This text was first published on pastimepinstripes.tumblr.com 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…