The term was heard quite a few times tonight in Phoenix as the Arizona Diamondbacks unveiled their new uniforms before over a thousand fans, media, and VIPs at an event held at Chase Field. While the term was referring specifically to the evolution of the team and their design, it can also certainly apply to Major League Baseball uniforms as a whole.
Tonight we saw something we’ve never seen before. Sublimated designs printed onto the base fabric of the jerseys, the pants, and the ballcaps. It’s happening now, it’ll happen more in the future.
“Engaging kids through participation programs, technology and other ways has been a foremost goal of Major League Baseball over the past year,” Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said in a press release, “We appreciate that the Arizona Diamondbacks prioritized this goal in the redesign of their uniforms, which aim to appeal to kids while staying true to the team’s identity.”
If what the Diamondbacks unveiled tonight turns out to be any amount of a success, seeing these new ideas roll out across other teams will not only be plausible, but encouraged.
“We were just trying to go with what is popular and trending today”, D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall told SportsLogos.Net. “There’s going to be some people that don’t like them, this is a really different look when it comes to Major League Baseball”.
“It’s out there enough that you open yourself up to criticism but at the end of the day if you do what you think is right for baseball, is right for the team, you just hold your head high and don’t look back.”
Seven new uniforms in all were unveiled by the team including two home whites, two road greys, two black alternates, one red alternate, and the lone holdover from 2015 – a throwback jersey from the 2001 World Championship team. Uniforms were designed in-house by the Diamondbacks with assistance from Nike and the players themselves.
“The marketing team brought us on very early,” recalled D-Backs All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. “They’d bring in all sorts of jerseys from past All-Star Games, from other teams, asking us ‘What do you like? What don’t you like?’. They took pretty much every player’s opinion and tried to design what they could. We got snapshots throughout the last eighteen months or so.”
Goldy admitted that at first most players were a little unsure about the untraditional look.
“At first you’re like ‘Oh man, where are they going with this?’, they had some designs at times that we didn’t like and they went back to the drawing board and re-designed them. We were a little hesitant at first because it was something we’ve never seen before but the more we saw it the more we got excited about it.”
So excited that they became the primary driving force behind keeping that new pattern throughout the uniform.
“The diamond gradient is so new, a little out there,” Hall said, “But our players loved it so much and reacted so well to it that we kept it. We’re proud of it and even used it on a hat now.”
As mentioned earlier the team will have eight different jerseys to choose from in the upcoming season, and on top of that the various caps can be mixed and matched to create even more potential uniform combinations. Something Goldschmidt thinks the fans will enjoy more than dislike, “I think it’s pretty cool that as a fan you won’t know what to expect when you come to the ballpark, kinda adds to it, not knowing what we’re going to wear”
In addition to the massive walk-in closet that is their uniform selection, the team now has two different sets of primary colours. Teal appears nowhere on the main home and road uniforms but is very much a part of the white and grey alternate sets.
“The primary colours are still the Sedona Red and Sonoran Sand,” Hall clarified for us, “but it was important for us last year to bring the purple and teal back with our throwbacks. We’re going to continue that, but I also wanted to make sure with the nine years in the purple and teal, nine years in the red that we somehow bridge the two together. That’s why we introduced that new uniform that combines both the red and the teal.”
There were a few other ideas from the past which the club would have loved to include but just couldn’t make them work well with everything else they were trying to do.
“We tried purple, it didn’t match so well, but the teal with our red really popped and I’m glad that we can bridge the two [eras]. Another important colour here in Arizona is copper, so we used a lot of copper and bronze early on, all of our [early prototype] uniforms included it. But it came to a point where we just said ‘we can’t do it, it’s not working, it doesn’t fit”, and we eliminated all of it. We also tried pinstripes because it’s a part of our history, but it just didn’t work with these colours.”
Bronze sounds like it could have been interesting, maybe as a replacement for the tan. Dropping the pinstripes was probably for the best, there’s just already so much going on with this design could you imagine adding stripes on top of it?
Here’s what the Diamondbacks ended up going with…
Starting with the standard home uniform, the jersey is white with a red and white diamondback snake pattern on the shoulders, down the sides, and on the pants. Across the chest is a new wordmark, same colours but much less stylized than the one worn previously by the team, the name is still abbreviated to “D-Backs”. The diamond acting as a hyphen is also being carried over.
A player number returns to the jersey front for the first time since the colour change to red. On the sleeve the original batting practice cap logo returns altered to appear in the modern colours. The cap can be paired with five different caps (all the non-teal caps) according to the official release, at the event they were shown with the red cap first in the press handout it is shown with the gradient cap.
On the main road uniform, the shade of grey has been darkened significantly. Another request by the players, Hall said during the unveiling, to help the team stand out apart from the rest of the league. “ARIZONA” is arched across the front in the new font in black, red, and tan. Front player number in red and black only but back number includes an extra tan outline. This jersey can be paired with the same five non-teal caps as the home.
Alternate uniform the first, we’ve got the home whites with a splash of teal. A nod to the uniforms of their original seasons. Teal and black trim appear around the collar and the sleeve cuffs as well as around the wordmark and number. The diamond pattern is eliminated from the shoulders and is moved to the back of the jersey… Get it? It’s a diamond back. This jersey will only be worn with the new teal-trimmed A cap.
On the road there’s a similarly tealed-up version of their uniform
The new red alternate jersey has the black diamond pattern on the shoulders and sides, pants have the pattern in red. “DBACKS” across the chest in black and tan. Like the other red and black jerseys the five non-teal caps can be worn with this.
Black alternate jersey is very similar to the one worn last year, but with the addition of the red diamond patterns. No number on the front, the only jersey in the set to not include this. Only three caps are shown to be available with this jersey — Black/red gradient “A”, black “A”, and the snake-head black BP cap.
The Los DBacks Spanish Heritage uniform is the same design as the black alternate described below but with the different wordmark and a front player number. Only worn once per year before the team announced today this would be seen several times in 2016.
Finally, the team will wear a straight-up throwback of the cream vest with purple undershirt, what the team originally wore from 1998-2006 and then again last season. Will be worn every Thursday home game.
While reaction on-line was mixed, mostly negative, the Diamondbacks fans at the event were thrilled about the new look. The place erupted in applause after each new look was presented, the loudest of which reserved for those with teal.
It’s a bold new look for the team, it’s going to take me some time to come around to them… especially that diamond pattern on the shoulders, I’ve never really been a fan of baseball uniforms with coloured shoulders – and, yes, we’ve at least seen that much before on a baseball jersey, notably Team Canada (among other nations) during the World Baseball Classic and other international events.
I don’t hate the pattern idea, in fact I think it’s been applied quite well on the white alternate jersey with the teal accents. The subtle silver diamonds on the back, that’s a smart idea and a good way to apply it. Maybe this is something that could be toned down in a similar fashion across the board one day? But really, we should at least see them in-action before suggesting any changes.
Whatever your thoughts on the new Diamondbacks uniforms, we can at least agree that we will remember them for a long, long time. The innovative designs, whether a success or a failure retain a special spot in uniform lore… just think of how many people *still* talk about the White Sox shorts, or the Astros rainbow uniforms.
We’ll be talking about these for years, and years, and years. They got your attention. And that alone suggests that it’s been a success. So far.