This text was first published on pastimepinstripes.tumblr.com 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 sportslogos.net, “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 sportslogos.net, 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.