ENTERING THE NEW CENTURY
The Chicago Cubs, despite a prolonged drought of championships in recent decades, have a long & rich tradition as a charter member of the National League dating back to 1876. Cap Anson's White Stockings of the pre-1900 era were legendary and inspired Comiskey's new AL franchise across town to quickly adopt the idea of white hosiery, since the National Leaguers had not used them for many years prior to 1900. The NL Chicago ‘Orphans” (or ‘Remnants” — they weren't the “Cubs” just yet) at the turn of the century wore the plainest of the plain in uniforms — no lettering or insignias of any kind. The jersey was strictly regulation — standard fold-down collar, buttons part way down the front, and a pocket on the left breast. Caps were the abbreviated “Boston” style with a close fitting round crown and a thin color band around the base of the crown. It was white at home and gray on the road with MAROON stockings and cap trim in 1900. The only change for 1901-02 was changing the socks and cap trim to BLUE. Because of the turmoil of widespread defection by players to the new American League, one Chicago writer wryly suggested that the plain uniform was a deliberate accommodation to those players who wished to abandon the NL ship and take their uniforms along.
For the 1903 season, the new uniforms added a simplified old-English C (in blue) to the shirt pocket of both home and road shirts. The stockings and trim color were still blue, but a lighter shade than in ‘02. The caps were solid white and solid gray. It was back to the plain, unmarked uniforms again for 1904 and at home in 1905. The name CHICAGO in arched block capital letters was added to the front of the 1905 gray road jersey and continued on the road suits through 1907. A large circular C was added to the left breast of the home shirt in 1906 and was repeated (with a slight modification) for 1907. A special gray version of the 1906 home uniform with fine pin striping was made up for the ‘07 series. Since the Cubs had been upset by the cross-town White Sox in the ‘06 series by losing key home games, this gray suit was worn to open the ‘07 series in Chicago. The game ended in a tie, but the team was severely reprimanded by the National Commission for not wearing the traditional home whites. The attempt to break the “at home” jinx apparently worked as the Cubs had no trouble subduing the Detroits in the Fall Classic.
THE HEIGHTS OF GLORY
In 1908, the Chicago Cubs (the nickname was “officially” adopted by now) were the elite of the baseball wars. 2 straight pennants and a crushing defeat of Jennings’ Tigers in the ‘07 series — it was the golden era of Cubs baseball. The uniform designs for the 1908 season were redone from head to foot. Both home and road caps featured a black visor and a small C in front. The C on the shirts en circled a small brown bear figure holding a bat — a visual confirmation of the new CUBS nickname. New stockings displayed alternate striping of black and gray. The gray road uniforms were of special significance in that they exhibited a narrow spaced fine dark stripe pattern — a fabric they had introduced for the first time in the 1907 world series. Even the new black coats sported a large white bear figure on each sleeve. They capped off this milestone season with third straight pennant and another humiliation of the Detroits in the world series. This unique uniform ensemble unwittingly celebrated the last world championship in the history of the franchise.
The following season (1909), the home uniform of 1908 was repeated with only minor changes: a new “cadet” style stand-up collar on the shirt and solid dark stockings. The road grays repeated the pin-striped fabric but the jersey was dramatically remodeled. The new cadet collar and the button panel were solid navy and a thick navy stripe was added to the sleeve ends. The city name CHICAGO was added vertically to the button panel in white capital letters. But the most significant embellishment of all was the substitution of UBS inside the circular C, replacing the bearcub figure. This was the very first appearance of the famous Cubs emblem which has endeared itself to Cub fans for generations. It also marked first of rare occasions when the full team name (city plus nickname) appeared on a major league uniform. The following season of 1910 produced another pennant with a continuation of this uniform scheme (only the socks pattern changed and the "CHICAGO" trim feature was discontinued on the road uniform).
THE TURBULENT TEENS
The road uniforms in 1911-12-13 saw the abandonment of the pin-striped gray in favor of an all dark blue “negative” image of the home uniform. In “11 & ‘12, it was the now familiar C-with-bearcub and in 1913 it was a reverse of the totally re-designed home whites. The name CUBS was spelled out on the ‘13 shirt front in large capital letters. The home and road caps were solid white and solid navy, respectively. A fancier variation of the CUBS, lettering followed in 1914 and 1915 on the home whites, while the road uniforms for those years reverted to a plain traditional gray with CHICAGO spelled out in the same lettering style as the home CUBS. The little bearcub figure re-appeared on the sleeve and cap of the 1914 road grays.
The 1913-16 period were troubling times for the franchise. The dynasty was gone — Tinker, Evers, Chance played out the string and the future of West Side Grounds was in doubt. Besides the advent of a world war, the major leagues were being threatened by the newly formed Federal League with a Chicago-based franchise. As luck would have it, the new league folded after the 1915 season and one Charles Weeghman, late of the defunct Chifeds, took over the Cubs operation. His first important move was to re-locate the team to his newly-built Weeghman Park (now Wrigley Field) on the North Side. The Cub uniforms also reflected the new order — a modification of the 1915 Whales uniform. On the left breast was a red & navy “wishbone” C encircling a walking bear (a substitution for the “whale” on the Feds ‘15 home whites).
With the country now at war, the new 1917 uniform sets displayed “old glory” on the left sleeve. For the second time, the full team name CHICAGO CUBS appeared on the front of both home and road suits. The patriotic fervor went a few steps further with the totally new 1918 uniforms. Pin striping was restored on both home & road suits and a conspicuous red, white & blue flavor was incorporated on the stockings and in the CUBS lettering. The Bruins captured another pennant in these uniforms but fell victim to the talent-laden Red Sox in the Fall Classic.
THE ROARING (?) TWENTIES
In the decade following WWI, Cubs uniform fronts went through a treadmill of variations of either the C-UBS emblem or CUBS spelled out in capitals. In keeping with the generally conservative uniform trends of the times, their trimmings were mostly one color only and devoid of decorative piping and sox stripes. 1926 saw the return of the city name CHICAGO on the road grays and also the introduction of more ornamental sox striping. A white block C appeared on the dark cap in place of the vertical white seam stripes of previous seasons. The 1927 uniforms heralded a rejuvenation of uniform trim and added color — part of a sartorial uplift that was occurring throughout major league baseball.
A generous use of red to complement the somber navy blue trim was the rule for the ‘27 uniforms: a red wishbone C on the navy caps, combination red & navy piping of the shirts and trousers, 3 red stripes on the navy stockings. The wishbone C on the home uniform front was solid red with a navy blue outline and the little bearcub-with-bat returned to replace UBS. With only slight variations in future versions (solid color belt tunnels, a solid color button panel in ‘33), this was to be the standard primary home uniform for the next 10 years. The gray road uniform of 1927 also included the additional red and it, too, became a standard thru the 1936 season. Another pennant year in 1929 featured this uniform motif.
THE THIRTIES - HOW MANY UNIFORMS?
From 1930-1936, the Cubs experimented with a series of alternate uniform designs for both home and road. The 1930-31 home alternates revived pin stripes and another variation of the C-UBS emblem on the front. The 1932-33 alternates continued to pin striping but in place of the usual insignia on the jersey a slanted script treatment of CUBS was displayed in navy and red. The red wishbone C on the cap was replaced by a white fancy capital C. The alternate road counterpart for these years had a slanted script CHICAGO across the chest and a smaller script CUBS on the left sleeve (once again the full team name spelled out). The 1934 home alternates used a refreshing new version of the team insignia on the left breast — the larger red & navy C embodied a serif style and the bearcub figure inside the C had abandoned the bat and assumed a pitcher's windup motion (or is it a gesture of triumph?). The same style C appeared in red with a white outline on the navy blue cap. The 1935-36 alternate road uniform displayed CHICAGO across the chest in straight horizontal fancy capital letters (not the usual “arc” alignment).
For the 1937 season, Mr. Wrigley decided it was time for a totally new image for the Cub uniforms. He delegated his own corporate design staff for the project and they responded with some novel ideas. Most importantly, the standard navy blue was replaced by a brighter "electric" blue. The new jerseys abandoned the buttoned front in favor of a ZIPPER — an idea that caught on quickly with other clubs and remained popular for over 2 decades. Instead of the usual thin beads of embroidered piping, thick striping of solid blue or red (on the road) was incorporated around the neck and parallel to the zipper as well as on the sleeve ends and trouser sides. The 3 red stripes on the stocking were lowered closer to the ankle for more visibility. On the home uniform, the original version of the CUBS emblem (with a circular C) was resurrected from the distant past — except this time the C was solid red with a blue outline. On the traveling grays, the striping trim was RED and did not follow down the zipper line. The name CHICAGO was re-done in solid blue plain block capitals and was underlined with an arc of red striping. Except for the change in shade of blue, the cap theme stayed the same — a red C (not “wishbone” at first) on a solid blue cap. As if to “finish off” the new design idea for 1938, a shoulder stripe was added on both home and road suits. Also, the “wishbone” style C was restored on the cap. Despite hard times, the thirties were exciting years for Cub fans — 3 pennants, but no cigar!
THE FORTIES AND DOWNHILL
The Cubs began the 1940 season with perhaps the most dramatic innovation of the century in baseball uniform design — the sleeveless vest. It was a continuation of the novel ideas of 1937 and was adapted to complement the new vest. The C-UBS emblem and CHICAGO had to be lowered slightly and new emphasis was placed on the blue undersweater. The 3 red stripes on the stockings were duplicated on the forearms of the sleeves and on some versions a white crown was featured across the shoulders. For 1941 and 1942, the C-UBS emblem was re-designed to include an outline of blue. The CHICAGO lettering and underline arc on the 1941-42 road grays were changed to an outline style. The sleeveless vest uniform was abandoned after the 1942 season and never worn again by the Cubs, but enjoyed a revival with other NL clubs in the late fifties.
For the 1943 season, the Cub uniforms drifted back to a more conventional plain look with a continuation of the same graphics. All piping was eliminated and buttons were returned on the shirt front. The club won its last pennant (1945) in these uniforms and they remained basically unchanged thru the mid-fifties. The zipper front returned after the war and remained a fixture thru the run of this uniform style. In the standings, the Cubs had drifted into permanent residency of the second division.
THE ERNIE BANKS YEARS
For the 1957-58 seasons, it was another “new look” for Cubs uniforms. On the home whites, pin stripes made a comeback and the C-UBS emblem was modified with a full circular outline. As if to recall 1917, the full team name CHICAGO CUBS was displayed across the chest of the new road uniforms. Red & blue piping was also restored to the road suits. The familiar red stripes on the socks were changed to white. The red C on the cap front was changed to a circular style with a white outline and vertical white piping was added to the seams of the cap crown —reminiscent of the mid-20’s. This home uniform became the standard through 1971, the only modification being the little cub face patch added in 1962. Also, the white cap stripes were dropped and the zipper front was abandoned for good by 1960. The road uniform in 1959 dropped the word CUBS and then also became more-or-less the standard thru 1971 — CHICAGO in arched block capitals and no underline. Besides the cub face patch in ‘62, the uniform number was added to the front of the road jersey in 1969 (the high point of the Durocher years). Also, the stripes were dropped and the socks were solid blue during this long uniform run.
INTO THE MAINSTREAM OF DOUBLE KNITS
In 1972, the Cubs joined the conversion from flannel fabrics to the revolutionary new double-knits. The same general uniform look was retained with special accommodations for the new style features of double-knit uniforms — namely pull-over jerseys and beltless trousers. On the new homes suits, solid blue trim was added to the collar, the sleeve ends, and on the new belt sash. The first double-knit road jerseys included red, white & blue trim on the collar and sleeve ends. With no buttons or zipper to interfere, the uniform number was placed dead-center under CHICAGO. Maybe because this idea was too much like football, the number was soon shifted back to the left side. The first road double-knits were the traditional gray color, but by 1977 a blue shade replaced gray — another popular trend of the color TV age. In 1978, the road uniform was made with an unusual reverse pin stripe pattern — white stripes on a light blue background. This unique fabric lasted thru the 1981 season. Meanwhile, in 1979, the home uniform incorporated some minor modifications — the blue circular outline on the C-UBS emblem was “beefed-up” considerably and the cub face on the sleeves now included a red circular outline. This home uniform has remained unchanged to date. In 1982, the road uniform was radically altered. A solid blue top and white trousers, no more CHICAGO (the C-UBS emblem instead) are the features which distinguish this still-current road combination. As any Die-Hard-Cub-Fan would tell you — ya gotta love it!
For 1990, the Cubs joined the trend to more traditional uniform sets by restoring buttons and separate belts. The road uniform also reverted to all-gray with the name CHICAGO across the chest.