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A Guide to Dating Early Baseball Uniforms

When considered together as a collective set of information, the below guidelines can be helpful to approximate the era in which an antique baseball uniform was manufactured given common features and trends of the time. There are exceptions to every rule and examples of these exceptions are even found within this collection.

Need some help dating your uniform? Snap a few photos and email me


Bib Front/Shield Front Jerseys

1860s - 1880s - Extremely Rare 

Modeled after firefighter uniforms.

Beware of red examples, and those with numbers, as both these features are fire related. 

Lace-Up Front Jerseys

1880 - 1890s
(also rarely found in early 1900s) - Extremely Rare

Most examples include a full-shirt collar (this example pictured is a rare cadet-style collar)


Button-Up Full Collar Jerseys

1890s - 1915

Women's Uniforms/Dresses:

Baseball & Softball of the 1940s

An exception to the "Full Collar" Uniforms dating from 1890s to 1915.

Often, these jerseys had vibrant colors, wide collars, unique v-neck styles, and numbers and/or advertisting on back

For more photos, click HERE

Visit the official website of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL)


Cadet Collar/Standing Collar Jerseys

1905  - 1915

Suncollar Jerseys

1910s - early 1940s. The common style of the 1920s and 1930s.


Swoop Collar/T-Shirt Collar Jerseys

1930s - Present

With few exceptions this style is almost predominately late 1930s/1940 - Present

Two exceptions to this rule within my collection is Clerks (c.1915) and Paris (c.1920s)

Vertical Team Name on Button Placket

A short-lived trend around 1910.

I have seen examples between 1908 to 1915.


Pull-Over Jersey

The standard style up to and including the 1920s. During the 1920s, full button-up jerseys began appearing along with pull-overs. Pull-over jerseys as a trend were pretty much gone by the 1930s. 

Sleeve Extensions

Commonly used 1890s to 1910s as a way to add warmth during the colder months of the season. Mostly found with full-collar button up shirts. Overall, finding matching sleeve extensions is rare. You'll notice in many jerseys from 1890s to 1910s that the short sleeve hems include slits for these sleeve extensions to attach. 


Team Initials on Sleeves

Patches with team initials on sleeves were common practices during the 1910s and 1920s for higher quality uniforms as an additional expense. Some examples are also known on jerseys prior to 1910. Other style patches (WW1 Flag, WW2 Health, American Legion, etc) also occurred in later years as a trend. 

Numbers on Sleeves

Prior to numbers on the back of jerseys becoming more common practices during the 1930s and 1940s, numbers on sleeves were experimented with during the 1920s and early 1930s given that it was already common to place letters/patches on sleeves during the 1910s and 1920s. Numbers on sleeves was a fairly limited trend and is not often seen. Click HERE for more information.


American Flag Sleeve Patch

In 1917 the Chicago White Sox jerseys sported a near identical patch to this one. Click HERE to see a photo.

If you find a baseball jersey with a flag like this, it may be during this time. 

WW2 Health Sleeve Patch

Major and Minor league teams wore this patch as part of the "Hale America Initiative" to demonstrate support of the war. The patch has several variations (including a similar "FITNESS" patch), and was also worn by college and local baseball teams, as well as by other sport teams (softball, bowling, etc).

A uniform with these style patches definitely dates it to 1942 or shortly after. 


Plain Sleeve Hem

*Sleeve Hems are soft guidelines and many exceptions exist. 

Jersey sleeves from 1900 to 1920 rarely had any trim or ornamentation. Also, plain sleeve hems are found on jerseys from all eras. This photo shows the Morrill and U Penn examples. Two exceptions in this collection are Perez (1910) and LG (1907 - 1910) which have ornamentation hem.

Felt Sleeve Hem

*Sleeve Hems are soft guidelines and many exceptions exist. 

A common practice in the 1920s. Examples in this collection include Naples, SAA, "C," "G." This type of hem was also used in different eras and also commonly absent in other 1920s uniforms. Moth holes are commonly present.


Double Stitched-Through Hem

*Sleeve Hems are soft guidelines and many exceptions exist. 

A common practice in the 1930s. You'll notice that a stitch-line runs through the narrow piping/trim so the stitches are present (it's not just a line of trim like the 1920s "S"/"P"). Examples in this collection include all of the 1930s examples shown: CC, Dalton, Grover-Hereford, and "S"

Numbers on Back of Jerseys

This was not really a common practice until the 1940s. It occurred occasionally during the 1930s and seldom in the 1920s or prior. 


Mother of Pearl Buttons on Jerseys

Generally Pre-1925/1930

Buttons on pants are more variable and don't always use this guideline. Often metal buttons were used from many eras for pants. 

Plastic Buttons on Jerseys

Generally Post 1925/1930

Buttons on pants are more variable and don't always use this guideline. Often metal buttons were used from many eras for pants.


Full Button Down:

Squared Shirt Tails

This is a soft guideline but squared bottom shirt tails are generally pre-1930 and earlier than rounded. However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule, and this guideline is more of a consideration then an actual rule. 

Full Button Down:

Rounded Shirt Tails

Also a soft guideline. A common feature starting in the 1930s with some examples seen in the 1920s.  However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule, and this guideline is more of a consideration then an actual rule. 


Sponsor/Advertising on Back of Jerseys

Rare prior to 1920 with increasing popularity in the 1930s and 1940s by town teams to sponsor/fund their uniforms. This example is from the Early 1930s "CC" uniform.

Zipper Jerseys

A trend starting in the late 1930s and continuing into the 1960s. Most often, zipper jerseys are from the early 1940s when they were the most popular


Shiny Pipping Over Felt Pipping

Piping that is shinny, made of 3 lines, with a wide color in the middle and matching smaller piping on the outsides was a common trend beginning in the late 1930s/1940s and continuing through the 1950s and 60s. This piping style is often seen on the swoop/T-shirt collar jersey neckline and button placket, hats, and pant trim. 

On this jersey pictured, the middle color is silver, with navy blue on the outsides.

Quilted Pants



Single Narrow Belt Loops

Common Prior to 1920

Tunnel Belt Loops

Common after 1920. Examples include multiple short loops and sometimes just one long tunnel loop. Earlier examples in the 1920s typically had slits on the sides so that the tunnel loop was internal. In the 1930s abnd 1940s and beyond the tunnel loops were additional patches sewn onto the back of the waist band like seen here in the photo.

An exception to this rule in this collection includes Saxons "S"


Cloth Waist Band

A soft guideline but plain material without elastic is Pre-1930. The absence of elastic does not make it pre-1930 automatically

Elastic Waist Band Lines

A common feature starting around 1930 but not always present. This is a soft guideline.


Full Stocking Socks

Generally Pre-1920

Stirrup Socks

Some examples in 1920s and became common by the 1930s


Makers Tags

For the quintessential manufacturer tag database, please click HERE to visit Joe Kirschner's site

Embroidered/Printed Size Tag

Prior to 1930, embroidered/printed size tags on jerseys and pants were pretty much non-existent. The presence of these tags began in the 1930s and were common by the 1940s. If you see size tag, assume post-1930 in general.


Large Tags with Blank Space/Lines

This was a brief trend by some manufactures around 1900. Often, you could write in the name of the manager, team, or size. 

Uniform Material

This is a tricky one. I've seen thick and thin wool, flannel and cotton all across the ages from 1890s to 1950s.

By the 1950s wool/flannel/cotton blends that were much thinner were common. Linen and burlap-like material, although rare, was used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Satin was commonly used in the 1940s and 50s. Polyester and other similar materials were introduced in the 1970s and common in the 1980s.


Dodge Davis Flannel

DD was a flannel manufacturer that supplied material to smaller sports equipment companies who made uniforms. I was not able to find dates on the company, but these tags began appearing on some uniforms in the late 1930s and are commonly found on uniforms from the 1940s and 1950s, and maybe even into the 1960s. 


Like Dodge Davis, Pepperell fabrics also made material and supplied to small sporting goods companies (Like Empire, pictured here) who used them to make uniforms in the 1940s and 1950s.


Satin Uniforms

A trend of the 1940s and 1950s

Commonly used by Women's teams. Often in vivid colors. Full button down jerseys with suncollar and swoop/t-shirt collars were common

19th Century Caps/Hats

Caps of the 1800s often did not mirror caps of the 20th century. "Pill Box" style caps, star-tops, and other interesting styles were used.

Click HERE for more information from the National Baseball Hall of Fame


Short Brim/Small Bill Caps

Common 1900 - 1920s

For more examples, please visit the Caps section of this website. 

Also, for more information about early baseball caps, please visit this great link by clicking HERE

Silk-lined Baseball Caps

19th Century and Early 1900s. 

Rare, but found on some higher end caps, and those made in the 1800s. Pictured here is the underside of the "D" short brim cap from the early 1900s in this collection


Wide/Large Brim Caps

Common starting in the 1930s

For more examples, please visit the Caps section of this website. 

Also, for more information about early baseball caps, please visit this great link by clicking HERE

Uniform Dating Guide: Collection
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