Nike gets it right with the Cleveland Indians Little League alternate jersey
This season Major League Baseball and Nike have ventured into a new realm that other sports have already drastically tapped into. Alternate jerseys. Most teams have had multiple options each season, like the Cleveland Indians having a red home alternate and a navy road alternate. But baseball has never done what they are this year, using the NBA model of a “city uniform” in addition to some other uncharacteristically fun takes on throwbacks.
The Chicago White Sox have arguably the best new take on a baseball uniform this season, seeing their Southside jerseys in all black with white pinstripes. They didn’t look as great on the field and were surely hot for the players, but they look great in the stands.
Other teams have given a shot, like the Boston Red Sox using a Boston Marathon inspired set. The Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks have already unveiled theirs and the Los Angeles Dodgers are on-deck.
There’s also the “throwbacks” that the White Sox and New York Yankees put on for the Field of Dreams game, which in itself was an awesome addition to the MLB calendar. The event was well done and the jerseys matched the occasion. However, what might be one of the best new jerseys of the season have yet to hit the field.
On Tuesday, the Cleveland Indians revealed their uniforms for the MLB Little League Classic that the team will play in on Sunday (Aug. 22) in Williamsport, Pa. against the Los Angeles Angels. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint.
If there was a way to put a major league rendition on a little league classic, this was it. There might not be a better way to embody the Little League World Series while still making the uniform look fit for the majors. Not to mention that the key components of a Cleveland Indians uniform are still present.
Starting at the top, the hat was left relatively unaltered, as it should. There is the addition of a patch on the side, like any specialty cap, but it works perfectly. Adding the state of Ohio with “Great Lakes” going across it feels like not only a Little League World Series hat, but one that fans will want to buy and wear.
And that’s really the key, to create more merchandise for fans to purchase. The slight addition isn’t over done, but it adds just enough to make the hat unique without sacrificing the look of a Cleveland Indians hat.
The jersey was done along the same lines. It’s not exactly something that Cleveland would wear on any given night, but you look at it and know that it’s a Cleveland jersey. Yet, at the same time, it’s clearly part of the Little League World Series.
It might be small, but perhaps the best part of the uniform is the fact that the number font remained. The design didn’t go off the rails and add a new and unique font, it kept what Cleveland uses, which helps retain the identity of the club.
To the same note, the “Great Lakes” across the chest feels like it fits. It isn’t a Cleveland font or anything, but it doesn’t look out of place. Plus, the red and navy against the white in that type of design works really well. As we said, it looks like a major league rendition of a little league uniform, and it somehow works really well.
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Even the colored sleeves that gives the feel of a vest uniform works with the design. It gives a bit of a nod to the players’ weekend jerseys from the past that had different colored sleeves, but these work much better.
All-in-all, these are a massive improvement over other attempts at alternate jerseys and are truly among the best of the season. In the past there’s been the player weekend jerseys that seemed to be either one extreme or the other, too plain or too much. These are right in the middle.
Major League Baseball is finally doing what they must to keep with the times. The Little League Classic and Field of Dreams games are great ways to create events that draw attention in the middle of a season. Adding in specialty uniforms not only enhances the events, but also adds another layer to make money. Fortunately, Cleveland lucked out with a great jersey design.