Ah, Opening Day. Two words that summon all the promise of spring. With the start of the baseball season upon us, it’s time to pick our favorites. Not who’s going to win the Series or even a pennant. Our favorite team logos.
It’s a tight contest among the A.L. East logos, but the division leader is the Baltimore Orioles. Look at that smiling, confident face. No Angry Birds here. It’s a kid-friendly invitation to come out and play, to have a good time in the park with friends. Hey, it’s a game, remember?
In the A.L. Central, the winner is the Kansas City Royals, whose golden-crowned icon pays homage to the old Kansas City Kings of the Negro Leagues. The “KC” is rendered in an elegant if somewhat predictable linkage, while “Royals” is set in the classic script-with-a-swoosh-underline treatment popularized by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Totally classy.
The West goes by default to the Los Angeles Angels. A lofty, chiseled capital “A” with little spikes on either side—another classic flourish of baseball lettering, reminiscent of 19th century circus-poster typography—with a halo on top. A simple, symmetrical mark for the City of Angels.
A.L. Wild Cards
Love ’em or hate ’em, the New York Yankees must be respected. That famous “NY” is a thing of beauty. No wonder: It was designed in 1877 by Louis C. Tiffany, not for the baseball team but as part of a special medal for an NYPD officer slain in the line of duty. The official Yankees logo dates from the late Forties and reflects a postwar celebratory confidence and optimism. Uncle Sam’s own top hat propped on a baseball bat suits the swagger of the winning-est team in the game.
As for the Boston Red Sox, who names a team after the color of its hosiery? That would never fly in a focus group. But there’s something about a pair of socks as a logo that speaks to the way baseball both humbles and ennobles a player. The best hitters in the game fail much more often than they succeed. So they get up the next day, put their socks on one at a time, and try again. That’s life.
In the East division of the Senior Circuit, the Washington Nationals win. (Full disclosure: Yours truly is a native Washingtonian.) Yes, the “curly W” looks like it came straight from Walgreens Pharmacy. But its asymmetrical, buoyant simplicity reminds us that these are grown men playing a child’s game. And so it recalls childhood joys—squiggly icing on a cupcake, dripping ice cream—and links them with grownup pleasures: beer foaming over a cup’s edge, all those voluptuous curves (even if swung at and missed). It’s like the sports version of Julie Chicago’s Dinner Party.
In the N.L. Central, the St. Louis Cardinals must be recognized. A simplified rendering of a redbird on a baseball-bat perch may seem an obvious move. And the capital “C” borrowed from Coca-Cola? Let’s call that nostalgic. In fact, the whole thing has a kind of outsider-art vibe that feels genuine and unpretentious.
In the N.L. West, it’s no contest: the Los Angeles Dodgers in a sweep. When the ball club left Brooklyn in 1958, it had the good sense to retain both the team name and the quirky, scripty logotype with the long-tail underline. In the move, the logotype acquired its slant and a flying baseball was added—representing the flight west?—complete with comic-book speed lines. Nice!
N.L. Wild Cards
While the Philadelphia Phillies labor under perhaps the silliest name in any sport—and only clowns should wear red pinstripes—the logo is strong, sensible, and specific to the team’s city. The typography isn’t going to win any awards, but the shape, the Liberty Bell, and the color scheme clearly say “America’s Pastime.”
Last but not least—not anymore—the Chicago Cubs. Introduced in 1979, this current Cubs logo is an evolution of a nearly 100-year-old treatment involving “ubs” placed within a capital “C.” It’s solid. Powerful. Bright. Clean. Self-contained and self-assured. With a logo like that, this really could be the Cubs’ year.
Spring is the best season for dreaming.