Hey, hey, hey, hey! This morning, the Kansas City Royals unveiled their Nike MLB City Connect uniform, the third of seven teams scheduled to do so during the 2022 season.
Set to début during their game this Saturday against the New York Yankees, the uniform combines the architecture and plentiful fountains of Kansas City with the history of the Royals franchise as well as a trip through the decades of baseball’s time in western Missouri.
The team at Nike and the Royals made Kansas City’s “City of Fountains” nickname the primary focus of the uniform’s design. The navy blue cap and jersey prominently feature a new “KC” logo created by Nike designer, and Kansas Citian, Jason Wright with some inspiration courtesy of the City of Kansas City’s municipal flag. A powder blue fountain is also incorporated into the “jock tag” in the lower-left corner of the front of the jersey. Originally installed to provide relief for the horses pulling carriages through town, the city’s fountains have since become one of the most iconic symbols of Kansas City, even making quite the splash beyond the fences at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals’ home ballpark.
Navy blue is the dominant colour of this set; this is a nod to the professional baseball teams which had called Kansas City home before the Royals’ expansion season in 1969. The Federal League’s Packers, the Negro Leagues’ Monarchs, and the American League’s Athletics all used navy blue as their primary colour at one time or another. Powder blue acts as a secondary colour, an homage to the Royals’ uniform history, by way of the belts, striping up the sides of the pants, and both the player’s number on the lower right of the front of the jersey and the player’s name on the back.
“This design is one that fans of any age can truly appreciate,” said John Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Royals. “From the fountains that are a part of Kansas City’s heritage to the colours of the jersey signifying the rich history of baseball and the Kansas City Royals. The uniform showcases the distinct elements of our community.”
On each sleeve are three thick stripes, one powder blue with two white on either side, a nod to the prominent sleeve striping on the pullover jerseys worn by the 1985 World Series champion Royals. On the right sleeve is a letter “R,” styled similarly to the fountain-KC on the chest, with a crown above it; this acknowledges the original Royals logo, a large white “R” on a blue field with a crown above. Inside the back collar are the words “HEY HEY HEY HEY,” a reference to the 1964 tune by The Beatles “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey,” which is played following every Royals home win. The player’s name and number font are styled after the art deco style architecture throughout the city on the front and back.
“Our number one objective was to develop a platform that united the Kansas City community,” explained Sarah Tourville, Kansas City Royals Chief Revenue and Innovation Officer, in a call with SportsLogos.Net. “A focal point of our design, the newly created Kansas City fountain logo reflective of the ‘art deco’ style architecture throughout the city, pays homage to the history and tradition of the fountains throughout the city. The fountains have become one of the most iconic symbols that embellish the streets, the flag, and now even our uniforms.”
Nike, who launched the league-wide City Connect uniform program with Major League Baseball at the dawn of the 2021 season, approached the Royals with the idea of working on a uniform for the series well before plans for the additional uniform option had been announced.
“We were presented with the opportunity more than two years ago. Nike notified us that they would like us to participate in year two of City Connect,” Tourville recalled. “It was a perfect alignment for us because we were updating our uniforms [for this season]. The timing was great for the Royals.”
The Royals and Nike got to work, identifying some of the key symbols that make Kansas City what it is and could be used to develop the uniform.
“There were narratives that focused on the important role that music and jazz played in Kansas City, some concepts we tossed around about incorporating barbecue, we looked back at the ‘Renaissance’-type of rebirth that occurred here decades ago — which we used as the focal point in the majestic nature of the crown design, and there was the imagery of lions and royalty,” said Tourville. “We didn’t use all of these, but we pulled pieces together from many different schematics into the final fountain design.”
“We thought we would go in a different direction until we actually saw the prototypes themselves. Ultimately, we decided that this one just stood out to us and felt like such a great complement to where we are today.”
As mentioned earlier, the fountains and architecture weren’t the only bits incorporated into the designs. The use of navy blue as the base colour of both the caps and jerseys was done to pay tribute to a few pro baseball teams that have once called Kansas City home. The Kansas City Packers played in the Federal League, a short-lived “third Major League” which existed in 1914 and 1915. The legendary Kansas City Monarchs, who played in various Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1955, and finally the Kansas City Athletics, the meat in the Oakland A’s franchise sandwich, played in KC from 1955 to 1967. All of the above wore navy blue as their primary uniform colour for most of their histories.
“It’s very important to us, the deep roots of baseball in Kansas City, and what a privilege it is to have the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City,” said Tourville. “While the Monarchs are not part of the Royals franchise, they’re almost like our sister or cousin. There’s quite a sense of pride, and we feel really fortunate for that in Kansas City.”
The powder blue and the large stripes took us back to the Kansas City Royals teams of the 1970s and 1980s when the pullovers reigned over the league, and the Royals were perennial contenders in the American League West, culminating with a World Series victory in 1985.
While fans are divided on their opinions regarding the City Connect series, recent unveilings have shown merchandise sales through the roof, with sales records being shattered with each subsequent release.
The Royals are the third of seven teams to unveil their Nike MLB City Connect Uniforms this season and the tenth overall. Last season the Boston Red Sox, Miami Marlins, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers made up the charter class of the City Connect club. So far this season, we’ve seen the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, and now the Kansas City Royals. Next up are the Colorado Rockies, followed by the Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Diego Padres.
The Royals will wear their new City Connect uniform for the two this weekend against the New York Yankees and two more against the St. Louis Cardinals a week later. More games may be announced at a later date. Merchandise goes on sale this morning at 9 am CT.