Nicknames on Yankees’ Backs? What Would the Bambino Think?

Clint Frazier will be wearing a jersey with “Red Thunder” on the back. Aaron Judge will wear “All Rise” on the back of his. C. C. Sabathia will wear “Dub” — short for Double C. And Todd Frazier, the proud Jersey guy, will wear “The Toddfather” on his back. It will also be the first time the Yankees — the only franchise to never have veered away from buttoned jerseys — will wear pullover tops.

In addition to the uniforms, players will be allowed to wear individually designed spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher’s masks and bats. And each uniform will have a blank patch on the right sleeve for players to write the name of a person or organization that was instrumental in his development.

In the past, the Yankees have worn throwback uniforms and tweaked their look to conform with whatever Major League Baseball might have designed for a holiday commemoration. But it is unlikely that the Yankees, who carefully police the length of their players’ hair and do not allow beards, would have gone along with something like Players Weekend if they had not been obligated to do so.

In this instance the team has no choice but to be part of an initiative driven by the players’ union and Majestic Athletic, the M.L.B.-apparel licensee, which is selling the replica uniforms for $200.

“Their tradition is so rich that a little bit of change in the tradition won’t upset the apple cart,” Allen Adamson, a branding and marketing expert, said of the effect the weekend might have on the Yankees’ image. “I’m not suggesting the Yankee go to polka dots, but the iconic nature of the brand is so sharp, they have the latitude to shake it up a bit.”

Photo

From left, the nickname uniforms of the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia, Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius.

Credit
MLB

The weekend initiative by baseball is an acknowledgment of — and an attempt to address — the notion that the sport does not engage young fans in the way that other sports, particularly the N.B.A., do. In an interview with ESPN The Magazine last year, the Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper said: “Baseball’s tired. It’s a tired sport because you can’t express yourself.”

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