The 2020 Uni Watch MLB Season Preview
Coronavirus or not, the show must go on
Update, July 23, 2020: At long last, the 2020 Major League Baseball season is about to begin. In many ways, it won’t be a normal season — the schedule is only 60 games long, the DH will be used for all games and fans won’t be in attendance. But the players will still be wearing baseball uniforms, including some new ones that were unveiled so long ago you may have forgotten about them. So this is the perfect time to revisit the Uni Watch 2020 MLB Season Preview.
We originally published this piece back in March. Most of it is still accurate, but we’ve added updated info to reflect the reality of the shortened season, canceled events, and so on. Unfortunately, many uni-based promotions that were originally planned either won’t be happening or their status is currently unclear (teams apparently have bigger things to worry about right now than responding to inquiries about whether a throwback uniform will still be worn, go figure), but there’s still a lot of uniform news to catch up on.
So consider this a refresher course for the long-delayed season. Enjoy.
Ed. note: If you want to skip straight to the updates, look for the phrase “July Update,” which appears frequently throughout the piece.
Do you feel something tugging at your internal clock? A little instinctive sense of reawakening that manages, however faintly, to cut through the pandemic-induced malaise?
That’s your body’s natural biological calendar telling you it’s time for the start of baseball season. All the social distancing, sheltering in place and hand-washing in the world can’t override that autonomic response that accompanies the onset of spring.
Of course, this year is a little different. Officially, Major League Baseball has postponed the start of the 2020 season until at least mid-May; unofficially, it seems like we’ll be lucky if they’re ready to go by the beginning of summer.
Still, it seems likely that we’ll have baseball at some point this year. And whenever that finally happens, there will be lots of new uniforms to take in, because teams have been busily unveiling those — along with new patches, logos and related visuals — throughout the winter. So with our bodies and souls feeling that instinctive appetite for baseball, the annual Uni Watch MLB Season Preview is here for you, with the full scoop on all of this season’s new looks … even if we don’t yet know when we’ll get to see them on the field.
The big news this season is that MLB’s uniform contract has passed from longtime outfitter Majestic to Nike, so all 30 teams will be wearing the swoosh this season. Here’s what you need to know about that:
- The Majestic logo appeared on the left jersey sleeve, but the Nike logo is appearing on the upper-right jersey chest. Why? Because MLB made the chest position available for a higher price, and Nike was willing to pay that price. In other words: a billboard sale. The resulting swoosh-centric look is like a splinter in the eyeball, especially for teams with classic uniforms like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox. Arguably the only good thing to come of the coronavirus pandemic is that it’s delayed the on-field debut of this depressing phenomenon.
- The Nike logo is also replacing the Majestic logo above the rear-left pants pocket (additional info here):
- Despite the new Nike branding, Nike had nothing to do with any of this season’s new uniform designs, all of which were already in the pipeline well before Nike took over. For this season, at least, Nike is simply the manufacturer, not the designer.
- Also, this season’s jerseys are being made with the exact same fabrics and tailoring that Majestic used. They are literally the same product except for the Nike logo replacing the Majestic logo.
- There is, however, a very subtle tailoring change to the belt loops and tunnels on the pants, at least for some teams:
Other teams were still using the old loop format during spring training, though that’s not necessarily indicative of what we’ll see during the regular season, since many teams reuse old pants until Opening Day. We’ll have to wait and see.
Okay, enough preliminaries. Here’s our annual team-by-team breakdown of what you can expect to see on the diamond, with the obvious proviso that everything is subject to change before things get underway, whenever that may be. And for every team, we’re showing how the home jersey looks with the addition of the Nike logo.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
No uniform changes this season for the Braves. But thanks to a banking merger, their ballpark has a new name and a new exterior sign: SunTrust Park is now Truist Park. Really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, here’s a look at how the team’s home jersey will look with the Nike logo:
No uniform changes in Miami, but it’s worth noting that the Marlins’ starting rotation is poised to lead the majors in good-looking stirrups, thanks to the hosiery heroics of pitchers Pablo Lopez and Robert Dugger:
And here’s a look at how the team’s home whites will look with the new maker’s mark on the chest:
New York Mets
Nothing new this season for the Amazins, although it’s worth noting that pitcher Marcus Stroman may be poised to set the record for a pitcher wearing the most different single-digit uniform numbers:
July Update: Check that — it turns out that the Mets do have a subtle uniform tweak this year. For their preseason games and scrimmages, they showed off a new metallic shade of orange for their batting helmet logo:
Also, the Mets were planning to retire Jerry Koosman’s No. 36 on June 13. It remains to be seen whether that will happen.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at the Mets’ swoosh-clad home jersey:
The Phillies were planning to retire former pitcher Roy Halladay’s No. 34 on May 29. If the season hasn’t yet resumed by then, they would presumably reschedule the ceremony. (July Update: It’s not clear whether Halladay’s number retirement will take place later this season or be postponed to 2021.)
A few weeks after that, from June 12 to 14, the Phils are scheduled to host a three-game series with the A’s — who of course used to be the Philadelphia A’s. In honor of this interleague “Battle for Philadelphia,” the Phils were slated to wear 1920 throwbacks. Here’s hoping that still gets to happen!
July Update: The Phils will no longer be playing the A’s this season, so the “Battle for Philadelphia” will not be happening. No word yet on whether they’ll wear the throwbacks at some point anyway.
Also of note: Baseball’s most famous and notorious mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, has received some tweaks (lots of additional info here):
Meanwhile, if you need to drown your sorrows regarding the baseball season being delayed, Pennsylvania’s own Yuengling Brewery has a new can design with a retro Phillies-style design:
And once the games finally resume, here’s how the Phils’ home threads will look with the new Nike mark:
Several changes on tap for the reigning World Series champs. First, they’ve taken last season’s spring training jersey and cap and redesignated them as alternate uni elements for game use, plus they’ve tossed an additional alternate cap into the mix:
If you’re thinking those cap logos have a retro feel, that’s because they both date back to the old Washington Senators.
In addition, the Nats are celebrating their championship with a commemorative sleeve patch:
Recent protocol dictates that World Series champs also mark their title by wearing gold-trimmed uniforms for their home opener. The Nats hadn’t officially announced anything about that when the sports world ground to a halt, although they’ve dropped a hint:
Hey Paul, we did see this little nugget in the promotional schedule that the team then quickly pulled…my money is on that for opening day. pic.twitter.com/Ge3SJ7MrKV
— Brandon Lenk (@Lenkedup) March 20, 2020
July Update: The Nats have now confirmed that they will indeed be wearing gold-trimmed uniforms for Opening Day, and possibly for select home games after that:
One thing the Nats did announce, however, is that they’ve become the latest MLB team to switch to matte-finish batting helmets.
Finally, here’s a look at the Nationals’ primary home jersey with the Nike branding:
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
No uniform changes this season for the Cubbies, unless you count that annoying swoosh cluttering up their otherwise beautiful jersey:
The Reds have given their red alternate jersey an updated design:
In addition, it’s worth noting that the Reds’ grounds crew has the sharpest-looking jackets in the league. Check this out:
And here’s how the home whites will look with the new Nike insignia:
The Brew Crew are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season and are marking the occasion with a complete uniform overhaul. The new uni set is a mix of old and new elements, including a subtle update to the team’s old “ball in glove” logo, a new custom typeface, a cream home uniform, pinstriped white home alternates and a navy road alternate.
Here are the key elements (there’s a lot of additional info here, and you can see a detailed assessment of the new threads here):
In addition, the Brewers were planning to celebrate their history with a season-long series of “Decade Nights,” some of which were going to include throwback uniforms. It remains to be seen how much of that program will be salvaged when the season eventually begins.
Ready to see that swoosh on a Brewers jersey? Here you go:
The Pirates have changed their primary road jersey and added a new black road alternate, both of which will now feature the same script “Pittsburgh” insignia the team wore in the 1990s (lots of additional info here):
The black jersey with the gold “P” will be retained as a home alternate.
As for the Buccos’ primary home uniform, it’s unchanged — except for that new maker’s mark:
St. Louis Cardinals
Most fans won’t notice — even you, dear reader, might not notice — but the Cardinals have made several small adjustments to their classic “STL” logo. The new version was quietly soft-launched last summer, but is just now being added to the team’s caps (additional info here):
But you probably will notice second baseman Kolten Wong’s new glove and cleats, which are hard to miss.
July Update: MLB’s Field of Dreams Game, originally slated to feature the White Sox facing the Yankees on a diamond set up in an Iowa cornfield, is still scheduled to take place on Aug. 13. But due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, the Cardinals have replaced the Yankees. It remains to be seen if old-timey throwback uniforms will be worn for the occasion.
As for the Cardinals’ beautiful uniforms, they’ll be a little less beautiful this year, thanks to that newly added Nike logo:
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Halle-freakin’-lujah, the D-backs are finally clawing their way back to at least a semblance of aesthetic respectability. Their new uni set removes the embarrassing “snakeskin” pattern from all of the team’s uniform elements, and also changes the road uniforms from that weird charcoal tone to a more conventional shade of gray (lots of additional info and photos here):
The one downer: The team’s throwback alternate, which had been worn for Thursday home games in recent seasons, has been shelved.
The Rockies were planning to retire newly elected Hall of Famer Larry Walker’s No. 33 on April 19. Obviously that won’t be happening, but they’ll presumably reschedule the ceremony once things return to normal.
The Rockies also have a new logo marking Coors Field’s 25th anniversary. It’s not being worn as a patch, but will be used in various marketing and promotional contexts:
No other news this year for the Rockies, but their uniforms do have the distinction of having MLB’s only purple swoosh:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Assuming this year’s MLB All-Star Game actually takes place, it will be held at Dodger Stadium, so the Dodgers are wearing commemorative cap and jersey patches this season:
July Update: The 2020 All-Star Game has been canceled. Although no official announcement has been made, a source tells Uni Watch that the Dodgers will no longer wear the commemorative patches this season. As a consolation prize, the Dodgers are now slated to host the game in 2022, so they’ll wear new patches that season.
Here’s how that classic Dodgers home jersey looks with the addition of the maker’s mark:
San Diego Padres
The best uni-related news of the season comes out of San Diego, where the Padres have — finally! — brought back their old brown and gold color scheme (your friendly uniform columnist attended the unveiling and filed a detailed report):
Here’s a closer look at that home jersey:
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are marking the 20th anniversary of their ballpark with a new commemorative sleeve patch:
Also: It’s unusual for a team to have different sets of road grays, but that’s what the Giants have done for the past several years. Now they’re mothballing the alternate gray uni and keeping the primary design:
Also-also: The Giants were planning to retire Will Clark’s No. 22 at some point this season. No date for the ceremony was ever announced, which is just as well. Here’s hoping they’re still able to go through with that.
July Update: It’s not clear whether Clark’s number retirement will take place later this season or be postponed to 2021.
As for the cream-colored home uni, here’s a look at the jersey with the new maker’s mark:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
No changes this year for the Orioles, but here’s a look at their home jersey with the Nike logo:
Boston Red Sox
Nothing new out of Boston this season. But ugh, what a travesty to have that beautiful uniform sullied with the Nike maker’s mark:
New York Yankees
Nothing new for the Bronx Bombers (duh). But assuming baseball is up and running again by Aug. 13, the Yanks and White Sox will play a game at Iowa’s “Field of Dreams” on that date, and it seems reasonable to assume that both teams will wear some sort of old-timey throwback threads for the occasion. Something to look forward to!
July Update: The Field of Dreams Game is still taking place, but the Yankees are no longer participating. The Cardinals are taking their place.
Also: On the eve of the season opener, the Yanks announced that they’ll be wearing a memorial patch for owner Hank Steinbrenner, who died in April:
Meanwhile, behold the disgrace that is the classic Yankee pinstripes besmirched by the Nike maker’s mark:
Tampa Bay Rays
Nothing new this season for the Rays. Here’s a look at their home jersey with the Nike logo:
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are living up to their name by introducing a new powder-blue alternate uniform, which can be worn both at home and on the road (additional photos and info here):
The Jays were planning to have this uniform make its on-field debut on Opening Day — and maybe they’ll stick to that plan, once we finally find out when Opening Day will be.
The Jays have also embraced MLB’s latest headwear trends, as they’re switching to a matte-finish batting helmet with a raised logo:
Also notable: A pair of free agent signings during the offseason have put the Jays in the unlikely position of having their pitching roster bookended by a No. 1 and a No. 99:
Finally, here’s a peek at the team’s Nikefied home jersey:
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are scheduled to play the Yankees for that Aug. 13 game at Iowa’s Field of Dreams. Assuming the game actually takes place, the South Siders, like the Yankees, will almost certainly wear some type of throwback uniforms.
July Update: The Field of Dreams Game is still taking place, but the Sox will now be facing the Cardinals, not the Yankees. Still no word on old-timey uniforms.
While we wait to see how that pans out, here’s a look at the Chisox home white with the new maker’s mark:
Steady as she goes in Cleveland, where there’s no uni news to report.
July Update: The clamor about racially insensitive sports branding has reached Cleveland, where the Indians recently issued a statement saying they were looking to find “the best path forward” regarding their team name. Manager Terry Francona then came out in favor of changing the name, and he and several players discussed the matter with team owner Paul Dolan earlier this week. So big uniform and logo changes could be on the way.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at the team’s current white jersey with the new Nike maker’s mark:
The Tigers plan to retire Lou Whitaker’s No. 1 at some point this year. Whitaker will thus become the first player whose retired number was once inscribed onto his jersey with a Sharpie!
July Update: It’s not clear whether Clark’s number retirement will take place later this season or be postponed to 2021.
Now we just need a white Sharpie to cover up that unsightly Nike blemish on the Tigers’ beautiful home whites:
Kansas City Royals
The Royals have added a “DG” memorial patch for team owner David Glass, who died in January:
Also: The Royals are scheduled to wear Kansas City Monarchs throwbacks as a Negro Leagues tribute at home on May 17 (a game that now seems unlikely to happen) and on the road in Seattle on June 20 (a date that’s still within the realm of plausibility, at least for now).
July Update: The dates for the two Negro Leagues throwback games have passed. No word yet on whether the Royals will wear the throwbacks on some other dates.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at the Nike mark on a Royals home jersey:
The Twins are marking their 60th season in several ways. First, they’ve introduced a new powder-blue alternate uniform, which can be worn both at home and on the road (additional info here):
In addition, all Twins jerseys will carry a new 60th-season sleeve patch:
The patch logo will also appear on all game balls used at Twins home games:
And here’s how the new Nike mark will look on a Twins home jersey:
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
The Astros were planning to wear five different throwback uniforms for five different games this season. One of those games definitely won’t be happening, and several more seem iffy at best, although it’s possible that the team will reschedule the lost throwback dates.
July Update: Most of these throwback dates have already passed and the schedule has been rejiggered for the other two. It’s not yet clear whether the ’Stros will wear the throwback uniforms at all this season.
Also: It’s not uncommon for teams to wear stadium-anniversary patches, but they usually do so for an entire season. The Astros will be wearing a patch commemorating their ballpark’s 20th anniversary for just a single game, on Aug. 7:
July Update: Thanks to MLB’s rejiggered schedule, the Astros are no longer playing at home on Aug. 7 (they’ll be on the road, in Oakland), so they definitely won’t be wearing this patch on that date. It remains to be seen if they’ll wear it at some other time.
In addition, it’s worth noting that new ’Stros skipper Dusty Baker appears to be the first MLB manager ever to wear “Jr” as part of his NOB (that’s short for “name on back,” for those of you who don’t speak uni):
Meanwhile, in the wake of the cheating scandal that has tarnished the team’s 2017 championship and other recent successes, expect to see lots of “Houston Asterisks” logos floating around this year:
Finally, here’s how the team’s home jersey looks with the addition of the new maker’s mark:
Los Angeles Angels
Nothing new this year for the Angels. With all the halos on their uniform (the cap logo, chest insignia and both sleeve patches are all halo-clad), you have to wonder if they wanted to put a little halo around the front point of the newly added Nike logo:
Back in 1993, the A’s retired No. 34, for famously mustachioed reliever Rollie Fingers. Now they’re going to retire it again, this time for pitcher Dave Stewart. No date for the ceremony has yet been announced.
July Update: It’s not clear whether Stewart’s number retirement will take place later this season or be postponed to 2021.
Meanwhile, the A’s now have the dubious distinction of wearing MLB’s only green Nike swoosh:
The Mariners are scheduled to dress up as the Negro Leagues’ old Seattle Steelheads for their June 20 game against the Royals, who will play along by wearing Kansas City Monarchs throwbacks.
July 20: The date for this throwback game has passed, and the rejiggered schedule does not call for the Mariners to play the Royals this season. It’s not yet clear whether the M’s will wear the Steelheads throwbacks at some point anyway.
The Mariners had a “retro jersey night” scheduled for the third game of the season on March 28, although it wasn’t clear which retro design they were planning to wear. In any case, that game obviously won’t be happening.
That’s it for the M’s, except for the addition of the Nike logo:
After more than a decade of being derisively referred to as the “Texas Texases,” the Rangers have finally restored their team name to their home jersey (although they’ve done so with a rather undistinguished script insignia). They’ve also added a new powder-blue alternate uni and made lots of little tweaks to their typography, sleeve cuff striping and pants piping. You can see a detailed breakdown of all these changes here.
Also: Whenever the season finally begins, that will mark the opening of the Rangers’ new ballpark, and they’ll have a new inaugural-season patch for the occasion.
The new stadium also features a pretty cool mural with a uni-themed design:
Here’s a closer look at that new home jersey, complete with the Nike maker’s mark:
- Several MLB-wide uniform promotions will fall victim to the pandemic. For example, all uniformed personnel typically wear No. 42 for Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, but that won’t be happening this season. Ditto for holiday-based programs like pink hats for Mother’s Day (May 10) and camouflage for Armed Forces Day (May 16), and you’d have to say that anything planned for Memorial Day (May 25), Father’s Day (June 21) and even Independence Day (July 4) is now in doubt. As for Players Weekend, which typically takes place in August, we’ll have to wait and see if they go ahead with that. July Update: Jackie Robinson Day, which usually takes place on April 15 (the anniversary of Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers debut) has been moved to Aug. 28 (the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. leading the March on Washington). As for the various holiday uniforms, all of the holidays have passed and none of the uniforms will be worn or sold.
- Assuming the All-Star Game takes place, here’s a peek at what the American and National League BP/workout jerseys and caps will look like … (Update: The All-Star Game has been canceled.)
- All 30 MLB ballparks will have expanded protective netting this season.
Finally, although it’s sad to think about, it seems likely that all uniforms will carry some acknowledgment of the pandemic. Maybe a simple MLB-wide black armband, to mourn those who died? A memorial patch of some kind? One way or another, expect MLB uniforms to reflect the tragedy.
July Update: As it turns out, there have been no announcements about any sort of pandemic-related patch or armband. But there will still be plenty of reminders about the pandemic: players wearing masks, seats filled with cardboard cutouts, ads projected onto the field to make up for lost revenue, fake crowd noise and more. Just a bunch of additional weirdness in a year that’s already set a record in that regard.
Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do.
Paul Lukas hopes we get to see baseball soon, and until then urges all his readers to stay safe and healthy. If you like this article, you’ll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for his mailing list so you won’t miss any of his future InsideHook columns. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise or just ask him a question? Contact him here.
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