The Toronto Blue Jays are showing their Canadian pride as they head into the 2017 season, one which coincides with the year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The new red alternate uniform was unveiled today at a media event held during the Blue Jays Winter Tour at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The uniform is being added to the existing rotation, it is not replacing anything, the home white, road grey, and alternate blue jerseys will all be back in 2017. The new red alternate is scheduled to be worn for each Sunday home game during the regular season (likely excluding the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events) and also for additional select games in July.
Much like the Canadian flag there are no colours to be found other than red and white throughout the entire outfit. All traces of what normally would be blue have been re-coloured red; from the cap (and yes, the batting helmet is red too), to the jersey, to the inner-line of the lettering and numbers, right down to the stripes on the pants, the socks, and even the shoes.
Red, red, and even more red.
On the left sleeve a maple leaf patch has been added.
The cap appears similar to the old “alternate batting practice” cap the team had worn on Canada Day the last couple of seasons — a red maple leaf with white outline on a red crown, again similar to the patch on the jersey sleeve. There are slight differences between the new cap and the alternate BP cap from last year, the material of the cap is now exactly the same as the usual Blue Jays blue game cap instead of the “DiamondEra” style of the BP cap, the maple leaf has raised embroidery, and the Jays logo which was on the back of the BP cap has been removed here.
“Red is honestly one of my favourite colours, so Canada Day was always a day I looked forward to pitch on,” Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman said. “The idea that we’re going to be able to wear these on Sunday now is exciting.”
The Blue Jays have traditionally worn a red version of their standard set for their Canada Day home game almost annually since 1996. In 2013 they added an additional date to honour the national baseball program.
“I love how it’s a contrast to the blue jerseys that we wear,” Stroman added. “I think it plays great with our colours and everything we have going on. [The team] knows we love wearing red every time Canada Day comes, everyone’s excited to put on red cleats, everything’s a little different, so I think [the jersey design process] is pretty collective and everyone saw that we liked this.”
“I like ‘em, they’re different, something a little different than what we’re used to wearing,” said infielder Ryan Goins. “It looks cool to show up to a different colour jersey in the locker room and now we’ll get to do it more than just on Canada Day.”
As stated before the Jays will be wearing this jersey now approximately 15 times in the upcoming 2017 season, if you assume every Sunday home game plus the special holidays and a few extra in July equals almost 20% of all home games, up from just twice in each of the last three seasons.
“We really respect and appreciate the support we have across the country, this is a chance to honour our country and now we’ll be honouring it and showing our love for it every Sunday,” vice-president of baseball media Jay Stenhouse told us when asked if he thought this would make the Canada Day game a little less special. “The players said ‘it’s great, let’s do it all the time’.”
This marks the first time in several years the team has had a strict schedule when it comes to any one of their jersey choices, about ten years back they’d wear 1970s-style powder blue throwbacks every Friday home game, there was also a short lived “Saturday home” sleeveless jersey circa 2000.
One jersey the team clearly seems to love to wear, especially whenever they’re playing in the Postseason, is their alternate blue option… but why? Who’s making that decision? Is it the starting pitcher? The equipment manager?
According to Marcus Stroman it’s Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki:
“Tulo likes the blue jerseys. Tulo’s the man, so Tulo picks most of the time. Other guys will chime in but I find that we kinda give it to Tulo. Sometimes when I’m starting I’ll come in and I’ll say ‘Tulo, what do you want to wear today?’, he’ll say, ‘let’s wear this’. It’s a feel thing, we got a great clubhouse, very relaxed. If Tulo says ‘we’re wearing this one’, and someone else is like ‘no, let’s wear this one’, we’ll get a little collective group together and decide what jersey we’ll wear that day.”
Starting around the time of Tulo’s acquisition in July 2015 through the end of that season the Blue Jays only wore their grey road jersey once. The jersey made more appearances early on in 2016 before vanishing again in the second half. Toronto has not worn a grey jersey in the post season since Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling shut them out in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series.
As for designing a team jersey himself one day? Marcus would be very interested…
“Oh absolutely. That’d be awesome to be honest with you, I think I could design a pretty sick jersey. It wouldn’t be all red [like the new Jays alternate] but there’d definitely be some red in it.”
While I’m sure Marcus could do a good job let’s keep in mind that the Arizona Diamondbacks relied heavily on the players thoughts for their *coughs* less-than-positively-received uniform redesign for 2016. So. We’ll see.
Toronto is scheduled to debut their brand new red alternate jersey on Sunday, April 16th at home against AL East division rival Baltimore Orioles.