There are a lot of thoughts on the new Nike MLB City Connect Uniform series. Fans seem equally divided between either loving or hating the off-the-wall, colourful, tradition-bending designs. But one thing’s absolutely certain: they’re doing crazy numbers in the merchandise game. Like, record-breaking numbers. Every. Single. Time.
The City Connect program kicked off in 2021, with the Boston Red Sox leading a group of seven clubs who unveiled their sets spread out throughout the season. Of the seven last season, the two Chicagos – the White Sox and their “Southside” set and the Cubs with an all-blue “Wrigleyville” outfit performed exceptionally well.
In the relatively young 2022 season, we’ve seen just two of seven scheduled releases thus far, and the records keep falling.
First up there was the Washington Nationals and their cherry blossom-themed City Connect uniform released in late March. The Nats’ new grey and pink jersey and cap combo worked together to smash the previous City Connect Day 1 launch numbers, besting the previous record-holder by 58%. Fans were lined up around the block at the Nationals team shop when the new gear first went on sale, greeted by the Budweiser Clydesdales and team broadcaster Dan Kolko.
As good as those numbers were, they were pennies in a jar compared to the Houston Astros and their space-themed, rainbow gradient heavy City Connect set.
Launched about a week and a half ago and making its on-field debut tonight, the Astros’ new “Space City” uniforms not only surpassed Washington’s record-setting numbers, they more than tripled the just-set record. All told, the Astros bested the Nationals City Connect sales numbers to the tune of +329%.
According to the club, it was their second-highest total sales day ever, with only the morning after their World Series championship in 2017 topping it.
“We are excited and grateful that our fans and the city of Houston have embraced Space City, our first new uniforms in six years, said Anita Sehgal, Houston Astros Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, “The details and storytelling within the uniform is what really makes it special. Our Space City, City Connect uniforms are inspired by the spirit of Houstonians while celebrating what makes us unique.”
In terms of player jerseys, Jose Altuve’s was the most popular, followed by Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. The amount of Altuve City Connect jerseys sold on launch day was three times what the Nationals saw among their players-specific jerseys during their City Connect launch. Overall, more than a quarter of all Houston Astros City Connect merchandise sold on the MLB Shop has been Jose Altuve gear.
Following tonight’s on-field début against the Los Angeles Angels, the Astros will continue to wear their Space City set for every Monday home game throughout the rest of the 2022 regular season. Next up on the City Connect board is the Kansas City Royals, who will wear their yet-to-be-revealed set for the first time on April 30.