Brown as a Chicago Cubs color?

Why is it that the Chicago Cubs colors are blue and red? What does blue and red have to do with a cub?

  • Red: if the cub claws you and causes blood to gush forth.
  • Blue: bears go by rivers to find fish? Yeah, that’s a stretch.
  • Red, White, and Blue: Cubs as patriotic? In some sense the the Cubs are an All-American team—especially back when the Cubs were on WGN across the country. But that still has nothing to do with the actual connection to the cub animal. The little bears aren’t really an American icon.

Red and blue don’t really make much of a connection to a real life cub animal.

The animal cub is brown. Brown fur. Lives in a forest of brown.

I’ve love to see brown as one of the Cubs colors

Brown would also go nicely with the green of Wrigley Field.

Uniform mockup of Kerry Wood wearing Cubbie blue and brown (original photograph from 2008)

Could we simply add brown to the existing color palette of blue and red? Hrmmmm, not really. Which color do we ditch? Blue or red?

We all know “Cubbie Blue” isn’t going away anywhere.

Ditch the red in the Cubs logo

Let’s dump the red, in favor of brown. Red is totally the color of the Cubs long-time rivals, the Cardinals. It’s really hard to wear a shirt that is all red. You just end up looking like a Cardinals fan. Let’s toss out the red, and use brown.

Blue and brown go together very nicely. They also make a nice phrase:

“Put on your Cubbie Blue and Brown.”

In the meantime, maybe I’ll just become a Padres fan. They wear brown. And they now have Yu Darvish along with a whole roster of great exciting players.

Which sports teams use brown?

Tim Newcomb of Uni-watch did a nice coverage in 2012. Here’s their list:

Sports teamYears wearing brown
Lehigh University Mountain Hawks1865 to present
Brown University Bears1878 to present
(I need to confirm that they wore brown in 1878)
University of Wyoming Cowboy1895 to present
Cleveland Browns
(Although I consider their brown to be more of a black)
1946 (?) – present
San Diego Padres1969 – 1991, 2016 – present
(Thanks to Steve Whitten for pointing out the Brown University Bears to me)

That’s a rather short list of teams wearing brown. Three universities, one MLB team, and one NFL team.

Why is brown rarely used in sports colors?

Most people simply say, “brown, yuck!” But why is there this visceral response to brown? Other than bathroom humor, there is some real reasons why brown is not popular for sports teams (or country flags).

Someone asked on Why is brown such an unpopular color for sports teams and country flags?

Vexillology and History lover, Agustín Parra, has this great explanation:

I guess this is, in origin, related with heraldry rules. In Western heraldry, the colors in a coat of arms would either consist in metals -gold or silver-, and tinctures -the basic colors: red, blue, green, black or purple-.

Brown would be a tincture, but you should mix two or three of the “natural” colors to obtain it. It would be expensive and a bit less “authentic”. For the same reason, orange is also virtually non-existent in heraldry.

The same traditions would apply to flags (replacing gold/silver with yellow/white), and, even after so many years, with sports colors.

Thus, the brown color was more expensive and less authentic. That makes sense. Other colors are much more bold and vivid. Brown is just a mix. That would really explain why people don’t like brown. It’s just a puddle of color muddled together. I can see that.

I still love brown. It can be such a rich, deep color. Look into brown and you’ll see its depths and earthiness. Brown has an authentic feel. I would love to see the Cubs adopt this earthy color.

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3 thoughts on “Brown as a Chicago Cubs color?”

  1. As a Cubs fan, it would be hard to become a Padres fan. Mention “Padres” to any Cubs fan, and our loss in the 1984 playoffs immediately comes to mind. Would wearing a 2021 Padres uniform be in support of that agonizing loss?

  2. Red, white, and blue has always been a standard baseline for sports team colors. That’s how I’ve viewed the Cubs’ palette. It’s a classic, reliable standby combo.

    Can it be something else? Sure! I’ll take blue and brown. That was actually their palette in their 1908 team logo. (Did they actually have official branded logos back then? Not really. The world of sports branding was considerably different at the turn of the 20th century.)

    Let’s darken up the blue closer to a navy to pair with the brown and I’m in. How about taking that almost-navy blue and then tweaking the red to a crimson?

    1. Good point on blue and red being reliable.

      However, I feel it’s almost too generic. Red and blue make sense when it fits your team name. But for a “cub”?

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