The Detroit Tigers began as a squad in 1894 and became one of the founding members of the new American League in 1901. They are one of the four original AL crews that have remained in their original city. The “Tigers” name comes from the yellow and black striped stockings the players wore in the 1890s.
An Old English–style “D” for “Detroit” has marked the left chest of the Tigers’ home uniform for the majority of the team’s history. This Detroit logo was first adopted by the Detroit Free Press in the 1830s. Ironically, neither the Tigers nor the Free Press has stuck with a single form of the letter.
The Tigers are the only Major League Baseball team to use a color on the road uniform – orange – that isn’t shared on the home uniform. The road jerseys generally have “Detroit” written across the front center.
The team is known for electing to wear normal jerseys rather than batting-practice uniforms during spring training, keeping the historic brand image strong.
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- 1901–1902: Outline of a red tiger.
- 1903: Brown block letter “D”.
- 1904: “D” is changed to an Old English–style font.
- 1905–1907: The logo is recolored navy blue.
- 1908–1913: The “D” design is slightly modified.
- 1914–1915: The logo is redesigned, becoming wider over the years.
- 1916: The team switches to a simple block letter “D” in the same dark navy color.
- 1917: The Old English “D” makes a return in a newly trimmed form.
- 1918–1920: A new logo is unveiled which seems to cross the traditional block letter “D” with the Old English–style font.
- 1921–1924: The Old English “D” returns – perhaps a bit taller?
- 1925: The “D” loses a line down the middle.
- 1926: The line returns.
- 1927–1928: Logo changes to an orange tiger head with white eyes.
- 1929: Old English “D” returns with a highlighted orange border.
- 1930: Logo loses the orange border.
- 1931–1933: Block letter “D” returns with sharpened edges.
- 1934–1956: Logo reverts to an Old English “D” – similar to 1930.
- 1957–1960: The logo becomes a tiger head, which is forward-facing and in mid-yell.
- 1961–1963: The tiger head logo is made smaller and enclosed in a black border with the team’s city and nickname.
- 1964–1993: Everything that was black or dark brown is now blue.
- 1994–2005: Logo becomes an orange tiger prowling through an Old English letter “D”.
- 2006–2015: The classic Old English “D” returns.
- 2016: Old English “D” becomes sleeker, losing a vertical line and gaining horizontal accents.
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Notable Uniform Changes
1903: The uniform gets a front pocket with a block letter “D” on it. The team is still wearing red.
1905: A dark navy, Old English letter “D” appears on the three-quarter-sleeve jerseys. The cap also receives the matching logo.
1918: The Tigers add pinstripes to the uniform and the Old English “D” is modified.
1927: The team’s cap receives an orange, Old English letter “D.” A tiger head replaces the “D” on the left breast of the jersey.
1928: At home, the Tigers wear a jersey similar to their iconic road uniforms, but without the blue piping. The road jerseys receive an orange, off-center lettering of the Tigers nickname across their midsection. Both the home and away uniforms move the big cat logo to the back of the jerseys, forgoing numbers.
1931: Pinstripes are added to the road uniform, and the city name is added in orange lettering across the front.
1945: The pocket is removed from the home uniform, and the iconic Old English “D” is placed on the front. This is the uniform and logo that everyone raves about: NBC Sports called it the greatest, most iconic uniform of all time – even better than the Yankees and Dodgers uniforms.
1959: Pinstripes are removed from the road uniforms and “Detroit” is scripted across the front in solid blue, without the previous orange trim.
1960: The home uniforms replace the “D” logo with the Tigers nickname and a swoosh design extending from below the letter “S.” Numbers are added to the left midsection of the uniform.
1968: The team scraps the “Detroit” script on the road uniforms, replacing it with block lettering.
1977: The Tigers opt for a T-shirt–style road jersey with a V-neck and orange and blue trim.
1984: The home uniforms return to the 1945 look, with blue piping and the iconic “D” logo, as the Tigers win the World Series.
1991: The road uniforms return to a button-down style but still no belt.
1994: The road cap gets an orange bill with the old tiger logo.
1998: The road jersey receives the traditional “Detroit” script with orange and white trim, while the road cap changes to solid blue.
2000: A navy jersey with orange lettering and trim is worn on the road. It features a commemorative patch celebrating the first season at Comerica Park.
2012: The Tigers honor the Detroit Stars of the Negro Leagues with throwback uniforms.
2013: The Tigers use special “Tigres” uniforms for select games to celebrate their Latin heritage.
2015: Another throwback uniform: It honors the 1945 World Series squad and features a commemorative patch.
2016: This is a traditional home uniform resembling the 1945-1984 look, with blue trim and a scripted “D” on both the jersey and cap.
Looking Back to Look Forward
The Tigers seem to have realized that it doesn’t get much better than their iconic home white uniform with dark navy accents and a complicated yet historic-looking logo.
They may continue tweaking their road jerseys for years to come or keep working on the perfect Tiger design.
But we bet that any upcoming changes to the Tiger uniform will be in the retired number department. The Tigers have an odd history with retired numbers, after all.
Nos. 2, 5, 6, 11, 16, and 23 are retired for Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, Sparky Anderson, Hal Newhouser, and Willie Horton respectively. That’s just six – the smallest amount of retired numbers for any original MLB team.
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Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann, Heinie Manush, Hughie Jennings, Sam Crawford, Mickey Cochrane, and George Kell had all played before uniform numbers were used. They all have their names on the Comerica Park wall.
Many have called for Lou Whitaker’s No. 1, Alan Trammell’s No. 3, and Jack Morris’s No. 47 to be added to the retired list – but they’ve been yelling for years, to no avail.
Perhaps, if those greats never make it, the likes of legends Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander will.
Show off your love and support for the #Tigers and head over to Fanatics.com to grab your official gear – past or present.