The St. Louis Cardinals are known for their sportsmanship and following the unwritten rules of the field. They stick to the fundamentals of the game and create a sea of red in the stands at every game.
But if one thing about the team is transcendent, it is the Cardinals logo. It’s been pretty much untouched since 1920 – except for the late ’50s, when they gave the Cardinal a bat to swing.
Much like their fellow founding members of the National League, the Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals received their present nickname from a local sports writer.
Before the Big Red: The Perfect Browns
Under their first name, the Browns, the St. Louis ball club entered the American Association before switching over to the senior circuit in 1892. A few years later, the team played under a new name – the Perfectos.
The Perfectos wore red-striped stockings and jerseys with a red trim. Willie McHale, with the St. Louis Republic, wrote, “Oh, what a lovely shade of Cardinal.” In 1900, the team name was officially changed from Perfectos to Cardinals.
Twenty years later, the team began using the Cardinal bird as their logo. Over the years, their uniforms remained remarkably consistent, except for a small stretch of wackiness during the late ’70s – powder blue road uniforms. Overall, though, no team in baseball history has kept a stricter adherence to similar home and away kits as the Cardinals.
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Notable Uniform Changes
Cardinals Logo History
- 1900–1919 – The first logo fans associated with the Cardinals: an interlocking STL design.
- 1922–1926 – The team’s second logo features two cardinals that are perched on a baseball bat. The bat is crossed by the word “Cardinals” in red.
- 1927–1928 – The logo shifts to a simpler, red-tinted design of a single cardinal perched on a bat.
- 1929–1948 – The team reverts back to the dual-bird logo that they wore from 1922 to 1926.
- 1949–1955 – The team updates their logo with newly illustrated and colored birds, a light baseball bat with a blue cloud swirl, and a new font. The team’s name and city top it off.
- 1956–1966 – The team personifies the single cardinal logo: The bird begins swinging the bat, possibly a Wiffle ball bat.
- 1967–1997 – The Wiffle bat again hosts the cardinal, where he is neatly perched. But the logo is now within a circle featuring the laces of a baseball. “St. Louis Cardinals” curves around the edge.
- 1998–Present Day – The Cardinals opt for a return to the design that was used from 1922 to 1926 and 1929 to 1948. The design features a more modern illustration with brighter colors and a new font.
Cardinals Uniform History
- 1903 – The team’s first uniform, after changing their name from the Browns, features a prominent collar with four buttons down the front and a block-lettered “St. L”.
- 1909 – Minimalist to the max: The “St. Louis” script is removed from the front, and the script logo is taken off the cap. The gray uniform features a plain, white cap with a red brim, and the “STL” logo on the left sleeve.
- 1919 – A pinstripe pattern appears with the team name printed over it – similar to the design of today’s Phillies. A striped cap is also introduced.
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- 1922 – The plain script “Cardinals” is replaced by the team’s new logo. The pinstripe pattern remains, and the hat is replaced.
- 1927 – As is the tradition of the day, the World Series champions write “World Champions” across their chest, replacing a nickname. The ’27 Cardinals are the first to incorporate the accomplishment into the design of their logo somehow. The Cardinals choose to place their logo inside the looping text “World Champions.” They adorn the left sleeve with a patch.
- 1929 – The Cardinals replace the uniform’s pinstripes with a solid design that features an outlined button line. They add the old logo to the front in place of the previous one.
- 1931 – They swap the city name with the team name.
- 1940 – The city name is changed back to the original logo, the button outlining becomes bolder and longer, and a new cap is used. It displays the “STL” script logo.
- 1955 – The team switches to a new logo with more stoic, detailed cardinals.
- 1956 – The button outlining and logo is removed for a script version of “Cardinals” that’s underlined. A patch is also added back to the left sleeve.
- 1969 – The uniform resembles the modern design with a player’s number appearing below the logo, albeit on a grayer fabric. The hat is similar to today’s cap.
- 1971 – The team ditches the button-down design for a T-shirt pullover. A simple red-on-blue stripe is added to the sleeves and collar.
- 1976 – The powder blue road uniform follows the trend of the late ’70s, and a redesigned cap featuring white stripes on a red base with the “STL” logo is added.
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- 1980 – The players’ numbers are removed from the front of the uniform and placed on the sleeve.
- 1981 – The collar of the uniform is converted to a V-neck.
- 1995 – The powder blue road uniform changes to a gray button-up, which features the return of a button-down look. The red and blue stripes on the sleeves are removed.
- 2000 – The modern home uniform is a plain, white look with the logo and a number below to the left side.
- 2012 – The team incorporates gold lettering to commemorate the 2011 championship season.
- 2013 – The Cardinals unveil a Memorial Day uniform – which is still broken out every year – that uses the traditional gray-road coloring. They opt for camouflage shading on the numbers and the cap and stick with the traditional Cardinals logo.
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- 2013 – The Cardinals also unveil a special throwback uniform, which is a nod to the 1909-1919 design.
- 2013 Cardinals Alternate – The Cardinals announce an alternate uniform, which is another throwback design. Incorporating the 1930s city name idea, it combines modern coloring and clean, red stripes.
Looking Back to Look Forward
With an established pattern of consistent, classic uniforms, no drastic changes seem on the horizon. Perhaps the best bet would be to retire the numbers of some of the past decade’s World Series champions. Yadier Molina comes to mind – whenever he decides to hang it up.
Currently, the 12 retired numbers include the following:
No. 1 – Ozzie Smith
No. 2 – Red Schoendienst
No. 6 – Stan Musial
No. 9 – Enos Slaughter
No. 10 – Tony LaRussa
No. 14 – Ken Boyer
No. 17 – Dizzy Dean
No. 24 – Whitey Herzog
No. 42 – Bruce Sutter
No. 45 – Bob Gibson
No. 85 – August Busch, Jr. (Owner)
RH – Roger Hornsby
JB – Jack Buck (Broadcaster)
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For more history about the Cardinals, or to purchase your own throwback jersey, visit Fanatics.com.