We here at The Turf hope you all had a patriotic, food-filled,and most importantly, a safe Happy July 4th!
For most of you, yesterday is being spent at a barbeque with friends and family, or you’re camped out waiting for fireworks. Perhaps you’re talking a long stroll through a park or listening to the Original Cast Recording of 1776.
However, Andrew Mark Wilhelm and myself, spent our day inside watching baseball and salivating over the 2018 Fourth of July uniforms.
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As we all know, Major League Baseball has decided to make every holiday they can into a marketing and revenue grab. There’s Jackie Robinson Day, where every player wears the number 42 and hats and jerseys with patches are put into rotation for a day. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day have their own stylings, with players wearing blue hats and jerseys with blue accents, and mother’s day brings the color pink into the picture. Beyond the jerseys are pink bats, pink catchers equipment, and special cleats.
Before we go any further, I want to clear something up. I am 100% in favor of these specialty uniforms. I am all for it. There was a time when I despised them, but then the NBA changed my mind. The NBA doesn’t really mess with special event jerseys with the exception of one day: Christmas. Up until 2017, the NBA’s Christmas slate featured a selection of jerseys only worn on the 25th, and I loved them.
There was a uniformness, pun intended, to the day as if the NBA was celebrating with your family. They knew it was special, and the jerseys showed us that. However, in 2017, the NBA stopped that practice and the games lost that sense of Christmas Day sparkle. It just felt like a normal December Day.
There is also the chance that a specialty jersey will crash and burn. The insane, yet somehow incredible Turn Ahead the Clock uniforms from 1998 were legitimately heinous. However, I am so glad the Mariners brought them back, even if it was for one game.
Then there are the Player Weekend jerseys. While this is a very cute idea, the color schemes are flat out horrid, and the nickname’s on the backs of the jerseys is a half-baked idea. Did I love that Kyle Seager had “Corey’s Brother” on his jersey? Yes. Do people ask me who Corey is when I wear mine? Yes. Did I actually buy a Kyle Seager Player’s Weekend jersey? No way. If there was one to buy it would have been Byron Maxwell’s “PTBNL”, which stands for “Player To Be Named Later.”
So these specialty jerseys are hit and miss and the fourth of July has seen some of the biggest shifts in design and style. Originally in 2013, the MLB went with a simple red, white and blue theme within the logo, keeping it classy. The next year they added a star behind the team logo.
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In 2015, they added the American flag in the background of the front two panels, allowing teams to choose a red hat or a blue hat, depending on the team’s colors.
In 2016, MLB and New Era lost their damn minds and gave us this:
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This is the problem with specialty uniforms, they all can’t be great, and eventually you over correct yourself. This cartoony, bubble gum chewing, monstrosity was the red light the MLB needed. In 2017, they reversed course, opting for a red and blue cap in their new heathered style they would also use for the 2017 All-Star Game hats.
This year they brought it back to square one, with an updated flair.
The 2018 hats feature the team logo with the stars and stripes embroidered within the insignia. Surrounding each team’s logo is a line of gold embroidery, allowing the team logo to pop out. Each team has been assigned either a crisp red base cap or a stark navy blue background, with their league’s logo on the right side panel.
Crisp. Elegant. Fresh. My lord. These are the best ones yet. And if you haven’t seen the All-Star Game caps… get into them, because they are on the same plane.
As for the jerseys, the MLB kept it simple. Stars within the logos and lettering, and Stance’s trademark novelty “red and white striped right foot and stars on the left” socks. Simple, efficient, clean, lovely. If only our country were the same way.
Sidenote: If you do not own a pair of Stance socks, I honestly think you should turn in your shoes, because you aren’t worthy of them. They are insanely comfortable socks. Get into it.
And now, I’ll hand the reigns to our resident Sneakerhead with a PHD in Jersey Sciences…ANDREW MARK WILHELM.
I agree with Justin for the most part. These are some of the best specialty jerseys MLB has EVER produced. And the hats. My word the hats. The touch of “We The People” on the bottom of the brim is a splendid touch. However, I do think the Memorial Day caps, with their olive green brim and subtle black camouflage print, are the best hats MLB has produced in the last decade. I immediately bought one the second I saw my Tigers’ wearing them. But the Memorial Day jerseys were just okay.
These 4th of July jerseys are so dope. The Milwaukee jersey in particular, with the way they did the lettering on a clean white jersey, is especially fresh. Really, only the Angels jersey is a miss. They should’ve used the white jerseys instead of the red ones. It’s a bit too much, just like the Angels.
As a quick aside, there is one team that plays in Canada. The Toronto Blue Jays are still wearing specialty uniforms, but there are no stars or stripes behind their logo. They are wearing their blue jerseys (with an added US flag patch for some reason) and a red hat with a solid gold Maple Leaf logo and the word CANADA under the brim. It’s a really clean look. They also wore this hat with a special red jersey on July 1st in honor of Canada Day.
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The one specialty jersey I actually have an issue with is the Jackie Robinson jersey. I love Jackie Robinson. I wrote multiple school papers on him growing up. And I LOVE that the league retired his number across every team. And I like the whole league wearing his number. But I don’t think they should be sold. He played for the Dodgers. If you want a Jackie Robinson jersey, it should have to be Dodgers jersey.
Stance also needs to start getting more love. Between their MLB and NBA socks, they are killing the game.
Look, this is clearly a cash grab. And in a sense, there’s nothing really more American than a cash grab. But it’s also a brilliant marketing ploy that lets designers play with classic uniforms that might otherwise never really change. Unless you’re one of those rare types who need to have multiple player jerseys, a typical fan is going to be content with one home and/or road jersey for years.
So the addition of specialty jerseys is a good way to get people to buy more. (I personally have a “Gold Championship Edition” Javier Baez Cubs jersey. It’s unbelievably sexy.) And if you’re in the market for a new hat or jersey, you really can’t go wrong with one of these stars and stripes options for your favorite player or team.