No red. No sox. But a lot of hometown pride.
Close your eyes, and conjure the Boston Red Sox. You probably see a pair of red socks, of course, and possibly a blue Boston “B.” For one of the most storied teams in baseball, these are timeless icons synonymous with history and tradition.
Well, Nike’s new “City Connect” uniform for the team, which debuts on the field April 17, features none of this stuff. Instead, the uniform is a rich yellow (or gold, according to the press release), with “Boston” written in modernist, light blue script.
“There may be traditionalists for whom this is not up their alley! We recognize that,” says Adam Grossman, chief marketing officer of the Red Sox. “We also recognize there will be a lot of other people who take notice who may love it. That’s part of the calculus of it.”
Baseball is the ultimate numbers game, and according to most analysts, Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) numbers have been suffering. Attendance and TV viewership were both trending downward for years going into last season, which was curtailed due to COVID-19. The average TV viewer for MLB is 57 years old, according to one poll—15 years older than the average TV viewer for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Baseball isn’t going to disappear any time soon. MLB’s revenues are largely supported by a complex network of side deals unrelated to fans, players, and viewership. But over the next decade, the MLB needs to recruit younger fans, and those fans need to watch games, to sustain the sport for generations to come.
“Some fans will love it, and some fans won’t, just like moves we make on our roster,” says Grossman. “At the end of the day, our fans want us to win and to be entertained. If we do that, the rest of it will take care of itself.”