Major League Baseball is limiting teams to five uniform styles this year, but the Red Sox are reportedly receiving an exemption, and for good reason.
In an effort to streamline uniforms, Nike, the league’s official uniform provider since 2020, is implementing a “Four Plus One” plan: four sets of uniforms plus their City Connect set. Several teams will have to eliminate one or more style; the Mariners have already cut their road greys and spring training powder blues.
Brendan Campbell of Blogging the Red Sox was first to report that the restrictions won’t prevent the Sox from some important local traditions. MassLive’s Chris Cotillo confirmed.
In addition to their home whites and reds, and road greys and navy blues, the Sox will wear their green alternates for St. Patrick’s day, which falls during spring training.
The club’s yellow-and-blue City Connect jerseys honor the Boston Marathon, but aren’t actually worn on Marathon Monday. For the last decade, they’ve worn the “B Strong” jerseys, and despite the new rule, will still wear them this year.
Timing is everything, and this would be the worst possible time to stop the Sox’ annual tribute.
April 15, 2023, marks 10 years since a domestic terror attack claimed the lives of Martin Richard (8), Lingzi Lu (23), and Krystle Campbell (29), and injured hundreds at the 117th annual Boston Marathon.
As is customary on Patriots Day, the Sox had played a midday game before leaving for a road series. The explosions occurred less than an hour after the game ended.
Out of town, the Sox prepared to return home to a city that would never be the same. At Fenway on Saturday, April 20, they held a special pregame ceremony to honor the first responders, law enforcement, the injured, and the fallen. The team took the field in what looked like their home whites, only, these didn’t say ‘Red Sox’ on the front.
Instead, the red letters on their chests simply spelled out, ‘Boston.’
Then, David Ortiz picked up the microphone and addressed a ballpark full of people who were scared and broken, but had showed up because they refused to live in fear:
“This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox,’ it says ‘Boston.’… This is our [bleep]ing city. And nobody gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
Months later, when the Red Sox won the World Series and rode the duck boats down Boylston Street, they stopped at the marathon finish line. Jonny Gomes placed the gleaming trophy on the painted street, and gently draped one of the Boston Strong jerseys on top.
The yellow City Connect uniforms have drawn mixed reviews, but there is no arguing the importance of the special Boston Strong jerseys, especially this year. MLB and Nike are smart to recognize that.
While the Sox will be allowed to continue wearing the “B Strong” and greens, something will be different about their uniforms. Beginning this season, MLB is allowing teams to add a 4-inch-by-4-inch advertising patches to one jersey sleeve.
The Red Sox debuted the new MassMutual sleeve patches at Winter Weekend, which took place at the MassMutual Center in Springfield in January. The insurance company and team announced their 10-year partnership at the end of November. MassMutual is now a “signature sponsor” and reportedly paying around $17 million per year to be on Sox jerseys.
Those new uniforms will pair with a new look for Fenway. After 30 years as a team sponsor, John Hancock opted not to renew its contract when it expired at the end of the 2022 season. The lights version of their logo, the iconic cursive signature, twinkled atop the center-field scoreboard since 2001. It was removed weeks after the season finale, and a MassMutual logo will take its place.
But does the end of the Hancock sponsorship mean their weather beacon will no longer flash red to tell the city if a Sox game has been postponed, or red and blue if they win the World Series?