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More Signs That the Yankees Won’t Have a City Connect Uniform

When MLB’s City Connect program launched in 2021, the stated plan was for all 30 MLB teams to have added a CC design by the end of 2023. That hasn’t happened, as there are still 10 MLB teams that don’t yet have a CC uni: the A’s, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Guardians, Mets, Phillies, Rays, Tigers, Twins, and Yankees. And it’s looking like at least one of those teams won’t be hopping on the CC bandwagon this year either.

As you may recall, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said on a radio show last summer that the team had no plans to add a CC design. Granted, he didn’t quite declare, “We will never do that,” and he did hold out the possibility that they might add a CC uni “someday,” but he certainly made it sound like the team wouldn’t be CC-ing anytime soon.  And now Uni Watch reader Chris Wilde has added a bit more info pointing in that same direction.

Chris says he was at MLB’s flagship retail shop on Saturday and ended up chatting with an employee there. The employee said she works for Legends, which oversees the Yankees’ merchandising — she runs a shop at Yankee Stadium during the season and works at the MLB flagship shop in the offseason. From there, Chris says, the conversation went like this:

I started chatting with her about the CC unis — which ones we liked and didn’t like. I mentioned that, as a Yankees fan, I was curious to see what theirs will look like, and she said something like, “Oh no, they’re not going to do one. You don’t mess with the pinstripes.” I said a few times that I was surprised they were allowed to opt out of it, and she kept repeating that they were not going to do it.

Obviously, this is hearsay of hearsay and certainly not definitive. But when you combine it with Hal Steinbrenner’s comments from last summer, it sure sounds like the Yankees won’t have a CC uniform in 2024. If so, good for them.

Meanwhile, here’s another interesting tidbit that Chris got from that same employee (although it’s about retail merch, not on-field uniforms):

I asked her if it was too soon for Yamamoto jerseys [referring to pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who just signed with the Dodgers — PL], and she said they’re not allowed to sell them until he sets foot on a MLB field in the regular season, as per his contract. I didn’t quite get if this was specific to Yamamoto or if it applies to all NPB players in their first MLB year (I have no memory of how it worked with Ohtani, Tanaka, etc.). It does seem strange, though.

And sure enough, if you go to the Dodgers’ online shop, they don’t have any Yamamoto apparel available. Instead, they have a page where you can sign up to be notified when Yamamoto products are ready to go. Weird.

(Big thanks to Chris Wilde for sharing this information with us.)

Comments (28)

    Never thought I would say this but bravo to the Yankees. And it is indeed peculiar that one can only buy merch after the player has stepped onto the field. Does this only apply to Japanese players or to other
    (non-US) nationalities as well?

    I would guess the Yamamoto thing is pretty normal. If you haven’t played in an MLB game, you don’t have service time, so you really aren’t in the MLBPA yet.

    It’s probably the same for rookie merch, except no one is looking for their stuff.

    This and holding the line of the grooming policy…not enough to ever make me a fan, but I’m cheering NYY today.
    And why did I never notice until now that the flourish of the Y and the tail of the s terminate and don’t make for a full circle in that logo?!

    I have a memory from when Jason Heyward was coming up with the Atlanta Braves. He was a highly touted prospect and a local kid from the area. It became known he would make the roster and play on Opening Day, but even the Jason Heyward merchandise at the ballpark was under lock and key, and was not sold until the 5th inning! That’s right, Heyward needed to appear in a game, and that game needed to become official.
    The way the MLBPA licensing works, the Yamamoto case makes sense. The team cannot sell merchandise of a non-unionized player, the union cannot withhold consent unreasonably, and union members cannot negotiate separately. (Barry Bonds did but that is an old loophole now closed.) If the team could get all the merch money from a new rookie up front, that would be an unacceptable advance, when the teams have minor leagues. It would be a crazy fact pattern if Atlanta sold a Heyward jersey in the first inning but the game got rained out after his first defensive inning, but that’s the rule and that’s why it’s the rule.
    Now once a player is already a union member, that’s fair game, so the Dodgers can make Ohtani merchandise now but not Yamamoto now.

    Perhaps my biggest dislike of unions is how they’re set up to favor current members over members who have not yet joined. Keeping a player from participating in jersey sales when they’re about to join the union is another level of ridiculousness.

    It wouldn’t kill them to finally just use their navy blue spring training top as an alternate for the regular season, and then call it their City Connect contribution. Could even put “Bronx” across the chest, if need be. This doesn’t have to be something elaborate and garish.

    Right? I’ve long thought that their CC should have something to do with the Bronx or Bombers. Nike needs to force it upon them.

    They don’t though… that’s what ultimately causes the break in brand identity. They caved for uni ads, they caved for the maker’s mark on the jersey, good for them for standing against the tail wagging the dog with this one. I felt the same way when they turned down the TATC uniforms, George was right when he said they were already wearing the uniforms from the future.

    Now, if only some OTHER (very rich) MLB team would opt out of Nike’s “my placket’s narrower than yours” jersey template, perhaps some modicum of sanity would return to the league. Seriously…how can ANYBODY look at the new jerseys and not say “something’s very off here?” (My suspicion is far worse: they realize it…and don’t care.)

    I don’t hate the new template. There are visual elements I don’t like. Putting the MLB logo below the lip on the back seems to defy logic to me. But, I did not like the mesh down the back on the previous template first invented by Majestic at all, and I’m curious to see how an even lighter fabric feels on the baseball jersey. I haven’t held one yet but I own a lot of Nike soccer jerseys due to being a Chelsea fan and it almost looks like they took the same material they use on soccer jerseys and made a baseball jersey. So I’m very curious to see how it feels.

    Man, if the Yankees actually CAN opt-out of these ridiculous City-Connect unis, I hope the Cardinals can too. That’s my team, and their uniform locker is perfect how it is (aside from that Nike swoosh stain on the front, of course). And I’m dreading that they’ll be polluting that visual program with some ugly monochrome foolishness like the Reds and Cubs did. I don’t want to see it…for them OR the Yankees for that matter.

    With any luck, the whole ugly program will get mothballed league-wide, but given Manfred’s track record, I won’t hold my breath.

    “I hope the Cardinals can too.”

    You might want to check back here in a bit for some more news on that (and it ain’t good)

    No sport has a richer uniform history than MLB. City Connects are fine for the ‘95 on expansion teams but throwbacks work better for everyone else. Even as a Guardians fan there are plenty of non-Wahoo throwbacks to choose from. I know MLB skews older but it’s foolish to think CC uniforms are attracting young fans.

    Can you go back and ask her when the new templates in general will be available for retail, league wide? MLBShop had an “Up to 70% off,” sale that was set to expire on 12/31 at 11:59pm ET. But once that came and went they changed the expiration to 01/03 at 11:59pm ET. Obviously they’re trying to unload the old template jersey stock and any merch they’re discontinuing for 2024, but hoping it means we get the new template for sale later this week league-wide. So far I’ve only seen it for Shohei and the Diamondbacks blank, both on pre-order.

    The A’s need to wait a season before getting City Connect unis. It would be ridiculous if they got them this season, since they basically have no connection to their current city. I also believe that they are the most relocated team in MLB, with being the third time they’ve moved (Philadelphia to Kansas City, Kansas City to Oakland, Oakland to Las Vegas).

    I think the Yankees will succumb. Remember when we thought they’d exempt themselves from ad patches?

    The Yankees “succumbed” ever since totally separate 4th of July caps were made. Coincidentally I think George was dead. The Yankees should have to do their turn eventually, but it will be totally “we don’t want to do this” lame

    No team should be forced into this CC nonsense. Teams like the Yankees have a proud uniform tradition. This CC stuff will eventually fade away. There is no need to jump on what is “cool” today.

    Nope, Hal would never mess with those sacred pinstripes. But slap an ad patch for a third-rate insurer on the sleeve? Absolutely.

    Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment.

    The Yankees have such a rich history pre-1936 (the year their current, iconic home uniforms debuted) that they can put together a City Connect design that should be able to please most of their fans. Something inspired by the early 1900s New York Highlanders (solid navy-blue uniforms with a big “N” and “Y” on each breast), the script “Yankees” from their ’50s dugout jackets or a block “YANKEES” across the jersey front a la the 1927 team’s uniforms would be very different from anything the team currently wears while still respectfully honoring their history and not veering off into weird new colors (I’m looking at you, Red Sox and Padres) or logos territory. I know these designs aren’t really meant to be throwbacks/fauxbacks, but that’s the route some teams (such as the Braves and Mariners) have chosen to take anyway.

    I respect that the Yankees have historically resisted wearing alternate jerseys, but I tend to believe the “sanctity” of their branding went out the window the moment they participated in those ridiculous Players’ Weekend promotions a few years back.

    At least one team has the courage not to buy in to the insanity.

    I wish my favorite team could be like the Yankees (in so many ways).

    I kind of feel like my favorite team, the Cubs, are like that 60 year old who dyes their hair pink.

    You know, Paul & Phil, if the Yanks do if fact end up sitting out the program, a “Design a City Connect uniform for the Yankees” could be a fun idea for a future contest.

    Leave it to the Yankees to be the only team to not participate in what has become a popular addition to MLB. One more reason to hate the Yankees.

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