Let’s jump in the way back machine … come along, Sherman!
July 11, 1990 Comiskey Park, Chicago … strange days indeed!
The White Sox are playing the Brewers but the PA system and scoreboard are turned off. Strange people dressed in 1917 clothing are harking out players names on bullhorns, and the Sox themselves are wearing replicas of the 1917 World Series champion team. There are roving barbershop quartets singing between innings, admission is 50 cents, and you can buy popcorn for a nickel. Even the grounds crew was dressed in 1917 attire. The only thing that goes wrong is the Sox losing to the Brewers in extra innings.
But the Sox have pioneered something: the “Turn Back the Clock” game becomes very popular for many teams to emulate (in New York, not so much because the Yankees haven’t changed their uniforms in 80+ years).
Then there is the Tampa Bay Rays.
They are getting ready to jump into the act by having a “Turn Back the Clock” game … their target is a bit more modest … 1979.
The problem, and it is a big problem, is that the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t exist in 1979. They did not play their first game until 1998! How does one dress in 1979 uniforms that didn’t exist. They could perhaps adopt the uniforms of a minor league team that preceded them. The problem is the Tampa Yankees were only founded in 1994 and still play in a mini-Yankee Stadium in the Bay area …no one in their right mind is putting on Yankee pinstripes (the Rays already have a problem drawing more Rays fans than Yankee fans on days when the Bronx Bombers come to town … no need to perpetuate that. They could go with the team that was there from 191-1954, but the Tampa Smokers, sponsored by the local cigar concerns, is probably not the wholesome family image that it was decades ago (maybe they could hire a furry Joe Camel to pass out free cigs to the first 10,000 kids). In between there were the St. Petersburg Cardinals, but again, why advertise for another MLB team?
So the Rays have decided to simply invent throwback uniforms, made up in the 1970s style.
On the one hand, I give great kudos for doing something original.
On the other hand, for those of you who remember anything about baseball uniforms in the 1970s … let’s say it wasn’t a good era unless you were invested heavily in polyester sales. Prepare to walk down memory lane/scream in fashion terror
As you can hopefully see, the 1970s were a time of experimentation and mind altering experiences. Some teams like the Pirates and Cleveland decided that one color would suffice, and picked horrible colors. The Astros felt that one color was too restrictive, and decided that a rainbow was more in keeping with baseball tradition (note: it was not). The Padres were apparently inspired when the director of marketing was changing his baby’s diaper and decided “Hmm … those colors go together.” The White Sox … hey, if guys playing in the beer softball leagues could wear shorts, why not (what they picture doesn’t show well is the extra wide lapels on those tops)!
Teams like the Cubs, Dodgers, Reds, Yankees, and Red Sox actually can laugh hard at this since their uniforms underwent relatively little change, or actually made some changes that weren’t horrible. Even teams like Seattle, St. Louis, Minnesota, and Milwaukee engaged in weird flirtation with robin’s egg blue away uniforms that looked awful!
So hopefully by now you have clicked the link, and have seen the 70s inspired duds for the Rays …
… a team that missed the 70s and one wonders why they would feel compelled to live them at all.
Edit (6/22/12): On the plus side, the Rays are having Earth, Wind, and Fire give a postgame concert, so I will give it to them that they are gong above and beyond to roll back to 1979, and doing it at least with a good band.