A uniform decision? It’s a different look on All-Star jerseys



In 1933, in the first All-Star Game, National League players wore gray wool uniform shirts, with seven buttons on the front and the words “National League” spelled out in blue felt letters.

These uniforms are so historic that one of them is displayed in the Hall of Fame. Every year since then, players have worn their team jerseys in the All-Star Game.

Until Tuesday night, that is. For the first time in 88 years, National League players will wear National League jerseys. For the first time ever, American League players will wear American League jerseys.

“I don’t know if I’m necessarily in love with this,” said two-time star Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. “Wearing a Dodger uniform on the field for an All-Star game is something to be proud of. “

The jerseys have a bold and innovative feel, or a softball feel, depending on your perspective. NL jerseys are white and AL jerseys are blue, with a three letter abbreviation for each team in red, going down the chest and partially obscured by the team logo. The two buttons give the swimsuits a Henley look, and each sleeve has a floral border.

“A little boring,” said closest to the San Diego Padres, four-time All-Star Mark Melancon. ” I do not like it. I like seeing everyone’s personal uniforms, showing the different colors of all the teams. I don’t know why they chose this path.

There is a four letter answer: Nike. When Major League Baseball signed a billion dollar deal with Nike in 2019, MLB more than cashed in. The league has asked for help with its continuing problem of attracting a younger and younger audience.

“It was really about being able to harness their expertise to reach a younger audience and elevate the sport, and in the power of the marketing brand that is Nike,” said MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden.

In addition to the All-Star uniforms, Garden cited Nike’s “City Connect” series of uniforms, recently seen in a San Francisco Giants jersey in which letters and numbers come out of a fog, with icons of the Golden Gate Bridge on the sleeves. The City Connect uniform for the Dodgers is expected to be unveiled next month.

“If you look at these jerseys, they are a total departure from where teams have traditionally gone with their jerseys,” he said. “We trust our partner and are working with them to come up with these designs which luckily resonated with our fan base.”

MLB officials haven’t consulted with players about the new All-Star uniforms. In Nike, they trust.

In 2003, the MLB pioneered the concept of dressing the All-Stars in AL and NL uniforms. The league backed off, but not before New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi snapped up the idea.

“Stupid,” Giambi told Gannett News Service. “It’s just stupid. It’s just another stupid idea. Fans want to see the players in their own uniforms.

The National League players wore this jersey in the first All-Star game in 1933.

(Milo Stewart Jr./Museum & National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Angels manager Joe Maddon, two-time All-Star manager, said he liked the tradition of players lining up for presentations in their team uniforms – a few Dodgers standing together, later a few Padres, and so on. right now. In the NBA and NFL, players wear conference gear rather than team gear in all-star games. Baseball is self-sufficient – or, at least, it has.

“There are a lot of good things that can be done in terms of marketing, but we can also market the tradition,” Maddon said.

“There must be catering for the group you’re trying to kiss, but how do you do that?” Just by conceding different hats and uniform tops? Or actually teach them what the game is about, and how to play it, and how to watch it, and how to understand it? It’s a complex game. I think this is what we are missing. We are not educating the masses properly.

Todd Radom, who designed the most recent version of the Angels’ uniforms and wrote a book called “Winning Ugly: A Visual History of Baseball’s Most Unique Uniforms,” ​​said MLB was losing an element of the sport’s timelessness. You can look at a photo of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays on the same pitch, each wearing their team’s white uniforms, and you would know the photo was taken during an All-Star game.

“Baseball is rooted in tradition, including visual tradition,” Radom said. “It’s a step to say the least. “

He’s not a fan of the floral ornaments, or the two buttons, and certainly not the oversized team abbreviations that don’t read left to right but top to bottom.

“The human eye is not used to reading things this way,” he said. “There is a series of disparate pieces that all converge into something less than harmonious.”

Again, Radom is 57 years old. Garden is 50 years old.

“It’s not supposed to please me,” Garden said. “It’s supposed to appeal to my kids.”

On this point, the new jerseys seem to be a success. They are “basically sold,” an MLB official said.

Freddie Freeman, five-time All-Star first baseman for the Atlanta Braves, said he was a proud member of the old school. He is nonetheless ready to let fans vote with their wallets.

“It will be interesting to see if people like it,” Freeman said. “That’s the whole story. If the fans like it, that’s all we care about. We want the fans to be excited about it.

Turner said, “I’m all for the new and the change. Maybe this will be something that spreads and it will be super popular and we will for years to come. “

For another year, at least, in Los Angeles. Nike is designing new NL and AL jerseys for the 2022 All-Star game at Dodger Stadium.


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