Jerry Dior's Major League Baseball logo—an appreciation
Jerry Dior—the designer who created Major League Baseball's silhouetted batter logo—recently passed away at the age of 82. Dior designed the mark in 1968 while working at Sandgren & Murtha, a New York-based marketing and design firm.
It would be an understatement to say that his work has stood the test of time. Dior's logo, originally created to celebrate the centennial of professional baseball, has continually served as the visual representation of MLB for nearly a half century. Unlike many other corporate marks of long standing, the silhouetted batter has changed little over that span, all small changes that would be imperceptible to the vast majority of observers.
Dior's work was born during the golden age of identity design, an era in which simple, powerful logos became popular, a reaction to a societal changes and to the need for new solutions geared toward modern means of communication. It should be noted that some great sports logos emerged during this era.
Decidedly contemporary, Dior's logo distills the sport and the enterprise of baseball into an effortlessly simple form. Boldly rendered in red, white, and blue, the logo served to amplify the message that baseball was still America's Pastime—even as the NFL was surpassing MLB in popularity, even as the Vietnam War slogged on, and even as America's identity itself was being questioned.
Dior's logo was born at a time when MLB still had 20 (soon to be 24) teams. There are now 30 big league clubs. Created as the core visual asset of MLB's then-new licensing program, it transitioned into the digital age with ease—a piece of art so well constructed and conceived that it never grew dated and never really needed any structural alterations to propel it forward.
As was customary with work-for-hire designs, Mr. Dior received no royalties for his baseball logo, and no public credit. He did not expect to (his is an inherently anonymous calling), nor did he expect his work to endure: Logos are ephemeral things, with clients inclined to revamp them every few years.
Mr. Dior's work endures, and it does so with a sense of refinement and elegance, a perfectly conceived blend of form and function. Well done, sir.