Most New York baseball fans know the Mets’ team colors derive from the city’s two previous National League clubs—blue from the Dodgers and orange from the Giants. But while that explains the Mets’ chromatic lineage, here’s a trickier question: Why were the Dodgers and Giants wearing blue and orange in the first place?
For no particular reason, as it turns out. And that’s not surprising—in baseball’s early days, team colors often had less to do with aesthetic choices than with which fabrics were being offered at a discount by the local sporting goods manufacturer. In fact, the Giants went through over a dozen uni designs, most grounded in either red or blue, before arriving at orange and black in 1947. Likewise, Dem Bums didn’t start wearing Dodger blue until 1938, and had actually worn green the previous season. So the Mets could easily have inherited another color palette altogether.
The Dodgers and Giants aren’t the only teams with surprisingly varied color histories. It’s hard to imagine the Pirates, for example, wearing anything but black and gold (just like Pittsburgh’s other sports teams), but they actually wore navy and red for the franchise’s first half-century, not switching to their current color scheme until 1948. Similarly, the Phillies were primarily navy-based until 1950.
Of course, some clubs, like the Reds and Red Sox, essentially have their colors chosen for them by virtue of their team names. And others, like the Cardinals, Orioles, and Blue Jays, have their colors dictated by ornithological considerations. (Uni Watch confesses a fondness for any analysis involving the word ornithological.) And then there are the Brewers, who actually went to spring training in 1970 as the Seattle Pilots but were sold and moved to Milwaukee a week before Opening Day. With no time to order new uniforms, team officials had to remove the Pilot logos and insignia from the existing unis and replace them with hastily created Brewer graphics. But the Pilots’ blue-and-gold trim was left on the sleeves and pants, and these have remained the Brew Crew’s hues for most of the team’s history.
As for the Mets, their colors honor more than just the Giants and Dodgers. Unbeknownst to most, blue and orange are also the official colors of New York City, which means that on at least one level, the Amazin’s are more NYC’s team than the Dodgers or Giants—or, for that matter, the Yankees—ever were.