batting practice only. Sadly, that can’t be said for many teams these days.

But, the Cardinals did a good job with the new look. The franchise last wore “St. Louis” across the front of the jersey in 1932, and it was a good-looking uniform. Plus, this will only be a once per week deal, just as the hats with the bird logo are reserved for Sunday home games.

The Cardinals did make one other significant uniform change, however, The team will now wear the –all-red hats on the road as well as at home. The navy blue road hats the team has worn on the road since 1992 will apparently be rarely used, perhaps for special occasions. That is still something the organization is trying to decide.

That’s also not a horrible change. The Cardinals wore red hats on the road in the past, but the blue hats did make the team look good on the road for 20 years. That change is more of a fashion change than the new jersey. Many teams are getting away from the dark colors of the 1990s, and this will move the Cardinals in that direction.

So although the changes will give the Cardinals a good new look that doesn’t take away from their long-standing uniform traditions, the old-style blue hat with a red bill would have completed the ensemble.

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