Hilariously hideous 1980 Tucson Toros uniforms making colorful comeback in June

David Brown
Big League Stew

One tiny accident with the laundry in the spring of 1980 took them from us. But the rainbow-rific Tucson Toros uniforms, which proudly mark the death rattle of disco fashion, are making a comeback in June.

The San Diego Padres' minor-league affiliate at Class AAA is reviving Tucson's take on the "Tequila Sunrise" uniforms worn famously by the Houston Astros from the middle 1970s until 1986, when Houston was Tucson's parent city. The Tucson Padres will wear the old-school eyesores June 8 as part of Disco Night at Kino Stadium.

The big-league Astros' rainbow uniforms might have been blinding, but the 1980 Toros uniforms — easily identified by the sash down the front — literally were incompatible with the sense of vision. Jimmy Sexton, whose baseball card is shown, managed to overcome being dressed like a scoop of sherbet and became a big-time sports agent in later years. Still, at the time, it looks like all of the color in his face was drained into the uniform in order to feed it.

A wonderful post by Patrick Finley at the Arizona Daily Star remembers the concoction of crazy colors then-Tucson GM Jack Donovan came up with:

The jerseys were traffic-cone orange, with school-bus yellow sleeves with orange piping at the end. They had a diagonal yellow sash design (hey, it was the '80s) across the front, on which was overlaid navy "Toros" lettering with a red-orange-red stripe running beneath it.

The backs of the jerseys - to mimic an Arizona sky, Donovan said - were solid blue with a white number inspired by the Montreal Expos' font.

But then the jerseys bled in the warm wash.

"Wherever it was orange, it turned brown," Donovan said.

The red-orange-red sash stripe was turned into a cranberry mess, with the lowest diagonal piece of yellow sash resembling pea soup.

"When they bled," Donovan said, "they were God-awful."

Oh, they didn't need to bleed to be God-awful, Jack. (Pride of ownership.)

When he complained to the manufacturer, Donovan was told by a tailor there that "the different materials used for the sash and jersey shouldn't have been put together." No kidding!

These uniforms are best used in the imagination, so as not to risk burning the retinas. So, every time you picture Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter while tripping LSD, imagine him wearing this uniform to enhance the memory.

And yet, an order for 40 new jerseys (hopefully with colors that won't run) has been placed. It's funny, though. The team had to design updated uniforms by using Google images of Toros baseball cards of the era. Nobody could seem to find an original jersey. How about that!? It's as though someone buried the laundry somewhere in the desert.

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