The Tiffany of Teams
You’re as likely to see it on the streets of Brazzaville as on the sidewalks of the Bronx — that ubiquitous New York Yankees logo. The interlocked N and Y is everywhere, on everything. Baseball caps, sure, but also on bags, T-shirts, scarves, sneakers, belts, pajamas and so on and so forth. If there’s a space, NY will be attached to it and somebody somewhere will buy it.
Many of those somebodies, maybe most of them, will have no idea of what baseball is, let alone who the Yankees are. They just like the look of the logo or maybe they’re eager to be part of the “in group,” have what everybody else has.
There’s good reason people are attracted to the logo: it was designed by a master, a certain Mister Tiffany. Yes, that Tiffany. He may not serve breakfast, but there’s no lack of high-priced jewelry dished up in robin’s egg blue boxes that were inspired by the clothes of an empress from “the Gilded Age,” Eugénie of France.
How did the symbol leap from high-class decadence to home plate and dugouts?
Charles Lewis Tiffany, famous for his diamond rings, had opened his “palace of jewels” only a few years earlier when the New York Police came calling, looking for a Medal of Honor to pin on the finest of New York’s Finest. Tiffany responded with an elegant one onto which he affixed the entwined N and Y. That was in 1877, and the next year Tiffany picked up the gold medal for jewelry design at the Universal Exposition in Paris.
By the turn of the century professional baseball teams were trying to find ways to distinguish themselves — different colored socks, uniforms with and without pin stripes and, of course, caps. And there it was, that nice, simple, elegant design just the right proportions to fit on the front of a cap.
So in 1909, the NY logo moved from the rarified air of diamonds at Tiffany’s to the sweaty, smoky air of baseball diamonds as it was plastered onto the front of the caps of the New York Highlanders.
Four years later, when they changed their name to the New York Yankees, they decided to keep the logo. After all, they planned on shining every bit as brightly as the Tiffany Diamond and earning a few rings of their own along the way.