There’s a good reason we proudly wear our jerseys and baseball shorts to major league, little league, and every other league alike—and it’s not just because it’s stylish. Fans feel a strong connection to the game and to each other through fan apparel. That’s why more than $63 billion was spent on athletic and fan apparel in 2014 alone, and that number is only growing. Whether it’s at home in front of the TV, or in the stands at the field, fans love to show support.
So where did this eternal trend begin, and why? We could just chalk it up to loyalty, but it’s much more than that. The history of fan apparel in baseball is just as interesting as the history of baseball itself. Let’s take a journey back in time to where it all began, nearly 200 years ago. We’ll cover why fans wear what they wear, and look at one of the most popular purchases for fan apparel and team support: baseball shorts.
Introducing the Knickerbockers.
There are multiple speculations on where baseball began, but the most accurate account we have today is the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club. It was 1845 that this club was established, and it’s Alexander Joy Cartwright that would establish the first rules for what we know today as the great American sport of baseball.
While its roots may have had some influence from the sport of cricket, baseball was invented to be precisely unique. Still, the first game was played against a cricket team, but from there it’s good ol’ American baseball history.
So what does that have to do with fan apparel?
Good question! You’re probably familiar with the term knickerbocker, right? It’s the predecessor to the shorts we know today. They surfaced in the early 1900s and were primarily worn by boys for school and sports. Think about that for a second: boys were wearing shorts for sports more than 100 years ago, something we still do today! Sometimes, things don’t change, and it’s for the better.
The names changed a few times before these articles of clothing became shorts, and even became known as knickers at one point; much to the humor of the British, who used the term to refer to women’s underwear. Cheeky.
It all makes sense, of course. Shorts were a part of the baseball uniform as early as 1868, giving them a permanent presence in the baseball scene. The many ways baseball apparel evolved throughout the years placed a huge influence on fan apparel, so it’s worth noting that it all began with what we now call shorts.
Why baseball shorts and jerseys?
Why not capes or stockings instead? Well, some people wear these, too, but that’s not the point. Fans feel closest to their teams when dressed similarly. This applies to style foremost, and patterns and prints secondly. While most people agree the comfort, quality, colors and style of garment matter most, patterns and prints are almost entirely up to the fan.
For instance: baseball shorts are preferred to fit and feel like the traditional sports shorts, and the team colors should represent the team they support. But over the ages, fans have become more and more interested in expressing personal style in their fan gear as well, choosing unique prints and patterns that interest them.
This behavior likely spawned from major league players having some leniency over style and brand preference, allowing them to express their own interests through their choice in cleats, bats, gloves, and other equipment.
You can learn more about baseball shorts and apparel here:
Bringing fans together.
Regardless of the where and how, fan apparel has been bringing fans together for decades. As sports events become increasingly popular in all leagues, the perceived importance of support only continues to rise. There wouldn’t be dozens of stands selling fan apparel outside of stadiums otherwise! But most importantly, the trend follows all leagues—from MLB, to travel teams, to youth baseball.
Wearing sports and fan apparel to games, or even when watching games with friends at home on TV, seems to create an emotional connection. Fans know who other fans are, and are subconsciously excited by seeing other people who root for the same team. It’s become such a large part of baseball game enjoyment that the market for sports apparel, especially in baseball, has skyrocketed over the last decade alone.
This connection is one of the best things to be brought out of fan apparel and baseball shorts. It keeps a positive vibe and promotes confidence for both teams and fans through an unspoken support network encouraged through sports apparel.
The role of baseball shorts and youth baseball.
It’s a similar story for fan apparel and youth baseball, except one major fact: team support is one of the most important factors in youth baseball player growth. Don’t get us wrong—training, practice, and good sportsmanship are all incredibly important. But when a youth team puts everything into those factors and doesn’t see the support at games, it can be disheartening.
Support should definitely go way beyond any fan apparel, but it does help. Seeing fans in the stands wearing team colors as they cheer is a confidence booster for any individual, but youth players especially. For young players, support is more easily seen through actions than supportive words alone. So yes, it’s important to continue to give your youth baseball player supportive talks, but remember to have visible stadium presence as well.
Baseball shorts and fan apparel for youth players has been shown to increase interest and engagement, as well. Time spent off the field in baseball shorts supporting their team or other baseball teams they support provides tangible reminders of the importance of support and sportsmanship. You can never promote those two qualities too soon!
Read more on youth baseball and tips below:
- 5 Life Lessons Learned from Little League Baseball
- The Tryouts Are Coming! Youth Baseball Tryouts Are Coming!
- Youth Baseball Arm Strength Trips and Preventing Injuries
Why do baseball shorts come out on top?
Another great questions. If you simply search ‘baseball fan apparel’ online, you’ll be overwhelmed with your choices: hats, jerseys, t-shirts, socks, shorts, and more. You could likely buy something for every body part with the options available today. So with all these choices, why do adults and youth alike prefer baseball shorts in fan apparel?
There are several good reasons:
The traditional baseball season runs from late spring to early fall, at least with the seasons in the Baltimore area, and is in generally warm weather. Baseball shorts are a fashionable way for fans to show support while also keeping comfort in mind, providing relief from those super-hot days on the field.
They are also one of the fan apparel options that can be both high-quality with a reasonable price tag. Quality jerseys will run you into three digits, but you can get the same quality in comfortable shorts for a surprisingly reasonable price.
Lastly, the variety available in baseball shorts trumps variety in all other fan apparel. Period. We already discussed the importance to fans of being able to express their own style and tastes while supporting their team. Baseball shorts come in many patterns, prints, and colors, giving fans the largest selection. Taking all of these factors into consideration, it’s no surprise baseball shorts are so popular.
Being a fan means showing your colors.
That’s just how history turned out. While it’s fascinating to look at how fan apparel and style evolved, as well as shorts, it really comes as no surprise. Chances are as a baseball fan, you own baseball shorts or other apparel at home you wear to support your team(s) both on and off-season. That’s just how fans do.
And if you don’t, you’re luckily in the right spot to purchase you or your youth baseball player’s first pair. Thank Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf for the internet, the second best invention—next to baseball, of course.
Rock some of the most stylish shorts made for fans.
It’s only natural to want to show your support for your team through your apparel. Sandlot Swag makes that possible, and with the most fashionable patterns and prints available in the Catonsville and Baltimore area! With comfortable sizing available for youth and adults, show your support in style with the season’s latest prints.
We also produce high-quality custom shorts for teams, groups, and other organizations. Custom or ready-to-order baseball shorts make awesome fundraiser opportunities as well, especially for youth or travel teams.
Follow tradition and show off your team spirit with Sandlot Swag youth and adult baseball shorts at your next event! View our up-to-date selection here, and remember: apparel not only shows your support but brings fans together.