Black and Red (Not White) All Over
April 1, 2009 | Kevin Zdancewicz

  San Diego State

It’s a shame that college baseball receives only sparse national television coverage until mid-June when the College World Series begins in Omaha. The same characteristics that make college football and basketball so exciting and popular are there for college baseball, but for some reason the national spotlight and consequently the national interest have never been. This is disappointing in and of itself for fans who would embrace the sport were it to be featured on a bigger stage throughout the season, but it’s also unfortunate for fans of sports uniforms because it prevents people from surveying the diverse wardrobe on NCAA diamonds across the country. College football and basketball are basically on par with the big four professional sports leagues (yes, I still count the NHL) and with that level comes the perk of exposure via nationally televised games – both for the team and its uniforms. Since NCAA schools have the ability to change uniforms as often as they like and to wear as many alternate jerseys as they want, not to mention the fact that there are lots of institutions, college sports teams are perfect guinea pigs for uniform design. These characteristics carry over to college baseball, where so many unique designs (some good, some bad naturally) go largely unnoticed. 

However, people are getting a glimpse into the arena of college baseball uniforms with the recent reports about baseball’s top pitching prospect in the upcoming MLB draft: San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg. Sports Illustrated recently did a piece on the 102-mph-throwing pitcher and the Washington Post has been keeping tabs on him since the Nationals have the first overall pick in the draft this June. Anyone who has looked into Strasburg has come to find out that the Aztecs have a seemingly endless array of different baseball uniforms. While some are quite garish (bright red and black can do that to you), none quite capture the total package like this week’s featured jersey. Obviously, the reason this uniform is notable is the fact that it pairs a black hat and jersey with black pants – a color-on-color look that few baseball teams employ nowadays. In addition to the colored pants, the featured jersey has some enormous red armpit stains that, along with the bright red socks and belt, just explode like a fireball when paired with the solid black uniform, reminiscent of Texas Tech on the football field.

In a previous column, I mentioned the tendency for softball teams to wear colored pants – a group that includes our very own Virginia Cavaliers. While the major sentiment I get when I see those SD State uniforms is that they kind of look like a softball team, such a look is not unheard of in baseball. The Pittsburgh Pirates were the more egregious offenders of perpetrating the dark pants style, even including a black-on-black look like the Aztecs. The Oakland Athletics (check out the green-on-green in 1973), Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, and San Diego Padres were other colored-pants teams, part of a group with plenty of members in the early 20th Century.

(Update: Add the Philadelphia Phillies the list with an all-maroon look in 1974. Also, here's a more realistic depiction of the Athletics' gold jerseys with gold pants.)

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