For those who wondered when Nike would start to make its mark on Major League Baseball, wonder no more. After previously introducing “ColorRush” and “City” uniforms to the NFL and NBA respectively, this morning Nike has dropped its new “City Connect” series on the baseball world.
Just one team will see their new City Connect uniform unveiled today at launch, the Boston Red Sox. Following this, the program will slowly expand across the rest of the league over the course of several seasons.
“Developed in partnership with MLB Clubs, the Nike MLB City Connect series celebrates the bond between each team and its city,” reads the jointly-released statement which accompanied the announcement. “The uniform series explores the personality, values and customs that make each community and their residents unique. Building on the rich heritage of each Club, the City Connect series pushes the boundaries of baseball uniform design to create new traditions and help grow the game of baseball.”
Today it’s just the Boston Red Sox, but as the 2021 season progresses six other teams will be revealed: the Miami Marlins will be next followed by the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
“This process started with us wanting to be collaborative between the clubs and Nike to tell new stories and to bring new narratives to the teams that are meaningful to the community and to the players”, Nike Senior Creative Director Wil Green said in a conversation with SportsLogos.net. “That’s how we’ve started every project with this series. We have a conversation with the team and ask what is important to the team? To the fans? To the players? And then start to unpack what’s meaningful to them.”
Yes, we will see several more Major League teams, in addition to the seven releasing in 2021, join the program and begin to introduce their City Connect uniforms in subsequent seasons. Each of these new uniforms can (and presumably will) be worn multiple times during the year and will be carried over and worn over a period of three seasons.
“We decided to stagger the release of the jerseys with a limited amount, instead of doing the whole league at one time. This way we can truly let the teams celebrate the stories that they’ll be unveiling, and giving them the opportunities then to celebrate their uniqueness through these uniform programs,” Green said. “Next year, you will see more teams roll out but really giving them the space and the opportunity to breathe.”
Turning our attention now to the Boston Red Sox and their new uniform launched today, it was the city’s annual Patriots’ Day celebration that provided inspiration for their noticeably off-brand City Connect uniform. Yellow jerseys with light blue caps, a stencilled “Boston” word mark across the chest [inspired by the finish line of the Boston Marathon] is in light blue as well as a marathon runner’s bib on the sleeve [containing Fenway Park’s 617 area code] on a horizontally striped black, white, and light blue rectangle. On the back of the jersey is just the player’s number (no name), numbers are not in the standard Red Sox font and are light blue with a white drop shadow. The only visually-apparent hint that these are *the* Red Sox is the inclusion of the team’s familiar “B” on the cap, recoloured to match the jersey.
“We wanted to do something bold and different,” Boston Red Sox CMO Adam Grossman told SportsLogos.net. “We thought this presented an opportunity to do something that we had never done before. We talked to Nike early, we raised our hand when they announced the deal with baseball, and said ‘We want to partner with you, we want to do something completely different. We love our history, we love our connection to the city, but we’re also willing to do something that’s bold and in a very different direction.'”
The Red Sox have hardly tinkered with their overall look over the years. Aside from a few minor tweaks to the jersey cut and the occasional switch from a red cap to a blue cap (and that one year it was white!), the home uniform has stayed relatively the same dating back all the way to 1936. The road uniform has seen more changes but has consistently been a grey jersey with BOSTON arched across the front in either blue or red lettering for the past 89 seasons.
So why the sudden change to yellow and light blue?
“We were looking for that moment that brought all Bostonians together and Patriots’ Day was really the main point of inspiration through this process with the Red Sox”, Green told us. “It’s about the yellow and the blue that unites the city to that moment. Of course, everybody knows the finish line being that yellow and blue colour, and just that that colour of Patriots’ Day was really where that yellow and blue came from to bring this jersey to life.”
“The Patriots’ Day weekend is a uniquely Boston weekend”, said Grossman, “and there’s nothing like it the rest of the year.”
Patriots’ Day is an annual holiday celebrated the third Monday in April across five U.S. states (including Massachusetts), it is held to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Menotomy, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. In Boston, the holiday is also observed along with the running of the Boston Marathon, which has been held on Patriots’ Day in every (non-COVID) year since 1897.
With the heavy Patriots’ Day inspiration, it should really come as no surprise that the uniform will be making its on-field debut over that long weekend in Boston. The Red Sox will be hosting baseball’s other sock-centric team, the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, April 17th and then will wear them again on Sunday the 18th. The team’s usual Patriots’ Day “Boston Strong” uniforms will return for their game on Monday morning.
Boston’s City Connect uniform doesn’t stop with the new jersey and cap, a new pair of pants, socks, and shoes were all specially designed to match each team’s set. The Red Sox will wear yellow socks with blue and white stripes and a blue “B”. The team’s familiar hanging socks logo with EST. 1901 around it is added to the back of the socks giving this uniform set its only trace of red throughout. The pants are white with light blue striping and matching belt and shoes will be in the light blue/yellow colour scheme.
“Some [City Connect uniform] colours, may be not as traditional, but it does to open up the conversation to tell the story in a really powerful and meaningful way”, Green added when asked about the departure from the typical Red Sox look with this design. “This uniform brings a new conversation with the existing fan, but also invites new fans to a conversation to really celebrate this moment with Patriots’ Day, which brings all of the community together. I hope the fans truly get and understand what this program is trying to do by trying to unite the city in a new way.”
“These were not designed for the traditionalists, we recognize it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and we’re okay with that,” Grossman said. “That’s something that we talked to Nike about, they said ‘These are designed to push the envelope and it’s okay to acknowledge that not everyone’s going to gonna like these’. They’re not meant to replace our day-to-day uniforms, we are not going from the Red Sox in the white, red, and blue to yellow and light blue, we’re not changing our colours. This is a compliment to what we’re doing, not a replacement.”
In addition to replica and authentic jerseys, matching Red Sox hoodies, t-shirts, and other merchandise will be available at retail starting today at mlbshop.com
We will see the six other teams unveil their City Connect uniforms in the coming months and while no dates have yet been set for when they will be unveiled, we do know when they will make their on-field débuts. The Miami Marlins will debut theirs on May 21st, the White Sox on June 5th, the Cubs on June 12th, the Diamondbacks on June 18th, the Giants on July 9th, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will finish things off sometime in late August.