You can learn a lot by looking at MLB teams’ promotional schedules. In the past week or so, for example, we’ve learned that the Phillies and A’s will probably wear 1934 throwbacks this summer, and that the Padres are definitely adding a stadium-anniversary patch this season, even though neither of those things has been publicly announced yet.
And now it looks like the Mets just might be going back to the future by bringing back their Mercury Mets uniforms from MLB’s ill-fated 1999 “Turn Ahead the Clock” promotion.
Here’s the deal: The Mets announced their promo schedule yesterday. Here’s what they have on tap for July 27 (a Saturday night):
They didn’t provide a visual of the giveaway, but we all know what a Mercury Mets jersey looks like. And anyway, they did provide a visual with this social media post:
Let’s shift into FAQ mode:
Just because they’re doing a giveaway, does that automatically mean they’re going to wear that uniform on-field?
No. But teams often do giveaways that correspond to throwback uniforms or other on-field promotions.
Is there anything notable about the giveaway taking place on July 27?
Yes. That date happens to be the 25th anniversary of the original Mercury Mets game. Again, that doesn’t automatically mean they’re doing something special on-field, but it sure would be appropriate on that date.
They’re playing Atlanta on July 27. Is that also who they played 25 years ago?
No, they played the Pirates. You can see some game footage in this video:
The giveaway is for a Mike Piazza jersey. How did he do in that 1999 game?
He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Maybe he had jet lag from the trip from Mercury.
Have the Mets ever hinted before at reviving this uniform?
Not to my knowledge. According to this 2022 article, the team had “no such plans [to wear this uni again], preferring to keep the Mercury Mets at (robotic) arm’s length.” But maybe they’ve changed their minds — or maybe it’s just a giveaway promotion with no on-field component.
Have any other MLB teams reprised their TATC uniform designs?
Yes, but not from the 1999 uniforms. As you may recall, the ’99 program was based on a one-game TATC promotion by the Mariners in 1998. They marked the 20th anniversary of that game in 2018 by playing a game in their 1998 TATC uniforms (which were different than their 1999 TATC uniform):
As a Mets fan, do you want them to do this?
I have to say, the original 1999 Mercury Mets experience — not just the game, but the build-up, the marketing, all of it — was one of the more embarrassing things I’d ever experienced as a Mets fan up to that time (although they’ve topped it a few times since then). But for better or worse, the Mercury Mets have become an indelible moment in the team’s history, so I say go ahead and have fun with it. Hell, I was hoping the whole league would go back to the future in 2021 (the year supposedly represented by the 1999 uni designs).
What do we call this kind of uniform — a throwback? A throw-ahead? BTTF (for “back to the future”)? Something else?
Since they’re both futuristic and historical, I vote for calling them time-warp uniforms. As in, “The Mets are breaking out the time-warps tonight.” BTTF could also work. But if anyone wants to suggest a better name, I’m open to it!
Update: Several readers have pointed out that the Cardinals’ promo schedule also includes a TATC jersey giveaway, on Aug. 16 (which is not the exact anniversary of their 1999 TATC game, but whaddaya gonna do). I’ve emailed team prexy Bill DeWitt to find out more — stay tuned.
Additional update: The Cardinals will not be wearing their TATC jersey on-field — it’s just a giveaway. Similarly, the Mariners are doing a TATC giveaway in April, and they tell me that there will not be a corresponding on-field component.
I still haven’t gotten anything definitive from the Mets (they tend not to respond to my inquiries), but I’ll keep trying.
(My thanks to Phil for spotting the giveaway jersey on the Mets’ promo schedule.)