The Boston Red Sox have the distinction of being a charter franchise of the American League, along with seven other teams, though the Sox were originally named the Boston Americans.
The American League was founded by five men, including brothers Henry and Matthew Killilea. Henry Killilea was an attorney and owner of American baseball teams. His parents were immigrants from Ireland who settled in Wisconsin and raised their family there on their farm in Winnebago County.
Henry had acquired five-ninths of the Boston Americans in 1901 from Charles Somers, and then went on to acquire the remaining shares with the agreement that Somers could remain president by holding one share of stock. It was reported that Henry paid $60,000 to own the Boston Americans.
Under Killilea’s ownership, the Boston Americans won the 1903 American League pennant and the first game of the newly-created World Series. When Killilea sold the team in 1904, he said that Boston was the country’s “greatest baseball town”. Killilea sold the team to John Irving Taylor. It was Taylor who chose the “Red Sox” as the team’s name around 1908.
Boston Red Sox Logo Changes
The team has had plenty of logo changes throughout its 115-year history. When the team was founded as the Boston Americans in 1901, the logo was just the two letters “B A” written in bold calligraphy in blue.
During its first six years, that logo remained the same. It was common for newspaper reporters to use many nicknames for the club during its early years: “Beaneaters”, “Pilgrims”, “Plymouth Rocks”, or “Somersets” due to their ownership by Charles Somers. From 1901 to 1907, Boston had two baseball teams, which explained why the team used some form of “Boston” on their uniforms.
It was December 1907 when Taylor made an announcement that the club had officially taken on red as the team’s official new color. When Taylor renamed the team in 1908, the logo was a red sock with the word “BOSTON” printed on it in bold white block letters.
The uniforms that year had that sock displayed at an angle across the front of the shirts, and that’s when the nickname “Red Sox” began, too. It’s hard to think of the Boston Red Sox as anything else.
When the Logo Was Just the Word "Boston"
For two years, from 1909 to 1911, the team’s logo became the word “BOSTON” printed in bold red stylized block lettering. Then, from 1912 to 1923, the logo became “RED SOX”, printed in that famous bold red color with block letters set in a semi-circle curve. It was during this time period that Babe Ruth was signed to the team by owner Joseph Lannin. He’d owned the team from 1913 to 1916. Babe Ruth became the star pitcher who led the team to win the world series in 1915, 1916, and 1918.
Here come the Socks
The second appearance of socks occurred in 1924. That’s the year that the famous “hanging socks” started their 36-year run as the team logo. The bright red socks were distinguished by thick white lines at the toes, heels, and calves, showing that these were truly sports socks.
The third version of socks showed up in 1961. The socks retained their thick white lines at the calves, but the lines at the toes and heels were replaced with solid blocks of white. The other major change was that the hanging socks were displayed right in the middle of a drawing of a baseball. The socks were still red. The baseball was drawn in blue lines with red stitches.
The fourth version of the hanging socks was presented in 1970. The socks were larger than before, but they still had the same red with white heels and toes, just as they had been rendered since 1961. What changed was the baseball. It was still drawn in blue, but the red stitches were adjusted so that each line of stitches pointed in the same directed.
This adjustment was easier on the eyes- the 1961 version had the stitches pointing in different directions on either side of the socks, which gave the logo a cluttered look. This newer version was easy on the eyes and it was impossible to miss the importance of those bright red socks.
Socks and The Word Boston were Combined
After years of having a logo which either had the red socks or the team name, the first time the two were combined in one logo finally happened in 1976. This version kept the 1970 baseball and red socks while adding the team name in full:
“BOSTON” appeared in blue block letters with red lining and “RED SOX” appeared in red block letters with blue lining and both halves of the name were inside a bright red circle. Known as the “Circle Sox” logo, it was a bright and shiny improvement to the previous ones. This version was the team logo until 2009, when the two hanging sox made a return.
The Boston Red Sox will celebrate 119 seasons in 2019. Their home will still be Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Fenway is Major League Baseball’s oldest park and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Sox will start their 108th season at Fenway as the reigning champions of the World Series.
This year, following the Red Sox 2018 World Series Championship win, the iconic images of the past are combined in a variety of collectible pins, buttons, and other memorabilia.
The hanging sox are included and the letter “B” for Boston are included with the words “World Series Champions 2018”. Over the years, the “B” has found its place on the team caps and collectors can find it flanked by two red ribbon banners. What’s certain is that the Boston Red Socks logo and uniforms will always have red, white, and blue someplace.
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Written by Judy Greenless
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