By Phil Hecken
Twelve years ago tonight, I watched a baseball game with my dad (and as it would turn out, it would be the last Mets game we ever attended together), between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the
New York Mercury Mets. Wait, what?
That’s right, twelve years ago, on this very evening, I had the “pleasure” of witnessing what could very well have been the worst uniform matchup EVER, certainly between two baseball teams. You see, twelve years ago, the Mercury Mets played the Pittsburgh Pirates
on another planet in Shea Stadium.
The brainstorm of MLB (in partnership with, I believe, Century 21), based off the popularity of a “one-time” 1998 game between the Mariners and the Royals, “Turn Ahead The Clock” games were played between twenty of the major league’s 30 teams in 1999. I won’t recite the promotion for you — a much better scribe than I already did so three years ago. If you want to learn all about the concept, give that article a read.
But what started out as a fun little “one time” thing morphed into this giant promotion, and MLB got two-thirds of the teams to play along. I recall I was at the office on that fateful day 12 years ago when I got a call from my pop, who had just acquired tickets for that night’s game. “Sure, I’ll go,” was my response. I’m not even sure I was aware of the promotion (I knew MLB had been doing it — the Mets were somewhere in the middle of the promotion schedule). As soon as I passed through the turnstiles, however, I knew what was up when fans were presented with souvenir caps. Somewhere over the years, I lost that cap — and I’m not so sure that’s not a bad thing.
The game itself was a bit of a blur, but 87-year old Orel Hershiser started and got creamed, giving up a homer on like the first pitch. He wasn’t known for profanity, but I’m pretty sure he was cursing under his glove — no doubt at having to wear the worst uniform of his career.
For some reason or other, while most other teams simply played in “futuristic” uniforms based on planet earth (sometime in the 2020s or 2030s), the Mets had decided by that year they’d be playing their games on planet Mercury. Brilliant.
And while most teams at least kept some semblance of their color schemes (at the time anyway), the Mets went with silver and black. Oh, that’s right, black had already been introduced into their color scheme in 1998. And it hasn’t yet left.
Because it seemed like many of these jerseys were rushed to production, every team had the same basic design, with vertical names (note the only “nickname” ever to grace a Mets uniform), and the same fonts for both name and number. Some teams, like the Pirates, went with a vertically stacked number Here’s another look. Just all kinds of wrong.
But the fronts of the jerseys had to take the cake for the worst alternate uniforms ever worn for most teams. Some had very little thought given to them (how do you feel about that one, Jim Thome?) — I mean really, could the Giants or Red Sox have been any more bland (by the way, the Red Sox, luckily for them, never wore their TATC’s as planned, as their shipment arrived too late for their scheduled game).
Two teams actually seemed to go the “extra inch,” for this one, however, the Twins broke out Minnie and Paul while the Brewers turned out Barrelman (and even added a special cap). Now, why these teams would put their “retro” logos on futuristic uniforms speaks volumes of how poorly this whole thing was planned. At least the Cardinals created a pair of rather scary looking animatronic birds.
Major League Baseball has had some bad promotions and experiments before, but 1999’s TATC nights took the cake. The original 1998 event (described in Paul’s article) at least had the host Mariners and guest Royals playing in full uniforms created for the evening (and they even special helmets and shoes). The 1999 ‘money grab reprise’ simply had a bunch of slapped-together jerseys worn over regular pants.
Let us hope if (when) the next “Turn BACK The Clock” game occurs, they never go “back to the future.”
Benchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson
For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” Enjoy.
And here is the full-size version.
Uni Watch News Ticker (compiled by John Ekdahl): Just as TMZ did earlier in the week, The Washington Post Express (a publication of the Washington Post) got the NFL’s logo wrong. Did no one get the memo that the NFL updated it’s logo in 2008? (Matt Lucas) … From Adam Humble: “The [Oklahoma State] Cowboys are set to unveil their new combos (3 helmets – white, black, gray; 4 pants and jersey full combos – white, orange, black, gray) on thursday 7/28. Go pokes!” … Anyone ever wonder what Notre Dame’s equipment room looks like? (Warren Junium) … The Houston Chronicle recently ran a photo gallery of many of the Houston-related items in the Baseball Hall of Fame (James Poisso). … Remember, these guys played professional football, so it’s probably not a good idea to call them “four eyes” (Matthew Robins). … Take a look at North Carolina State’s 2011 unis (Brent Perry). … We got a follow-up on this weekend’s story about the Vancouver Whitecaps having to borrow jerseys from fans in attendance: “Turns out, I was one of those random Whitecaps fans in San Jose last week. From what we can understand, the airline the team traveled with lost some luggage and so they were short some jerseys. There were about 16 of us who had traveled down from Vancouver for the game so they had a decent pick of jerseys. The good thing for the caps was that the league all uses the same name and numbering, so SJ just did up all the jerseys for them. We were asked for the jerseys and in return, we got a team golf shirt to wear during the game and got to keep, we also got our jersey back at the end of the game, worn, numbered, signed by the player and very sweaty. We’re also waiting to hear from the front office as we were also told that they would give us another blank jersey to replace the one they used.” … Here are some aerial photos of the Florida Marlins’ new stadium (Michael Niekamp). … The Colts recently signed Chad Spann and he tweeted this picture of his new helmet. The numbers look a little bigger, no? (Ben Nicholson) … Georgia Tech wore their new 2011 jerseys to the ACC Kickoff event, which look very similar to the 2009 jersey. Here’s a shot of the 2010 version for reference (Britton Thomas). … Here’s some more information on that Detroit Tigers Zubaz pant promotion (Dan Cichalski). … It appears Boise State won’t be able to wear all blue at home next year (Kyle Tarbet). … German heritage night is coming up in Milwaukee – here’s a look at the bobbleheads the Brewers will be giving out (Geoff Poole). … Is system-of-the-dress coming to Major League Baseball or is Barry Zito’s jersey just out of whack?
“I never understood the Phoenix Coyotes retiring Dale Hawerchuk’s number. That was just . . . plain . . . sad. It’d be like the Clippers deciding to retire one of the Buffalo Braves’ numbers or something.” — Lloyd Davis