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Evolution of baseball style

Have you ever noticed how Phillies players wear their uniforms isn't always uniform? The differences are subtle, but still noteworthy.

Have you ever noticed how Phillies players wear their uniforms isn't always uniform?

The differences are subtle, but still noteworthy.

Warning to baseball purists: No, this has nothing to do with what happens on the field.

But cut us a break. We style watchers can't help but pick up on these tiny nods to player individualism and speculate over what they might reveal about a player. For instance, Cole Hamels wears what appears to be an inexpensive titanium necklace around his neck, which purportedly has energy-balancing properties that help reduce stress and fatigue. (Note to self: Get one of these to wear to the office.)

I'm also thinking of the way pitcher Joe Blanton wears his uniform pants pushed up around knees, vintage-style. (Pitcher Roy Oswalt sometimes does this, too. I think they look way better down, but that's just me.) I'm also thinking of Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz who lets his trousers hang down under his cleats. Does he actually push his cleats through the bottom of his pants leg to hold them secure? Or do they just fall that way naturally?

Other vagaries have more to do with evolution than anything else. Take my favorite player, first baseman Ryan Howard, who's known for wearing his uniform full and loose over his 6-4 frame. The blowsy way he wears his uniform calls to mind a modern, hip-hop aesthetic, although it really could just as easily be a throwback nod back to when players of yesteryear supersized their game-day gear. It's easy to forget how early Phillies uniforms, such as the 1940s- and 1950s-era road uniforms, were a whole lot roomier than the close-fitting ones we got used to seeing in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Once they were big and billowy and when polyester was introduced in the early 1970s, that's when uniforms began to be more tailored," explained Lynn Bloom, Mitchell & Ness' manager of authentic jerseys. "And in the '90s, that's when they began to get more baggy again. In this decade, we're seeing a little bit of everything. Like Ryan Howard wears it very baggy but then there are traditionalists out there who wear it very fitted like they used to."

To each his own, at least a little bit.

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