The Orioles this morning unveiled their new City Connect uniform. Here are the primary takeaways, as shown above:
- The jersey leak from earlier this month turned out to be accurate.
- As we suspected, they’re going with a script “B” cap, similar to what Buck Showalter wanted them to have when he was skippering the team 10 years ago.
- I had actually convinced myself that they’d go with orange pants — in part because it would look more like a real-life oriole, and in part because I figured there was no way they’d go mono-black, especially with such a plain jersey — but it turns out that they’re going mono-black.
Those are the basics. Here are the details:
Looks nice enough (although it would look even better with an orange “B”). Buck Showalter must be smiling.
There’s also a matching batting helmet:
At first glance, there’s very little going on here. But it turns out that the sleeve cuffs and collar have a colorful interior lining (supposedly symbolizing how Baltimore’s mosaic of neighborhoods is more interesting on the inside than it may seem at first glance to outsiders, or some such silliness):
So if the players roll up their sleeves and/or leave their jerseys unbuttoned, there are flashes of color, like so:
As for the dots and speckles on the chest lettering: “The speckled details and imperfections represent the shared grit the Orioles and the Baltimore community possess.” Insert eye-roll emoji here. (You can see the rest of the “storytelling” here.)
Also: Note that the “B” sleeve patch sometimes appears on the right sleeve and sometimes on the left. You know what that means.
The Pants and Socks
This uni release is just a jersey/cap lifestyle merch dump, so they barely bothered to show anything below the waist. This shot is intriguing, though:
Can’t tell if the colored pattern is on the interior of the pant cuffs or the top of the socks. Either way, it appears that high-cuffed players will have some additional flashes of color.
In short: No baseball stories in this one — just full-on tourism-bureau stuff. As for the aesthetics, I think it’s hideous, but I’m not the target audience, obviously.
This uniform will make its on-field debut this Friday, May 26. It will be worn again the next day, and then for most of the Orioles’ remaining Friday home games. You can see a list of those games here.
Just one more 2023 CC unveiling remaining, for the Pirates. As you may recall, we saw a possible T-shirt leak earlier this month. The official unveiling is scheduled for June 22 — one month from today.
So MLB/Nike took the Mets 2008 Civil Rights Game uni (link), made the uni black, and called it good?
Also — there appears to be some “distressing” or other effect on the word “BALTIMORE” (link). Was it mentioned (sorry, didn’t bother with the storytelling link) what that’s all about?
OH…Nevermind — Paul already did post what that’s about (my bad for missing it at first read): “The speckled details and imperfections represent the shared grit the Orioles and the Baltimore community possess.”
I thought it couldn’t get worse than CinCy. Geez those are bad.
Buckle in for the Pirates. I’m already cringing.
They’ve grown on me. I like them a lot. Being from Baltimore, the “storytelling” is appropriate. I definitely understand the folks who aren’t going to like the uni-elements that are hidden unless you unbutton the jersey/roll up the sleeves. This is definitely targeting the consumer.
But all in all:
a.) All black works (either as a neutral color or because black is a team color)
b.) They could have done better with “BALTIMORE”, although I understand the “story”
c.) The white belt breaks up the all black appropriately
d.) I’m hopeful everyone will go high-cuffed with at least one button undone
I’m not in the demo for this. But all black from Cincy and now Baltimore is beyond bad. The other City Connects are mostly horrible but at least they attempted to incorporate color. I’m a fan of the Texas Rangers and their CC uniform has grown on me. I like the hat and the mythical animal (pealge or Vandergriffin as we call it). The dark navy pants look pretty good with socks showing. The Angels have the best one so far because it looks like a traditional uniform.
I’m with you. I also really like the Nationals CC uniforms.
Did anyone associated with these dreary all-black heat magnets even consider the Maryland humidity and summers that are now hotter than ever? The severe lack of creativity on these is bad enough, but consciously choosing the one monochromatic combination no sane person would wear in the July/August steambaths—unless maybe attending a funeral—is ridiculous.
Don’t worry, they’ll switch to white pants soon enough, just like the Dodgers and Rockies have done with their CC uniforms.
Another swing and a miss but I am not the fan that MLB and Nike are aiming for. The hat is the only nice part, but an orange outline of the B would not have hurt the design. I repeat my argument that all the black in current uniforms (also in football and basketball) is due to the current reversible practice gear minimalism taste for gameday uniforms that I do not share. But again, I am well past the age of the targeted demographic.
Or even an orange squatchee on the hat. That would have been nice.
If not for the inside colors, it’s a reverse retro generic label uniform. Could be worse, I suppose
I guess I should be happy there are no crabs or Maryland flags on it.
The fact that the Nike logo being the only visible orange is really obnoxious. The font for the B on the cap not matching the font on the chest looks really stupid, although typical for MLB I suppose.
There’s so much about this beautiful city to celebrate, and they just shit on it.
I hate everything about it.
I’ll probably still buy the hat.
The fact that the Nike logo being the only visible orange is really obnoxious.
NOB lettering is also orange.
I can’t believe I missed that. The new era logo on the hats is also orange.
Crabs and Maryland flags show up on so many uniforms because they’re distinctive and beloved by the community, Expecting Maryland teams not to have crabs or the state flag is like expecting Texas to lay off the steers and stars, or telling Denver teams “okay, you’re in the mountains. We get it.” Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are a huge point of pride in this area, and no matter what people around the country may claim, nobody does crabs quite the way they’re done in Delmarva.
Virginia Beach is waving at you with Lynnie oysters and Jumbo Jimmie blue crabs from the Bay and inlet.
Oh, no disrespect intended to seafood from other regions. Lots of places have their signature dishes. Just that I spent a lot of time in California with people trying to tell me their crabcakes were authentic Maryland/DelMarVa crabcakes and they weren’t even close.
I live in Baltimore. I have Maryland shirts, hats, hot pan holders, etc. I know all about the crabs and flags. I also know that most of the region shits on Baltimore any chance it gets. That’s why I’m glad the uniform attempts to reflect the city, not the whole area
But there’s so much of the city that the uniform could’ve reflected in a more open, obvious way. When the reflection they’re trying to convey requires that you’re familiar with Nike’s marketing materials, it’s a missed opportunity to celebrate Baltimore.
So basically the majority of the “City Connect” content is on the INSIDE of the uniform for no one to see.
Except those who buy it. The only ones that matter.
Every CC uniform is horrendous. I actually like Nike, but they really screwed this up.
Typical for Rob Manfred’s MLB, where pretty much everything that changes is for the worse.
Nigel Tufnel said it best, in “This Is Spinal Tap”, nearly 40 years ago:
“It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black.”
I almost spit my lunch all over my desk when I read this.
Well so what? What’s wrong with being sexy?
It’s like Nike just got tired halfway through the City Connect program and said “Eh, all black for the rest, and make as many as possible with just plain white block lettering”. The O’s homes are one of the best looking sets in MLB. It’s a shame they’ll eschew them for this uninspired crap for that many games.
So…with five out of the six CC’s for 2023 now unveiled, four of them have black pants.
Did Nike get a deal on black pants over the winter?
The funny thing is, except the Mariners and Atlanta, these are some of the worst City Connects yet. Very bad year for the program thus far.
I agree! It’s overkill at this point. If a few teams do black pants, whatever. But now it’s just becoming cliche.
Who is the target audience for this, exactly? People who like wearing terrible, uncomfortable clothing in the middle of summer?
They could have had a similar effect if they had flipped the white and black elements entirely, and at least not cooked their players like rotisserie chickens.
They’re boring. Just like every other mono chromatic CC story telling drivel that’s come out lately. Is this really the best that Nike can do now? Cincy’s are downright ugly. B-More’s are just boring.
When it comes to design, I suppose Balti-less is Balti-more.
*hold for boos*
It feel as if Nike heard people lliked the Chicago “southside” jersey and said “everyone gets a black jersey this year”
Or put more succinctly: Less is B’more
Saccharine design. And very amateuristic. But what matters most–always– is the Angelos regime saved money.
A few personal thoughts:
1) I actually really like the hat. It’s clean yet unique. With the black and white motif, I think it’ll be a big seller.
2) Even though the font is a little boring, I like that the font is based on the Globe at MICA. However, I still wish that it said Charm City instead of Baltimore. link
3) The back of the jersey reminds me of the soccer jersey from last year. link
As a Marylander, my reaction to the leak was abhorrence. My reaction to the full thing is a marginal upgrade at a strong dislike. I can appreciate the supposed inspiration, but this is still a missed opportunity. It should’ve been CHARM CITY in Memorial Stadium font, with the old Baltimore Baseball club logo on the sleeve. That would’ve been sharp, and celebrated both the city and it’s rich baseball history, which this does not.
The cap and jock tag are the only wins. I won’t be buying any of this.
Speaking as someone who lives in Baltimore City, I like these a lot more than I thought I would based on the leak. The hidden color really works for me and makes the uniform unique. I’ll respectfully disagree with Paul that this is the usual “tourism bureau” stuff. That would’ve been Charm City or Crab uniforms— in other words the things tourists fixate on from outside the city. The story the uniform tells, that Baltimore presents one way to outsiders and another way to those who live here, really resonates with me and I’m interested that Nike appears to be marketing these to city residents instead of the suburban fan base at large.
But are people actually going to see those elements? If you’re watching an O’s game on TV, are you going to see the imperfections on the letters and think “wow, those imperfections really speak to what a gritty (aka: blue collar lunch pail) city Baltimore is.”
Nike managed a much better job of storytelling (::cringe::) for teams like Miami and Boston. I don’t love the Red Sox kit, but at least you know what it’s supposed to be. They did a great job with the Nationals also, by finding something that identifies DC without falling on a military or government cliche.
Hiding the cool elements of the design may seem like it pays homage to the spirit of the city. Unfortunately what most people will see is another mono-black uni.
“Hiding the cool elements of the design may seem like it pays homage to the spirit of the city. Unfortunately what most people will see is another mono-black uni.”
More to the point, hiding the cool elements of the design (to the extent they are cool, which I think is up for reasonable debate) pays homage to the spirit of the city mostly only to those who are will to shell out $400+ for the “honor” of paying homage to the spirit of the city.
To your point, this is why I like the “story” of the uniforms. And I get it, many (especially the readers of this blog) are anti-story telling, but if we look at uniforms in general, isn’t there an element of telling a story built in? Maybe not a grand story worth a two-minute montage video, but the Colt .45’s uni and logo tell a story. So do the Mariners logo and uni. And the SuperSonics. You get my point. Branding is storytelling. And the CC unis are telling a different story than just the team name.
Accepting the premise of storytelling on uniforms being a worthy pursuit, what is the storytelling here? It’s a plain “BALTIMORE” on an all-black canvas. You could apply the “beneath a gritty exterior is a world of culture” schtick to literally any city. And the colorful part of the uniforms won’t even be visible on the field — that was included solely for merch purposes.
I care more about how a uniform looks than whatever storytelling Nike drums up, but I think these fail on both fronts. They are still better than Cincy’s, though.
The “City Connect” platform has, unsurprisingly, lost its way. As a Red Sox fan I hate that they wear yellow jerseys, but it makes sense in the “city” theme with the Boston Marathon.
If these are really supposed to tell the story of a city and it’s people, then at least use the font from a historic landmark. The Domino Sugar factory comes to mind….
So many missed opportunities, I wasn’t hoping for the flag or crabs, but this is just boring. The idea of the Memorial Stadium font seemed like a great idea and ties with the history of the team. This is just meh. Even the hat (the best part of the design) could have used a pop of orange.
“Even the hat (the best part of the design) could have used a pop of orange.
I couldn’t agree more. As it is, the hat is… fine. It’s the strongest part of the uniform (which isn’t saying much). But it would have been elevated by several degrees if the “B” had been orange instead of white.
The cynic in me thinks this was intentional. If it’s orange, you’ve limited your market of potential purchasers mainly to Orioles fans. But make the “B” white on black? The Orioles fans still buy it, and you open it up to a whole new range of retail purchasers who want it for the trendy black/white color scheme.
I thought the exact same thing! I think they intentionally made it black and white for retail purposes. It’ll definitely be a big seller since it’s a plain black and white hat. Look at the White Sox!
Agreed on both points!
It’s pretty clear that a lot of teams are not into City Connect, and that the Orioles are one of them.
I think that is the right conclusion. A classic case of underestimating the fans by MLB and Nike by thinking: these dummies will buy anything from their team.
I find it very funny that the Red Sox were the first team to launch theirs, and it’s become a fan favorite. One of the last teams I would’ve thought.
That’s because it’s actually good.
I’m one embarrassed Orioles fan. Terrible look. I can think of dozens of ways they could design uniforms that actually reflect my hometown. Opportunity lost.
I like the cap but it doesn’t come close to making up for this mess.
Like with every CC uniform I feel like they are targetted at people who are not into baseball on the level of the average fan. The main target are the 16-26 year olds who are into what socials tell them are cool clothes. The young demographic MLB so desperately tries to reach and is basically not interested in pro team sports. If the overwhelming reaction online is negative about a CC uniform (even coming from baseball fans, who are an alien breed to these young fashionistas), forget it. They will not buy it.
It’s a shame that the MLB doesn’t spend half the time or energy marketing to people who actually love the game, instead of marketing to fashion influencers.
Bad news: people who actually love the game are people who’ve already been checked off from a marketing standpoint. They are looking to grow their market reach, thus they are making efforts to appeal to people who don’t already “love the game”. You don’t have to like the unis and the gimmicks, but if you want more people to love baseball, you need to get more people interested in it. This kind of thing is a necessary evil, if they are going to grow the fan base and broaden the appeal.
Does it actually work, though? Is a person who sees this as a cool shirt with a hidden pattern going to turn around and buy tickets to a baseball game?
It seems like the goal isn’t to grow the game of baseball. The goal is to sell stuff that’s marginally baseball-related. As somebody else pointed out in this thread, the hat would’ve reflected the Orioles better if the B was orange, but that might limit sales to Orioles fans. If it’s just a black and white hat, people will buy it because it’s a black and white hat, without giving the slightest damn that it’s an MLB or, more specifically, a Baltimore Orioles hat.
A cynic might conclude that the MLB isn’t the least bit interested in growing the game of baseball as long as they sell a bunch of ugly pointless merchandise. Which is expected, but still pretty disheartening.
Judy, since I can’t reply to you, I’ll reply to myself. Yes it works. It’s called winning hearts and minds. It’s essentially an entry point into the game (everyone needs one) for people who care more about fashion and fads than baseball. There’s plenty of “regular” merch for traditionalists to buy and they will continue to do so. I’m not here to argue whether the uniform represents Baltimore or the orioles. I’m just saying that they grow their market reach by appealing to people who aren’t already existing customers, not by limiting themselves to their existing customer base.
“Can’t tell if the colored pattern is on the interior of the pant cuffs or the top of the socks.” On the jersey page, if you scroll down, you can see a pair of cleats with socks draped over them with the Stance logo showing. I wonder how many will go high cuffed
I personally wouldn’t say the aesthetics are hideous. Much too bland, boring and generic to be hideous. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s complete indifference. If they were aiming for that they came close.
lifestyle branding in sports has become exhaustive
Looking at that picture of the oriole, I noticed two things: 1) they are gloriously beautiful birds, and 2) the mono black is SUCH a missed opportunity.
Not suggesting they should’ve rehashed the Brooks Robinson all-orange unis from the 70s, but orange is a great uni color and not all that widely used. I wish they’d embraced it.
“Charm City”, the Memorial Stadium font, a little splash of orange – maybe it’s all too obvious, but I’d rather have something obvious that’s done well than another uninspired basic black set.
So these are basically “The Wire” on the outside and “Charm City” on the inside? Okay, then!
Did Nike use the same person who did Great Britain’s World Baseball Classic uniforms on these uniforms?
Am I the only one that it really bothered by how different the font on the hat B is from the Baltimore chest font? It could just be me being a little OCD, but this bothers me more and more when teams do it. Kind of ruins the uniformity within the uniform. I would have much rather seen the hat font carried throughout on this one.
Baseball has a history/tradition of cap logos not matching font faces elsewhere. Not saying that’s good or bad but it is what it is.
That said, the incredibly generic (looks like “Franklin Gothic”) font should have been rendered in “Memorial Stadium” font (link) as several others have already suggested.
Just like with Cincy, I like the hat quite a bit but the rest of this is pretty blah.
I do like a baseball uniform with non-white or gray pants (I particularly like the Rockies green pants) but the rest of this uni ain’t it.
I’ve never done a ‘concept’ before today. I threw this together in five minutes so I know it’s crude. I meant to remove the head spoon or color it orange. My five minutes are probably four more than went into the Nike CC design. link
CiNCy, you are off the hook.
I didn’t want to look at those things again to confirm it.
Meh. I suppose some will purchase the shirt and hat. I’m curious how well the CC jerseys and caps sell. I rarely see them where I live, a city with one of the supposedly better sets.
Oh well, Baltimore fans will overlook the uniforms and enjoy the current winning after years of 100+ losses and helping usher in the draft lottery. Perhaps the winning will help these sell.
As for orioles, I spent the past couple years trying to attract them into the neighborhood and specifically my yard. This spring finally saw success. I figure it was a sign of the upcoming Baltimore Orioles success. At least the actual birds are something spectacular to look at.
Something I never knew I wanted! A reversible jersey that’s generic, black, and says “Baltimore” on the outside. And is a Jimmy Buffett tropical-style shirt on the inside. Perfect for all the Parrotheads in Charm City or Baltimoreans in Margaritaville!
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
“Wastin’ away again in Baltimoraville. . .”
If the Ravens had a baseball uniform this would be it.
So, the easy answer would have been “CHARM CITY” in Memorial Stadium font. Maybe with some Baltimore-style Formstone patterns. And it would have worked.
I mean, the Aquarium or Fort McHenry maybe? Bromo-Seltzer? Domino Sugar?
As a former 17-28 year old man, my sports merchandise options were pretty basic: jerseys, home or away, team colors. On-field caps. T-shirts. And we all bought them by the millions. Paradoxically, as I have gotten older and make more money, I buy less, because I’m not dropping $41 for an Armed Forces olive cap that isn’t going to be worn after yesterday when my red Phillies gamer from 1992 still fits fine and is broken in (took the crown out and everything).
Given that the CC uniforms toggle back and forth between “boring” and “ghastly”, I guess we should be happy the Orioles’ version came out “boring”.
I could have whipped up something better in under an hour for far less than SOMEBODY got paid for this mess.
What. An. Abomination. If you have to explain the concept of the uniform for anyone to “get it,” you’ve done a pretty lousy job of designing the uniform. (Full disclosure: I am a lifelong Baltimorean.) Anybody else get the feeling that there’s a bunch of Nike executives squirrelled away in a room somewhere laughing their collective asses off about this whole “City Direct” concept/program, and how they duped the MLB into believing that The Emperor, IS, in fact, wearing clothes? What a naked and cynical money grab.
What’s really annoying about all of it is somebody could’ve spent 5 minutes googling “Baltimore attractions” and come up with a ton of ideas that are more clever than “we put smudges that nobody will see on the letters to signify what a gritty city Baltimore is.” There’s SO MUCH there to work with and this was the best they could do?
I wish I had the tools and the skills to design a uni, but here are a few thoughts that might not be great, but would be better than this:
– Arizona and the Dodgers both leaned it to their Spanish-speaking fans with “Serpientes” and “Los Dodgers”. Dodgers could’ve gone even further with “Los Doyers,” as they’ve done before. Bryce Harper had his “wooder” shirt. You want to honor Baltimore neighborhoods? Have some fun with it and change the generic-looking “BALTIMORE” to “BAWLMER, HON”
– Fort McHenry is in Baltimore. I don’t know if flag statutes would allow them to replicate the old flag (link), but maybe some kind of acknowledgement of it would be a welcome alternative to the state flag.
– the B&O Warehouse may not be as cool as the Golden Gate Bridge or even the Yankee Stadium frieze, but a little outline on the sleeves would’ve worked.
– Speaking of the B&O Railroad, the Mount Clare Station in Baltimore was a significant point on the Underground Railroad. Maybe draw some inspiration from that.
– The USS Constellation is right there in Inner Harbor. Surely they could come up with some kind of Nike-speak storytelling angle that wouldn’t have to be hidden on the inside of the jersey.
Just some thoughts that seem more interesting that another mono-black uni.
I definitely get the impression that the Nike designers research for these CC uniforms consists of reading the Wikipedia page for the city in question and maybe doing a google image search for “baseball uniform”.
These are atrocious. Can we stop that they need to attract the “young demographic” to watch baseball? Improve the gameplay and that will attract fans, not the uniforms. NFL doesn’t have gaudy uniforms or a ridiculous uniform program like the NBA, yet they are the most popular league.
My daughter is 5 years old and she is getting into the Mets. Now, my daughter is a little fashionista. She cares very much about what clothes she puts on, her hair, accessories, etc. She was very unhappy when the Mets wore black last week and told me she preferred their white (pinstripe) uniforms. Last week, right before the Mets game started, she asked me what jersey color they were going to wear and when I told her blue, she was not happy because she said she would have trouble reading the numbers on the back. She was thinking about the black uniforms, but still, that was pretty insightful from a 5 year old.
My point is, just because there are young fans, does not mean they all like gaudy ugly uniforms. They appreciate the good looking classic looks too. We were all kids once too. We all liked what our teams wore for decades and bought their hats and jerseys. And yes, I’m very proud of my 5 year old for preferring the classic white pinstripe uniforms.
Anyone want to talk about how the Yankees road unis are less creative and visually interesting than these? Or because they designed them 100 years ago, they get ushered to the top of the pack? Or is it because the Yankees unis aren’t black? Or is the arched lettering what sets them apart?
I’m pretty sure that even people who feel the Yankees home unis are good (the word “iconic” frequently gets attached to them) aren’t necessarily enamored with their roads. They are indeed plain, but they went from good to “meh” once they transitioned over to polyester. The flannel roadies were utilitarian and good looking. What they’ve been wearing since they put white outlines around “NEW YORK” and added sleeve stripes in the early 1970s are nothing special. But a road uni isn’t supposed to be flashy or in-the-moment good.
Not so much: link
The point I’m getting at is people aren’t on here losing their minds over how the Yankees road unis are “uninspired and boring”.
And the kind of thinking that a uniform is supposed to be or not supposed to be anything is a pet peeve of mine. I don’t think we need any unwritten rules that suggest road jerseys shouldn’t be anything special.
If the Yankees had literally *JUST* introduced a new road uniform (and it looked like the current one), I’m sure there would be plenty of hemming and hawing about how it looks. But they didn’t. They introduced it 50 years ago.
The Orioles literally *JUST* introduced a new uniform this morning.
Which do you think people are going to be talking about?
I personally respect the fact that the Yanks have stuck with the pretty much the same uniforms for 100 years without jumping on every stylistic or merchandising bandwagon. And yet, they still manage to be among the best sellers.
Worst uniform EVER! Born & raised in Baltimore and yeah, not in nike’s demographics but could the B on the cap be orange? The cardinal on St.Louis ,not a St.Louis cardinal ,the blue jay in Toronto, not a Toronto blue jay but the Baltimore Oriole is just that, a Baltimore Oriole. I have every style Oriole cap back to the 1930’s except the O’s monstrosity and I won’t have this own. The all black uniform at least goes back to the first AL team in town but ORANGE not white trim.
I don’t like mono-black. In fact, I don’t like any mono-color uniform aside from maybe mono-powder blue. But mono-black is the worst choice for an outdoor summer game.
That said, I don’t hate the jersey. I don’t get it, because i guess I don’t know Baltimore that well as a city. But I don’t hate the jersey at all. Don’t love it, but don’t hate it. Basically, it’s not nearly as bad as people are saying, it’s fine.
Baltimore CC to Cincy CC: “Hold my beer.”
Man, if only the cap had an orange B, there would be something very good for O’s fans coming out of this. Though I lived most of my adult life in the DC area, I have no more local knowledge of or connection to Baltimore than, say, Boston or Sacramento. Still, nothing about the uniform in whole or in part makes me think of Baltimore. The jersey font sorta-kinda makes me think of highway signs driving 95 north from DC; you know you’re finally getting somewhere when the mileage signs say Wilmington & Philly instead of Baltimore. Though I doubt that’s the connection to city anyone on the O’s or Nike staff were aiming for.
The one positive thing I’ll note is the back of the jersey; that color arrangement is perfect for the back of a black Orioles jersey.