Evolution of the Block "S"

Athletic Sweater with Block S, Stanford University Objects Collection (SC1048_AM-1979-13.2)
Block S with Tree

William Laughlin McLaine (Class of 1896) was a pitcher on the Stanford baseball team; he designed the red Block “S,” without the central image of the tree, which was worn for the first time in 1893. For many years it was used primarily on sports uniforms and sweaters.

The Stanford Alumni Association began using a version of the Block “S” with El Palo Alto around 1931. Its current design, however, appears to have been first used on the men’s soccer team uniforms in 1995.

By 1999, Stanford identification cards, as well as university souvenirs and memorabilia, prominently featured the use of the Block “S” with its iconic central image of El Palo Alto.

Block "S" Society

Block “S” Society, 1909. Stanford Historical Photograph Collection (SC1071).