By introducing an alternate jersey for the 2013 season with a script “St. Louis” on the front, the Cardinals are breaking from tradition by revisiting it.

For the first time in 80 years, the Cardinals will have a jersey that features the name of the city and not the ballclub. At a news conference this morning at Busch Stadium, the club unveiled a series of incremental changes to the home and road uniforms, and ownership introduced a third jersey, to be worn for Saturday home games. The Cardinals are the 27th team in baseball to use an alternate jersey, leaving only the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Detroit Tigers as the classic two-jersey teams.

“Yes, it’s traditional. And if you ask me should we stay in that elite company of having home whites and road grays, I would say we should, but … ” President Bill DeWitt III said. “Look at this (third) jersey. I see it and think, ‘We’ve got to wear that thing.’ ”

The third jersey incorporates new technology with retro designs. It is an off-white jersey made from modern materials to look like the flannels of the past. It also features the traditional two birds on a bat, though the stitching is more detailed and the bat loops through the “S” in “St. Louis.” It is the first Cardinals jersey to have the city’s name on it since the 1932 Cardinals had “St. Louis” on both their home and away jerseys.

The alternate jersey also features piping along the collar and down the front of the jersey that was last used during Stan Musial’s career, back in the 1950s.

All three of the jerseys that the Cardinals will wear next season feature more detail to the two birds, enhanced stitching that includes an eye instead of a dot for the birds and shading to the bat that creates a sense of depth. The players’ numbers on the front of all three jerseys also will be smaller. The Cardinals will have members of the team model all three versions of the jersey at the news conference. The new jerseys will go on sale today at the Busch Stadium team store.

This is the first time since 1998 that the Cardinals have made substantive changes to the logo and jersey, but putting “St. Louis” on a jersey has long been a concept DeWitt toyed with.

“I’ve always loved the 1932 St. Louis jersey,” DeWitt said. “I thought (the script 'St. Louis') was a neat, quirky thing that was done way back when and something that was just then left behind. I wanted to see our modern birds on that script ‘St. Louis.’ ”

The Cardinals are the fourth team in baseball to go with the “natural” or off-white color for a jersey, according to the manufacturer, Majestic. The other teams are the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.

In a ranking of all sports uniforms by ESPN.com this past summer, the Cardinals’ look placed third behind only the Montreal Canadiens (NHL) and Chicago Bears (NFL). The Cardinals’ birds-on-the-bat logo was cited for being “every bit as iconic” as the Yankees’ pinstripes. The rankings also said the road uniforms duplicating the home was “a smidge unimaginative.”

For several years, DeWitt and the staff at the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame have been researching the evolution of the Cardinals’ logos, the birds on the bat (which first appeared on the jersey in 1922), and the look of the uniform. DeWitt oversaw the fine-tuning of the logo in 1998 and has sought to maintain a quality control since, while also looking for an alternative style, like a script “St. Louis.” The ultimate result of the logo research may yet be merchandising throwback items, but it also has contributed to the look of the alternate third jersey. The new jersey blends the “St. Louis” from The Depression era with the piping of the 1950s and the detailed modern birds.

The third jersey fad has infiltrated baseball in recent decades as a merchandising element — it does give teams another jersey (or two) to market and sell to fans. Many are solid color jerseys like the blue ones introduced by the New York Mets this past week. Franchises like the Yankees and Dodgers have resisted the trend. The Cardinals, who have won more World Series titles than any team other than the Yankees, had, too, until today.

The third jersey is a break from the home-road standard of other august franchises.

But DeWitt hopes it adheres to tradition.

“I’m very sensitive to that argument, that we should stay (with home and road), and that is the argument I would also make until you see this jersey,” DeWitt said. “I hope people look at this, and they remember Lou Brock or Musial playing in a jersey like this, and see all of the things from the history that embodied in this jersey, that we tried to capture.”

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