This Sunday night at the Little League Classic, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets will be tapping into the memories of staying out past bedtime to play with friends, the all-dirt infields, sitting on a bench so big your feet can’t reach the ground, and of course those bright, colourful, pullover uniforms — it was the first baseball jersey that was all yours, with your own number on the back and everything.
For the Mets vs. Phillies game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on Sunday night (and again throughout the entire league next weekend) players will get custom coloured cleats, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, bats, catcher’s equipment, and whatever they want in place of their last name on jerseys.
“We wanted to reach out in the direction of youth, and really allow the players to show their personalities”, Noah Garden, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Business told SportsLogos.Net last August. “As you start to reminisce about playing when you’re a kid, there are different colours, my son played t-ball on the Orioles, he loved the bright colour of that uniform.”
The caps and jerseys will feature a different spin on Jerry Dior’s iconic MLB silhouette logo; the “evolution” logo as it’s being called invites us along on the journey a player makes as they go from the Little Leagues up to the Majors:
“Our idea here is we start from the Little League logo, then watch the progression, the stances based on a child and their progression during those periods,” Anne Occi, MLB Vice President of Design Services told SportsLogos.Net.
The logo eventually evolves into a flip of the silhouette from the actual MLB league logo, now extending beyond just the head and shoulders we’re so used to seeing, and no it’s still not based on any one particular player.
“What we did was we took into account different stances and obviously our batter, to make him full-bodied,” Occi explained. “It doesn’t flow quite as well because it’s usually truncated but it still gives you a nice stance and it still gets you from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’”.
That evolution logo appears in three places on the uniform, two of which are the usual spots you’d normally find the Major League Baseball logo — back of the cap, back of the jersey above the player name; the third in the form of a special “THANK YOU” patch on the sleeve with a blank space to allow players to add the name of someone important to their development as a baseball player.
“You got these players that made it to the highest level of their profession, as they look back upon their career path and how they got there, who do they thank? Everybody’s different. That’s where the ‘Thank You’ patch came in”, Garden added. “Being able to handwrite whoever they want — moms, dads, coaches, teachers, friends, it gives the players an opportunity to contribute to a person who was really important to them.”
Game-worn jerseys from the Little League Classic and the subsequent Players Weekend will be auctioned at MLB.com. All proceeds from the auctions will be donated to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, a joint effort established in July 2015 by MLB and the MLBPA with an initial commitment of $30 million (USD) focused on improving the calibre, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across Canada and the United States.
The 2018 Little League Classic, the second event of its kind following last year’s game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, will be played Sunday, August 19 at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania during the Little League World Series tournament. The game will be played in front of a crowd made up primarily of Little League players and their families and the game will air nationally on Sunday Night Baseball.