Very soon, our winter of discontent will be over. That’s because baseball season is right around the corner. The reawakening of America will begin with the sounds of horsehide slapping leather, the crisp of report a double to the gap off a wooden bat, and a Bob Uecker interview. As pitchers and catchers find their grooves this month and spring training begins in earnest next month, we, the disciples of this most American of games, feel the pull of the ball park, the hope of spring, the dream of a World Series and of course, the team’s look this year — batting practice caps, new uniforms, etc.
OK, maybe that’s just me. But it gives me a good excuse to showcase one of the most important elements of the game — the team logo. I’m a confessed “uniphile,” so I pay a lot of attention to logos. So much attention that I’ve assembled a collection of what I think are the best in professional baseball.
The criteria are, of course, subjective — if I like it, it’s good. If not, it’s bad. So personal taste leads that list, but I also look at how clever the logo is. One of my favorite logos isn’t on the list because it’s not an official logo. I’m talking about the Arizona Diamondbacks sleeve logo (shown at right). The “d” and the “b” combine to make the head of a diamondback rattlesnake. Cool, huh? Works for me. Other criteria include recognizability — is the logo instantly associated with a long-standing or storied team? Does it “feel” like baseball? Whether the team is any good (Cubs, I’m looking at you) doesn’t matter in this case.
So, with that, here’s my list of the best logos in professional baseball (both minor and major leagues). Think I missed one? Let me know in the comments section below.
#13, Burlington Bees: At first, naming a team the “Bees,” doesn’t sound like a good idea. Sure, they sting and all, but you can defend against a bee relatively easy. But when your logo is a buff bee with a snarl and an apparently bad attitude, then your team might have a little swagger. And this logo incorporates an almost natural-looking bee to boot. Strong colors, easy to read.
#12, Savannah Sand Gnats: If bees work, then sand gnats do, too. Savannah gets extra credit for one simple, effective addition. I was given a Sand Gnats hat the first year they played (they were a Dodgers affiliate at the time). The front sported this very cool logo, and on the back was stitched, “Bite Me.” Like the Burlington insect, this one looks like he came to play, not make friends with the preschoolers. The colors are awesome, too.
#11, Lansing Lugnuts: When you call your team the “Lugnuts,” you have to smile. It’s a funny kind of name. Can you imagine being on this team and being interviewed by a local reporter: “So, tell us, Jimmy, what do you and your fellow Lugnuts have in store for us tonight?” Hilarious. So it’s no surprise that the logo makes you smile, too. I love this one. But then again, I used to be a part-time cartoonist. Side note: The ‘Nuts are a Class A club, but their stadium is top-notch. When I took in a game a few years ago, I marveled at the elegance of the park.
#10, Seattle Mariners: It took the Mariners a long time (and a few iterations as a Major League club) to finally get their look right, but when they did, it really worked. Kind of like the NFL’s Denver Broncos. This logo cleverly incorporates the Mariners’ “ocean” colors with a compass rose and a baseball. In case you’re a landlubber, you’ll find a compass rose on a map — or chart, as they are known at sea — that a mariner would use. See? Clever.
#9, Texas Rangers: Usually, I’m not a fan of Texas teams (Cowboys) or their looks (Astros, circa 1970s), but this logo always draws my eye. Simple, expressive, wry, it sums everything that comes to mind when you think of Texas — one big-ass state and a cowboy hat.
#8, Chicago Cubs: Yes, they’re cursed. Yes, they’re lovable. No, they can’t win consistently to save their lives. But they do have a classic logo. It’s simple, bold and says “Chicago baseball.” You really don’t even need to spell “cubs” out in the logo for this one to be recognizable. And the “bull’s-eye” design looks great on the uniform — as well as possibly symbolizing one the team has on its back for more than 100 years.
#7 St. Louis Cardinals: Another classic. The Cards have had the same basic logo for over a century. You can see why — it does everything a logo needs to. It’s instantly recognizable as being representative of a baseball team named the Cardinals. Any questions?
#6, Detroit Tigers: Classic designs show strong in this list, and Detroit is another reason why. This very traditional, old-school logo is bold and elegant. The Tigers have several different variations their logo (and their Old English “D”), but this one is by far the coolest — and fiercest. And the clever little twist of having the tiger coming through the bars of a cage is a very nice touch. I just wish it didn’t remind so much of LSU.
#5, Los Angeles Dodgers: You didn’t really think I’d put together a list that didn’t include the Dodgers, did you? When the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn, they kept the name, and, pretty much, the logo. The cursive “Dodgers” has stood the test of time and remains, with its “LA” cap insignia, one of the most recognizable logos in all of baseball.
#4, New York Yankees: As a die-hard Dodgers fan, I hated to rank the Yankees higher than the Dodgers, but the reality is the Yankees’ “NY” is nearly universal. Remember when we snagged Saddam Hussein in his hidey hole? What was he wearing? A Yankees cap. Yeah, that thing is everywhere. And it hasn’t changed much through the years or the championships. The Yankees definitely believe that nothing succeeds like success.
#3, Carolina Mudcats: Remember when I said personal taste plays a big part in my criteria for a badass logo? This is that time. I love this logo. It screams “Minor League Baseball” (and I mean that in a good way), and perfectly represents the team. The red and black are among the best colors for baseball teams and work perfectly here.
#2, Chattanooga Lookouts: Again, a minor-league team scores a home run (excuse the pun) with a clever, smile-evoking logo. And the eyes work with all elements of the Lookouts’ uniform — cap, jersey, sleeves. Even the stadium cups and scoreboard. This was one of the very first minor-league logos I ever came across and it was an instant favorite. Still is. It appeals to my cartoonist past and the eyes work as an integral part of the “C.” And the red and black combine again to make a killer logo.
#1, Milwaukee Brewers: My all-time favorite baseball logo. Why the current Brewers went away from this logo, I’ll never know. But this logo is the one I always associate with the Brew Crew. It’s the one I remember from the ’70s, sure, but the beauty of this logo — the genius of it — is that the “M” and the “B” form a baseball mitt — with a ball in the pocket. I don’t know who came up with this one, but I hope he got a nice bonus for his effort. Normally, I’m not a fan of blue and yellow as team colors, but this is a case of very bold, primary colors complementing each other and producing an energetic, stylish look.