There is one criterion for uniforms on this list: They make you say, “Why would a team do that?” Limited to the pros because grownups should know better, enjoy offerings from baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer and, er, lacrosse. (One was too good to ignore.) Presented in approximately chronological order, here’s to uniforms that dared to be different to a disturbing degree.
1912 Montreal Canadiens: With 24 Stanley Cups, Montreal is one of the most successful franchises in sports history. Yet they stay humble. Witness their decision to wear this as a throwback.
1916 New York Giants: “Let the Yankees have their precious pinstripes. They pale before mighty Giant plaid!” (HORRIBLE SILENCE) “Sneak off to California, shall we?”
1926 Duluth Eskimos: Based in Duluth, Minnesota, this team ceased to exist in 1927 and yes, that is an igloo on the uniform.
1929 Green Bay Packers: Colors to use in the Green Bay Packers uniform… green, maybe? This Packers throwback gets bonus points for the brown helmets, making it look like someone took a shit on Notre Dame.
1949 Derby County FC: “Hi there. We won the FA Cup in 1946. You can’t see my nipples yet, but give us another season.”
1969 Seattle Pilots: One season in Seattle. So many questionable design choices.
1972 Memphis Tams: The ABA in general produced unexpected uniforms, but special props to the Tams, formerly the New Orleans Buccaneers and the Memphis Pros and later the Memphis Sounds, who were becoming the Baltimore Claws when they ceased to exist. (In under a decade!) Sadly, the Grizzlies failed to fit all of this on the throwback.
1976 Chicago White Sox: “By next season, every team will be wearing shorts! Right, guys? Guys?”
1978 Vancouver Canucks: A flying V in honor of Vancouver, with a choice of colors that established them as the San Diego Padres on ice and in group shots made them look like the weirdest graduating class ever.
1978 Colorado Caribous: Look closely at the guys in the front row. Yes, they do have a fringe on their shirts that falls right above their midriffs. Way ahead of their time (or any time), this North American Soccer League team lasted only one season.
1981 AC Milan: Thanks to a questionable choice of sponsor, their players could be heckled, “You’ve got Pooh on you!” And they couldn’t say a damn thing about it.
1994 Scunthorpe F.C.: Yes, their chests do read “PLEASURE ISLAND.”
1995 Vancouver Grizzlies: Greg Anthony: “Man, can you believe they’re making us wear this shit?” Bryant Reeves: “Can you believe they drafted me?”
2003 Dallas Stars: This alternate jersey features a Zodiac sign, which fans helpfully pointed out looked less like a bull than a uterus.
2004-2015 Minnesota Swarm: Uniforms that make players look like bees are always a fine choice—love you, throwback Steelers!—but this National Lacrosse League team was still something special. They’re leaving for Georgia, but Minnesota will never forget their delicious honeycomb shoulders.
2005 Detroit Pistons: Ah, sweet double lightning bolt. After all, Pistons make lightning! (Quick visit to HowStuffWorks.com…) No, they don’t. Bill Laimbeer and the rest of the Bad Boys are not pleased.
2007 Charlotte Bobcats: NASCAR Night. Vroom, vroom!
2009 Seattle Seahawks: Finally, a uniform equally useful for playing football or riding a bike at night.
2012 Recreativo F.C.: The polka dots inspired protests by fans of the Spanish club. Hilariously, the designer’s entire defense was that their contract only allowed them 10 days to work and they had to turn in something.
The 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates: According to 1999’s “Turn Ahead the Clock” promotion, this is Pittsburgh’s—and America’s—future. And suddenly a Trump presidency makes a lot of sense.
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