New Cardinals jersey puts ‘St. Louis’ in uniforms

David Brown
Big League Stew

The St. Louis Cardinals are getting new uniforms for 2013. Now, before any traditionalist fashionistas out there lose their breakfast, it's OK, it's OK. They're not bringing back the blue Underoos from the prime of Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee. Instead, the Cardinals are reaching deeper into their own past in order to update their look.

What's the same? The trademark redbird twins still perch upon the famous yellow bat. Except the birds have eyes instead of dots, and the bat looks more like a bat. And the base color of the jersey is off-white, and a red yoke runs around the neck and down the chest — similar to a uniform that Stan Musial wore with the Cards in the 1950s.

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Oh, and it says "St. Louis" instead of "Cardinals" on the front. Not since 1932 has any Cardinals jersey done that.

These are the duds the Cards will wear at Busch Stadium on Saturdays this season. They're pretty sweet, at least in two dimensions. The Cardinals already had one of the more popular looks in sports uniforms, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out. Only the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and the NFL's Chicago Bears have cooler jerseys, according to a recent ESPN poll. Cards team president Bill DeWitt III doesn't think this addition will harm his team's uniform tradition.

"Yes, it's traditional," DeWitt said. "And if you ask me should we stay in that elite company of having home whites and road grays, I would say we should, but … Look at this (third) jersey. I see it and think, 'We've got to wear that thing.' "

Agreed, though it leaves the Yankees, Dodgers and Tigers as the only teams not to employ a third jersey. (Although, didn't the Tigers wear a blue third jersey for a handful of dates about 20 years ago?) There's something to be said about sticking to tradition. But there's also a balance to be struck between selling jerseys (marketing makes the world go 'round!) and keeping connected with the past.

The Cardinals do that here. See? If wearing "St. Louis" was good enough for Pepper Martin in 1931 as he pretends to get arrested for "speeding" (get it?), then it's good enough for Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso. "OK, Pepper, tell it to the judge."

I wonder if DeWitt III thinks that simply changing the Cardinals' road uniforms to read "St. Louis" would have been too traumatic. It makes sense to put the city's name on the road jerseys. Most teams do it that way. But the Cardinals aren't most teams, buster! Not to be too cynical, but doing it this way works better for marketing. Now the team can sell three jerseys instead of two, and wearing the new/old "St. Louis" jerseys in front of the home crowd will drive fans to the souvenir stands to get one or two of their own. The Cardinals already use an alternate cap on Sundays and use a "road" cap for away games. They just couldn't help themselves with the jerseys.

It's kind of an evil genius. But if it also means another cool uniform, so be it. Fashion Ump approves.

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