August 17th, 2016

Home Run: Palette Inspiration from MLB Team Colors


The race to the World Series is currently in full swing (pun totally intended). I admittedly don’t follow much in the world of professional sports, but my friend excitedly announced this weekend that her beloved Texas Rangers are currently near the top of the standings and had just beat the current champion, the Kansas City Royals.

I really only watch baseball when I’m at her house and she has a Rangers game on, but I’m always struck by two questions: how are MLB team colors chosen? And, why do so many teams share a few basic colors? Once I laid eyes on the Glidden MLB Team Colors paints, I became even more intrigued. I think I may have come up with the answers to those questions, and the answers may actually surprise (and inspire) you.


Question 1: How are MLB team colors chosen?

There are a lot of rules in the MLB about how team uniforms should look — no images of baseballs, exposed undershirts must all be matching colors (except for pitchers), and no glass buttons or polished metal. All of these rules make sense to me, but I find it interesting that there is no rule about what sort of colors teams can wear.

In the early days of baseball, teams typically wore uniforms in white and grey (white was for home and grey was for away since it hid the dirt of several road games). However, the advent of color television had a big impact on sports teams who were suddenly brought into fans’ homes. Between color television and the advent of synthetic fabrics, the MLB started seeing a lot of color variation in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Although, I don’t know this for an absolute fact, one would assume that there is a lot of research, graphic design and focus groups who help determine a team’s colors in this day and age. When the MLB brings expansion teams into the mix, there are many professionals who help determine the color palette. I also assume that popular color choices of the time heavily influence that decision. The official colors of the Colorado Rockies and the Florida (now Miami) Marlins, both of whom entered the MLB in 1993, should be proof of that, as their colors were purple and teal respectively definitely trendy colors in the 90s!


Colorado Rockies MLB Team Colors


I also have a feeling that many team colors are chosen based on the area the team is from. For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks feature earthy colors, such as ADB Black, ADB Red, and ADB Sand, which gives a nod to Arizona’s desert feel. The previously mentioned Texas Rangers are TR Blue and TR Red, which is a nod to the state’s iconic red, white and blue flag.


Arizona Diamondbacks MLB Team Colors


Question 2: Why do so many teams share a few basic colors?

As I was looking at the MLB Team Colors, I was really struck by how many shared a common theme. Variations of black, navy blue and grey are woven throughout many uniforms.

But why? Well, just like in interior design, black, navy and grey are neutral, grounding colors. These colors allow you to use bolder hues in the mix — hello Miami Marlins — and still be able to tone it down with a grounding color. Graphic designers and interior designers alike embrace this principle, which is evident in the line up (another baseball pun!) of MLB Team Colors.


Miami Marlins MLB Team Colors


Question 3: Why does it matter to me?

As I mentioned, I don’t really follow baseball. However, I can learn a lot about colors and the way they work together from the hard work that professional graphic designers have put into choosing them.

Let’s take a look at the Seattle Mariners. Bright green is one of my favorite colors, but it is difficult to throw into a room. I have featured it in my own home on an accent wall and on a few pieces of furniture, but it takes a bold vision to use it in a bigger way. However, Seattle’s SMM Green paired with SMM Silver and SMM Navy magically makes it a gorgeous choice that is grounded by the darker, more neutral colors. In fact, I think this combination of colors would give a traditional room a modern update while still holding true to traditional lines of architecture and furnishings.


Seattle Mariners MLB Team Colors


Looking back at Miami’s logo above, the MM Black definitely tones down the bright MM Blue, MM Orange and MM Yellow. It gives the eye a place to rest among the explosion of color.

If you are in the process of selecting a new color palette for a room or a project, let the professionals do the hard work! Find a color that you love and research how it fits into professional logos and color schemes. I think you will be surprised at what you may find.

And don’t forget to check out Glidden MLB Team Colors paints for your baseball fan — you CAN use your fan’s favorite team colors while keeping to basic color principles at the same time.

Baseball image via Andrew Malone. Busch Stadium image via Francisco Diez; under the Creative Commons license.


This post is sponsored by Glidden® paint, a PPG brand. All thoughts, opinions and paintbrushes are my own.

Categories: Color, Inspiration