Dating baseball photos by uniform style

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Early that season, Alfred Lawson, manager of the Reading (Pennsylvania) Red Roses of the Atlantic League, decided to number his clubs uniforms.

While rumor has it that uniform numbers were first used in the 19th century, the earliest verified instance in which a team experimented with numbering its players occurred in 1907.

However, a few small details were universal to the design of baseball jerseys. By 1914, every team in the major league wore the collarless shirt.

Although no major league baseball teams existed in Vermont, it is likely that team uniforms followed the design trends of the major leagues.

Today nearly every major league club uses jersey-front numbers on their home or road uniform.

In 1940, the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League wore numbers on their uniform pants, but the style did not appear in the major leagues until the Astros wore numbers on the front left hip of their pants from 1975 through 1978.

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Ballplayer in Uniform, 1920s-1940s: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and Vermont Historical Society Although the style of the uniforms in the image below are quite similar to the uniform above, the cap and shoes indicate a later date that is probably around the 1950s.The earliest photographic evidence of the use of uniform numbers comes from a 1909 Chicago Daily News picture of pitching great Jos Mendez.A legendary Cuban ballplayer, Mendez was a member of the inaugural class of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.In the photograph, Mendez is seen in his Cuban Stars uniform with a number 12 on his left sleeve.Inspired by hockeys and footballs use of uniform numbers, the Cleveland Indians became the first big league club to experiment with numbered uniforms when they took the field at League Park in Cleveland, on June 26, 1916, donning large numerals on their left sleeves. Louis Cardinals manager Branch Rickey added uniform numbers to the sleeves of his players.

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