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Nike and Fanatics: Who’s Responsible for MLB’s New Uniforms?

As fans and a few players have expressed complaints about Nike’s new MLB uniforms, I’ve noticed a lot of comments from people who are blaming Fanatics. For example:

Now, I know a lot of fans say they have had bad experiences with Fanatics retail jerseys. And I know lots of people don’t like the look of Nike’s new MLB uniforms, whether due to the fabric, the lower positioning of the MLB logo on the back, the narrower plackets, or whatever. But it seems like a lot of people, including a lot of Uni Watch readers, are conflating those two issues with each other.

Before we go further, I should point out here that I don’t buy, wear, or care about retail jerseys. Uni Watch has always been about what the players wear, not the retail versions. So while I don’t mean to diminish the poor customer experiences that some of you may have had with Fanatics, that’s not what I’m writing about here. I’m writing, as always, about what the players wear on the field.

With that caveat in mind, let’s shift into FAQ mode:

Who decided to move the MLB logo down on the back of the jersey?

Nike did. Nike also added the sun collar, narrowed the placket, changed the fabric, reduced the size of the NOB lettering, changed home jerseys from white to off-white, changed the belt loops, and all the other changes you’re seeing. Fanatics had nothing to do with any of those adjustments.

But I heard that Fanatics is manufacturing these uniforms for Nike and just slapping a swoosh on them.

It’s true that Fanatics is manufacturing the game jerseys for Nike. But (a) Fanatics has been manufacturing Nike’s MLB game uniforms for four years now, because Fanatics owns the old Majestic factory in Pennsylvania, so there’s nothing new about that arrangement, and (b) they’re manufacturing the uniforms according to Nike’s design specs.

In other words, Fanatics is basically serving as a subcontractor here. They do what they’re told by their client, and the client is Nike.

So you’re saying we should blame Nike?

I’m not saying you should blame anyone. Hell, maybe you like the MLB template changes! (I saw yesterday, for example, that some readers prefer the Cardinals’ new jersey script to the old one.) What I’m saying is that whether you like or dislike the changes, those changes came from Nike, not from Fanatics.

I hate Fanatics! Why are you defending them?

I’m not defending (or attacking) anyone. I’m simply trying to provide accurate information, because a lot of people seem to mistakenly believe that Fanatics is responsible for the new MLB uniform template.

I’ve compared the old jerseys to the new jerseys at my local store. The new ones have way worse quality, but they’re charging more for them! I think I’ll start buying cheap bootleg knock-offs from now on.

If you’re suggesting that retail jerseys are a total fucking rip-off, you’ll get no argument from me. I’m the one who’s spent the past two decades referring to them as “overpriced polyester shirts,” remember? But again, that’s not really my concern one way or the other. Even if retail jerseys cost $10 apiece, I still wouldn’t care about them. I only care about what the players wear.

Okay, okay, we get it. So if Nike is responsible for these changes, what’s the thinking behind them? Like, why did they move the logo down on the back, or change the shade of white, or make the NOB lettering smaller?

Good questions! Some of the changes, like the new fabric and the narrower placket, are clearly intended to make the uniform lighter. The new fabric is also supposedly stretchier. But I don’t understand the thinking behind some of the other changes, nor have I seen any public explanation for them, which seems like a surprising communication failure on Nike’s part. I mean, it’s not like they don’t have experience in spitting out marketingspeak explanations for their designs, right?

If I had a good relationship with either Nike or MLB, I’d ask them about the rationale behind these changes (but I don’t, so I won’t). I’m trying to find out via other channels, but so far I haven’t heard anything definitive.

Did Nike consult with players about these new uniforms?

Yes. Nike says they body-scanned over 300 players when developing the new template, and you can bet that they also consulted some of the many MLB players with whom they have endorsement deals. They also spent several years test-driving the new template in spring training, in the minors, and in last year’s MLB All-Star Game, getting feedback each step of the way.

If they did all that advance work, why am I hearing that the players hate the new template?

Let’s not exaggerate. So far we only know about a couple of Cardinals players who’ve expressed some displeasure with the new uniforms. That’s newsworthy, for sure, but it’s also a really small sample size and we don’t yet know if it’s indicative of a larger trend. (Or to put it another way, think of all the Cardinals who didn’t complain about the new uniforms yesterday.)

So now you’re defending Nike too?

Again, I’m not defending anyone. I’m simply trying to keep things in perspective and keep the discussion rooted in facts and reality.

What do you think of the new MLB template?

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t like most of the changes, but I want to see how the uniforms look on TV, which is the most important thing. One thing I’m trying to remind myself is that when Majestic added the mesh side panels to MLB jerseys in 2016, I was certain that it would ruin Mets games for me because the non-pinstriped side panels would stand out against the rest of the pinstriped jersey. But as I quickly discovered, the side panels were nearly invisible on TV, and I’ve now gone seven seasons without being bothered by them — a big surprise, and also a big relief.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll feel the same way about the new Nike uniforms once I see them on the field. But we’ll find out soon enough.

Even if Fanatics isn’t responsible for the new MLB uni changes, won’t they soon be creating a new NHL template?

Yes. Fanatics will be taking over the NHL uniform contract next season. It will be their first time designing (not just manufacturing) game uniforms for a Big Four pro league. I’ve been told that the game uniforms will be manufactured in the same Canadian factory that Adidas and Reebok used, but the factory will be using Fanatics design specs. So whatever you end up thinking about those uniforms, you can definitely blame — or credit — Fanatics.

Comments (48)

    Am I to understand that every team’s NOB will be the same size? Will it be the same font?

    Having every team forced to use the same size font for NOB is absolutely asinine. I loved the days when the Reds and Tigers for examples, had the bigger sized letters. What in the world is going on here?!?

    I just don’t get it at all. The entire evolution of these mlb Uniforms over just the last 3 or 4 years is completely disappointing. The material, the quality, the Ad patches, plastic patches in general that are glued on, no more vertical arched letters, stupid designs, cartoonish crap, weird blended colors, uniforms that aren’t even “uniform” on players, 5 different sets for each team, holiday specialty uniforms…. all for money and sales. Someone said it best when they said these mlb uniforms look like paper towels. That’s exactly what they look like. Who the hell designs these things, looks at them and says- “OK… Looks good… Approved” – Blind People?!?! It’s ridiculous. My town’s little league teams have better uniforms than this crap that mlb will be rolling out this year.

    It’s just a uniform. The city connect uni’s have been some of the coolest and best additions to MLB uniforms in years. What are the teams supposed to wear? Boring white uniforms with black numbers?

    The only changes that stand out to me that I don’t like are the lower MLB logo on the back, and the break of the script at the placket for some of teams, especially the Dodgers. If I look at them side by sude, I like the white better than the off white, but I don’t notice it when seeing only the new uniforms.

    It does seem like over the last few days I’ve been seeing a growing number of posts on social media regarding how much Nike has supposedly ruined MLB jerseys and I’ve being left thinking “okay, bit of an overreaction”. It’s not that I necessarily disagree (though I guess I am also on the “let’s wait and see what they actually look like in action” camp) it’s just that much graver uni sins haven’t garnered anywhere near the kind of visible social media outrage. I find it weird, but on the other hand whatever sours Nike’s (and perhaps any other potential supplier’s) experience of sticking their brand on MLB gear seems like it might be good in the long run.

    I don’t disagree with you at all, but I think it depends on your interpretation of uni sins, as many of them will be subjective.
    It’s hard to justify any of the changes Nike has made as being improvements on the previous jerseys, apart from maybe moving the sleeve piping down to the hem (which of course is my personal opinion).

    True, and thinking about it generally, the broader reaction could be more down to the quantity of what’s changing rather than necessarily the pros/cons of what is changing. Most of the changes I think come below the threshold of being *obviously* either better or worse (at least based on the limited out of context views from press conferences and locker room photos), but the sheer difference in appearance when compared side by side with previous years is pretty apparent and is by that alone setting off a certain reactionary impulse in people who may not otherwise have even really noticed the more incremental changes over the past few years.

    Typical Nike uniform debacle. They’ve ruined so many classic NFL uniforms with their “creative” designs and now seek to ruin baseball. If it ain’t broken, Nike will break it for you. Stick to sneakers!

    Their sneakers are relatively garbage now too. They seem to fall into either the absurdly priced, actual performance sneakers for olympic level track athletes, or fashion sneakers. When it comes to sneakers for everyday comfort at the office or working out I haven’t bought their product in 20 years.
    All of this is comical, having recently watched the excellent movie chronicling the origin of the Air Jordans, it is funny to see the beginnings of nike, a niche running shoe brand.
    At this point they are little more than a lifestyle brand selling merchandise to people.

    You can buy a pair of Nike Pegasus right now for $100-130 in most every color imaginable. Quite literally the do it all running/workout/lifestyle sneaker the Swoosh essentially invented in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Nike is far from infallible but some the shade being thrown at them is rather wild, especially if you haven’t shopped their products in two decades.

    Nike ruins uniforms when the franchise allows it. They certainly didn’t ruin the Brewers new set. Or the Cleveland Browns. I’m not sure what to think of the new MLB template but my guess is by July it’ll be water under the bridge. I will add that everyone likes to mock the 0.5% lighter and more breathable claims but when you compare a modern gamer to what was worn 30 years ago there’s no question that it’s better for performance if even so slightly.

    Well they actually did ruin the Browns uniforms and then had to go back to a more classic style because everybody hated what they came up with.

    Not looking to throw any shade here but I think it’s partly due to the popularity of sites like Uni Watch and places like Mitchell and Ness that have led to this. Or, it’s a pat on the back to places like these because they’ve shown sports leagues and manufacturers that there is a lot of interest in uniforms so now they’re deep into the game here. I think that for a long time there were maybe a few people in organizations here and there that really cared about this stuff, and there was a small subset of fans who were really into this. But Mitchell and Ness (really, let’s blame them) changed the game and showed that a league/company could make a lot of money on uniform aesthetics. And sites like this one have shown the same thing. I love this site and I love Paul and everything Paul does. But I think all of this, combined with other, similar factors, served as smelling salts to these leagues and to companies like Nike. And once big corporations get involved the creativity usually takes a nosedive. Anyway, all of the Nike crap is awful and most uniform “innovations” over the past decade or two have been for the worse. And all of this just goes to show that big money ruins everything.

    I think there is something to that, but what was probably discovered was that people liked buying jerseys, and they became the sort of go-to attire for people who considered themselves serious fans. And there was some truth to that, as 30 or so years ago buying a jersey took a little bit more work (and money) than picking up a tshirt or sweatshirt at the local mall. As they started becoming more ubiquitous I think the gear manufacturers saw the dollar signs, and it was worth the price of paying to be the onfield provider of uniforms, because it meant you got exclusive rights to retail jersey sales.
    I guess the problem is the teams also farmed out a lot of the actual physical and aesthetic designs to whoever had the provider deal. That combined with retail interest/taste in jerseys not being the same as the interests/tastes of actual uniform enthusiasts like us, led to the mess we are in today. Also the use of cheap labor and materials (under the guise of being better for performance) doesn’t help either.

    I get where you’re coming from to a point, but I think the origin is slightly the other way around. I think spaces like Mitchell & Ness and even websites like this one became more and more popular because the base of people buying jerseys and etc. grew larger, older, and better informed. (To use Uni Watch specifically, while I 100% respect Paul’s stance on retail jerseys, I would wager that very conservatively over half of Uni Watch’s readership collect/buy/wear retail jerseys/caps/shirts/etc. and were drawn here because they already had that interest, not the other way around). The leagues and companies like Nike saw the dollar signs in that interest, and began monetizing it to greater and greater degrees.

    That could be the case. In any event, it’s interesting that this was something that very few people cared about until recently and now, in conjunction with the increased interest, we’re getting shittier and shittier merch dumps in all of the major sports. It was fun to obsess over this stuff when you felt like nobody else was paying attention. Now it sort of feels weird, at least to me. I’m a grown man — even thinking about a “city connect” uniform is embarrassing to me, to say nothing of the corporate storytelling. I think the suits have taken over the space and sucked out all of the fun. Which sucks because it was a lot of fun for a lot of years. Jesus, I hate the suits.

    A side note about Fanatics and their NHL deal: from what I’ve seen and read, it looks like they’ll be sticking with the Adizero construction out of the gate, as it seems they will need some time to develop their own templates. Though I can only hope the next template doesn’t have such garbage-looking collars (which seems like wishful thinking at this point).

    This is the impression I’m under too. I think the current template remains in place (with the Fanatics logo merely replacing Adidas) through 2026/27, then a new template will be introduced in the 27/28 season.

    I’ve said my complaints many times now on the new template, so I’ll just drop my hottest MLB uni take anyway, that has nothing to do with Nike, the old template, or the new template.

    Bring back the pullovers and the stretch waistband pants. I’m a purist with a lot of things in baseball, but also open to changes. I happen to think the pullovers of the 70s & 80s were great, even though they were mostly before my time (born in very late 1985).

    I own multiple Mitchell & Ness Red Sox BP pullovers as well as a 1975 pullover replica (Carlton Fisk of course), and I find them more comfortable to wear to games than the button down jerseys, old or new template.

    Agree. I suggested this last week as a fix for the new Nike placket screwing up many of the team names across the chest. The pullover is a good fix for this. Back in the 70s when they came out I hated them, but that was mostly due to the sansabelt pants.

    There’s a template that a lot of college baseball teams wear and I also the Aguilas of the LIDOM which you can see here


    As you can see, pullover but with 2 top buttons. And it includes belted pants. I think this style would be ideal. It looks so good and college ball, it keeps some of the traditional button down look but with the practicality and comfort of a pullover. Essentially it’s like a collarless polo shirt which are becoming increasingly popular in tennis and golf replacing traditional polos.

    I’m proud to have never bought a Nike MLB product. I know Nike neither notices or cares about my individual wallet, but I choose not to support tyranny against consumers.

    Glad that people are finally waking up and realizing that Nike produces crap. One solution is for people to simply stop buying all that team merch. How many t-shirts, jerseys, caps, etc does one adult need? Buy a t-shirt if you must and be done. You’re a fan, not a player.

    I have my thoughts and feelings on both Nike and Fanatics. However, leaving personal feelings aside, I greatly appreciate the objective reporting on this and it’s why I have been a long time reader. Thank you for this article.

    I hate when the tail wags the dog with these templates…i.e. when the template defines the design vs the other way around.

    The way the nba jersey stripes don’t go all the way around the arm hole, the off center notch on the nba shorts that makes striping like the celtics look like shite, the sleeve striping on the new mlb jerseys now all being at the cuff, etc.

    In the effort to “scale”, the end product suffers. And somehow that is better?

    I’m looking at this in a different way:
    Why is it, that in 2024, when people in charge make a product that (almost) everyone loves (very rare these days), their immediate response is to change it?
    The uniforms now belong to a different company. I get that.
    If I am in charge of that company, my first question is “Is that product successful as it’s constructed now?”
    If the answer is yes, I’m good.
    I will never understand the mindset of people or companies that change products that are popular and well liked as is.

    Didn’t the original reveal of Nike’s new template include perforated numbers, similar to those on their NBA authentics, on the back (and in some cases – Dodgers) the front? I wonder what happened.

    I’m trying to sort that out. Some teams definitely have the perforations (Dodgers, Giants, Reds, Brewers), while others appear not to have them.

    The MLB Logo just looks so bad and I cannot imagine why the decision was made to move it down. Maybe we all get used to it eventually, but for now I am REALLY relieved that I stocked up on authentic jerseys before the change was made.

    My assumption is that the narrower placket extends up to the collar/head spoon meaning that the MLB logo won’t fit any more where it was on the collar. I’m sure MLB has no intention of reducing the size of the logo, so the only solution was to move it off the collar to a less congested piece of uni real-estate.

    Another thing to consider: since the sewing pattern for sleeve piping seems to be “cancelled,” what are Nike’s attempts at throwback uniforms going to look like this season?

    If a teams’ throwbacks aren’t factored into their 4+1 rotation then they can’t wear them.

    Is there any insight as to why MLB teams are forced into wearing the same basic template when NFL teams are not? I’m assuming it’s because they are producing all the uniforms at the same plant. I’d honestly like to see an MLB team try out the college template Nike employs- maybe not the Yankees and Cubs but the Brewers City Connect or the Rays Fauxbacks might be a decent choice. I would also like the Cardinals to have the option to go a more conservative route similar to the Packers more or less using the same template since the mid-90’s through several different brands (Starter, Nike, Reebok, Nike again).

    It’s funny reading these comments about jerseys but I’ve watched and played forever..not once in a post-game presser or on field seen or heard a player thank his jersey for his performance…if you are a legit real fan of baseball and a specific team….you go with what’s what…I’d watch my team in whatever uniform

    Fanatics owns all the site I used to buy New Era hats on. The last one was Lids a few yrs ago. Lids had creative one of a kind designs that no one else had. Now its all Fanatics with the exact same stuff but different priced. MLB Shop, Fanatics, Fans Edge, Lids same stuff…

    The smaller NOB lettering looks so amateurish.

    It looks like someone went down to the local store and bought a bunch of iron on lettering for the 9 yr old little league team.

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