A most interesting rabbit hole appeared as a start to the new year.
One of the most iconic wordmarks for Padres fans remains the 1985-2003 wordmark utilized by the team in their roundel logo and emblazoned on their jerseys. The round lettering rising up to the right has retained a fond place in many a faithful fan’s mind and has enjoyed a resurgence with the introduction of Wayback Wednesday festivities returning the uniform to modern use. Many have clamored for the uniform and wordmark to return to regular use.
Unbeknownst to this collector and student of uniform culture is that many lower leagues (especially college) like to take successful designs and implement them into their uniform sets. One such case is the font used for the above wordmark: it’s surprising just how many different college teams have used the same (or extremely similar) font worn by the Padres in their own respective uniforms. Who could blame them? The font itself when used on a uniform works well and separates itself from the usual varsity or script font found dime a dozen on most jerseys. It’s also a distinct possibility that teams hired on the same designer of the original font in order to make such a wordmark for their team’s jersey. It’s unknown as of this writing as to who designed the original Padres font.
Let’s take a trip down the rabbit hole and see some teams with a familiar font on a different uniform:
USC Trojans (2000)
Probably the most famous usage of the Padres font was by the USC Trojans baseball team during their College World Series runs throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. An added detail to the jersey set is the inclusion of drop shadowing on the rear numeral similar to the wordmark; the Padres themselves did not utilize a drop shadow on the rear numeral. A young Mark Prior led the nation in strikeouts wearing this uniform in 2001. It seems that the Trojans have brought back the font as a throwback as recently as 2016 as well as throwing it on a black variant.
Nevada Wolfpack (2015)
The Nevada Wolfpack utilize an interesting take on the Padres font with the bottom of the E trailing a long way to connect to the V. Nevada also gets bonus points for wearing the font on a pinstripe uniform much like its progenitor. As far as research (read: Google Image Search) can tell me, this particular wordmark only appears on a black alternate uniform these days; the Wolfpack have otherwise gone to a rather standard script font on their main look.
According to Wikipedia, Sonoma State University is part of the CSU college system and is located 50 miles north of San Francisco. The Seawolves baseball team utilized (or still utilizes, I can’t tell) a version of the Padres font in navy and in a colorway more similar to natural rival Seattle’s.
It’s hard to tell exactly when Oregon State wore this uniform but the parallels to the Padres font are clear even with the lack of drop shadowing (the tail on the B is a dead giveaway). It should be noted that every jersey shown in this series features a front numeral; the Padres wouldn’t pair a front numeral with this logo until 1999 brought the added numeral to the navy alternate and new white home jersey.
Cal State Fullerton
Ok, so Cal State Fullerton doesn’t really use the Padres font. It does arch upward much like the Padres font, however...and tell me this uniform picture doesn’t scream 90s Padres to you.
I know for a fact that I haven’t discovered every college (or other) baseball team that have used some version of the Padres font of old. Do you know of any other teams (college or otherwise) that have taken a form of the round rising font as their own? I’d love to see it and further dive down into this unique uniform rabbit hole. Won’t you join me?