Vintage History

Like many of the clothes we wear today, the original BASEBALL JACKET too has a long history and have evolved from a more traditional product.

However, while we call them Baseball Jackets, they were originally known as Letterman’s Jackets or Award Jackets.

As you may remember in a previous article, University and Sport’s Teams first introduced athletic wear in the mid 1800’s with the use of color matching shirts and pants, eventually carrying their team colors as well as team logos and names.

By the 1890’s, we saw the birth of Athletic Sweaters, which were worn by team players, also reflecting the colors, names and logos of the team. You see them sold today in vintage stores as VINTAGE LETTERMAN SWEATERS. These sweaters, were worn with a sense of pride by team players reflecting their team spirit and consequently someone came up with the idea to place the “Letter” of the team name on the sweaters and give the sweaters as awards to the players. This continued until the early 1900’s.

In the early 1900’s, the Letterman’s Jacket appeared. In addition to the traditional leather sleeves and the wool body of the jackets, some of the earlier models included leather which ran from the sleeves over the shoulder portion of the jackets as well. In the 1930’s the “Letter” award started to appear on these jackets, just as they had on the Athletic Sweaters before.

In the 1950’s a Company called Phoenix Lettering started embroidering “Chenille” labels on these Sweaters and Jackets. This technique is actually the raised three dimensional lettering found on traditional Letterman’s Jackets. The Students name was sewn on the left pocket, the year of graduation on the right pocket and on the right sleeve, the sport or activity that was earned by the wearer. The team player always had the varsity “Letter” sewn on the left chest, over the heart, to show loyalty to the team. To find traditional designed “Letterman’s” Jackets today, you can look for these features.

These Jacket styles have evolved over time to become what today we popularly know as Nylon Baseball Jackets. While, these are primarily commercial products, promoting the name of a product or a Company or a team, they follow the style and cutting found in some of the more traditional leather and wool baseball jackets.