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At Aaron Judge's urging, the Yankees have gone retro with their road jerseys

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge prides himself as an old-school New York Yankee, and now he has a road uniform to match.

His suggestion three years ago led to the team jettisoning the away jerseys used for the past half-century in favor of a return to retro, without the white piping instituted during a bleak period in the early 1970s. Wearing the traditional outfit, New York started a major league-best 26-11 on the road this year.

When the Yankees played the Chicago White Sox in the initial Field of Dreams game in August 2021 at Dyersville, Iowa, Major League Baseball outfitted the teams in throwback attire based on 1919 styles. Judge loved the look and mentioned it to Rob Cucuzza, the Yankees' home clubhouse manager since 1998.

“I really just asked: `Could we wear it as an alternate? I like the look of it, the feel of it,'” Judge recalled. “I didn’t expect for it to be our away jerseys.”

After three years of discussion internally and with MLB, the Yankees scrapped the road threads in use since 1973 in favor of the style worn from 1931-72, a period of 17 World Series titles.

"I thought it was really cool,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who supported the shift. “They looked really good there coming out of the cornfields.”

Starting play as the New York Highlanders in 1903, the team was renamed the Yankees in 1913. “New York” first appeared across the chest of road jerseys in 1911, and pinstripes were added to the away shirts for 1916 and '17, then removed for 1918 when the sleeves were adorned with red, white and blue stripes. The familiar version has been in place since 1919, except when “Yankees” replaced “New York” on the chest for 1927-30.

The home design of pinstripes with the interlocking “NY” on the left side of the chest — created by Tiffany & Co. for a New York Police Department Medal of Valor in 1877 — didn’t stick for good until 1936, two years after Babe Ruth's final season in the Bronx.

Embracing tradition and rejecting innovation, the Yankees along with the Oakland Athletics are the only teams not to launch the outré Nike City Connect jerseys other clubs have rolled out since 2021.

New York's road jerseys had only minor modifications such as spacing until 1973, when white piping was added around the letters and numbers, and also to the sleeve cuffs. According to Marty Appel, then the team’s director of public relations, the change occurred in conjunction with the switch from flannel uniforms to double knit.

In Iowa, Cucuzza asked Judge what he thought of the throwbacks.

“He says, ‘This is what we should be wearing,’” Cucuzza remembered. “I said, ’Well, if you’re serious, I’ll have a sample made up. It needs ownership approval, and we’ll see where it goes.'"

Cucuzza called the representative he deals with at Fanatics, which produces uniforms with Nike, and gave the sample to owner Hal Steinbrenner when they spoke in the Yankees clubhouse.

“He said we can get back more to how things looked in the ’60s, the Mickey Mantle days,” Steinbrenner explained. “And at the same time, they never liked the cuffs. They never liked the cuffs. Some of these guys, like Stanton, for instance, don’t wear anything underneath and it’s a little abrasive."

Steinbrenner discussed the change with team president Randy Levine, chief operating officer Lonn Trost and general manager Brian Cashman, then gave the go-ahead.

“It wasn’t a major change, which you can tell from the City Connect jerseys we are not a fan of,” Trost said. “This seemed to be something in line of maintaining the Yankee jersey, the Yankee look.”

New York worked from the autumn of 2022 through the spring of 2023 with Major League Baseball’s global design department and Authentic Collection group, which coordinates with Nike and Fanatics. The old-style jerseys, in a Vapor Premier fabric rather than flannel, debuted for this season’s March 28 opener at Houston.

For the first half of the season, New York has been playing like the Yankees of old.

“I liked their old jerseys with the white piping,” Judge said, “but this gives a good old-school look.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press