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The history of the Blue Jays’ powder blue jerseys

A comprehensive look at every powder blue jersey worn by the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 to 2020

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It is Jersey Week here at SB Nation (and coincidentally, Uniform Week over at The Athletic) so naturally yours truly has been assigned the thematic post here in Bluebird Banter. Since the Blue Jays are introducing new powder blue jerseys this season (whenever it begins) I think it is a good time to take a look at the history of the times the Jays have donned powder blue.

1977 Road Jerseys

Blue Jays third baseman Doug Rader readies to swing the bat in 1977.
Blue Jays third baseman Doug Rader readies to swing the bat in 1977.
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Doug Rader shows off his #10 on a swing in 1977.
Doug Rader shows off his #10 on a swing in 1977 in Baltimore against the Orioles.
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The Toronto Blue Jays’ inaugural road uniforms were not grey, but powder blue. In 1977, the Jays wore powder blue pullover tops with “TORONTO” on the front written in solid—not split—royal blue lettering in an arch with the Blue Jays logo dead centre. The back of the jersey had royal blue numerals with a white line split with no name above the numerals. The sleeve and neck trims were equal-width bands of royal blue–white–royal blue, which matched the design of the elastic waistbands and pant trim.

That season 22 major league teams wore at least one pullover jersey but the Blue Jays were the only ones to sport a centred graphical logo under their wordmark. Actually, throughout MLB’s pullover jersey era, the Blue Jays were the only team to have that design scheme, which took advantage of the lack of buttons. (The only other team to have a centred element under their wordmark were the 1972 Cubs, who wore centred numerals on the front of their road jerseys. It was moved back to the left side the next season.)

The 1977 road jerseys were made by Rawlings, whose manufacturer's tag were sewn on the inside of the front of the jersey.

1978 Road Jerseys

John Mayberry Sr. takes a swing in the Blue Jays’ 1978 road uniform.
John Mayberry Sr. takes a swing in the Blue Jays’ 1978 road uniform.
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John Mayberry shows off his #10 on a swing in 1978.
John Mayberry Sr. shows off his #10 on a swing in 1978 in Baltimore
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The “original powder blues” only lasted for one season as Toronto switched up the design of their road jersey tops in 1978. The “TORONTO” wordmark on the front was no longer solid royal blue, but featured a thin white outline. the numerals on the back matched, being royal blue with a thin white outline. These would be the last Jays jerseys to not feature split lettering until the 2004 “black Jays” uniform set. Like the 1977 jerseys, the 1978 ones did not have the players’ name on back.

The 1978 road jerseys were also manufactured by Rawlings.

1979, 1981–1983, 1986 Road Jerseys

Danny Ainge #2 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait in circa 1981.
The sweet baby face of Danny Ainge lies above this era of Blue Jays road uniforms. Note the curved L, U, E, and J in the wordmark.
Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Alfredo Griffin (#4) takes a swing in 1979, again in Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.
Alfredo Griffin (#4) takes a swing in 1979 in front of a dugout full of powder blues. The only photos we have rights for that show numerals from 1977 to 1978 were shot in Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium for some reason.
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The road jerseys for the 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1986 were manufactured by Rawlings. For their third season, the team dropped their city name from their road jerseys and replaced it with “BLUE JAYS”. “TORONTO” would not appear again on a Blue Jays jersey until 1989 when the club switched to button-up road greys. The back of these pullovers had no name on back, and white numerals with a royal blue split.

A close look at the “BLUE JAYS” split-lettered wordmark on the front would show that the letters “L”, “U”, “E”, and “J” are gently curved, compared to the Wilson sets below.

1980 Road Jerseys

Alfredo Griffin (#4) takes a swing at Yankee Stadium.
Alfredo Griffin (#4) takes a swing at Yankee Stadium. Note the barely visible lettering above his number.
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The Blue Jays’ 1980 road jerseys were manufactured by Rawlings as well, and were very similar to the set above except that they featured the players’ name on the back. Those appeared with royal blue lettering with a white trim in a typeface that would never be seen again on a Jays jersey, home or away. This set was the only powder blue jerseys that featured a name on back—the next time a name would appear on a road jersey would be in 1989’s button-up road greys.

Unfortunately this is extreme side shot of Alfredo Griffin is the only photo we have rights to that shows the back of the 1980 road set. You can see a mockup of it on Chris Creamer’s Sportslogos.net website and a photo of a Steve Braun jersey here.

1984–1985, 1987–1988 Road Jerseys

Damaso Garcia taking a sprint in 1986. Note the square L, U, E, and J in the wordmark.
Damaso Garcia taking a sprint in 1986.
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988 Blue Jays road jerseys were manufactured by Wilson. These were basically identical to the 1979, 1981–1983, 1986 Rawlings set except for the “BLUE JAYS” wordmark on the front of the pullovers. Note the more square letters “L”, “U”, “E”, and “J” compared to the Rawlings jerseys above. The Wilson set also featured “hidden” fabric-covered waistband snap buttons where as the Rawlings ones above had metal buttons that were painted. A close look at Ainge’s waistband buttons shows the paint having worn off.

2000 Throwback Road Jersey

Unfortunately, we do not have rights to any photos of the Blue Jays’ throwback powder blues they wore on August 11, 2000 at the Metrodome for a game against the Minnesota Twins, who were celebrating their 40th anniversary. Both teams wore 1970s-style uniforms made by Rawlings, with the Blue Jays donning a tribute to their 1977 set.

The first photo of the 2000 throwback jersey in this embedded tweet is a screenshot from David Wells’ video tour of his man cave-cum-personal museum, the second is a scanned photo of Kelvim Escobar from the Toronto Star archives, and the third is the genuine article from 1977.

As I do not have the rights to share the images, you will have to trust me on this. The differences between the throwbacks and the authentics from 1977 were subtle, but present. The most noticeable difference was that the throwbacks had white letters with royal blue splits in the back instead of the reverse, the waistbands featured blue snap buttons even on the white stripe (the 1977 set had white buttons on white), the arm trim is thicker than the original, and the white band of the neck trim is wider than the blue bands on the throwbacks even though the originals had equal widths of all there bands. Also, you can see the Rawlings tag is on the front of Wells’s shirttail rather than the inside. The 2000 Blue Jays also wore their regular caps and helmets instead of the white-paneled versions of the 1970s.

2008–2010 Throwback Home Jerseys

Frank Thomas at bat in 2008 showing off his throwback white-paneled helmet.
Frank Thomas at bat in 2008 showing off his throwback white-paneled helmet.
Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Shaun Marcum’s #28 is in focus here as he delivers a pitch in 2008.
Shaun Marcum’s #28 is in focus here as he delivers a pitch in 2008.
Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

During the dreadful black Jays era, the club brought back a powder blue set as their Friday home game alternates. This would be the first time that the Blue Jays would wear their powder blues at home as well as the first time they would be paired with pants with belt loops and a royal blue belt instead of snap button waistbands. Unlike the throwbacks from 2000, this set was more appropriately paired with the throwback white-panel caps and helmets featuring the original Blue Jays logo.

These jerseys, manufactured by Majestic, are a decent replica of the design of the post-1978 Rawlings-made road variety, complete with the rounded “L”, “U”, “E”, and “J”. The throwbacks included the Major League Baseball silhouette on the back of the neck as well as the Majestic logo on the left sleeve on the jerseys and on the left seat of the pants.

The Blue Jays hired Lloyd Moseby and John Mayberry Sr. to unveil these throwbacks in December 2007, but apparently didn’t prepare The Shaker with talking points. When asked how he liked the uniform from the 1980’s, Moseby was quoted as saying, “The uniform sucked, okay? So we ain’t gonna go there.” After a nervous beat, he found his diplomatic side and added, “‘Course, it was big to put on any uniform.”

2020(?)–? Powder Blue Alternate Jerseys

After some weeks of teasing in January 2020 using the hashtag #NewBlue, the Blue Jays unveiled their newest powder blue alternate uniforms at Winter Fest. According to the club, these will be worn both at home and on the road (whenever games resume).

Like all on-field uniforms across MLB in 2020, this set is manufactured by Nike and it features their trademark swoosh on the right shoulder of the jersey top as well as the left seat of the pants.

Unlike all of Toronto’s previous powder blue sets, these are going to have standard button-up jerseys and not pullovers. They feature “BLUE JAYS” on the front and the primary logo on the left side instead of centred. The jersey back features the players’ name on top of the numerals. The wordmark and the name are in a dark navy blue that was not previously highlighted on recent Jays jerseys—it appeared previously as the colour of the bottom half of the bird head in the logo and the outline of the wordmark of the road greys. The numerals are navy blue with a white split, reminiscent of the 1977 jerseys. The sleeves and pants are trimmed in navy blue–white–navy blue, and is no neck trim.

The MLB silhouette appears twice on the back, one on the neck and the other on the centre belt loop. Whenever games resume, this uniform set will be worn with a new matte navy blue helmet and navy cap with a powder blue brim and squatchee. The caps feature the New Era logo in white on the left side panel.

Powder blue is making a comeback of sorts in the major leagues, with seven teams having a powder blue uniform as part of their set for the 2020 season.

References

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Toronto Blue Jays GameThreads

GameThread Game #152: Blue Jays at Rays

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