The Story of the White Sox Shorts

I’ve never been a fan of the beach blanket style uniforms, but they do have a special place in my heart.  Growing up in Chicago in the 70s and 80s was difficult for baseball starved fans of the White Sox and Cubs.  Neither team could produce any type of winning formula until the summer of 1983.  The 1983 White Sox were the first Chicago team to win a division title since the realignment into divisions in 1969 and they did it in the hideous beach blanket uniforms.  In 1982 the new White Sox uniforms were a fresh new approach to baseball uniforms, but the concept of horizontal stripes and uniform numbers on the pants were already happening in Houston as early as 1975. 

 

During the 1981 season, new Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn decided a uniform change was in store and the fans would supply the design.  A contest was created and 25 year old graphic designer Richard Launius submitted the winning uniform design.  The story behind the uniform design and contest has been told by Paul Lukas of Uniwatch and ESPN.   The ESPN article is available here.

 

Richard Launius and his contest winning uniform

 

The two beach blanket jerseys in my collection are from Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton.  Even though both pitchers are more commonly associated with the Mets and the Phillies, both players fondly remember their time on the South Side of Chicago.  Carlton briefly revived his career in 1986 with the Sox going 4 - 3 with a respectable 3.69 era and Seaver is best known for recording his 300th win in a Sox uniform on August 4, 1985 in Yankee Stadium.  Although both Hall of Famers appeared with the Sox in 1986, they did not spend any time as teammates.  Seaver was traded to the Boston Red Sox on June 28, 1986 and Carlton was signed on August 12, 1986. 

 

 

I purchased the Steve Carlton jersey at auction when Lefty sold off his personal collection.  The jersey included a Carlton signed letter attesting to the authenticity of the jersey.  In that same auction Carlton sold jerseys from all the teams he played for.   Included in that sale was also his 1986 Sox road jersey which has found its way into jersey cards.  I have to believe my jersey is the only remaining Steve Carlton White Sox jersey in existence.  I'm sure it's possible another jersey exists, but the Sox most likely only created one home and road for Carlton since his tenure with the Sox was very brief.  No other Carlton Sox jerseys have appeared on the market since Leaf and Donruss cut up the road jersey for their game worn jersey card sets in 2004 and 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

I've owned my Tom Seaver jersey for about ten years now.  The Seaver jersey is tagged differently from other 1986 White Sox jerseys and is more similar to a 1981 or 82 jersey.  A noted jersey authenticator determined the jersey was likely a replacement in 1986 for a stolen or misplaced jersey.  The jersey size matches other Seaver Sox jerseys and has significant wear.

 

 

Beach Blanket Jersey Bible

 

Strip and manufacturer tagging for the beach blanket jerseys have had subtle changes between 1982 and 1986.  The actual construction of the jersey in 1982 was one piece and a very light weight flimsy polyester.  The first beach blanket jersey I owned was a 1982 LaMarr Hoyt and I couldn't believe how cheap the jersey felt.  In 1983 the constuction of the jersey changed to a heavy polyester and the jersey was sewed together in sections.  The Sox logo center panel and shoulder panels were all separate sections sewed to the white or gray sections.  This type of jersey construction continued through 1986.  During the five year run of the beach blanket jerseys, the Sox used three different shoulder patches; the 1983 All Star Game at Comiskey Park Patch, the 1984 Memorial Patch for Coaches Charlie Lau and Loren Babe and the 1985 Comiskey Park 75th Anniversary Patch.

 

1982

 

The strip tag was a one piece design with year, last name, size and optional letter T, Z or S.  Attached to the strip tag is a small flag tag denoting the set number.

 

 

The Medalist Sand Knit tag was located on the front tail of the jersey.  In 1982 the Medalist name was printed in either black or white without any apparent reason for the difference in color.

 

 

 

The White Sox began wearing the 1983 All Star Game patch following the 1982 All Star Game.

 

 

1983

 

The strip tag was now a two piece design.  The year was denoted first and then one or two star icons were printed.  The size was next followed by an optional letter S, T or Z.  On the second strip tag the players last name was denoted. 

 

Again the Medalist Sand Knit tag was located on the front tail of the jersey.  Also as in 1982 the Medalist name was printed in either black or white without any apparent reason for the difference in color.

 

 

In 1983 the White Sox wore the All Star Patch for the entire season.

 

 

1984

 

In 1984 the strip tag again was in two sections.  The year was denoted first and then one or two star icons were printed.  The size was next followed by an optional letter S, T or Z.  The second tag was again used for the players last name, but in 1984 the name was written on the tag with a black marker.  Many jerseys can be found with the name washed out. 

 

Again the Medalist Sand Knit tag was located on the front tail of the jersey.  Also as in 1982 and 1983 the Medalist name was printed in either black or white without any apparent reason for the difference in color.

 

 

 

In 1984 the White Sox memoralized coaches Lauren Babe and Charlie Lau with this sleeve patch.

 

 

1985

 

In 1985 the strip tag again was in two sections.  The year was denoted first and then one or two star icons were printed.  The size was next followed by an optional letter S, T or Z.  The second tag was again used for the players last name and written on the tag with a black marker.  Many jerseys can be found with the name washed out. 

 

Late in 1985 the strip tag changed for players called up or acquired.  The lettering and numbers changed font and only noted the year, size and player last name.

 

 

At some point during the 1985 season, MacGregor bought the Medalist Sand Knit name and changed the manufacturer tags by adding the MacGregor name.  Both the original Medalist tags and the new MacGregor tags can be found on jerseys from 1985.

 

 

 

For the 1985 season, the White Sox wore a patch commemorating the 75th anniversary of Comiskey Park.

 

 

1986

 

In 1986 the strip tag again was in two sections.  The year was denoted first and then a dash.  The size was next followed by an optional letter S, T or Z.  The second tag was again used for the players last name and was stitched to the tag as was all lettering and numbrers on the previous tag. 

 

Again the MacGregor Sand Knit tag was on the front tail of the jersey.