On June 30, the Tampa Bay Rays will wear their 1979 uniforms as part of a “Turn Back the Clock” promotion.
Astute baseball fans and readers will notice a major error in that first sentence (and yes, the punctuation is all correct). The Rays – who were initially known as the Devil Rays – only became an expansion franchise in 1998, a solid 19 years before the promotion date they are running at the end of this month.
But that didn’t stop the Rays organization. Taking some creative (and MLB-approved) license, they crafted a “hypothetical uniform” with the purpose of “fully embracing the style of the era while keeping the Rays modern colors,” according to a team press release.
As seen in the picture of Rays manager Joe Maddon above, the stylish threads feature contrasting tones of blue, a mustard yellow and what looks to be an orange slice inside the “b” on the hat and “a” on a jersey – possibly a nod to the team’s home, Tropicana Field.
When the Rays have celebrated “Turn Back the Clock” nights in the past, the team has outfitted in old uniforms of local teams that competed in minor professional leagues. In 2009, the Rays inched the clock back 11 years and wore their inaugural-season uniforms from 1998, the only time they have worn another actual Rays jerseys for one of these promotions. But this year’s fake-but-now-real uniforms easily top all of these other selections because of the faux authenticity and cleverness surrounding them.
Plus, this serves as another example of the Rays’ love for creativity and clothing; for each road trip, Maddon’s gang travels in style according to a theme selected by the manager. Earlier this year, the Rays donned bow ties and suspenders as part of a nerd theme designed to raise money for charity. Last year, the team paraded in pajamas, with many players somehow finding adult onesies to fit into. And two years ago, the Rays wore hockey jerseys during the Stanley Cup finals, with many showing their support for the Blackhawks.
These trip themes create camaraderie among the team and although they likely don’t direct relate to performance, the Rays have certainly not suffered as a result of their fashion fun: they had a winning road record each of the past two seasons and are above the .500 mark away from home so far this year.
And when the Rays do return home at the end of the month, they will treat fans with some far out uniforms. Can you dig it?