Powder Blue Revival
April 29, 2010 | Kevin Zdancewicz

  KC Royals Powder Blues

We’ve talked about the topic of powder blue baseball uniforms before in this column as one of the few instances of a team replacing the standard gray jerseys and pants on the road. Eleven MLB teams used powder blue road uniforms for varying lengths of time mostly in the 1970’s and 80’s. The Royals were one of those teams, rocking the powder blues for nineteen years and becoming one of the last two teams to drop it after the 1991 season (The other was the Montreal Expos). They were also one of the teams that made it look good. I think this has to do with the royal blue hats that played really well off the lighter shade of blue of the jerseys and pants. Last season, Kansas City introduced a powder blue alternate jersey (without matching pants) as a throwback-inspired tribute to their classic look. I really liked this as well, especially the way the white numbers and player names pop off the front and back of the jersey and the overall look with royal blue socks showing.

But the Royals have taken it to another level with the new powder blue hat for 2010 to go with the alternate jersey and shown in the feature photo. As far as I can tell, this is the first instance of a powder blue base color (crown or bill) for an official MLB hat. When I first saw it on its own, I actually said out loud, “That’s a sweet hat.” While I still think it looks great independent of the rest of the uniform, when paired with the powder blue jersey, it’s a bit too much in my opinion. I think the Royals would be better off sticking with their regular royal blue hat with the powder blue jersey as they did last year (and still do on offense since the team just uses its regular helmets with the alternates). The problem is I don’t know that there’s another uniform combination that Kansas City has that the powder blue hat would work with either. Maybe the royal blue jersey, but there aren’t any powder blue elements on it to tie the two together. It seems that this solid hat just doesn’t have a place in the Royals uniform set right now.

Now, if you follow MLB uniforms closely, you may recall that the Tampa Bay Rays had light blue bills on their batting practice hats in 2009. You could argue that this is actually the first case of a powder blue base color on an MLB hat, but I would disagree because the Rays hats are technically light blue and I don’t consider BP hats as official game hats. Regardless, one of the Rays’ two BP hats this year takes it up a notch with a light blue crown and bill combination. The emergence of light blue (which has been used as an accent on their game hat since their redesign in 2008) for Tampa Bay is most evident in a light blue alternate jersey new for 2010. I think this one looks solid and that the darker navy works a little better with light blue than the Kansas City alternate combo of royal and powder.

The topic of powder or light blue jerseys in baseball wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Toronto Blue Jays who wear a powder blue throwback to their 1979 season for Friday home games. (Toronto was also the first team to have a powder or light blue accent in their hat logo, though not for the entire crown or bill). The throwbacks were introduced last season and get props for a nearly-complete look (especially the hats), but lose points because of the fact that no one wears their pants up with late-70’s-era stirrups. A true throwback should replicate even the sock stylings of the time, but with players wearing “pajama pants” that drape over their cleats and being unwilling to change even on rare occasions, the overall look feels incomplete.

The fact that three teams wear powder or light blue jerseys after an absence of sixteen years could indicate a developing trend, similar to the black revolution across sports in the last fifteen or so years. While it might seem difficult for most teams to integrate powder blue into their uniforms, it didn’t stop some from trying in the past. It might just mean more teams wearing powder blue throwbacks for a single game, which – as long as they try to imitate the entire feel of the original – would be cool to see.

Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com