While more teams continue to roll out their Nike City Connect uniforms, don’t expect the Red Sox to bring back the unique threads they rocked on Patriots’ Day weekend anytime soon.
Boston unveiled their bold Boston Marathon-inspired uniforms in early April and debuted them during the first two games of their four-game series against the White Sox at Fenway Park on the weekend of April 17.
As they were described in a team release this spring, “the City Connect uniform adopts colors that honor the spirit of Patriots’ Day weekend, and features ‘Boston’ in a stencil font across the chest paying tribute to the Boylston Street finish line. The numbers ‘617’ are highlighted on the left sleeve as a nod to the area code for Boston and Fenway Park. The numbers appear within a racing bib, honoring one of the city’s most iconic annual sports traditions.”
With the Red Sox opting to sport blue and yellow as their uniform’s primary colors for the first time in franchise history, the unveiling of the new duds was initially met with some blowback, but — as noted by ESPN’s Joon Lee — the team “sold out of the new jerseys and the City Connect merchandise that was released along with them at the Fenway Park team store.”
That being said, the Red Sox as of this moment do not have any plans to don their City Connect uniforms again this season despite the fact that other clubs — such as the Chicago Cubs — have worn theirs in parts of two separate series against the Cardinals and Marlins at Wrigley Field earlier this month.
“At the moment, we don’t have any specific plans to wear our City Connect uniforms,” Red Sox executive vice president and chief marketing officer Adam Grossman told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “Doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, but we don’t have any plans. We do know that we will be wearing them Patriots’ Day weekend next year.”
In addition to the Red Sox and Cubs, the Marlins, White Sox, and Diamondbacks have also unveiled their City Connect uniforms this season. The Giants and Dodgers are slated to do so in early July and late August, respectively.
By the end of the 2023 season, all 30 MLB teams are expected to have their own version of a City Connect uniform, per Lee.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
The new uniform, which was inspired by the Boston Marathon, “adopts colors that honor the spirit of Patriots’ Day weekend, and features ‘Boston’ in a stencil font across the chest paying tribute to the Boylston Street finish line. The numbers ‘617’ are highlighted on the left sleeve as a nod to the area code for Boston and Fenway Park. The numbers appear within a racing bib, honoring one of the city’s most iconic annual sports traditions.”
These new, special edition threads have been the talk of the town since they were revealed, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora is among those who are in favor of them, citing that they could help boost Major League Baseball’s popularity.
“You look around the other leagues, and they’re proactive, right? And they’re marketing not only the teams, but their players,” Cora said during his pregame media availability Tuesday. “If you look at the NBA, it seems like once every day, you’ve got a different uniform. So I’m all for it.”
Nike, which took over as MLB’s official uniform provider last season, has been doing the same for the NBA since 2017.
Upon becoming the official uniform and apparel provider for the NBA and its 30 franchises, Nike began rolling out ‘City Edition’ uniforms for teams that serve the purpose of being “windows into a city’s culture,” per the company’s vice president of North America league partnerships Sonja Henning.
The Boston Celtics, for instance, have worn four different ‘City Edition’ uniforms over the last four seasons, with each uniform encapsulating the spirit of the Celtics and/or the city of Boston to some degree.
And not that it all has to do with the uniforms their players are wearing, but the NBA has proven to be a more effective marketer of its product and players than Major League Baseball has in recent years. This is something Cora would like to see MLB improve upon.
“I think this league has been lacking pushing their players out there and marketing them,” said the Sox skipper. “We have some good ones right now, and we have some good ones here in our city. For them to use a different uniform, hopefully it’s the beginning of something cool. And people can recognize these guys — not because of the uniform — but just because of who they are. I think this is a great idea and I’m looking forward for that weekend to wear those two uniforms.”
The Red Sox will be the first of seven clubs to don City Connect uniforms this season, with the Diamondbacks, Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, Marlins, and Giants joining in at different points throughout the year.
Boston will wear the uniforms on April 17 and 18 for two games against the White Sox, then go with the traditional white “B Strong” jerseys on Patriots’ Day Monday, as they have every year since 2013.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Nike)
For the most part, the uniforms donned by the Red Sox have remained unchanged over the last few decades.
There have been subtle changes here and there, such as the addition of a blue alternate road jersey in 2009 or the decision to go from blue lettering back to red lettering on the primary road jersey in 2014, but out of the 30 clubs that Major League Baseball is comprised of, the Red Sox have one of the more classic looks in the game, as they should.
Still, that has not stopped team higher-ups from discussing how to further modernize the Sox’ look moving forward, especially now that Nike took over as MLB’s official uniform outfitter last winter.
“We are looking at changes as we go forward,” team president Sam Kennedy told The Athletic’sChad Jennings. “[The changes will be] likely geared to get us to a uniform that is geared towards high performance. We will always be respectful of our incredible traditional look and feel, but we are always open to new and different concepts as time goes by.”
With Nike providing the Red Sox with their uniforms for the foreseeable future, the hope is that more technology can be implemented into any new uniform so that players can be more comfortable while actually playing baseball.
For instance, according to team executive vice president of partnerships Troup Parkinson, Red Sox ownership is really more focused on fit than anything else in talks about potential new uniforms.
“They think that, for example, Nike can bring tons of technology to the fit and hopefully help the performance of the athlete,” Parkinson said. “[It’s] happened in basketball and in football, but, amazingly, in baseball it hasn’t. The [players], if you talk to them, they will say the uniform doesn’t fit.”
Per Jennings, Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner are “heavily involved” in decisions regarding the club’s uniforms and overall aesthetic look. Such decisions include changing primary logos, adding alternate jerseys, changing up batting practice looks, and sticking with batting helmets with a shiny finish rather than a matte one.
“John and Tom are both very engaged in uniform design,” said Kennedy. “They both have a passion for the look and feel of the brand. In terms of the Red Sox, while we have not made dramatic changes in our time here, we had had some relatively minor adjustments, driven by ownership’s desire to preserve our traditional look while modernizing a bit.”
To add on to that, Parkinson himself said that he expects subtle changes to the Red Sox’ uniforms to come at some point in the ‘near future.’
As Jennings puts it, these potential changes “likely won’t be wholesale or drastic changes, but they will be noticeable, especially for a fan base that’s grown attached to the current look. Which is the old look. Which is the classic look.”
What could these changes to Boston’s uniforms look like? Well, it’s tough to say.
As things stand currently, the Red Sox employ a five-jersey rotation (home whites, road grays, red home alternates, navy blue road alternates, and those special Patriots’ Day whites) to go along with white pants at home and gray pants on the road. All these uniforms are worn with the standard navy blue cap with a red ‘B’ front and center.
The home whites with the arching ‘Red Sox’ across the chest and the red piping around the collar and down the front of the jersey, for the most part, have remained a constant throughout the club’s storied history. They went with pullover tops and a predominantly red cap for a little bit there in the 1970’s, but that trend did not last into the following decade.
The road grays, meanwhile, have either featured ‘Boston’ across the chest in red or navy blue font since the turn of the century. The ‘Hanging Sox’ logo was added to the left sleeve of the road jerseys in 2010 and have been present since.
In terms of alternate looks, the red alternates worn at home have been in rotation since 2003 and have since been given a more modern look through the removal of the original blue piping that went around the collar and down the middle of the jersey.
As mentioned earlier, the navy blue alternates worn on the road were added to the mix in 2009. For whatever reason, they do not feature the ‘Hanging Sox’ logo on the left sleeve.
All in all, it’s a pretty solid mix of tradition and color rolled into one set of uniforms. It’s somewhat difficult to see how something already so good could be improved upon.
Then again, Parkinson told Jennings that “he actually likes to hear unusual uniform and branding ideas from outside companies (like Nike in this case) – those outsiders presumably are not as emotionally attached to the current look, and might offer much-needed perspective – but those partners rarely, if ever, suggest anything too far outside the box.”
Nike has proven to get creative with the looks of other historic franchises across different sports while also keeping that team’s history and tradition in tact, like with the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers.
If I could throw out some ideas here, I’d say that I would not mind seeing the Red Sox go back to wearing gray jerseys with the navy blue ‘Boston’ across the chest while on the road. That incorporates more of the team’s legacy into their look and may be nostalgic for older fans.
Speaking of nostalgia, it’s been said before, but bring back the 70’s throwbacks that we saw briefly in 2015 and 2016. It’s definitely a fun look.
Also, could it be possible that the Red Sox would remove the red piping from their primary home jerseys? It’s the only jersey in the current mix that still features piping, although it is arguably their most classic feature.
Lastly, I’ve written about it in the past, but it would be interesting to see the Sox wear the red jerseys on the road and the blue jerseys at home. Mix it up a little, you know?
Other than that, I’m definitely curious to see what tweaks Nike and the Red Sox have in store for the team’s look. Not exactly sure when any changes will be revealed to the public, though.