The great debate in the uniform world over the past week was Major League Baseball’s opposition and refusal to allow the Houston Astros to wear a gun on their 1962 Houston Colt .45s throwback jerseys.
The Astros had planned on wearing the retro uniforms as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations for home games on April 10th and April 20th of the upcoming season.
In response to the fan confusion to the lack of the gun on the jersey, Astros owner Jim Crane deflected, placing blame solely on Major League Baseball in his responses to those who complained.
MLB responded quickly to the public gaining knowledge to their decision and allowed the Astros to use the weapon imagery all while still maintaining their disapproval in using the firearm. The Astros wasted little time and announced the gun would return to the jerseys the day after MLB’s announcement.
This isn’t the first time a team has removed a potentially offensive image from their uniform in recent seasons, it is however the first time a decision was reversed. During the recent 2011 season the Tampa Bay Rays omitted a cigar from the front of their 1951 Tampa Smokers throwback jerseys. The Cleveland Indians have also seriously downplayed their association with Chief Wahoo, removing the logo from their road and alternate caps, and the Atlanta Braves recently unveiled a new home alternate jersey which moved the long-present tomahawk logo from the jersey front to a small patch on the sleeve.
None of these other teams have blamed Major League Baseball for their uniform changes, the Rays explained the tobacco-free version of their uniforms thusly, “this version of the logo is intended only to be a slightly more contemporary version of that wonderful history.” The Indians have maintained that Chief Wahoo’s disappearance on the road and alternate caps was to merely give fans choices in what to wear while representing their favourite team. The Braves new jerseys are said to be an homage to the original Atlanta Braves jerseys which indeed lacked a tomahawk on the front.
Despite the attempt to downplay previous offensive imagery within the league, the Colt .45s will take the field wearing Colt .45s on their jersey tops.
It remains to be seen if Major League Baseball will one day continue with the censorship of uniform history – we will have to wait to see how they react to teams wearing throwback jerseys which could feature such terrifying weapons as the Seattle Mariners trident of the 1980s, the St. Louis Browns sword-wielding king of the 1940s, and the St. Louis Cardinals maniacal twin birds wielding a club still currently in use.
One thing we have learned from this whole incident is that an overwhelming public response in matters such as these still trumps all, it worked when Major League Baseball tried to have players wear league-themed jerseys for the All-Star Game in 2003 and it worked again this past week. Keep up the good work everyone!
In other news…
As if we haven’t heard enough from the Houston Astros already, in addition to their retro-uniform drama laid out above they have given an update in their re-designing of the team uniforms for next season. Focus groups to give feedback on various designs have been scheduled for next week. The Astros will need to hurry as Major League Baseball has a strict deadline of May 1st for any changes to team logos and uniforms.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, will take their show on the road for the 2012 season due to renovations at their home ballpark lasting the entire season. The majority of their “home” games will take place in stadiums throughout upstate New York, the team has temporarily rebranded themselves as the Empire State Yankees, complete with a tweaked set of logos. The plan is for the team to return to their original location name for the 2013 season.
The High Desert Mavericks (High-A, Seattle Mariners) unveiled a new set of logos, their first logo change in the 20-season history of the team. The new cap logo features the initials “HD” in white above a mountain, replacing the old cap logo of the letter M wearing a hat. A new logo featuring a cowboy was also included in the re-design.
Finally, the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League launched their re-brand, their logo of a bald eagle flying while holding a baseball in it’s talons has been replaced by an eagle holding a baseball bat over its shoulder. The change was said to better emphasize York as being a manufacturing town, in which case the eagle is missing his hard hat and lunch pail dangling from the bat.
That’s all for this week in baseball uniform and logo news, keep an eye out this weekend when baseball teams don their annual green caps and jerseys for St. Patrick’s Day.