Skip to content

Many MLB Teams Won’t Have Perforated Numbers After All

Posted in:

When we first learned about Nike’s new MLB uniform template, one thing that seemed like a done deal was that the fabric for the uniform numbers — front and back — would be pockmarked with little pinhole perforations. We saw that when the new template got a spring training test drive in 2021; we saw it again later that year when the new template got another test drive in the minor leagues; and we saw it when the new template was used in last year’s MLB All-Star Game.

So as the 2024 uniforms began to appear, it was no surprise to see the pinhole perforations. When the Diamondbacks unveiled their new uni set last November, for example, they had the perforated numbers. When the Dodgers announced their signing of Shohei Ohtani in December, they had the perforated numbers. When the Giants announced their signing of Jung Hoo Lee, they had the perforated numbers.

But then a funny thing started happening. As a few more photos of new-template uniforms for other teams began to appear, I noticed that many of them didn’t seem to have the perforations. Was this an optional feature? I checked with a source at the Dodgers, who told me he thought the perforations were mandatory for all teams. Hmmm.

I was curious to see how the perforations were being handled on Nike’s 2024 authentic jerseys (the replicas don’t have the perforations, even for the Dodgers, D-backs, and Giants). Until recently, though, authentic jerseys — or “Elite,” as Nike likes to call them — were available for only six teams. One of those teams was the Dodgers, and sure enough, the mock-up on the retail listing showed the pinholes, just like we saw at the Ohtani presser:

But for the other five teams, the mock-ups did not show the pinholes. I won’t go through all five mock-ups, but this Astros image is representative:

So were some teams — maybe lots of teams — not wearing the perforated numbers after all? And was it just a coincidence that the first three teams whose new-template jerseys appeared in public (the D-backs, Dodgers, and Giants) all happened to be in the perforated category?

A few days ago, authentic new-template home jerseys (but not road greys or alternates) became available for all 30 teams. I’ve gone through all of them to see which ones do and don’t show the perforations. When possible, I’ve also checked the retail mock-ups against jerseys that have appeared in real life. That hasn’t been possible for every team, because some teams haven’t yet worn or displayed their home jerseys. But for for every team that I was able to check, the IRL numbers have matched the retail depiction. So I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the retail depictions of the pinholes, or lack thereof, are accurate.

I’ve prepared a team-by-team breakdown. For each team, I’ve presented a close-up of the retail depiction and tagged each photo either “Yes” (i.e., “Yes, this jersey does have the perforations”) or “No” (“No perforations here”). In some of the “Yes” photos, you may find the perforations hard to make out at first glance, but you’ll definitely see them if you zoom in.

In addition, for some teams I’ve added photos of real-life non-home jerseys that do have the pinholes. For example, the retail listing shows that the Reds’ home jersey is a “Yes,” and I’ve found a photo that shows their red alternate jersey is also a “Yes.” Does that mean all of their jerseys are “Yes”? I suspect so, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Conversely, as you’ll see, some teams are “No” on their home jersey but “Yes” on an alternate. I have a theory about that, which I’ll get to at the end of the team-by-team breakdown.

It is, frankly, insane that we have to piece together all this info like a big jigsaw puzzle. Nike and MLB have totally dropped the ball in terms of communication here. But that’s a separate issue that I plan to address later today.

For now, here’s the team-by-team breakdown on the number perforations:

National League East


Miami Marlins

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati Reds

Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates

St. Louis Cardinals

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto Blue Jays

American League Central

Chicago White Sox

Cleveland Guardians

Detroit Tigers

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

American League West

Houston Astros

Los Angeles Angels

Oakland A’s

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers


A few notes on all of this:

  • By my count, that breakdown shows 16 of the 30 MLB teams with at least one “Yes” jersey.
  • One thing I quickly noticed (and I bet most of you noticed it too) is that all of the pinstriped jerseys are “No.” This makes sense, because when Nike test-drove the new template in the minor leagues, pinstripes showed through the perforations, which looked like shite. I’m glad they’ve avoided that problem at the big league level.
  • The pinstripe issue presumably explains why the Mets, Padres, and White Sox are “No” on their pinstriped home jerseys but “Yes” on their solid-colored alternates.
  • But then there are the Brewers, who are “No” on their home creams (at least based on the retail image) but “Yes” on their blue alternates — neither of which is pinstriped. Similarly, the Rays are “No” on their home whites (again, based on the retail depiction) but “Yes” on their light-blue alts, neither of which is pinstriped.

Finally, some of you may be thinking, “Does any of this even matter? After all, the pinholes will probably be invisible on TV.” True enough. I admit that this is one of those little details that I find it weirdly satisfying to fixate on and keep track of, even though it doesn’t really matter that much.

I should add here that we don’t even know Nike’s reason for using the perforated fabric. Is it supposed to make the jersey lighter? Or make the numbers more flexible and less stiff? Or make authentic jerseys harder to counterfeit? I have no idea, because Nike hasn’t said anything about this fabric (or about any of the other MLB design changes they’ve imposed). Again, I’ll have more to say about that shortly.



Too Good for the Ticker

I love the folks at Oxford Pennant — funny, smart, creative, hard-working people. They’re currently running a really fun contest regarding an upcoming solar eclipse that will be visible from Buffalo. Full details in the very entertaining video shown above, featuring Oxford founder David Horesh.

I have no stake in this. Just sharing it because it’s fun. Hell, I may enter the contest myself!


Can of the Day

There’s something endearingly modest about this brand name. Like, they’re not claiming to be the best cup of coffee — just a better cup of coffee. Very nice design.

Comments (38)

    I didn’t even think of the counterfeit angle, so that might actually be a reason.

    That said, I think it is more likely to give the appearance of making it look hand made when it really isn’t. I had the same thought about the Cubs’ “stripes” on their sleeve logo from yesterday. It gives the appearance of hand stitched when it is really a glorified sticker.

    Personally, I think the pinholes make the numbers look more *machine*-made, not hand-made. They look more processed, more factory-produced.

    But that’s just me.

    This is interesting. I saw a video on Twitter yesterday of one of the few players who have spoken positively about the new jerseys (might have been Jason Heyward – Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado are the only others I can think of) saying “the new numbers are great for the fans”. This leads me to ask…
    a) Why are the perforated numbers great “for the fans” specifically?
    b) It’s my understanding that most fans buy replica jerseys, not authentic, so why would this be said when the majority of fans won’t ever own a jersey with the perforated numbers?

    If I’m not mistaken, every single player who’s be credited with a positive jersey review has two things in common…

    A) They’re a Nike athlete.

    2) The comment is so PR-speak, that it was prolly written by a Nike PR grunt/intern/bot.

    I have no doubts about that – all three of the guys I mentioned certainly fit the bill.
    But I’d still like to wrap my head around what exactly the quote was supposed to mean.

    Perhaps great for fans is a euphemism for something that will look cool when a customer looks at the perforations up close? It’s similar to Adidas adding design elements inside the collar of their hockey jerseys for some teams, they call it a “hanger effect” presumably because it’s something you’ll see when the jersey is on a hanger.

    Perhaps because the fans are big and sweaty and sitting in the bleachers in the sun. Avoids that weird number pattern sweat? I will say having worn some jerseys with big stiff numbers before it’s kind of uncomfortable. Maybe this helps?

    There isn’t any sleeve striping on the road grays. Haven’t been any since the end of the 2008 season.

    Unfortunately it’s not a soutache anymore; it’s that same elastic sleeve trim all the jerseys are using just colored to look like a single stripe.

    On the Mets, Nike/Fanatics colors the top half of the elastic orange and leaves the bottom royal blue, so it’s essentially a single stripe that approximates the soutache.

    Looks like complete crap compared to what it was before but what else is new about these Nike Vapor jerseys?


    When they made the change for the college on-field baseball and softball jerseys starting in 2020, the perforated numbers were to make the back of the jersey more breathable. The material they use for them is closer to the jersey material than the traditional twill, so they’re lighter when they absorb sweat and quicker-drying. Based on player feedback that we had at Tennessee, it made a pretty big difference. Our baseball team was on the cycle of replacing a set each year, but got Nike to replace the alternate that could be worn both home and road because the numbers made that big of a difference. Important to note, the actual jersey material used for the college jerseys is effectively the same moisture-wicking material they use for football jerseys and is very different than what they’re using for MLB.

    Like you, I can’t believe we didn’t get a full press release of Nike-speak, because, at least at the college level, this is a functional change that was wildly popular.

    My thoughts on the alternate jerseys. Most of these are a dark color. So, maybe the thought process was “these jerseys may be a little hotter to wear in the summer months. let’s put the perforated numbers on them to make them a little cooler”? Probably doesn’t make a big difference? But, not sure we have heard enough players comments on that subject.

    Alternative thought: don’t wear dark-colored softball tops on hot days. Back when common sense ruled the day instead of marketing focus groups and revenue streams, and uniforms were made of wool, most teams wore white at home and gray on the road. You know, light colors and all that.
    Perforated numbers aren’t going to make a black jersey feel comfy during a heat wave.

    As noted in the article, Mets solid-colored alternates do not have the pinholes. Neither do several other teams’ non-white jerseys.

    Zoom in. The Mets blue jersey absolutely has perforated numbers. They are just hard to see due to the blue bleeding through the orange. It’s not as pronounced as white holes poking through a dark number (or vice versa).

    They’ve been testing this for awhile. I bought an authentic Pujols jersey from the 2022 all star game. It has perforated numbers on it.

    That was a lot of work, Paul. Thanks for the thorough investigation! Very interesting stuff. This has been such a fiasco for Nike and the MLB.

    Oxford Pennant is the best. I went to both the Winter Classic in Seattle and the Stadium Series in NJ and wanted non-Fanatics garbage to represent the events, so I got their pennants dedicated to the events.

    I may have missed it, but what’s the new Reds alternate? Are they getting rid of the red jersey with the Script Reds?

    David, I don’t believe the Reds got a new red alternate. They have the spring training red jersey, which has the Mr. Redlegs head on one side and a number on the other, then the script “Reds” jersey that they use as an alternate for most regular season games.

    Looks like the unique coloring on the White Sox black alts’ NOB is changing with this template. The font looks so dinky and cheap, but compare Kopech’s jersey from last year, particularly the O, P, and H: link

    For someone who “only cares what the players wear,” that’s an awful lot of retail jersey talk and photos…

    As clearly stated in the article, Bob, I’m only using the retail depictions as an indicator for what’s happening on-field.

    Think harder.

    Every time I think I can’t be more amazed at how bad this Nike/Fanatics roll out is, it just gets worse… and funnier. What a mess.

    It seems the Yankees dark blue spring training jersey has perforated numbers, if you zoom in closely on the first pic.


    When you zoom in on the Mets blue alternate photo of Lopez’s 52 it kind of appears there are pinholes on the white base layer of the number. There also seems to be no stitching attaching the orange layer to the white.

    Stickers instead of embroidered patches, perforated numbers, sleeve ads: baseball jerseys have become as attractive as an used dish rag. Who in his/her right mind wants to buy and wear this?

    Paul, I just read an article from Amanda Mull’s “Material World” column, over at The Atlantic, where she links to a post of yours from a few days ago about who is actually behind the manufacturing of the new unsatisfactory MLB uniforms. It was interesting to see that even in an article for a more generalized, and not as uniform obsessed, audience that you still are called in to be the authority. I was wondering if you were contacted beforehand or if it’s fair game to just post links to supporting articles.

    I subscribe to The Atlantic and have read Amanda Mull’s work for years, but I’ve never had any communication with her and she did not contact me for that article.

    Which is fine — you don’t need anyone’s permission to link to something. I do it all the time myself!

    With these hideous perforations and jacking up various sleeve pipings, it seems Nike is bound and determined to ruin all US athletics uniforms, one sports league at a time.

    Greetings from Lakeland, Florida where I can confirm no pinholes on the Detroit Tigers home white jerseys and hideously thin, diaphanous pants.

Comments are closed.