The history of the Boston Red Sox is rich with some of the most successful, colorful, and beloved ballplayers of all time. Even Fenway Park, which opened in 1912, is unique and storied.
Every decade since their inception in 1901 (until 1908, they were known as the Boston Americans, among other names) can boast hall of famers – except when that curse began in the 1920s …
But unlike many historic sports teams, the Red Sox have continuously tweaked their on-field attire.
Team brass long had a love-hate relationship with pinstripes, until fans complained they looked too much like the New York Yankees. They periodically bring back to life long-dead logos, with a twist or two, and the caps were a work in progress for about 60 years.
Notable Uniform Changes
- 1901 – For their first year in the American League, the club is known as the Boston Americans. There is no red in sight, just blue and gray.
- 1908 – All the blue is changed to red, and the “BOSTON” chest lettering is now placed inside a tilted red sock on the front of the uniform. An alternate uniform has a red version of the “BA” of 1902.
- 1909 – The “BOSTON” chest lettering comes back, scrapping the sock design on the front of the uniforms.
- 1910 – The home uniform replaces its lace-up collar with buttons. The away uniform still uses the lace-up collar. This is the last year any big league ball club uses a lace-up collar.
- 1912 – During their first year at Fenway Park, the club rolls out two sets of both home and away uniforms. The first set is largely the same as the previous year, but instead of “BOSTON,” the lettering is “RED SOX.” The second set has a dark sleeve with pinstripes incorporated.
- 1916–1918 – The home uniform is completely white with red socks, and the away uniform has pinstripes, reverting back to the 1912 “second set” uniforms.
- 1919–1929 – On an almost yearly basis, pinstripes appear and disappear on the Red Sox uniforms.
- 1930–1931 – The Red Sox play around with adding the 1908 sock logo on both the left sleeves and ball caps a year later. The caps are white, with a single erect sock, a red bill, and red stripes.
- 1931 – Numbers are added to the uniforms.
- 1933 – The home uniform features “RED SOX” lettering. Red stitching outlining the buttons is added. Caps are switched to a dark blue, with a red “B” in the middle.
- 1946 – The “B” on the cap is switched to an Old English “B” and is outlined in white. A second set of uniforms with a red tinge to the coloring – as opposed to the gray or white – is added.
- 1972 – Blue “BOSTON” lettering replaces “RED SOX” on the away uniforms, and a red collar is added. A second set has red trim around the belt and neckline.
- 1975 – The cap is now red, with a blue bill and a blue “B” with a white outline.
- 1979 – The changed hat is scrapped for the old blue hat, and the road uniform is now gray with blue “BOSTON” lettering.1990 – The blue “BOSTON” lettering on the away uniform is switched to red.
- 2003 – The introduction of an all-red third uniform looks very similar to 2016’s third uniform …
… but has the black piping of this koozie.
2011–2013 – The blue “BOSTON” lettering is back, for three years only, before going back to the red lettering of today.
One myth that won’t die regarding the Red Sox is that, at one time or another, the team was named The Puritans, The Pilgrims, or the Beaneaters.
But this myth has been debunked by both a lack of uniform evidence as well as baseball historian Bill Nowlin’s article “The Boston Pilgrims Never Existed.”
In two modern instances, the Red Sox have been MLB uniform trendsetters.
After breaking the curse of the Bambino in 2004, the Red Sox opened up the 2005 season with gold trim on the lettering and numbers. Since 2005, eight other world championship teams have opened their season with gold-accented uniforms.
Their other sartorial innovation was to don advertisements on both their batting helmets and sleeves when they played their opening day game in Japan in 2008.
While their days of constant uniform tweaks seem to be behind them, the Red Sox will soon update their list of retired uniform numbers.
With eight numbers already retired – 1 (Bobby Doerr), 4 (Joe Cronin), 6 (Johnny Pesky), 8 (Carl Yastrzemski), 9 (Ted Williams), 14 (Jim Rice), 27 (Carlton Fisk), and 45 (Pedro Martinez) – the Red Sox plan to retire 26 this year for Wade Boggs.
In addition, it doesn’t take too much foresight to see numbers 24 (Manny Ramirez) and 34 (David “Big Papi” Ortiz) being retired shortly.