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Who Has the Best Uniform Numbers?


BallWonk

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Watching the Nats squander another chance to win a ballgame last night, I was reminded how much I really like the Astros jersey numbers. They're so clear and easy to read at a distance, and being proportionally taller than the average baseball jersey number they make better use of the space on the back of the uniform. I dig how the gold bevels of the Nationals numbers look up close or when considering the uniform sort of as a static work of art, but in use and from any distance the Nats numbers are decidedly mediocre.

I'm also a big fan of the Cubs numbers, as well as the maroon-era Phillies numbers. Something about uniform thickness sans-serif numbers that share a common ancestor with Helvetica really works for me. Of course, Helvetica and its cousins are pretty much the acme of readability in large-scale letter forms, so from the purely utilitarian aspect of things those numbers probably are the best out there. Nonetheless, the odd shapes of the Red Sox numbers also work well, from a readability standpoint, better in my opinion than your average varsity or block numbers. Yet some teams do use varsity or block numbers to good effect in a way that complements the rest of the jersey -- for me, the Twins and SF Giants are perfect examples of this.

So, anyway, what jersey number fonts do others think are the best, either in terms of static uniform-as-art aesthetics or in terms of utilitarian the-fans-can-read-these practicality? Anyone think any teams have numbers that maybe could work better if they were used differently in terms of colors, outlines, other uniform elements, etc.? I'm curious what folks here think about the specifics of what makes for good jersey numbers.

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Watching the Nats squander another chance to win a ballgame last night, I was reminded how much I really like the Astros jersey numbers. They're so clear and easy to read at a distance, and being proportionally taller than the average baseball jersey number they make better use of the space on the back of the uniform. I dig how the gold bevels of the Nationals numbers look up close or when considering the uniform sort of as a static work of art, but in use and from any distance the Nats numbers are decidedly mediocre.

I'm also a big fan of the Cubs numbers, as well as the maroon-era Phillies numbers. Something about uniform thickness sans-serif numbers that share a common ancestor with Helvetica really works for me. Of course, Helvetica and its cousins are pretty much the acme of readability in large-scale letter forms, so from the purely utilitarian aspect of things those numbers probably are the best out there. Nonetheless, the odd shapes of the Red Sox numbers also work well, from a readability standpoint, better in my opinion than your average varsity or block numbers. Yet some teams do use varsity or block numbers to good effect in a way that complements the rest of the jersey -- for me, the Twins and SF Giants are perfect examples of this.

So, anyway, what jersey number fonts do others think are the best, either in terms of static uniform-as-art aesthetics or in terms of utilitarian the-fans-can-read-these practicality? Anyone think any teams have numbers that maybe could work better if they were used differently in terms of colors, outlines, other uniform elements, etc.? I'm curious what folks here think about the specifics of what makes for good jersey numbers.

Personally, I prefer the standard block numbers worn by the Orioles. I've never understood the Nationals decision to go wtih a very sleek, sans-serif wordmark and those clunky, super serif "we're the 1960s Dallas Cowboys" numbers.

The beveling is just doing something because you can. The Potomac Nationals actually look better than the parent team, because they don't use it.

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You can't really go wrong w/ block numbers, but if we were to consider them the default choice, the best custom numerals on a jersey are probably the rounded numerals of either the cubs or bears, which are both clear and entirely legible while still being distinctive. I am biased of course, but I'm not a big fan of ornate fonts like the brewers or futuristic fonts like the titans, or silly fonts like the t-wolves or the diamondbacks.

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I'm partial to the Cubs, but that's just likely homerism...

If I had to go outside my home team, I'd go:

1) Pirates

2) Red Sox

3) Giants

The Pirates are amongst the best. A high school near here is the Crookston (MN) Pirates, and used to use some of their their stuff (including numbers) for their baseball team, and I was always a big fan. They've recently gone modern, and it's a huge downgrade, IMHO. The Red Sox are timeless; and I really like how the Giants use block, but have changed it up just a bit.

Moose

edit - 1000th post! :woot:

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You can't really go wrong w/ block numbers, but if we were to consider them the default choice, the best custom numerals on a jersey are probably the rounded numerals of either the cubs or bears, which are both clear and entirely legible while still being distinctive. I am biased of course, but I'm not a big fan of ornate fonts like the brewers or futuristic fonts like the titans, or silly fonts like the t-wolves or the diamondbacks.

I'm biased as well (against the Bears and Cubs), but am forced to agree.

Block letters are best. Hands-down. The Yankees, Dodgers, Packers, New York Football Giants, Jets, etc all have great number sets. Also teams which use modified block, like the SF Giants.

For teams which use a non-block font, simple and solid works best. The Bears and Cubs among them. A pleasing vertical/horizontal balance. Not the silly italics the Steelers use, which ruin an otherwise great look.

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For purely aesthetic reasons, I have to love the Pirates and Red Sox. The Pirates have a kind of "smack you in the face" kind of uniform-as-art thing going (aside from the obvious exception of the uniform-as-condiment vests) that I've always loved. And the Red Sox numbers are just different enough to make you go "hey, those numbers are kind of interesting." I also pretty much love everything the Giants do with their uniforms, numbers included. (Aside there, of course, from putting Barry Bonds in one.) And a bit of homerism that feels to me like personal taste, but will probably come off as TOTAL homerism to most people here... I have a soft spot for the multi-outlined numbers on both of the Indians' white uniforms (though I'm well aware that's a minority opinion.)

And for readability, you just can't beat the Cubs numbers, IMO.

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Personally, I prefer the standard block numbers worn by the Orioles. I've never understood the Nationals decision to go wtih a very sleek, sans-serif wordmark and those clunky, super serif "we're the 1960s Dallas Cowboys" numbers.

The beveling is just doing something because you can. The Potomac Nationals actually look better than the parent team, because they don't use it.

I have to agree with the P-Nats comment. Slightly off topic, but I also like the way the P-Nats execute their wordmark, it's similar to the W-Nats, but just seems to look cleaner:

pMLB2-2983042dt.jpg

For comparison's sake, the W-Nats jersey:

pMLB2-1777386dt.jpg

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I really like the Red Sox numbers.

They are very legible (legibility should be every team's priority). I like that they are block, but the little nub on the end of the 2, 3 and 7 (also found on 5, 6 and 9) is unique, but subtle. I also like the slope of the #7.

531248210_df7f4d8a70.jpg

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My favorite uniform numbers belong to the Carolina Hurricanes.

1378650730064224050S200x200Q85.jpg

Bold, super easy to read and italicized for that added implied action. None better.

I also love the Rangers drop shadowed numbers and can't understand why more teams don't use them.

2212098150100337552S200x200Q85.jpg

For strictly pure fun, nothing tops the Manitoba Moose.

2037771140049069130S200x200Q85.jpg

Antlers? You have got to be kidding me! Brilliant!

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I feel like I should have given credit also to the Toledo Mudhens:

toledomudhens_1955_78003.gif

For an excellent custom number font. Highly readable, yet also distinctive and perfectly integrated into the rest of the jersey. Get that team some decent caps and they'd be among the 10 best-dressed baseball teams at any level, and the numbers are a big part of the success of their look.

As well as to the Cincinnati Reds, whose new number font may be the best custom job in a long time.

Italic numbers of any kind are, for me, a disqualifier for the whole uniform. Italic numbers don't convey a sense of motion; they convey the designer's failure to understand the difference between the job of the uniform and the job of the player.

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As well as to the Cincinnati Reds, whose new number font may be the best custom job in a long time.

Oh, definitely this slipped by me too in my reply. I definitely should have mentioned this the same way I mentioned the Red Sox numbers... just different enough to make you say "huh... those are neat."

I feel like I should have given credit also to the Toledo Mudhens:

For an excellent custom number font. Highly readable, yet also distinctive and perfectly integrated into the rest of the jersey. Get that team some decent caps and they'd be among the 10 best-dressed baseball teams at any level, and the numbers are a big part of the success of their look.

Ooooh, and I feel the complete opposite about this. I'm not a big fan of their number font, but I like what they're going for there. And I DO so love the T-swinging hen hat.

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I also love the Rangers drop shadowed numbers and can't understand why more teams don't use them.

2212098150100337552S200x200Q85.jpg

The Rangers numbers are very hard to read from the press box. That's probably why more teams don't use them.

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I'm a big fan of the red sox's numerals, they're very sharp while still holding some antiquity that represents the franchise well. I like the Padres numerals some, and the jacksonville jaguars as well. It's just hard to look intimidating if you're number is in "halloween" or "joker" font.

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