Uni Watch Power Rankings: The Best Orange Uniforms
A definitive ranking of uniforms in the definitive autumn color.
We have reached the part of the year — late October into early November — that I tend to think of as the Orange Period. It’s a time of jack-o’-lanterns and blazing autumn foliage, of pumpkin pies and candied yams, of candy corn and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers. Even the orange-tinged sunset is arriving earlier than usual now that the clocks have fallen back again.
The uni-verse has embraced orange, too. On Oct. 30, the NFL’s Chicago Bears wore their new orange helmets and orange socks. The next day, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns got into the Halloween spirit with a very orange-centric uni matchup. And it’s not surprising that the data-analysis site FiveThirtyEight recently observed that orange-clad college football teams have been doing particularly well lately.
All of which got me thinking: What are the all-time best orange uniforms?
This article is one observer’s attempt to answer that question. As you may recall, we did something similar back in March, when we ushered in St. Patrick’s Day by looking at the all-time best green uniforms. But orange is trickier than green — it’s a much bolder, louder color, and I’ve long thought that it works best as a secondary or accent tone, not as a team’s primary hue.
As I looked through the uni-verse, however, I found plenty of excellent orange designs that made the grade. Before we get to my countdown of the top 20, here are some ground rules and caveats:
In order for a uniform to qualify for this list, orange had to be its primary non-white color.
Sorry, Clemson fans: Uni Watch’s longtime aversion to purple, even as an accent color, kept your favorite team out of the rankings.
After much internal debate, the Uni Watch executive council has determined that burnt orange is not the same thing as orange. So no Texas Longhorns uniforms on this list either.
Although some teams have had multiple examples of orange excellence in their uniform history, I decided that no team or school could be listed more than once.
Okay, ready to dive into the deep end of the orange pool? Here are my picks for the top 20 orange uniforms, counting down from No. 20 to the top spot.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers, 1983-1987
Yes, it’s an almost naïvely simple design, but there’s something about the Cavs’ ball/net uni that’s always appealed to me. Definitely better than the updated version they currently wear, not least because it’s orange.
19. Virginia Cavaliers
Orange is well-represented throughout UVa’s athletics program, but the field hockey team gets the nod here because their orange uniforms really pop against the blue surface at Turf Field. (And yes, I realize how odd it is that the first two teams on this list are both called the Cavaliers.)
18. Baltimore Orioles, 1971-1972
This alternate uni, which was worn for a few games in 1971 and ’72, is actually pretty dreadful, but I’m including it on the list for its sheer audacity. But the best thing about this uniform is that it was supplied to the Orioles by third baseman Brooks Robinson, who had his own sporting goods store at the time. As a result, when Robinson himself wore this uni, he became possibly the only player in MLB history to wear a uniform with his name and caricature on the inner tagging! (For more photos and info, look here and here.)