Saint Patricks Day uniforms
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Origins Of MLB’s Green Saint Patrick’s Day Uniforms

During the tireless and endless days of Spring Training, one day stands out from all the rest for Major League Baseball. It adds depth to these almost meaningless practice games and it’s fun for players and fans alike. On March 17th, MLB teams display green Saint Patrick’s Day uniforms. Believe it or not, there’s a little bit of history from the occasion.

Many people think the Cincinnati Reds were the first to use these oddly colored uniforms in 1978. But in reality, the first to use these uniforms on Saint Patrick’s day was the Philadelphia Phillies all the way back in 1899. The only difference, the team unveiled it on Saint Patrick’s Day as a commemoration of the holiday but went on to wear it for the rest of the season. It wasn’t just a one-day thing.

Other teams after sported green in their uniforms. The Cubs had some green in their road uniforms in 1918 as well as the ’37 Dodgers. The A’s were the first real team to prominently display green for good in their constant color scheme starting in 1963.

Back in 1978, the Reds were the first to popularize it for one day. But they hardly even promoted it. They took batting practice in their normal Red uniforms and didn’t even tell fans about it prior. Only the team’s front office knew what was going on. The was only at the start of game time when the green jerseys were sported by Cincinnati.

I’m not wearing that. I’m Venezuelan, not Irish.” -Reds Shortstop Dave Concepcion.

It did get the ball rolling though. Although nobody did it in ’79, the Astros followed suit sporting the green unis on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1980. The Phillies caught on in 1986, and then slowly but surely, the rest of the league added the green for the holiday. The trend has even set off things like the Chicago White Sox wearing green uniforms on September 17th which is “halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day.”

Interestingly enough, Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw embraced his Irish roots in 1977. He went all the way on this holiday, dying his uniform green. When he tried taking the mound that day, the umpire told him it wouldn’t fly.

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