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Green: Throwbacks bring fun to games (Nov. 18)

Mary Green | Sunday, November 17, 2013

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, my favorite game of the year occurred yesterday: the day the Steelers don their striped throwback uniforms.
I’m not a Steelers fan; I just love games when teams “go retro,” as my dad would say. They remind us of years past, of glorious or not-so-glorious times in an organization’s history. No matter how good a team was, at least its uniform looked good or looked so bad that it started to look good.
Now, without further ado, I present my definitive list of the best throwback uniforms in professional sports.

Houston Astros
Obviously this is included on the list, falling into the so-bad-it-looks-good category. This is the jersey that comes to mind whenever I think “throwback.” The stripes across the front come in an array of sunshine-like colors that make the Astros look like promoters of Starbursts or Fanta, and the font of the team’s name screams 1960s. Throw in the white pants with the awkwardly large number on the top of the right leg, and you can picture Nolan Ryan winding up to deliver a 100-miles-per-hour strike down the middle.
I was disappointed when the Astros decided to go in a cleaner, more streamlined direction with their newest uniform design, but credit to them for paying homage to the glory days of sports fashion with the noteworthy stripes along the side of their current batting practice jerseys.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Next is the NFL’s best retro look, the creamsicle-colored unis debuted by the team in its first season, when it set a league record by finishing 0-14. While the color was a universally flattering hue that looked good on people of all shapes and sizes, especially 300-pound linemen, it was far from the best part of the uniform.
That distinction belongs to the Bucs’ helmet, with the flirtatious Bucco Bruce in the center. But seriously, the pirate is winking, clenching a sword between his teeth and wearing hat with a huge feather. Without a doubt, he is the most suave mascot in history, worthy of a spot on my list and a place in my heart.

New England Patriots
Speaking of characters on helmets, the Pats certainly bring a good runner-up to the discussion. Nothing says “American” more than a colonial soldier hiking a football. The picture is probably a recreation of how the colonists celebrated Christmas in 1776 after they crossed the Delaware and surprised the Hessians in Trenton, so historical accuracy certainly comes into play in my rankings. Even more, this uniform’s colors are more distinctly patriotic with red, white and blue than New England’s current look of red, silver and blue.

Anything from Pittsburgh
The Steel City knows how to rock the retro. The aforementioned Steelers take the No. 1 design with their striped yellow and black jerseys, complete with numbers that look like pieces of white paper taped onto the front. Throw in the matching striped socks, and you have quite the bumblebee-esque design.
The Pirates also chose to wear the signature stripes on the diamond, but theirs are found on their early-1900s bucket hats. This is the best use of Victorian-era headgear in all of sports, furthering Pittsburgh’s claim on the title of “best-dressed teams from one city,” as determined by me.
Last come the Penguins and their ’90s sweater featuring the triangularly-shaped bird. Before the Pens turned flashy and replaced yellow with gold, they wore the marigold shade that has made its mark on all of Pittsburgh’s teams, so it is only right that a city that coordinates its looks as well as Pittsburgh does earns a spot on the list.

Just for kicks and giggles, I would like to see David Stern mandate a league-wide day in which all teams are required to wear the infamous short shorts. No luck so far, but a girl can hope, right?

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu
    The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.