The Yankees’ Top Hat Emblem and the Three Logos of 1946. — 16 Comments

    • No definitive evidence that this was an influence in what became the Yankees’ logo, more of an urban legend thing.

    • If I’m not mistaken, That “Top Hat” squadron is still in existance. It officially formed in 1919 (after WWI). However, the squadron you speak of eventually became what is now the US Navy’s VFA-14 Tophatters. They fly the FA18E Super Hornet. I was a member of that squadron in the early 80’s when they flew the F14 Tomcat.

    • Thanks, Chance.

      Like so many of these older marks, changes were made in the early 90s with the onset of digitization. I have plenty of flat art files from before then and they are uniformly terrible—photostatted to the point where there are no sharp edges left on any elements at all, blobby elements, etc. I worked on this stuff back in the ’80s and remember the process well. Some of these alterations were practical in the sense that they were intended to rejuvenate the artwork, snot all were done with sensitivity or skill.

      In the case of the Yankees’ logo the changes that you reference were made in the ’60s. I have logo sheets from 1969 that depict the art exactly it is today. I guess the answer is this—all logos evolve, and the current iteration has been in use for 45 years or more. While I respect the integrity of the original, this version is associated with the Yankees of today, that one is the one that DiMaggio and Mantle knew. An evolution.

  1. Great job, Todd. There are almost as many logos for the team now as there are Geico commercial themes. The top logo was not as well liked by Mr. Steinbrenner as was the inter-locking NY, so that got more attention after he bought the team. In 1973, last year of original YS, the Stadium facade became a logo itself, and it is so recognizable as to be occasionally used for logo purposes (like on the 50th anniversary of YS logo). And then there is the script for the word YANKEES, familiar on warm up jackets in the Casey Stengel years, and now easy identifiable by the font, which comes from the Keller top hat work. So it’s a logo that spun off from a logo.

    • Marty, thanks for your kind words and thanks for your valuable insight. You are as familiar with this logo as anyone. You left out the fact that the headwear interlocking NY and the uniform interlocking NY are different from one another, adding to the pile of identifying symbols for the club.

      Was there ever any serious discussion of scrapping this logo? I know that you have written about the possibility of a navy blue jersey with white pinstripes during your tenure with the club, not sure if that was an outlier in terms of potential change or part of some larger plan that never materialized.

      Mr Steinbrenner famously defended the tradition of the home jersey during a time of great aesthetic change in MLB and for that he deserves credit.

      • We were presented with an alternative road uniform in the ’70s, which would be navy with white pinstripes and a white NY and number on the back. It was a predictable presentation, but it really looked awful. It’s funny how the grey roadies with the block letter NEW YORK on the front looks so noble and so classic in its simplicity after all these years. In fact, if you’re going to wear a jersey out in the street, you look better in the grey road than in the home pinstripe. Maybe just my opinion. But thank goodness cooler heads prevailed, including Mr. Steinbrenner’s, in the ‘mid-’70s and sent that reverse pinstripe sample to the trash bin of history.

  2. I think the weirdest part of this logo, when viewed today, is that it has virtually nothing in common with any other pieces of their visual identity. Can you imagine a club today rebranding itself without its primary color appearing in its primary logo? The Yankees ARE navy blue, yet this logo is primarily bright RED, with a touch of royal blue. There is no reference to the NY, or even New York for that matter. No reference to the pinstripes. Nothing that relates back to the clubs other marks, period.

    Yet it stands the test of time. The Yankees identity seems to be so entrenched in tradition that these little inconsistencies will probably never be cleaned up.

  3. Another great mystery is the inconsistency of the Yankees’ cap logo. The logo on the actual cap differs from the art designated as the ‘cap logo’ in the style guide. At first I thought this might be a by-product of embroidery not replicating flat vector art very well (as is the case with many teams, i.e. the Dodgers, Royals, etc), but the current NY cap logo has appeared as flat vector art as well! (

    Meanwhile, older images of Yankee caps show the cap logo to better match what is currently in the official style guide. (

    Todd, I apologize for going slightly off-topic. We can all agree that Mr. Keller deserves his own wing in the sports logo design Hall of Fame.

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  5. I believe that the new Yankee Stadium should feature the top hat logo in the outfield above the signage to the right-field side of the big TV screen. It would add balance to the side that features the “ugly” clock and big letters that say YANKEE STADIUM. They could use the NY logo the script “Yankees” and the top hat all in succession that would be illuminated for night games. The Minnesota Twins have a neon logo as the centerpiece of their stadium. Yankees have not capitalized on the America’s team opportunity and the Uncle Sam hat is the perfect tie-in.

    • Jack—I go to Yankee Stadium a couple of times a year and it always strikes me—it is incredibly cluttered. Most stadiums and arenas can say the same thing, but there’s really no single focal point here, other than the frieze around the stadium itself. I lament the loss of the visibility of Monument Park, too.

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