Throwback Jerseys are a one-time or a limited-time variation on a sports team's jerseys styled to resemble jerseys from the team's past. They were first promoted in baseball in the 1980s. They have proven popular in all major pro and college sports in the USA, not only with fans, but with the teams' marketing and merchandising departments. Throwback Jerseys were first popularized in Major League Baseball, where teams not only wore jerseys of their past styles, but also wore jerseys as tributes to defunct minor league and Negro League baseball teams as well. Often, the games where teams wore the throwbacks were promoted as "Turn Back the Clock Nights." Throwback Jerseys have also made occasional appearances in college football games, National Hockey League games, and in National Basketball Association games.
Throwback Jerseys were introduced to NFL in their 75th anniversary season in 1994. The designs varied widely: it became standard in the 1970s that all jerseys display the player's last name on the back side, though this practice did not become mandatory in the NFL until the late 1970s. In most instances the fonts and typestyles used were only rough matches at best. Arizona, Chicago and Pittsburgh wore reproductions of jerseys that pre-dated large numerals on the front of the jersey, so instead smaller numerals were worn on the right shoulder. All the teams were informed that they would be wearing the throwbacks during week 3 of the season. Some teams continued to wear their throwback jerseys throughout the season. The San Francisco 49ers wore replicas of their 1955 jerseys in their Super Bowl XXIX victory. The jerseys were so well-liked that the 49ers brought them back, in slightly modified form, for 1996-1997. In 1998, the gold pants were returned, in more modern form. Both of the NFL's New York teams' Throwback Jerseys proved so popular with their fans that the teams returned to wearing them full-time soon afterwards: the Jets' replicas of their 1968 jerseys, and the Giants' 1961 jerseys, with the lowercase "ny". Both teams have restored the 1960s decals as their primary corporate logos. As a result of the NFL modifying its rules to allow teams to wear alternate jerseys in 2002, throwback jerseys still make occasional appearances, especially on Thanksgiving Day. The Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys traditionally wear their early 1960s Throwback Jerseys twice each season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers changed their jerseys and team colors in 1997 and have never worn their orange throwback jerseys. For the record, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcom Glazer has forbidden NFL Properties from reproducing the Buccaneers' original logo and color scheme, in an attempt to bury the team's mostly woeful history from 1976-1996.
The Major League Baseball Throwback Jerseys have proven to be popular not only among team fans but also with viewers of TV highlight shows. Some Throwback Jersey nights will feature the Oakland Athletics wearing one combo or another of the gold, white, and green jersey it featured in the 1970s and 1980s, or the Pittsburgh Pirates' yellow, white, and black combo of the same era. A 2006 throwback day saw the Houston Astros revert to their orange and red Rainbow Guts jersey. In the National Hockey League, the "Original Six" teams wore Throwback Jerseys several times during the NHL's 75th anniversary season in 1991-1992. As of January 2007, several teams use Throwback Jerseys during the regular season as their third jersey, such as the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vancouver Canucks. One notable throwback design is in the NBA, where the New York Knickerbockers often feature their 1970s and 1980s white and orange jerseys. The warm-ups and shorts of that era feature in orange the same "interlocking NY" the New York Yankees feature in blue on the front of their home jerseys.
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