Quillz

When did the Yankees adopt their number font?

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I was watching Game 7 of the 1960 World Series and the Yankees were clearly not using their current block number font, but a different one (most likely the standard used by the Dodgers and many other teams). I did some image searches for Yankees jerseys from the 1960s and 70s and there was a mixture of block fonts (likely because there are many fakes). So do we know exactly what year the change was made?

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In the early 1960s, the Yankees used a varsity font on the road, with standard block at home.  They stopped this some time around 1966, when they went back to standard block on both uniforms.

 

They switched to the beautiful varsity font they have today with the introduction of doubkeknit uniforms in 1973.

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20 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

In the early 1960s, the Yankees used a varsity font on the road, with standard block at home.

Interesting, I didn't know this. And actually doesn't seem like something the Yanks would have ever done. What is "standard block," though? The one used by the Dodgers, Mets and many other teams? And there are many varsity fonts, any authentic pics from this era?

 

20 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

They switched to the beautiful varsity font they have today with the introduction of doubkeknit uniforms in 1973.

So did any teams before the Yanks use this block font? It's presently used by the Braves, Tigers, and Padres. The Angels used it during the 80s.

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Often times teams wore whatever their manufacturer’s style was, like the Red Sox (and at one time Yankees.. maybe A’s too?) with the McCuallif font that’s become their thing now. It could have just been a manufacturer thing. Now it’s  just the “Red Sox” thing... emulated by Tucson. 

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18 minutes ago, BringBackTheVet said:

Often times teams wore whatever their manufacturer’s style was, like the Red Sox (and at one time Yankees.. maybe A’s too?) with the McCuallif font that’s become their thing now. It could have just been a manufacturer thing. Now it’s  just the “Red Sox” thing... emulated by Tucson. 

A's, Astros, Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Tigers, Brewers, and Reds wore the font at one time or another.

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On 7/8/2019 at 5:04 AM, Quillz said:

What is "standard block," though? The one used by the Dodgers, Mets and many other teams?

 

Yes. The Yankees settled on that font on the early 1950s, and wore it at home through 1972.

 

1-swap12.jpg

 

 

On 7/8/2019 at 5:04 AM, Quillz said:

And there are many varsity fonts, any authentic pics from this era?

 

The road varsity font can be seen in shots from the 1963 and 1964 World Series.

 

 

 

Mantle-road.png

 

On 7/8/2019 at 5:04 AM, Quillz said:

It's [currently] used by the Braves, Tigers, and Padres. The Angels used it during the 80s.

 

I might be wrong on this, but I think the Tigers and Padres use a varsity font that is a little thinner than the one used by the Yankees and Braves. And my impression is that the Yankees' 1960s road varsity font was that slightly thinner one.

 

Compare Ford and Mantle in the above shots to this video of Ford pitching to Mantle during the last Old-Timers' Day at the original Yankee Stadium in 1973 (the only year the Yankees wore a varsity font and doubleknit uniforms in the old Stadium). Both are dressed in the current uniform; while other players appear to be wearing the older uniform, as we see standard block numbers on the catcher and on the runner at second base.

 

 

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On 7/8/2019 at 8:46 AM, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

Yes. The Yankees settled on that font on the early 1950s, and wore it at home through 1972.

 

1-swap12.jpg

 

So much better for the Yanks.

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I'm not sure. The varsity block seems like it's a step above the standard block, and thus more appropriate for the Yankees. They couldn't use the same numbers as the hoi polloi Cardinals, Orioles, White Sox, and Rays, right?

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1 hour ago, Gothamite said:

 

So much better for the Yanks.

 

16 minutes ago, the admiral said:

I'm not sure. The varsity block seems like it's a step above the standard block, and thus more appropriate for the Yankees. They couldn't use the same numbers as the hoi polloi Cardinals, Orioles, White Sox, and Rays, right?

 

Eh, I say that they should split the difference. Maybe a block with serifs and a few slightly different numbers. That brings them a bit close to the Twins, but a different "4" and "5," along with different line lengths on the "6," "7," and "9" would help.

 

DK5CCYh.png

 

Also, varsity block isn't really a "step above," especially the Wilson variety that the Yankees, Tigers, Braves, and formerly Angels and Expos employed. It just looks kind of bulky at times, unlike block standard. 

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I'd be down with that. I guess what I'm getting at is that there's something more formal about serifs on the numbers (or at least a few key ones, not all-out like the Nats or vintage Cowboys) that makes the standard block lacking. I think the square inside corners instead of the octagonal (give or take) ones has something to do with it too -- maybe it looks more "official" because of the connection with football numeral sets, I don't know.

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44 minutes ago, the admiral said:

I'd be down with that. I guess what I'm getting at is that there's something more formal about serifs on the numbers

 

Funny, I have the exact opposite reaction.  The gewgaw serifs make the numbers less formal to my eye.  It’s like a collared shirt - the more pockets, the less formal the shirt is.  And the most formal shirts don’t have any pockets at all.

 

Serifs make the numbers more casual, breaking up the clean elegant lines. 

 

Quote

(or at least a few key ones, not all-out like the Nats or vintage Cowboys) that makes the standard block lacking.

 

That’s the perfect example.  Too much extra clutter, the typographical equivalent of those stupid little pockets on the sleeve of some casual shirts. 

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It could be my association of that number set with football, which is nothing if not regimented and over-official.

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Whether they have serifs or not (and regardless of anyone’s personal opinion on the vibe that is projected by the presence or absence of serifs), it still comes down to the form, proportion, and cohesion with the other numbers in the set.

 

spacer.png

 

Naturally, I have a short list of critiques, but overall, I think the Yankees do pretty well here:

 

The arm of the 3 is a little short, creating too much negative area in the number. The 4 feels a tiny bit too heavy, and the elbow is maybe a touch too stubby. Lastly, I’ve never liked the chamfered inside corner on the ends of the 6 and 9. Despite this being the easiest (sometimes only) way to identify Wilson’s block number set from other manufacturers’ sets, it’s always stood out as very strange and clunky since the other numbers all have square inside corners on pieces like that.

 

spacer.png

 

On these, I would say the same thing about the arm of the 3 and elbow of the 4. I would also point out that the flat bottom of the 2 makes it look too wide, and the slant of the 7 is a little extreme, making it also look quite wide in comparison to the others.

 

The overall aesthetic of these, though, is just not something I’m into, at least not the way it’s employed in MLB. Removing the serifs can add a clean, elegant quality to a number set, but I think that elegance is lost again when all the corners are double chamfered, like you’re taking away one pocket from the formal shirt but adding two more somewhere else. They look very “local screen print shop” to me. That’s not inherently bad if a couple teams are using that look to support the vibe of the brand they’ve built, but it feels a little cheap when so many teams do it.

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25 minutes ago, andrewharrington said:

The overall aesthetic of these, though, is just not something I’m into

Same. I really don't like this font, at all. It's a little nicer when the Royals use it at home since they have a thicker variant (or at least a color-matched outline), but I find them too thin and just don't like how they look. I prefer serifed block fonts.

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2 hours ago, andrewharrington said:

Whether they have serifs or not (and regardless of anyone’s personal opinion on the vibe that is projected by the presence or absence of serifs), it still comes down to the form, proportion, and cohesion with the other numbers in the set.

 

spacer.png

 

Naturally, I have a short list of critiques, but overall, I think the Yankees do pretty well here:

 

The arm of the 3 is a little short, creating too much negative area in the number. The 4 feels a tiny bit too heavy, and the elbow is maybe a touch too stubby. Lastly, I’ve never liked the chamfered inside corner on the ends of the 6 and 9. Despite this being the easiest (sometimes only) way to identify Wilson’s block number set from other manufacturers’ sets, it’s always stood out as very strange and clunky since the other numbers all have square inside corners on pieces like that.

 

Wasn't that pretty common though?  Russell's standard block had the same 6s and 9s (and 4) on their football jerseys forever.

 

Just doing a lookup, it looks like Wilson was inconsistent even within itself.  There's plenty of examples of them using the same 6s, 9s, 4s, and 5s as above, but here's a Wilson Broncos jersey from '92ish that has different 6s and 4s (no manufacturer mark but they made the Broncos from 89-95, either under their own name or "Wilson Staff"... whatever that was.

 

s568872814488652156_p3500_i1_w1100.jpeg

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41 minutes ago, BringBackTheVet said:

 

Wasn't that pretty common though?  Russell's standard block had the same 6s and 9s (and 4) on their football jerseys forever.

 

Just doing a lookup, it looks like Wilson was inconsistent even within itself.  There's plenty of examples of them using the same 6s, 9s, 4s, and 5s as above, but here's a Wilson Broncos jersey from '92ish that has different 6s and 4s (no manufacturer mark but they made the Broncos from 89-95, either under their own name or "Wilson Staff"... whatever that was.

 

s568872814488652156_p3500_i1_w1100.jpeg

 

I associate it with Wilson, but it’s entirely possible that it was originally Russell’s. I’m sure there was a lot of borrowing, possibly also some teams that simply insisted on using the same numerals after a manufacturer change (much the same way we have Nike branded Colts and 49ers jerseys, currently on-field, using Wilson block numbers), and of course, even though manufacturers typically employed a stock block style, they also used other typefaces. Maybe it was era-specific, or maybe it was even some dude at the Broncos who didn’t like the weird 6 and 9, and Wilson made a unique variation for them. I think it would be really interesting to talk to someone who used to work at one of the big players in a previous generation of uniform manufacture.

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21 hours ago, BringBackTheVet said:

 

Wasn't that pretty common though?  Russell's standard block had the same 6s and 9s (and 4) on their football jerseys forever.

 

Just doing a lookup, it looks like Wilson was inconsistent even within itself.  There's plenty of examples of them using the same 6s, 9s, 4s, and 5s as above, but here's a Wilson Broncos jersey from '92ish that has different 6s and 4s (no manufacturer mark but they made the Broncos from 89-95, either under their own name or "Wilson Staff"... whatever that was.

 

s568872814488652156_p3500_i1_w1100.jpeg

Re: Wilson/Staff: That's Wilson's golf division. Don't ask me why they supplied NFL uniforms, though....

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On 7/10/2019 at 3:33 PM, Gothamite said:

 

So much better for the Yanks.

 

I disagree. I really like the standard MLB block, but it doesn't work for all teams. Particularly, it doesn't look right when it's in single color (although it's greatly improved by teams going with the wider version, which is essentially a same-colored outline). The Dodgers need to switch to the thicker version. Anyway, I think that the standard block in single color gets lost on the Yankees jersey. Their varsity block is bolder and a much better choice, particularly with no names competing for space on the back of the jerseys.

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8 hours ago, TheOldRoman said:

although it's greatly improved by teams going with the wider version, which is essentially a same-colored outline

I think the Royals are the only one to do this. Color matched outline at home, white outline on the road. Other teams usually just do a white outline even on their home so it's almost the same as not doing one at all. This is why I like the block font used by the Yanks, Tigers, etc. It's a bit wider.

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