Major League Baseball | The Color Of Winning: Pantone 19-3955

Photo: Jamie Squire (Getty).

Six of this year’s Major League Baseball playoff teams used Pantone 19-3955 (Royal Blue) as their primary color and four have moved on to the Championship Series. Is this the key to their success or is it just a coincidence? 

From the mellow, sky blue on a cloudless day to the sharp white of the froth of an ocean swell to a the bright yellows, oranges and browns of a fall afternoon surrounded by falling leaves, colors are all around us. There’s a reason we don’t see in black and white. Colors have the ability to affect us in various different ways such as helping to bring forth a memory or changing our mood and demeanor.

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Photo: Jamie Squire (Getty).

 This season, the teams that made it to the Major League Baseball playoffs were the Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. The Pirates and Yankees were eliminated in the wildcard game. Of the other playoff teams, the Dodgers, Royals, Mets, Cubs, Blue Jays and Rangers use Pantone 19-3955 as their primary color. Pantone 19-3955 is also referred to as Royal Blue and could be the secret to success for one of this year’s playoff teams.

ALSO: The Premature Royals-Mets World Series Preview

With the Royals defeat of the Astros and the Blue Jays Triumph over the Rangers, both teams competing in the American League Championship Series use Pantone 19-3955 as their primary uniform color. In the National League, the Cubs defeated the very un-Pantone Cardinals 3-1 to advance to the National League Championship Series and will play the Mets who eked out a 3-2 series win to punch their ticket. There are many other colors used by Major League Baseball teams, but somehow we are already guaranteed to have an all-Pantone World Series and a guaranteed Pantone-clad World Series Champion. There must be something more to this color than random, dumb luck.

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Photo: Jon Durr (Getty)

 But, are there any correlations between the uniform color and the play on the field? Surprisingly, there might be. Colors can have varying psychological effects that most of us are completely unaware of. Different colors evoke different emotions. A bright red color or black might make a person uneasy or feel anxious. Blue is usually associated with a calm feeling because of it reminds us of a still body of water.

There are four different psychological primary colors: red, blue, yellow and green.

  • Red: Red is the most powerful of the primary colors. It is an immediate attention grabber and conjures images of strength, warmth, masculinity and courage.
  • Blue: Blue is a soothing and calming color. It is associated with the thought process and higher brain function. It also conjures images of communication, trust, calmness, logic and discipline.
  • Yellow: Yellow is one of the most emotional colors. It conjures images of self confidence, optimism, creativity and self-esteem.
  • Green: Green is the most balanced color. It conjured images of rest, peace, self awareness and balance.

We know that colors have the ability to evoke different emotions, but can a color really help a Major League Baseball team play better? Blue is one of the most popular colors for a reason. It conjures thoughts of serenity, stability, security and order. That might be because of its association with law enforcement, or it might be from a much more primal place entirely. Research has proven that people who work in rooms that are painted blue are more productive than most other colors.

There’s no research to show that a specific color can make the athletes on a team play better, but there must be a reason that so many teams whose uniforms contain Pantone 19-3955 made it to the MLB playoffs. Why did the Royals, Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, Blue Jays and Rangers make it to the playoffs and the Orioles, Twins, Angels, Rays and Indians didn’t? Only a few games separated those teams from those who got a ticket to October.

When Was Pantone 19-3955 Created?

Pantone 19-3955 is one of the original Pantone matching system colors. “So it would have been 1965,” says Lee Eiseman, color expert and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “I had talked about this in my book Pantone: the 20th Century in Color.” In her book she says, “The color of Pantone’s first PMS fan Pantone---19-3955deck reflect the 60s taste for vibrant tones.” It mentions Reflex Blue as being an important part of that group of colors and Reflex Blue is only one shade away from Pantone 19-3955. “Both Reflex Blue and 19-3955 are classic examples of the most notable and best loved colors among all colors and have retained their popularity through the years.”

Eiseman doesn’t know why it’s such a popular color for uniforms, specifically this year’s crop of MLB playoff teams. But, she can explain some of the moods and emotions the color conveys. “The kind of responses that we get on color word association studies around this specific color are:  Forthright, trustworthy, solid, credible, dependable, confident, consistent, loyal,” says Eiseman. “Those are all words that bring a certain worthiness to a particular color and certainly excellent emotional responses to elicit for a team.” Therefore, a team that needs a little nudge to bring them to the next level might be helped by wearing a color that conveys such strong, confident qualities. Does it help teams win? “I don’t have any stats on this, so couldn’t venture a guess,” says Eiseman. That doesn’t mean that it has no impact. If you wear a color that helps to boast your confidence who’s to say that it won’t impact your play on the field. Why does Eiseman think most of the remaining playoff teams have it as their primary color? “For all of the emotional reactions mentioned above.”  

 Research shows there is also a sense of power around the shade. “But not as formidable or ominous as black— a bit more friendly, yet still strong. A crowd-pleasing color.” And maybe an athlete pleasing one as well.