Pastime Pinstripes: A History of the Tacoma Rainiers and Their On-Field Style

Pastime Pinstripes: A History of the Tacoma Rainiers and Their On-Field Style

This text was first published on on May 1, 2016 as part of an English project at McDaniel College. It has been edited for its purposes on this blog and can be read in its entirety and original form by clicking here. To learn more about Pastime Pinstripes, please read our post “The Grain of the Game Announces New Blog Features.”

Tacoma is a mid-sized city about 30 miles south of Seattle in the state of Washington. Together, the cities have a metro area population of 3.5 million people. About 30 miles north of Seattle lies Everett, also included in the same metro area.

The 3.5 million people in the area are able to support three professional baseball teams. Located in the heart of Seattle are the Mariners, contenders in Major League Baseball’s American League. To the south are the Tacoma Rainiers who play at the Triple-A level of Minor League Baseball. And to the north are the Everett AquaSox, contestants at the Single-A Short Season level of the Minors.

Besides sharing a fan base, these three teams all have another commonality: the Seattle Mariniers. When the Mariners draft new players, the young hopefuls are sent up through their Minor League farm system. One of the first stops for many is in Everett, one of the Mariners’ affiliates. The last stop for many is in Tacoma, the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate. All within a 54 mile span of each other and along one interstate (I-5), these three teams are all connected to one another in many ways.

Tacoma first fielded a baseball team in 1904 when the Pacific Coast League (PCL) (the current league the Rainiers play in) brought the Tigers to town, moving from Sacramento after the 1903 season. After playing a season and a half, the Tigers skipped town and moved back to Sacramento, now playing as the Solons. This ended the PCL’s presence in Tacoma for 55 years, but an unaffiliated team (also named the Tigers) operated from 1930 to 1951 to fill the absence.

When 1960 hit the PCL was back up and running in Tacoma under the namesake of the Giants. The city has kept a team ever since, but not until 1995 when the Mariners took over their affiliation did the Rainiers namesake take over.

Besides two affiliations (Mariners not included), Tacoma’s baseball team always borrowed their major league affiliate’s name (Giants, Cubs, Twins, Yankees). The first time Tacoma gained their own name was in 1979 when the Cleveland Indians took over their affiliation and Tacoma held a name-the-team contest. Local fan Gary W. Grip won with his submission of “Tugs,” a tribute to the boats on the nearby Tacoma waterways.

After a year as the Tacoma Tugs, the team changed their name back to the Tigers for the 1980 season.

In 1981, Tacoma realigned their affiliation with Oakland, a partnership that remained for 14 season. The team kept the Tigers name the entire time, only dropping it when the (local-ish) Mariners picked them up.

With the new Seattle partnership, Tacoma quickly adopted the name “Rainiers” as a way to pay tribute to the Seattle Rainiers who had played in the PCL from 1938 to 1964 and from 1972 to 1976.

An instant success from 1995 through this very present day, the Tacoma Rainiers have garnered all types of interest throughout the country. Most notably, the Rainiers focus on their fans more than anything.

Having a storied past of uniforms and logos, the Rainiers came out with a new campaign to start the 2015 season. Highlighted by the team’s “R” logo, the new logos and uniforms focus on what the fans want.

“This isn’t a typical team logo/uniform change,” said Team President Aaron Artman, as reported by, “This came from our fans.” In his address, Artman explained that fans have purchased and worn gear with the “R” logo more than anything else, so it only made sense to base their new look off of what the fans want.

The “R” logo appeared in early 2015 as the team’s new secondary logo, with the plain “Rainiers” script logo as the primary. The script logo replaces my personal favorite “T/R” logo, used by the team from 2009 through 2014. The release also brought in a “mountain and ice pick” logo, officially listed as the tertiary logo, to be worn on batting practice caps. The ice pick pays tribute the Mt. Rainier which towers over the Washington skyline, an inspiration for the name.

As pointed out by Rainiers’ broadcaster Mike Curto, the main difference in the new logo and uniform reveal is that an “R” will be worn on all game caps.

The new home uniform is very navy blue heavy, featured the blue “Rainiers” script, blue numbers (front and back) and nameplate, blue piping, and a blue belt and blue socks. The hat to be worn with the home set is navy blue with the red “R” logo, as promised by Curto.

The road jersey is similar, featuring the same piping, belt, socks, nameplate, and cap. The difference is the navy blue and outlined in red “TACOMA” script on the front and the same design for the number on the back, with no number on the front.

My favorite uniform of them all (and the only jersey I’ve seen the Rainiers wear in person), is the alternate, worn at home, and, in my experience, on Sundays. The alternate jersey is a red base with white piping, nameplate, and front and back number. The belt, sock, and hat are all red as well, with a white “R” logo on the cap (yes, I do own the red cap).

Lastly, the Rainiers debuted a full-time batting practice uniform. To be worn with white pants, a blue belt, and blue socks, the jersey features typical batting practice piping (along the sides and underarms rather than the front) in red, on top of the navy blue jersey. A red “Rainiers” script runs straight across the chest, outlined in white, the same as the number on back. There is no nameplate. The cap is navy blue, like the jersey, and features the “mountain and ice pick” logo.

A full graphic of the new logos and uniforms can be found here, courtesy of

Quite the successful look in 2015, the Rainiers have taken to the field once again to start their 2016 campaign, donning “R’s” all around, celebrating their loyal fans.


Pastime Pinstripes: A History of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ Uniforms and Logos

Pastime Pinstripes: A History of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ Uniforms and Logos

This text was first published on on April 25, 2016 as part of an English project at McDaniel College. It has been edited for its purposes on this blog and can be read in its entirety and original form by clicking here. To learn more about Pastime Pinstripes, please read our post “The Grain of the Game Announces New Blog Features.”

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs of Minor League Baseball’s International League are one of the most revolutionary teams. From ballpark food to some of the more terrifying mascots around, they have it all. But the true genius of their revolution lies in their uniforms and the brand behind them.

After relocating from Ottawa where the team was known as the Lynx, the IronPigs ball club quickly developed deep roots at CocaCola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Triple-A affiliate of the nearby Philadelphia Phillies, the team saw easy success during a time when their parent club dominated MLB’s National League East Division. Success for the ‘Pigs came in two forms, merchandise sales and ballpark sellouts. Setting records or near records in both the categories each year of their existence, it is without a doubt a fact that fans love their bacon, or their steel.

The name “IronPigs” plays into the area’s historical steel industry, most notably shown with the nearby Bethlehem Steel Stacks. Accompanying Bethlehem and the ballpark location of Allentown, Easton, Pennsylvania is also included in the “Lehigh Valley” location name.

When the ‘Pigs first arrived in their Pennsylvania town in 2008 they did so in style. Donning five full uniform sets, the team was specially outfitted for every home, road, Saturday, and Sunday game, and even batting practice. As seen in the graphic from the team’s official website, “,” their five unique looks not only featured five different uniforms, but five different hats as well. As a baseball hat enthusiast, the team’s unveiling of uniforms was one of the greatest days that year.

The five uniform sets helped the IronPigs become the leading team in jerseys and logos, with four different hat logos (five including backgrounds), two different wordmarks (three including backgrounds), and two different chest logos (albeit one of them the same as two of the cap logos).

Having family ties to the Lehigh Valley I became an instant fan of the ‘Pigs ever since I was given a glow-in-the-dark logo ball for Christmas in 2008. Upon my first visit to CocaCola Park in the summer of 2013, I ran into the team clubhouse shop the instant my ticket was scanned. In the store I found myself overwhelmed by all the options for what to buy. Unsure of whether or not I wanted a classic “pig head” logo on a red or blue hat (home or batting practice), I ended up picking the Sunday alternate“I with a pigtail” hat, with the interlocking “LV” road cap falling in a close second. The Saturday alternate never came into consideration, me being a fan of caps with as much color as possible. The only appreciation I did have for the Saturday cap was the fact that it pays homage to a cap used by the Ottawa Lynx, a neat fact pointed out by user “AstroBull21″ on the boards [5].

The instant fan I was of just about every aspect of the IronPigs’ logos and uniforms, I had plans to return to CocaCola park every summer (or every time I visited the area to see family) and buy another ‘Pigs cap so eventually I would have their entire collection as part of my collection (I have a rule about buying caps in person after a rather sour incident with an Amazon order).

It being just my luck, I awoke one morning to read an article posted on that the IronPigs were adopting new “Bacon-Themed” uniforms for the 2014 season [7]. While I’m always a fan of an unveiling, I was horrified that I wouldn’t be able to complete my goal of collecting the other four ‘Pigs caps. However, I now had a different five caps on my list of caps to collect, and held an “extinct” cap in my collection.

The new uniforms featured about as much bacon as should be involved in baseball. The fan-favoriteSaturday home alternate featured a red uniform base with a “’Pigs” wordmark, underlined with a strip of bacon, and a cap with a gray base and blue brim, featuring a strip of bacon with “IronPigs” written in “bacon grease” for the cap logo. While I loved the jersey, the cap is still to this day one of my least favorite in all of baseball, mainly due to the unconventional logo.

One of my favorite uniform sets, and a hat that was on my “to collect” list until I finally acquired it last November, is the Friday home alternate. Featuring an all-black palate (cap, jersey, pants, and all), the alternate look pays tribute to the steel industry of Bethlehem, as mentioned earlier. The main tribute is found in the “molten red” pighead cap logo.

Between the Friday and Saturday alternates, the IronPigs successfully played into both parts of their namesake, actual pigs and the steel industry.

The third look unveiled is the one that specifically made (at the time) my only IronPigs hat extinct. The new Sunday home alternate, as pointed out by Chris Creamer, was “a modern nod to the Philadelphia Phillies teams of the 1980s.” It featured a powder blue pullover jersey with the ‘Pigs “pighead” logo donned on the chest, and a powder blue and red cap with a ‘Pigged out liberty bell cap logo. Perhaps my favorite look of them all, I was finally able to acquire the cap alongside my purchase of the Friday home alternate cap back in November.

These three new looks replaced the original weekend alternate uniform sets and add on a Friday look, accompanying the original home and road uniforms. After the unveiling I was left with now five hats to collect to complete my IronPigs collection, rather than four, and could never complete the purchasing of the original four (in the conventional in-store manner).

Assuming that the ‘Pigs were done with uniform updates, as I mentioned before, I purchased two of their hats back in November (Friday and Sunday) along with a shirt emulating their Saturday ‘Pigs (with the bacon underline) jersey.

As these things go (my purchasing of IronPigs gear that is), In late March once again broke a story revealing changes to the Lehigh Valley team’s uniform set.

Of course, the shirt that I just bought is no longer available in uniform style. The Saturday “bacon” alternate has now been outfitted with an even bacon-ier wordmark, “Bacon USA.” While the cap and pants remain the same, the jersey also has a sleeve patch of a map of the United States with a bacon strip across the middle and a star showing the location of CocaCola Park. Luckily the bacon cap remained in this update, a huge relief to me.

Another look that got an update was the ‘Pigs away uniform. Once again the red cap stays the same, but the jersey base, rather than the typical gray worn by almost every team on the road, will be one similar to that of the Diamondbacks’ 2016 uniforms, a graphite hue. Although I’ve never considered buying the away red cap, this is one of the few that has stayed the same ever since the first set of uniforms in 2008, and might just be the safest bet for my next purchase.

The ‘Pigs also updated their Friday home alternate look, changing their black pants to the graphite gray, accompanying the original black jersey and black cap, with the “molten red” splash.

As highlighted by, the ‘Pigs completed the overhaul of their uniforms with a newSunday alternate, once again paying tribute to their parent club’s jerseys of the 1970s and 80s. Just like the 2014 look, the jersey will once again be a pullover with the liberty bell cap (one less for me to buy). The main change here is the “IronPigs” wordmark that directly emulates the script used by the Phillies.

The last update to the IronPigs’ new look is a full-time batting practice jersey. The uniform takes a hat that the ‘Pigs have had in stock for a number of years and gives it a designated use, and adds a navy blue jersey with a “Pigs” script, highlighted by a star above the “i.”

With arguably way too many jerseys in their arsenal, the IronPigs have taken to the field for this 2016 in what may be the best uniform set in the entire game, on par with the majors. One of the details that puts the ‘Pigs so high up is the fact that these new uniforms come from majestic, the supplier of all MLB uniforms. According to, the ‘Pigs have reached an agreement with to make their uniforms the first by the company in all of Minor League Baseball. As reported by, the team has adopted the motto of “If it’s worn in the Bigs, it’s worn by the Pigs.”

The ‘Pigs already hold many of the records for sales of tickets and merchandise in the Minor Leagues, and this new deal with Majestic will surely allow the team to hold true to that nature. While only one new hat has been added, it has moved to the top of my forever lengthening “to buy” list of baseball caps, along with the rest of the ‘Pigs’ collection that I have yet to buy.

While I don’t get a chance to buy ‘Pigs gear that often, I’ll make sure to make an announcement when I do because chances are the team will announce another uniform change, taking out whatever I just bought of their rotation. At this point I don’t expect that I’d be mad about it because with Majestic on board, I think we’re guaranteed to see only fantastic top-notch uniforms out of the Lehigh Valley for years to come.

Pastime Pinstripes: 302 New Jerseys and Hats Revealed for the 2016 MLB Season

Pastime Pinstripes: 302 New Jerseys and Hats Revealed for the 2016 MLB Season

This text was first published on on April 18, 2016 as part of an English project at McDaniel College. It has been edited for its purposes on this blog and can be read in its entirety and original form by clicking here. To learn more about Pastime Pinstripes, please read our post “The Grain of the Game Announces New Blog Features.”

Alternate jerseys in sports are getting out of hand. How do we know this? Recently the National Basketball Association (NBA) added sleeved jerseys, and every season dozens of Minor League Baseball teams role out Star Wars themed jerseys, among many, many others.

Just this week, Major League Baseball (MLB) rolled out 302 new jerseys and caps. That’s right, 302. Keep in mind that these aren’t alternate jerseys in the sense that they’ll be worn every Sunday home game by certain teams. No, these are 302 new jerseys and caps to be worn for holidays and special events just for the 2016 season – one time use jerseys.

Now what will these do for the MLB? Typically the answer would be money, as is the case for the NBA and their sleeved jerseys. However, as reported by Chris Creamer of, “Proceeds from the sales of the holiday jerseys will be donated to various cancer and veteran charities,” a rather new move by the MLB, as seen with their Memorial Day uniform proceeds in the last few years. But this year rather than just 100 or so holiday looks the MLB has tripled that number. While proceeds won’t directly bring in money for the League, they will create some hype and indirectly support teams and the League.

For a few years now, the MLB has had specialty uniforms for Memorial Day and Independence Day, typically honoring the country’s Armed Forces. While the use of military camouflage for sports can be heavily debated (let’s not even bring the San Diego Padres and their Camo Alternates into the conversation), that’s not even the point anymore. This year the MLB now has special jerseys and caps to celebrate Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, the All-Star Game, and Workout Days surrounding the All-Star Game.

In the past, the All-Star Game festivities (workout days, Home Run Derby) have had special batting practice jerseys, but in more recent years the All-Star Game itself has had specialty hats, along with sleeve patches on each team’s normal jersey. Because baseball is such a non-contact sport, it is one of the few that has the luxury to not make specialty jerseys for its All-Star Game (imagine each NFL or NBA player wearing their team’s jersey during their respective All-Star Game), but where’s the money in that?

In 2014, the Minnesota Twins, hosts of the All-Star Game, paid tribute to their old batting helmets with specialty All-Star Game hats, which didn’t look all too bad, but things got a little funky when they wereclashed with teams’ everyday jerseys. Not the worst designs ever, but everyday caps could have looked a little nicer. In 2015, the Cincinnati Reds paid tribute to their pillbox days with their own specialty All-Star Game hats. Once again, these were a little funky.

Despite the oddities of 2014 and 2015 (note that 2013 was the last year that players wore their normal hats during the All Star Game), the Midsummer Classic of 2016 will be the strangest yet. Thanks tocoverage of MLB’s big reveal by, we have the full detail of what players will be wearing on their heads (and shoulders) right here (and in the linked post). As seen, players will wear a team-colored cap with a gray brim and squatchee (the small button on top of caps), gold stars on top, and on back, with a gold trim around their logo. While it is unclear whether or not teams got to pick their desired design, it seems as though some got the short end of the stick (see the Colorado Rockies).

Do take note of the Home Run Derby (and other events, like batting practice) jerseys for this year’s All-Star Game, which pay tribute to San Diego’s “back-in-the-day” uniforms which they are throwing back this year. Despite the jerseys themselves looking quite excellent (maybe a sign of the colors the Padres should adopt for everyday use), the team specific caps that will be worn during the Home Run Derby could very well not look any worse than they already do.

The odd colors (that really only work for a few teams) combined with the team names spelled out in a way too playful font will make for a “fashion gone wrong” agenda on top of each players’ head later this summer. The design failure here is somewhat disappointing as the Padres had a great opportunity to properly execute the style of the Home Run Derby cap in a way never done before.

Moving on from the All-Star Game, the MLB also revealed special uniforms and caps for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year. Mother’s Day will feature pink and graphite lettering and logos on every jersey, along with pink and graphite logos on graphite caps. All teams will wear their appropriate home or road jersey base, with the Padres outfitting themselves in their Sunday camouflage with the specialty lettering (which oddly clashes with graphite cap).

Father’s Day will see teams donning graphite and baby blue lettering and logos on uniforms, with each wearing their respective home or road uniform. The exceptions are, once again, the Padres in camouflage, the Angels wearing their red alternate jersey base, and the Giants keeping their orange “San Francisco” lettering.

Included in the reveal was another set of Memorial Day uniforms, with all 29 teams hailing from the United States wearing lettering with a camouflage base and darkened gray logos on a camouflage cap base. Somehow, the MLB made the pattern for these uniforms uglier than in the years past, but that’s just one assessment. As in years past, The Toronto Blue Jays will don the Canadian Army’s CADPAT camouflage pattern (one of the best-looking of the bunch).

Lastly, all 30 teams will be wearing special “Stars and Stripes” uniforms to celebrate Independence Day in the United States. All jersey lettering and logos have been recolored blue and red, and caps have been made uniform with one another, with either a red base or a blue base. It appears teams had the choice of which color for their caps. The base of each cap has a star pattern and almost all cap logos have been recolored (note Baltimore’s orange Oriole logo). A handful of teams are wearing alternate jerseys for the day, mainly those that already have a blue or red alternate in their arsenal (Washington, Boston, Los Angeles Angels, etc.). The Blue Jays are the one team with an exception, similar to their Memorial Day jerseys, and will don a maple leaf pattern on their caps in place of the stars. Each jersey, Blue Jays included, has an American Flag sleeve patch, a special addition for the holiday. The Blue Jays will also sport a Canadian Flag patch on their other arm.

Despite some of the mass failures seen in this year’s MLB specialty and event uniforms, it appears that most of them will create some revenue for approved charities and create some much needed hype for the game of baseball. While many of the uniforms don’t look too great on screen, we can hope that the on-field execution will be at least a few degrees better.

After getting in touch with Chris Creamer through Twitter, he made it clear that he hasn’t seen a reveal of uniforms this big before, and that we should expect something similar, if not bigger, next year, and each year following. This is a very sound analysis of where uniforms are headed, and something to be on the lookout for as the season, and seasons, progress.

As mentioned before, the proceeds from these specialty jersey sales will go to a number of charities as they hit the sales racks later this season. While the MLB won’t directly profit each time a barcode is scanned for one of these new products, the League will be making money as a result of the sale. Whether it’s because the hype created around a specialty jersey day brings more people to the ballpark or encourages more sales of other apparel, the League will be benefiting as a direct result of this new line of excessive jerseys.

While it can be nice to see a variety of uniforms on the field throughout the season, this year the MLB may have taken things too far. Over 300 specialty one-time jerseys and caps is far too many for one season. Granted, there are 30 teams, which comes out to 10 jerseys and caps for each team (and some will only be worn by select players at the All-Star Game and surrounding events), but many teams already have a seemingly infinite number of uniform combinations (take note of the Arizona Diamondbacks) without an extra 10 added to the mix.

Noted above by Chris Creamer, we should expect to see another set of uniforms (and maybe in bigger numbers) in the coming years, a continuation of the recent money grabs by professional sports leagues across the nation. Despite all this, some fans might enjoy having the opportunity to buy a dozen more uniforms as the season unfolds, in which case the MLB succeeded in their release of these 302 new jerseys and hats.

Reliving MLB’s “Turn Ahead the Clock Night” Almost 20 Years Later

Reliving MLB’s “Turn Ahead the Clock Night” Almost 20 Years Later

This text was first published on on April 14, 2016 as part of an English project at McDaniel College. It has been edited for its purposes on this blog and can be read in its entirety and original form by clicking here. To learn more about Pastime Pinstripes, please read our post “The Grain of the Game Announces New Blog Features.”

In 1998, the Seattle Mariners, with a lack of club success, chose to debut a rather quirky promotion. Rather than going the route of turning back the clock with throwback uniforms, the M’s chose to turn ahead the clock, taking to the field in futuristic fashion, as seen above. Facing off against the Kansas City Royals for the big day, Seattle transformed their entire stadium – then the Kingdome – into a futuristic setting, said to be from the 2027 season (which means there’s still time until these guys make a comeback).

Although the promotion was wildly unsuccessful, all but ten teams from the entire MLB suited up for Turn Ahead the Clock Night the following season in 1999. Those that chose not to participate included the New York Yankees (traditionalists in every aspect of uniforms), Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, and Los Angeles Dodgers . Those that did participate did so in varied style. Some, like the New York Mets, changed their look entirely (in this case becoming the “Mercury Mets” for a day), while others, like the San Francisco Giants, simply changed their colors and altered the look of one of their logos.

Although the Mariners were still the frontrunners in taking the promotion to the fullest extent (renaming positions on the field, altered advertisements, etc.), many other teams got in on the action as well.

In the National League West, the Arizona Diamondbacks wrapped a diamondback snake all the way around their jerseys, somewhat outshining the look of the Giants, with sideways names on the back, a popular style for the promotion. The Colorado Rockies wore a more “traditional” look for the promotion, sporting a purple and white vest-style jersey with a larger-than-necessary partial logo on the front. TheSan Diego Padres made more of an attempt to participate, simply altering their colors and wearing an odd jersey template. As mentioned above, the Dodgers chose not to participate.

The St. Louis Cardinals took charge in the National League Central, wearing a white and black jersey with their usual logo, steel-plated for the day. A rather haunting look (focus on the birds’ eyes), it was at least one of the more simple that day. The Milwaukee Brewers went another interesting route, using their “Beer Man” to grace the front of their jerseys, with a “Brewers” script running up the front of the jerseys on its side. The team’s look also included the “Beer Man” on the front of their caps. While the Cubs and Reds weren’t involved in the festivities, the Pittsburgh Pirates made up for it, wearing bright red sleeveless jerseys with a menacing pirate head taking over the entire front.

As the Mets took on their Mercury namesake, elsewhere in the National League East the Florida Marlins took a simpler route, wearing a black jersey with a larger version of their cap logo on the front. The Philadelphia Phillies took their red color seriously, shoving a red logo on top of a red jersey, with some white “futuristic” stripes to give it some pop. It is said that the Atlanta Braves wore a turn ahead the clock jersey, although no evidence of it can be found. The current day Washington Nationals (then the Expos) stayed far away from the alternative style (although one could argue the Expos played right into it almost every game).

Back on the West Coast in the American League, the Los Angeles Angels were another team to take their current logo and make it bigger and slanted on top of a flashy color, similar to what the Mariners did, just without the color changes. The Oakland A’s took the promotion a little more seriously, outfitting themselves in an alternative script with primary and cap logos to fit. The A’s were perhaps one of the better looking teams on Turn Ahead the Clock Night. Then in the National League, the Astros chose not to change up their uniforms.

In the American League Central, the Kansas City Royals implored the mindset of “go big or go home,” donning a larger version of their interlocking “KC” logo on a bright blue sleeveless jersey. Another documented account also shows the team wearing bright gold, flashy colors for a similar promotion. The Minnesota Twins sponsored a fan-favorite Star Wars character to join them, and wore recolored jerseys with a space-ified version of one of their logos. The Chicago White Sox kept it simple, sporting a large “Sox” logo atop a black jersey. In line with the White Sox, the Cleveland Indians enlarged their script logo and put it across the entirety of their jersey. The Detroit Tigers had one of the wackier designs for the promotion, wearing their simple “D” on the front of their uniforms and a fancy tiger print design on the back.

Finally, in the American League East, the Yankees and Blue Jays withheld from the promotion, but theTampa Bay Devil Rays made up for it with, again, an enlarged logo over an alternate jersey base. TheBoston Red Sox did the same, slanting their “B” logo over a red uniform. Pictures of the Baltimore Orioles couldn’t be found, but there is evidence that their Ball Girls were turned into “Orb Girls” for the day.

Because the 1999 promotion was supposed to be set in 2021, different from what the Mariners did in 1998, the Twins wore a 60th anniversary patch, one that we might see in just a few years. The Phillies had plans to wear American Flags with 77 stars, but the ones that made it onto the field only featured 60. Mercury Mets payer Jason Isringhausen couldn’t get his entire last name to fit on the alternative jerseys, so he became one of the few players with a nickname, “Izzy,” on his jersey instead.

While not the most successful or typical promotion, this (almost) league-wide event is certainly one to remember and one to look back to as the craziness of baseball uniforms progress. Maybe, just maybe, the MLB will have another go at Turn Ahead the Clock night, now that we know where uniforms are headed. But then again, where would baseball be without the Mercury Mets…

Pastime Pinstripes: A Brief Uniform History and Development of Professional Baseball

Pastime Pinstripes: A Brief Uniform History and Development of Professional Baseball

This text was first published on on April 4, 2016 as part of an English project at McDaniel College. It has been edited for its purposes on this blog and can be read in its entirety and original form by clicking here. To learn more about Pastime Pinstripes, please read our post “The Grain of the Game Announces New Blog Features.”

Major League Baseball’s two leagues – National and American – have had an interesting history with one another. Known as the Senior Circuit, the National League was founded on February 2, 1876 and quickly took hold of professional baseball.

Twenty five years later came the American League, or Junior Circuit, on January 28, 1901. The new league was developed from the roots of the Western League, a minor league that rose to major league status after the American Association disbanded in the late 19th century.

As soon as the American League was formed, the National League recognized them as competition. The American League drew star players like Babe Ruth, one of the game’s most well-known players, among many others. Prior to the National League’s competition with the Junior Circuit, the League had competition with the American Association. When the American Association debuted in 1882, they did so in uniformed fashion.

The American Association instituted a uniform code across the board that all teams had to adhere to. Teams were differentiated from one another by the color of their socks. The National League followed suit, and mandated that all players were to wear white pants, belts, and ties. Colored shirts and hats represented what position they played. Like the Association, socks also differentiated teams from one another.

National League Position Color Shirts and Hats:

  • Pitchers – Light Blue
  • Catchers – Scarlet
  • First Basemen – Scarlet with white vertical stripes
  • Second Basemen – Orange with black vertical stripes
  • Third Basemen – Blue with white vertical stripes
  • Shortstops – Maroon
  • Left Fielders – White
  • Center Fielders – Red with black vertical stripes
  • Right Fielders – Gray
  • 1st Substitute – Green
  • 2nd Substitute – Brown

National League Team Color Socks:

  • Boston Red Caps – Red
  • Buffalo Bisons – Gray
  • Chicago White Stockings – White
  • Cleveland Blues – Navy
  • Detroit Wolverines – Old Gold
  • Providence Grays – Light Blue (sky)
  • Troy Trojans – Green
  • Worcester Ruby Legs – Brown

American Association Team Color Socks:

  • Baltimore Orioles – Yellow
  • Cincinnati Red Stockings – Red
  • Louisville Eclipse – Gray
  • Philadelphia Athletics – White
  • Pittsburgh Alleghenys – Black
  • St. Louis Browns – Brown

As could be expected from simply reading the above, the team-position organization, or lack thereof, was extremely confusing to both players and fans and was dropped halfway through the 1882 season.

Throughout the 1880s most teams wore a similar shirt. It featured a laced-front with a full collar, and the team’s city name sewn onto the front. By 1888 three teams had adopted pinstripes, the Washington Nationals and Detroit Wolverines (National League) and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (American Association. Despite many giving the current-day New York Yankees credit for being the bearers of pinstripes (and yes, they are in today’s game), it was these three teams that adopted the style first.

Pastime Pinstripes: The History of the Baseball Stirrup

Pastime Pinstripes: The History of the Baseball Stirrup

This text was first published on on March 26, 2016 as part of an English project at McDaniel College. It has been edited for its purposes on this blog and can be read in its entirety and original form by clicking here. To learn more about Pastime Pinstripes, please read our post “The Grain of the Game Announces New Blog Features.”

Ever since the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club debuted the first uniformed look of the game on April 24, 1849, uniforms have evolved almost as much as the players themselves. The team took to the diamond outfitted in blue wool pants, white flannel shirts, and straw hats. The look was accompanied by leather belts and full collars on the shirts. By the end of the 1850′s, the style had spread to most other teams, each adopting their own style of shirt with a logo, emblem, or nameplate on the front, and sometimes all three, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Dressed to the Nines” online exhibit, an overall comprehensive source for all baseball uniform history.

Although the style was in full swing, many players disliked the way their pants fell to their ankles. According to a New York Times article written by Fred Bierman, they found that the pants often got caught in their feet when running, obstructing them from the highest caliber of play possible. To combat this, players used tape or belts to hold them down. In 1868, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (today’s Cincinnati Reds) debuted knickers (despite New York’s namesake) that were less restrictive and left the players’ socks visible. Cincinnati’s red socks (not to be confused with today’s Red Sox of Boston) became their trademark.

As each team adopted their own color of sock (look for the next post about uniforms colors in the late 19th century), players found that when they were spiked by an opponent’s cleat they could get blood poisoning if the sock dye ran into their wound. Players then began to wear white “sanitary socks” underneath their team-colored stockings for safety measures.

Players fitting their double-socked foot into a normal-sized pair of cleats became a problem and the stirrup was born. The new piece of technology allowed players to represent their team color while wearing the sanitary sock underneath, fitting both smoothly into their shoe.

Just like uniforms, stirrups themselves evolved throughout the ages. The first set showed barely any of the white under sock. By the time Mickey Mantle debuted with the New York Yankees in the 1950′s, players were showing a good amount of the white, and when Tom Seaver took to the field with the New York Mets in the 1960′s, stirrups were near secondary to the shiny white underneath. When Mike Schmidt hit the hot corner for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980′s, he wore his stirrups as thin stripes, appearing as an extension of the piping on his pant.

In about a century, baseball leg apparel had gone almost full circle. When players like Barry Bonds came out wearing pants down to their ankles, the circle was completed, for better or for worse. Bonds wore his pants tight and to the ankle. Many players today, like Prince Fielder, wear their pants to the ankles (or sometimes past the top of the shoe even), yet wear them baggy. This evolution (or anti-evolution) has led to players choosing the possibility of encountering the exact problem that, decades ago, players worked to eliminate.


Hops Lose Dazzling Opener to Emeralds

Hops Lose Dazzling Opener to Emeralds

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The Hops were shutout 6-0 by the Eugene Emeralds on Monday night at their home opener at Ron Tonkin Field in front of a sold out crowd of 5,093. The loss came to the home team after a 1-3 start to the season in Keizer where they allowed 30 runs to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, scoring just 11 of their own.

Starter Taylor Wright struck out nine while walking zero in five innings of three run, four hit ball for Hillsboro (1-3). The righty held the Emeralds (3-1) to just two hits through three innings, yet accrued his first loss of the season.

Unfortunately, those two hits scored the first runs of the brisk two hour and 25 minute game. With two outs in the top of the third (both from K’s), Eugene leadoff hitter D.J. Wilson singled to second. One pitch – and one pickoff move – later Andruw Monasterio homered to give the Emeralds a 2-0 lead. Wright would force the next hitter into a groundout to end the inning.

Wright gave up a leadoff double to Yeiler Peguero to start the fifth, a runner that would score one batter later.

Down 3-0, Hops reliever Jake Winston entered the game and lasted just one seven-batter inning. The first-year player out of Southern Mississippi gave up four hits and three runs in the inning, although only two were earned. Shortstop Manny Jefferson would allow Kevonte Mitchell to reach on an error to start the inning. By the time Winston left the game and the top of the sixth was over, the Hops faced a six run deficit.

Kirby Bellow, Jordan Watson, and Julio Perez each threw an inning of no-run ball for Hillsboro to close out the game, but the damage had been done.

Eugene starter Manuel Rondon threw five innings of one hit shutout ball, facing just one batter over the minimum. The southpaw combined with righty Michael Knighton to force the Hops to go three-up, three-down in all but two innings the entire game.

Knighton allowed just two hits in four innings, both of which came in the ninth. The first-year Chicago Cubs prospect earned his first save, preserving Rondon’s first win.

Hillsboro’s Ron Tonkin Field opener was a sloppy one. The Hops committed four errors: errant throws from Jefferson (2) and Wright and a missed catch by first baseman Luke Lowery. Catcher Alexis Olmeda had one passed ball.

Eugene added two errors of their own to the mess: one missed throw by Monasterio and a botched grounder by Peguero.

Not the clean outcome that fans, players, and coaches alike were hoping for, the Hops will look to Championship Night tonight against the Emeralds for their first win at home of the 2016 season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with mini replica championship trophies to be handed out to the first 1,500 fans through the gates at Ron Tonkin Field.