The year was 1998 and the Seattle Mariners wanted to try something a little out-of-the-ordinary that season.

Turn Back the Clock uniform days had been done for 9 seasons now, the idea was getting a little stale, plus the club had already flashed back to just about every uniform they could possibly want to at that point.

Enter Mariners marketing co-ordinator Kevin Martinez who came up with the idea to, instead of turning back the clock, turn the clock ahead 30 whole seasons, to the year 2027 to celebrate the Mariners’ future 50th anniversary.

Seattle Mariners wearing their 2027 Turn Ahead the Clock uniforms in 1998

It was a bold idea, and one which the Kansas City Royals, their opponents for that evening of July 18th, 1998, were more than happy to play along with.

The uniforms for both teams were designed by the Mariners and Martinez, they kept the same logo for both teams but decked the Mariners out in an entirely new colour scheme.  The Mariners had ditched their familiar navy blue and teal in exchange for a red-heavy uniform set with shiny silver helmets; the Royals still in blue and yellow were now sporting bright-as-the-sun yellow jerseys paired with gold batting helmets.

Kansas City Royals future uniforms from 2027 season, worn in 1998

Ken Griffey Jr really took to the idea, encouraging his teammates to wear their caps backwards out in the field, untuck their jerseys, spray paint their shoes silver, and cut the sleeves off of their shirts. (Umpires eventually told the players they had to tuck in their jerseys, to prevent false hit-by-pitch rulings)

The Kingdome was re-named The Biodome, the Mariners flew in Houston Astros mascot “Orbit” for the night dressed in the colours of the future M’s, a robot delivered the first pitch to James “Beam me up Scotty!” Doohan, phoney expansion teams such as the Pluto Mighty Pups and Saturn Rings were added to the “Biodomes” standings board.  There was even a Seattle Mariners 50th anniversary logo on the outfield walls.

Seattle Mariners' "50th Anniversary" logo, on the outfield wall of the "Biodome" on July 18, 1998

Overall the event was a complete success, the fans thought it was great, so much so that it caught the attention of Major League Baseball who were very interested in taking this event to the next level in 1999.

But much like what happened to players wearing #42 on Jackie Robinson Day, the NHL’s Winter Classic, and episodes of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, an idea that was great in moderation, as a “now-and-then event” was pushed too hard and too often to the point where it just got annoying and tiresome.

The first fault in MLB’s takeover of the Turn Ahead the Clock plan was giving it to a sponsor, Century 21 Real Estate — that instantly turned this from a fun event to that of a more corporate feel.  Century 21′s first move was to change the flash forward year from 2027 to 2021… get it?

Templated Turn Ahead the Clock uniforms for 1999, most participating teams used this same design

Secondly the uniforms were all made half-assed – of the 22 teams that participated in this event 14 of them used the exact same uniform design – and all 22 used the same “future” jersey “cut” with name/number placement.  Nothing kills a fun uniform promotion then a crummy template across more than half the board.

The name and numbering style for all 1999 jersey designs

Lastly, not enough teams had fun with the promotion… almost every team kept the exact same logo and colour scheme – a very unlikely scenario when flashing ahead 22 years (especially by the Angels who change their logo, on average, every 4-5 years).

Enough about the bad, how about the good…

Mercury Mets starting pitcher Orel Hershiser in 1999

The New York Mets, I think anyways, were the most creative when it came to the 1999 edition of this event.

According to the Mets, in the 22 years since the 1999 season the club had relocated from Flushing, NY to the planet Mercury where they were re-named the Mercury Mets (boy, those non-Yankee New York fans keep losing their teams to far-off locales!).

The Mets also came up with a new logo, cap, and colour scheme to go along with their new location – the logo featured the symbol for Mercury in black and white orbiting around the planet casting a shadow upon it.

While the fantasy Mets digs were fun, I still cringe when I see photos of Orel Hershiser wearing this uniform in one of his final MLB appearances.

Minnesota Twins players in their 2021 season jerseys with Chewbacca in the dugout, 1999

Other teams to play around with their look included the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins, who both (accurately) predicted the future popularity of retro logos by wearing futuristic versions of their original team logos from the ’60s and ’70s respectively.  In the seasons since this promotion the Twins have actually re-adopted that original ’60s logo as an alternate while the Brewers have gone retro for some games, just not to the logo they predicted they would.

Some teams went with the robotic theme, applying it to their current mascots on their future uniforms.  The Oakland Athletics wore a robot white elephant while the St Louis Cardinals replaced their classic “birds-on-bat” look with “cyborg birds on a silver bat”.

Logos of the 2021 MLB season: Oakland, St. Louis, Baltimore, and the "Mercury" Mets

San Francisco changed their colour scheme to black-and-white but retained their classic “SF” logo (and blew it up about 900%)

The rest of the teams who partook just took their current logo, enlarged it 10-fold, tilted it 30 degrees, and slapped it across the front of their jersey.  Some of them looked pretty good, such as the Diamondbacks who had their snake wrap around the entire jersey, and some of them looked really lame, like the Indians who lazily just cut their logo in half so it just read “India”.

Arizona's Turn Ahead the Clock uniforms featured a snake which wrapped around the entire uniform

The more traditional teams like the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs refused to participate stating that it just wasn’t the sort of thing they’d do… either that or they were the most accurate of all the Turn Ahead the Clock teams by not changing their future look in any way.

Overall, the 1999 edition of this promotion was a flop, the fans thought the whole idea was silly (although I did run out and buy an Anaheim Angels and Tampa Bay Devil Rays jersey from this series… but then again I’m “different”) and it was never attempted ever again.  It’s sad that this promo ended up the way it did, it had such great potential.

Barry Bonds wears the 2021 San Francisco Giants black-and-white uniform

On June 30th the Tampa Bay Rays will be wearing uniforms from “1979″ – a design that never was for a Rays past that never really happened giving us the opportunity to do this idea all over again (but in reverse, of course).

This time let’s do it right, let each team control their own designs, and please Major League Baseball, I beg you to take it slow and learn from your mistakes of the past future so the future future can be much more enjoyable.

Check out Chris’s sports logo and uniform website at SportsLogos.Net, or you can follow him on Twitter at @sportslogosnet

Comments (31)

  1. Wow, I’d never heard of this promotion at all. Sad to say, every one of those is still better then muscle bound BlueJay.

  2. Wow. Good thing they didn’t use those. Yikes.

  3. Joke will be on you when in 2027 this is what jerseys actually look like.

  4. I actually kind like the Seattle ones…. kinda…

  5. That robot elephant in the A’s logo is pretty badass.

  6. The wookie kills me….

  7. It would be cool if the Jays did a “turn back the clock” game to 1927 when they play the Mariners. 50 years before the expansion season of both teams. They could do old style uniforms, have an organ player, and charge people a quarter for a ticket, five cents for a hot dog and since prohibition ended in Ontario in 1927 everyone could enjoy a beer for a nickel as well. Fun times had by all!

  8. Dante Bichette remembers the promotion. He broke out his old future uniform for the Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown.

    And, um, did the Expos take part?

  9. When he was asked why his Yankee team wouldn’t wear the “uniforms of the future,” Steinbrenner said “”We already are.”

  10. I actually own the Rockies version of this, though it hasn’t seen the light of day since the 2007 postseason. Pretty cool promotion!

  11. Wait wasn’t it a “Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”? So Chewbacca would be the distant past. Fucking idiots.

  12. For those wondering, the complete list of teams who did not take part: The New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, and Los Angeles Dodgers

    • My guess is the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers didn’t take part because their uniforms have been roughly the same for decades – for the Yanks almost a century. The Reds – once they ditched those sleeveless kits – are pretty classic, too.
      As for the Rest, I think there could’ve been some cool ideas. Blue Jays could do a robot/alien bird, Rangers could’ve gone with a star/space theme, and the Expos and Astros have the absolute perfect names for future themes. Shame they didn’t participate. Or maybe not a shame, since just about every one of those uniforms was a disaster. Horrible execution of a fun idea.

  13. Worst. Uniforms. Ever!

  14. Where’s the Rays jersey??? Was it all transitions!?!?

  15. Actually, the Blue Jays did have a concept drawn up for futuristic jerseys, basically what they thought might look cool in 2021:

  16. Perhaps you look at these and think this promotion is ridiculous, but I’d rather see this kind of creativity/thinking than have teams throw back to history they don’t have. Ahem… **Looks at Tampa**… Posers!

    • Rays have worn some throwbacks from teams that used to play in the Bay area. Smokers jerseys were cool, very plain. And they’ve nodded to other past teams as well. Can’t blame ‘em for not having been a big league club until the 90s, so the fact that they wear classic unis from Tampa tams past is actually pretty cool.

  17. the suck is strong with these ones.
    never again. are you paying attention, nike? don’t you dare!

  18. Great story, I completely missed this promotion. Every team should have picked a different star or planet, just like the Mercury Mets. In the near future they should try this again, but with retro science fiction shirts a la Jetsons, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, etc. Should be fun.

  19. great idea. i liked the mairiners-royals1998 unis the best. the mlb should do it again and force every team to not only do it but change the color scheme as well

  20. the jays stunk it up with there tatc unis. they should be kicked out of the league

  21. As a professional designer for over 15 years, I have to say that these are absolutely the worst things I’ve ever seen. Just hideous!

    Uniform design in the 90′s. Man, what a mess. BefIts the era well.

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