Batting practice jerseys, that is. Unless you live under a Greg Vaughn-sized rock, you saw that the Reds unveiled their new BP jersey design at Redsfest last month. Gotta admit that we reacted a bit unfavorably to some of the first images of the jersey before seeing it in person. We’ve since warmed up to the design, and now that we have our hands on one, we are really starting to love it. Let’s chat…
First off, the new Reds script smacks ya right in the face. Being a new element in the Reds brand identity, it’s easy to meet its arrival with a bit of uneasiness. After all, this script does have its roots in a pretty much forgotten about era of Reds history. If you didn’t pick up design’s nod to retro, you’re not alone. But, that’s part of the beauty with this particular nod – you don’t have to place this with a particular time in Reds history. The new word mark will have room to shape a history of its own.
A bit of background about the script Reds and its place in history:
In 1936, the Reds introduced an alternate uniform style coined the “Palm Beach” uniform. This uniform was a radical departure from any style previously worn by the club. It featured a bright white, button-down jersey with “Reds” in script on the left breast. The uniform’s pants were bright red with a single white stripe down each leg. Introduced in spring training, the Reds wore these uniforms infrequently in regular season games over the next few seasons, occasionally timing their use to home night games (which had begun in 1935) to allow the players to be more visible under the lights. Phased out by 1938, the Reds have never again incorporated a script version of the team nickname on their jerseys or worn pants in a solid color other than white or gray.
That satin jersey design was produced by Mitchell & Ness just a few years ago. We can’t imagine that it sold all that well. We’ve never seen one at the ballpark and we’re not sure we would have the guts to sport one ourselves.
The Reds weren’t the only team in the satin game during that era. The Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Braves also donned satin uniforms during the era. Cool stuff.
Alright, back to the BP Jersey…
This design update coincides with a complete refresh of the MLB BP jersey design from Majestic. Uni Watch has a bit more on the subject, including a note that the Reds are the only team to make a drastic departure from what they have done in the past with their pre-game garb. From Uni Watch:
I’ve seen all the other new BP designs, and while I’m not at liberty to show them to you, I can tell you this: Not a single one of them feels retro-ish, and all of them are very much in keeping with their teams’ respective identity system. Only the Reds have used the new BP garb as a canvas for something new (even if it’s based on something old). I kinda like it, at least the part you can see there in the photo.
While the script really caught us off guard, the more we think about it, the more we like it… or at least like the risk involved in going with an unexpected design. Look at it this way: if you’re going to play around with your equity a bit and give the fans something new to look at and/or purchase, do it on a batting practice jersey. It’s the perfect canvas to stretch your equity without bastardizing your brand – namely ruining your game uniforms. If this showed up on a gamer we’d be having a whole other conversation, right? Right.
Now, that actual fabric and construction of this jersey is really something to love. It’s a massive upgrade from the previous set of BPs. The new Majestic Cool Base material is a heavier weight, giving the jersey a more substantial feel.
The Reds’ script is sewn on directly to the jersey using two independent layers of twill to create the drop shadow. Another huge improvement compared to the “iron-on” look and feel of the previous designs. The Reds confirmed with us that the player name and number will be sewn directly on to the jersey, unlike the previous iteration. As they should be.
The black side panels are cut at angle to add a bit of a slimming effect to the look. The panel is also constructed from a lighter mesh material, different from the rest of the jersey. We don’t mind the side-panel look at all. It helps add a bit more punch to the drop-shadow of the script and ties things together a bit. Though, if it wasn’t there, we wouldn’t miss it at all.
The jersey also features a full-button front. While the pull-over idea doesn’t bother us, it’s another reason to like this jersey.
We like the newly-designed jock tag as well. Makes this jersey seem a little more special. Did it need a hologram? No. Is it cool? Yes.
All-in-all, this actually feels like a jersey. The previous design was a glorified technical t-shirt.
We picked up a jersey from the Reds Team Shop in our size and tried it on. The fit feels great. The jersey has a more “athletic-cut” to it and doesn’t drape off of us like most MLB jerseys do…. not that we would tuck this sucker in or anything.
Now, if you’re saving your pennies for your very own Reds BP jersey, or you received on as a gift, you might as well go a step further and get the memorial “SPARKY” patch put on it. The Reds Team Shop has them for sale. All of the current and former Reds were wearing the patches at Redsfest. This one is being modeled by Leo Cardenas on a home jersey, but the BPs will likely have them as well.
Bottom line: We like it. We love the risk the Reds took in using the script. It’s big, it’s bold. It’s not sorry for it either. The materials and cut of the jersey are superior to past batting practice jersey designs. The price point is a bit higher at $99 (Reds Team Shop), but we’re sure if you keep an eye out, you can get a deal on one at some point.
More Photos: We’ve posted a gallery of our detailed images of the new jersey. For a closer look, click here.
Buy it Now? For the time being, the Reds Team Shop at Great American Ball Park is the only spot you can scoop up a Reds 2011 BP jersey of your own.
Your turn: Let us know what you think of the new BP jersey. Good? Bad? Fugly?