This morning, the Colorado Rockies unveiled their Nike MLB City Connect uniform, the eleventh big league club to reveal their design since the program began last season. In what I’m just going to go ahead and call a “Big Four” first, their new uniform was modelled off of the design of the license plate of their home state.
Since 1960, Colorado motorists have driven all around the country with a green and white tag affixed to their vehicles showing the silhouette of a mountain range. Here, sixty-two years after that plate design was first introduced, their Rockies baseball team will match that look during every Sunday home game for the rest of the season, following its June 4th debut against Atlanta.
“The Rockies City Connect jersey features a design that celebrates not only Colorado’s natural beauty and grandeur, but the spirit of adventure and determination that drives Colorado residents to conquer any challenge in front of them,” read the team’s release. “The base design of the jersey, pants and socks reflects the familiar Colorado backdrop as seen on the Colorado license plate, with snow-capped mountains and evergreen trees.”
The Rockies took this license plate-inspired design one step further by even using the same font for the plate’s numbers as the font for player numbers on the front and back.
“The license plate design is iconic in Colorado. People recognize it wherever you see it across the country; they know it’s Colorado,” said Jim Kellogg, Rockies VP of Community and Retail, in a phone call with SportsLogos.Net. “We copied the numbers on the license plates; those will be the uniform numbers, giving us a unique design and look. We found that really connected to Colorado, the city of Denver, and our fans, and that’s really what we wanted to do with this uniform.”
Like the license plate, the uniform is primarily green — from about the armpits right down to the player’s ankles with just a white belt (yes, a white belt!) and player number breaking things up along the way. The top of the band of green forms a snow-capped mountain, and “COLORADO” is laid out across the chest in white in the same typeface as the license plate.
“We talked with equipment manager Mike Pontarelli about which belt we thought would look good,” Kellogg said. “The front of the hat is white, and the matching batting helmets are too, so we felt like a white belt would be a great look for the players — that it would pop and help break up the uniform between the tops and the bottoms.”
The Rockies’ primary “CR” logo appears on the left sleeve. On the right sleeve of the jersey is a yellow square patch modelled after the signs shown on ski hills; two black diamonds – indicating the highest difficulty hill in honour of “the fearless spirit that embodies all who reside here” – are placed above a 5280, the elevation in feet that Denver, the “Mile High City,” resides above sea level. At the bottom of this patch are the latitude and longitude coordinates of the Rockies’ home ballpark of Coors Field.
A single purple line is near the end of each sleeve and is also used as a trim for each of the player’s white numbers on the back of the jersey. This is in reference to the row of purple seats in the upper deck of Coors Field, which designates the one mile above sea level mark within the stadium.
At the bottom of the jersey above the “jock tag” is the phrase “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” with “Colorful” presented with each letter in a repeating pattern of four colours: yellow, red, orange, and blue. This is inspired by the highway signs which welcome motorists into the state.
“While the uniform series is called City Connect, it was important they represent fans across the state,” said Rockies Owner, Chairman and CEO Dick Monfort in the press release. “As a Colorado native, I am proud that these uniforms embody the character of Colorado and the unique sense of pride we have in our home state. I am beyond excited to see them come to life on the field on June 4 at Coors Field.”
Moving on to the cap, it’s green like the jersey but comes with a white front panel on the crown. The logo on the crown is a circle with a purple mountain shown against a blue sky, “CO” in white above the mountain’s peak, and three colourful circles — red, orange, and purple — around the entire design.
“The circle Colorado patch found on the hat highlights the purple mountains and clear blue skies,” says the Rockies. “Surrounded by circles of red to represent the colour of the state’s soil, and the gold to symbolize Colorado’s abundant sunshine.”
While players weren’t involved in the design process — the Rockies wanted to keep the design under wraps as best they could — they did get their own sneak peek of the new look during a recent photoshoot.
“We did a little test drive and had our players do the photoshoot to get their reactions; it was so fun to watch how they reacted to it,” recalled Kellogg in his conversation with SportsLogos.Net. “The players loved it; they thought it was so cool. The way we tied in the region and the mountains and the trees and the license plates. It was fun for them, and it’s fun for us to watch their reaction.”
Kellogg says the entire process, from the first meeting with Nike to the unveiling, took just over two years, with the two sides first discussing the uniform just days before the COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020.
“We did an interview session with Nike, and we talked about Denver and Colorado, our fan base in the city, what Colorado means to our fans, tourism, and all those things,” Kellogg told us before teasing. “Down the road, we may be able to utilize one of those other concepts we came up with when these uniforms run their course [the City Connect uniform program is scheduled to last between three to four seasons long]. We thought this concept was the one that fit right now and was the best use of the City Connect program.”
You gotta imagine there was at least one Colorado state flag-inspired set amongst those passed over. Though the club has done quite a bit with the state flag over the years via their Spring Training and batting practice caps, I’m presuming they wanted to try something else this time.
The Colorado Rockies will début their new green-and-white license plate-inspired City Connect uniforms on Sunday, June 4, when they host the Atlanta Braves. They will then reserve them for every Sunday home game for the remainder of the season, with the occasional additional appearance throughout the season if that day’s starting pitcher so desires.
While fans have been divided on their opinions regarding the City Connect series, recent unveilings have shown merchandise sales through the roof, with the Houston Astros shattering Major League Baseball sales records with their City Connect uniform release just last month.
“Developed in partnership with MLB Clubs, the Nike MLB City Connect series celebrates the bond between each team and its city,” read the jointly-released statement which accompanied the announcement of the program in the spring of 2021. “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.”
The Rockies are the fourth of seven teams to unveil their Nike MLB City Connect Uniforms this season and the eleventh 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, Kansas City Royals, and now the Colorado Rockies. Next up are the Los Angeles Angels who will be followed up by the Milwaukee Brewers, and San Diego Padres.
Fans can purchase the Rockies City Connect jersey, as well as hats, hoodies and tees for men and women, exclusively in-store at the Colorado Rockies Dugout Stores and Rally Store at McGregor Square through the on-field debut on June 4. The Rockies City Connect collection is also available online right now at MLBShop.com.