Yankee Stadium in 2000. Credit: Getty Images

Green was the first thing that caught the eye and captured the imagination at Yankee Stadium. For generations, and possibly still today, the bright and pristine yards and yards of green grass created even more of a first impression than the upper deck, the monuments or the art-deco frieze.

“When I first told someone about seeing the expanse of green in the outfield as one walked up the ramps at Yankee Stadium before the whole field was exposed, I thought I was being brilliantly literate. Now, it seems that everyone has that same memory,” said author and historian Marty Appel, a lifelong fan who became the Yankees’ public relations director and executive producer of their telecasts.

The background to that shared experience, he said, was that Baby Boomers grew up watching games on black-and-white television, with only rare glimpses of vividness from baseball cards and magazine photos. So, with the first glimpse in person, the color stood out.

It still does, in many ways. Baseball expresses itself — for better or worse — in colors as much as numbers, words and emotions. Sometimes they all come together.

Jay Goldberg’s multimedia project, “The Memory of America: Remember Your First Baseball Game” is bursting with hues. For instance, here is how Robert Pinsky recalled his first visit to Ebbets Field in 1950: “In the middle of the city, you’re suddenly in the country. Everything is green. The uniforms were so beautiful and crisp white, and the Dodger blue in that beautiful Dodgers script."

Donna Cohen shared this with Goldberg about her first trip to Fenway Park in 1965: “We got our popcorn, we walked down the dungeon, which is the cellar area, and then all of a sudden it was like The Wizard of Oz, going from black-and-white to beautiful green grass, an amazing blue sky, and we marched ourselves right down to the fifth row.”

The Green Monster of Fenway Park in Boston. Credit: Newsday/David L. Pokress

Most modern baseball teams now have alternate colorful jerseys. The sport’s DNA is written in color: team names (Reds, Browns, Grays, Red Sox, White Sox), icons (the Green Monster), nicknames (“Red” and “Whitey”). Even the nightmares are color-coded: one of the most notorious scandals (“Black Sox”) and its most regrettable scourge (“whites only”).

There have been players named Blue, Brown, Black, White, Green, Rose, Yellow and Lavender.

All of this adds up to this year’s edition of Newsday’s Baseball 101, an annual seminar on the game through one particular lens, using 101 examples. In the past, we have presented 101 “firsts,” 101 great nicknames, 101 memorable numbers, 101 notable replacements and 101 duos. For 2023, it is the 101 Colors of Baseball.

“Color speaks a secret language that our generation hears as white noise, an indistinct hum that we decipher unconsciously,” John Thorn, official historian for Major League Baseball, wrote in an article, “The Color of Baseball.”

Thorn pointed out that the original baseball uniform-wearers, members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York, were mostly firemen who shared a pride in wearing the same shade of clothing as their comrades. Blasts of color have been with the game from the start. Thorn wrote that the Chicago White Stockings of 1876 wore “skullcaps of different colors by position played (in what a reporter termed ‘a Dutch bed of tulips’).”

Nearly a century later, the sport was upended by a colorful revolution as Kansas City A’s owner Charlie Finley introduced green and gold uniforms. In the book “Winning Ugly: A Visual History of the Most Bizarre Baseball Uniforms Ever Worn,’’ Todd Radom wrote, “Finley unleashed a plan that shook the colorless world of baseball to its core, propelling it into the jet age and changing the look of the game for always and forever.”

A person can be changed forever at the sight of a ballgame, and usually it’s the colors that get you right here. As Scott Green told Goldberg of his first experience of Yankee Stadium in 1961: “I remember looking on the field and it’s not like I hadn’t seen grass before, but this isn’t what it looked like on television. I mean television was gray and fuzzy and everything was gray and a little darker gray. Oh, my God, it’s green. Look at the dirt, it’s brown. The sky is blue. I mean, you couldn’t beat this.”

101 Colors on the Baseball Spectrum

Baseball is and always has been a vivid sport, with different shades painting its beauties, quirks and flaws. Newsday’s Baseball 101 seminar this year looks at the game through that prism. 

1. Green. It always has been sort of the unofficial color of baseball. It has, after all, covered the majority of every playing surface going back to Elysian Fields (Hoboken, New Jersey) in 1846.

In today’s game, though, green is not just underfoot, it is everywhere. Green, as in the color of money. Sure, the word is metaphorical because hardly any actual cash changes hands these days, but you can’t help but get the idea.

More than $4.8 billion was spent by ballclubs on free agents this past offseason, according to Spotrac — $360 million to Aaron Judge alone. Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Los Angeles Times last fall that baseball’s gross revenue for 2022 was just shy of $11 billion. Forbes reports that multiyear TV contracts are worth $12.24 billion. And all of that doesn’t count how much money baseball generates in now-legal gambling.

Among the colors of baseball, green bats leadoff and cleanup. It is the starter and the closer.

2. The Green Monster. The imposing and inviting 37-foot, 2-inch leftfield wall at Fenway Park. Built to prevent people in a Lansdowne Street building from getting free peeks into the game, it took on its current character in 1947. That was when advertisements were scraped off and the fence was painted green to match the rest of Fenway.

3. Red Stitches, White Baseball . . . You can’t play the game without one.

Brooklyn's Jackie Robinson, left, and Cleveland's Larry Dob at Ebbets Field in 1950. Credit: AP

4. “Whites Only.” Baseball’s biggest blight. The unwritten yet relentlessly enacted rule before the color line was broken in 1947 by Jackie Robinson and later that season by Larry Doby. Both ultimately made the Hall of Fame. In 2020, Major League Baseball officially declared the Negro Leagues from 1920-48 to be major leagues. All of their statistics are now MLB stats.

5. St. Louis Brown Stockings. Established in 1882, the name later was shortened to Browns, then switched to Perfectos and in 1900 changed permanently to Cardinals. In 1902, when the American League’s Milwaukee Brewers moved to St. Louis, they took on “Browns.”

6. Boston Red Sox. Boston’s National League team stopped wearing red stockings in 1907, and the city’s American League team immediately picked up that fashion statement — and the team nickname.

7. Cincinnati Reds. The first professional baseball team, it originally was called Red Stockings because of its uniform. The club was banished from the National League for selling beer at games, then took refuge in the American Association, adopted “Reds” and retained it when it returned to the NL, according to mlb.com. Briefly called “Redlegs” during the 1950s when the term “Reds” was associated with communism.

8. Chicago White Sox. Owner Charles Comiskey was granted approval to move the St. Paul team for the start of the American League in 1900. The National League stipulated that “Chicago” could not be used on the new club’s uniform, so Comiskey appropriated the popular name once used and abandoned by the city’s NL franchise.

9. Black Sox Scandal. Name given to the controversy surrounding the 1919 World Series. Eight White Sox players were accused of conspiring with gamblers to intentionally lose to the Reds. All eight were later acquitted in court but remained banned for life from baseball. The scandal was the inspiration for the book “Eight Men Out” and the movie “Field of Dreams.”

10. Pink bats. They are now used by many players on Mother’s Day for breast cancer awareness.

11. Dodger blue. It was not part of Brooklyn’s uniform in 1937. Socks, caps and trim all were Kelly green, according to “Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide” by Marc Okkonen.

12. Yankee red. It was actually a thing in 1910, with red stripes on the socks and red bills on the caps. The interlocking NY, which debuted that season, also was in red on the cap.

13. Navy blue jerseys and pants (and white belts). Comprised the Yankees road uniforms in 1904 and 1906.

14. “All the fans are true to the orange and blue.” A lyric from “Meet the Mets,” alluding to the way the club blended the New York Giants’ orange trim and Brooklyn Dodgers’ blue.

15. “Rhapsody in Orange and Blue.” Mashup of “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Meet the Mets” performed by concert pianist Sara Davis Buechner in 2015.

16. Greenies. The nickname for pills that supposedly boosted energy for ballplayers. Made famous by Jim Bouton in his groundbreaking book “Ball Four.”

17. Gray uniforms on the road, white at home. The norm for most of the 20th century. Most teams now have alternate-color jerseys.

18. Powder blue. Replaced road gray for numerous teams, beginning with the White Sox in 1964.

19. Toronto Blue Jays. Many voters in a name-the-team contest suggested “Blues,” but organization officials noted that the nickname was being used by Toronto University.

20. Gold and green uniforms. They were considered revolutionary when they were introduced by the Kansas City A’s in 1963. The white spikes were added in 1966, and when the franchise shifted to Oakland in 1968, Reggie Jackson become a fashionable model.

21. Yankee Stadium transformation. The pricetag was $1 million for the work done before the 1967 season. The tan concrete exterior was painted white. The seats, which had been green, all were painted blue.

22. Augusta Green Jackets. Atlanta’s Class A affiliate, named for the prize sports jacket awarded to the champion of the Masters golf tournament in the team’s city.

Josh Gibson starred for the Piitsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays in the Negro Leagues. Although credited with 165 home runs by official MLB stats, his Hall of Fame plaque says he "hit almost 800 home runs in league and independent baseball." Credit: AP

23. Homestead Grays. Seven-time Negro National League champion and three-time Negro League World Series champion. Notable players were Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell and Buck Leonard.

24. White bases, foul lines and batters' boxes. Chalk ’em up.

25. First baseball game televised in color. It was broadcast by WCBS-TV on Aug. 11, 1951, between Boston and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. (Winning pitcher: Brooklyn’s Ralph Branca. Losing pitcher: Warren Spahn.)

26. Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Marlins’ Class AA affiliate.

27. Vida Blue. Won both the Cy Young Award and MVP with the A’s in 1971.

28. Blue Moon Odom. Also an A’s starter in the 1970s.

29. Darryl Strawberry. Slugger played for Mets and Yankees in World Series.

30. Orange foul poles . . . at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, a departure from the customary yellow.

31. Orange baseballs. An idea championed by A’s owner Charlie Finley, were tried in an exhibition game on March 29, 1973. The concept did not gain traction.

32. Grady Orange. Hit .286 for the Negro League Detroit Stars in 1929.

33. Cholly Naranjo. Cuba-born pitcher for the Pirates in 1956. Naranjo means “orange tree” in Spanish.

34. Green light. Coach’s order to a batter to go ahead and swing.

35. Red light. Coach’s order to a baserunner to stop at third.

36. Red Man. Brand of chewing tobacco popular among players.

37. Teal. It entered the major leagues’ color scheme with the expansion Marlins in 1993.

38. Gold Gloves. They have been awarded to the top-fielding players at every position since 1957.

39. The Silver Slugger award. They have been given to the top offensive player at each position since 1980.

40. Pinky Higgins. Three-time All-Star in 1930s and ’40s.

41. Pinky Whitney. Infielder played 12 seasons.

42. Pinky Hargrave. Catcher/ pinch-hitter for 10 seasons.

43. Pink bubble gum strip . . . that used to be inside each package of Topps cards.

44. Bronze plaques . . . at the Hall of Fame: Hank Aaron got his in 1982.

45. Red Schoendienst. Hall of Famer, spent 74 years in big league uniform as player/manager/coach, 67 of them with the Cardinals.

46. Cream. It’s the official color of the San Francisco Giants’ home uniform.

47. Red ticket kiosks . . . outside the old Yankee Stadium.

48. Red Barber. Hall of Fame broadcaster who made the surprising switch from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the Yankees.

49. Red Badgro. Outfielder for the St. Louis Browns in 1929 and Pro Football Hall of Famer as an end for the Giants.

50. Red Foley. Daily News sportswriter and preeminent official scorer.

51. Red Ruffing. Yankees pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967.

52. Red Rolfe. Yankees third baseman who led the American League with 213 hits in 1939.

53. Joe Maddon’s hair. Rays manager dyed it from silver to black in 2009 in advance of a Johnny Cash-themed team trip.

54. Francisco Lindor's hair. Color changes frequently during the season. Went blond in training camp this year, with the intention of convincing his World Baseball Classic teammates from Puerto Rico to do the same.

The many hair colors of Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor.

The many hair colors of Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor. Credit: Jim McIsaac; Getty Images

55. Jimmy Lavender. Won 16 games for the 1912 Cubs.

56. Nathan Lavender. Current Mets minor-leaguer.

57. Whitey Ford. Hall of Famer, Yankees all-time great.

58. Whitey Herzog. Hall of Famer, managed Cardinals to a championship and the Royals to division titles.

59. Whitey Lockman. First baseman on 1954 champion Giants, managed Cubs.

60. Whitey Kurowski. Four-time All-Star for the Cardinals.

61. Yellow Horse Morris. Had a 44-32 record in six Negro Leagues seasons.

62. Moses Yellow Horse. Had an 8-4 record in two seasons with the Pirates in the 1920s. Believed to be the first full-blooded Native American in the major leagues, although Society for American Baseball Research cannot verify parents.

63. Pete Rose. All-time hits leader with 4,256, but he’s not in the Hall of Fame because he is permanently banned from the game for betting on baseball.

64. Howie Rose. Put it in the books! Broadcaster par excellence is a new inductee into the Mets Hall of Fame.

65. "Le Grande Orange." Rusty Staub’s nickname, in French, when he played for the Expos.

66. Max Scherzer's eyes. The left one is brown, the right one is blue because of a condition called heterochromia iridis.

67. Roy White. Yankees leftfield stalwart, played with both Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson.

68. Gregor Blanco. Outfielder played 10 years in the majors (“Blanco” is “white” in Spanish).

69. Bill White. All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman, and the first African American play-by-play announcer in MLB history (with the Yankees), National League president.

70. Frank White. One of the first successful graduates of Royals baseball academy. Five-time All-Star, MVP of 1980 ALCS.

71. Amber Sabathia. Wife of former Yankees pitcher CC, hired as a player agent by CAA in 2021.

72. Diablos Rojos del Mexico. Mexican League team. Rojos is “Reds” in Spanish.

73. “Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks.” Philip Lowry’s book is called the “Bible of ballparks” by SABR (Society for American Baseball Research).

74. Wrecking ball. Painted white with a red stitching design to simulate a baseball, began the demolition of Ebbets Field on Feb. 23, 1960.

75. Colorful gloves worn on the mound by Pedro Martinez during his career: He used a red-and-white one when he was with the Expos, red when he was with the Red Sox and blue when he was with the Mets.

76. Gray glove. Worn by Tigers pitcher Casey Mize, was taken out of play by umpires in a 2021 game because it violated rules about equipment that can distract batters.

77. Color commentators: Announcers, usually former players, who complement the play-by-play broadcaster by giving insight, humor and stories. Now they are usually called “analysts.”

78. Neon yellow compression sleeve . . . and matching necklace worn by Yoenis Cespedes during the Mets’ drive to the 2015 World Series.

Yoenis Cespedes helped lead the Mets to the World Series...

Yoenis Cespedes helped lead the Mets to the World Series in 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

79. Joe Black. Dodgers pitcher, National League Rookie of the Year in 1952 (15 wins, 15 saves).

80. Bud Black. Pitched 15 years in the majors and now has managed 15 years in the majors, currently with the Rockies.

81. Indigo Diaz. Yankees minor-league pitcher, acquired from Atlanta in Lucas Luetge trade.

82. Shea Stadium seats. They were different colors, depending on location. Field level was yellow, loge was brown, mezzanine was blue, upper deck was green. Ticket colors corresponded with the seat colors. In 1980, wooden seats were replaced by plastic ones and the respective colors were orange, blue, green and red.

83. Pete Gray. One-armed outfielder played for the St. Louis Browns during World War II.

84. Sonny Gray. Two-time All-Star pitched for the Yankees in 2017-2018.

85. Dr. Bobby Brown. Yankees third baseman, cardiologist, American League president.

86. “Downtown” Ollie Brown. Giants outfielder in the 1960s.

87. Tom Brown. Played OF/1B for the Washington Senators in 1963, then played safety for the Green Bay Packers in first two Super Bowls.

88. Pumpsie Green. First African-American to play for the Red Sox, the last team to integrate (1959). Finished his career with the Mets in 1963.

89. Dallas Green. Managed both the Yankees and Mets, among other distinguished roles.

90. Shawn Green. Dodgers outfielder went 6-for-6 with a record-tying four HRs and record 19 total bases on May 23, 2002.

Alex Rodriguez has eye black applied before Yankees opening day in 2016. Credit: Kathy Willens/AP

91. Eye black. Greasy substance spread high on cheekbones, said to reduce glare.

92. Solid-color full uniforms. They were popular in the early 1900s, made a comeback in the 1970s, at least part-time, with the Orioles (orange), Padres (brownish gold), Cleveland (red), White Sox (dark blue), Pirates (yellow) and Phillies (burgundy).

93. Purple and violet stripes created a cross-hatch effect in the Giants’ road uniforms in 1916. Purple made a full-time return to the majors with the expansion Rockies in 1993.

94. Camouflage jerseys. Worn on Sundays and holidays at home by the Padres, honoring the many military personnel stationed in and near San Diego.

95. “On the black” describes a pitch on the edge of the strike zone, referring to home plate that used to have a black border.

96. Orix Blue Wave. Ichiro Suzuki’s former Japanese team.

97. Twelve colors. Estimated content of Lindsey Nelson’s sports jacket in the Hall of Fame, a memento of honored Mets broadcaster and flamboyant dresser.

98. White flannel shirt, blue wool pants, straw hat. The first official baseball uniform, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Worn by Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York City, 1849.

99. Sedona red, Sonoran sand, black, teal, white. Official colors in the current array of Diamondbacks uniforms.

100. Purple, dark gray, gold. Other colors used, often in myriad combinations with the above, on Diamondbacks uniforms since the team’s debut 25 years ago.

101. Purple Heart, Bronze Star, World Series ring and 1.000 lifetime average. All earned by Roy Gleason, injured by Viet Cong mine several years after playing eight games (batting 1-for-1) for the 1963 Dodgers.

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