With a nod to Latin America’s contribution to baseball history, the Miami Marlins this morning unveiled their first-ever City Connect uniform from Nike. This is the second of seven City Connect uniforms that will be worn across Major League Baseball in 2021, the Boston Red Sox were first when they unveiled their yellow tops back in April.
The new Marlins uniform, débuting May 21st against the New York Mets, pays tribute to the Cuban Sugar Kings, the memorable Triple-A Minor League Baseball team that claimed a Junior World Series Championship in 1959. As was the case with Boston’s City Connect uniform, this will be worn for a handful of games per year over the next three seasons.
The design is an inverted version of the Sugar Kings uniform, instead of doing as the Sugar Kings (white with red pinstripes), the Marlins will wear the opposite — a red jersey with white pins. “Miami” is scripted across the chest in white with a Marlins-Blue drop shadow, the Marlins logo (showing just the marlin leaping, no baseball stitching or “M” as they usually wear) added as a patch on the left sleeve.
There’s a nice tribute to the original Sugar Kings patch (a crown on a bag of sugar inside a large “C” for Cuba) which will be worn on the right sleeve, this shows a bag of sugar with a crown and an “MM” inside, MIAMI MARLINS written below in red and blue.
Caps are the same shade of blue as the jersey script and features the same red, white, and blue crown logo with the Marlins’ “MM” initials in white. Again, this is a modified version of that Sugar Kings old jersey sleeve patch. The same Marlins logo from the sleeve of the new jersey is duplicated as a patch on the right side of the cap.
Player names and numbers are white with blue trim, the numbers also carry the same drop shadow treatment as the “Miami” script on the front of the jersey. These numbers “blend the past, present, and future of Latin America’s baseball and cultural influence” according to the news release.
“Our new City Connect uniform seeks to blend sports and lifestyle fashion, remixing the Sugar Kings’ stylish uniform that embodies the unique sense of energy, passion and swagger from our community,” said Miami Marlins VP of Experience and Innovation Michael Shaw. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts with Nike, we developed a refresh of the legendary uniform with a modernized look that embodies the legacy and heritage of past generations and embraces the future of our city. We’re looking forward to seeing our players and fans wear the new look at the ballpark and around the city, with a sense of pride and excitement.”
With aspirations of bringing a Major League Baseball team to Havana, Cuban entrepreneur Bobby Maduro purchased the Minor League Havana Cubans of the Class-B Florida International League and quickly secured a spot for them to move on up to the Triple-A International League in time for the 1954 season.
Maduro re-named the club the Havana (or Cuban) Sugar Kings and struck an affiliation deal with the National League’s Cincinnati Redlegs. While attendance figures were disappointing, the Sugar Kings would find success on the diamond, going on to win the Junior World Series in 1959 defeating the Minneapolis Millers in seven games.
Less than a year later, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro nationalized all U.S.-properties and the Sugar Kings immediately left for Jersey City, NJ (right in the middle of the 1960 season) effectively ending Maduro’s Major League dreams for Cuba. Though the newly named Jersey City Jerseys arrived with great fanfare, the team again found it hard to attract fans, after a season and a half they moved to Jacksonville, Florida before finally settling north in Virginia in 1969 where they still play today, now known as the Norfolk Tides.
Miami will wear this uniform three times this coming weekend, starting Friday, May 21st and going right through to Sunday, May 23rd. All three games will be played against the New York Mets. It’s likely no coincidence that the uniform’s début is timed to coincide with Cuba’s Independence Day, celebrated each year on May 20th, as well as the Marlins’ Cuban Heritage Night at Loan Depot Park on Saturday.
As noted earlier, the Marlins are just the second of seven teams slated to unveil and wear a new City Connect uniform in 2021. The new uniform series introduced by Nike back in April was developed in partnership with MLB Clubs, to “celebrate the bond between each team and its city” by “exploring the personality, values and customs that make each community and their residents unique”. Nike and Major League Baseball has stated the goal of this series is to “build on the rich heritage of each Club” to “push the boundaries of baseball uniform design to create new traditions and help grow the game of baseball.”
The Marlins followed the Boston Red Sox who in April unveiled and wore a yellow uniform paying tribute to the Boston Marathon. Up next is the Chicago White Sox who will reveal theirs during the first week of June, the Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks both join the City Connect party in the two weeks following that, the San Francisco Giants come on board in July, and the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers will finish things off in late August.
The league-wide City Connect uniform rollout will happen over the course of multiple seasons, the teams who begin in 2021 will continue to wear their uniforms in the 2022 and 2023 seasons while additional teams throughout the league will debut their uniforms next season.
Marlins City Connect uniform photos courtesy MLB, New Era, Nike, and Stance