Nike's decision to create a buzz with its specially designed, city-specific MLB uniforms had the desired effect, particularly after it unveiled its take on the Boston Red Sox's iconic uniforms.
They were blue and yellow, with Boston in stencil lettering across the front. Initial reaction was mixed, but the Red Sox version of the City Connect series, to be worn during this weekend's games against the Chicago White Sox, has a story that strikes at the heart of what makes Boston Boston. The design is an homage to the finish line of the Boston Marathon, site of a terrorist bombing in 2013. The marathon typically takes place on Patriots Day, a Monday holiday, and is part of a great sports scene that includes a day game for the Red Sox as the race passes Fenway Park.
But because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no race through the streets of Boston for the second year in a row. Instead, it will take place Oct. 11, pandemic permitting.
The uniforms were introduced in video last week that fittingly featured David Ortiz, the former Red Sox star who helped rally the city after the bombing with his passionate and profane "This is our f------ city" comment in a ceremony before a game at Fenway days after the tragedy.
The uniforms are part of MLB's first collaboration with Nike, which began supplying uniforms in 2020. It's part of an edgy City Connect series that will also bring special shirts to the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and White Sox.
The Red Sox uniform also features a marathon bib with Boston's 617 area code on the left sleeve, and the team will wear the jerseys for the first time Saturday and Sunday They'll wear their traditional "B-Strong" Patriots' Day uniform, as they have since 2013, for the Monday afternoon game.
"This was the one where we felt right from the get-go that this was the one, but it was also like, 'This is a Red Sox jersey that doesn't have red or anything on it,'" Adam Grossman, the Red Sox' chief marketing officer, told ESPN. "We asked ourselves if we could do this, and it felt like the time to do this. There's never a better time than now. It pushes us as an organization, pushes baseball, and I think the way we're launching it, we thought it would allow us to get into different neighborhoods of Boston that are pushing culture in Boston, because that's part of what this is reflective of."
Fan reaction was mixed when the uniform (a replica of which goes for $149.99 on MLB.com) was unveiled. Boston.com informally polled fans last week and found that 49% of nearly 600 fans who responded approved of it. "I think it's a great hat tip to an iconic Boston event that can't be there in person this year, so to speak," a Nashua, N.H., woman said. Thirty-six percent of respondents voted "Hate it" with nine percent choosing "I'm speechless."