The Grizzlies will sport two major changes as they head into their 22nd season in Fresno.
One is a subtle— not so subtle change— as the team becomes the affiliate of the Washington Nationals. I’m not sure how much the fans will actually notice that AJ Reed and Reymin Guduan are no longer around.
The second change will be a little more obvious: new threads.
The team introduced its new uniforms at the Maya Cinema on Tuesday (Jan. 29) night. It’s the fourth major overhaul since the team first took to the field in 1998.
Now that the parent club no longer wears orange like the previous two (Giants, Astros), that color is gone in favor of red.
A Chance for Red Pants
That includes a red jersey, a red cap, and (gasp) red pants.
Yes, red pants.
The Grizzlies have always been bold in marketing the team. Taco Throwdowns, wild themed jersey nights, Parker!
But those pants, which for now will be the main home uniform paired with a cream-colored top, may be a gimmick too far.
Grizzlies president Derek Franks is a baseball historian. He even cited the 1936 Cincinnati Reds wearing red pants.
“We wanted to do something that no team has ever done,” Franks explained. “It wouldn’t be the Grizzlies to not do something unique.”
There’s probably a reason why no team has ever done it, although it’s not unprecedented.
Cleveland wore red pants in the 1970s. There are color pictures. It’s not pretty.
One comment I heard among the large crowd of season ticket holders and other invited guests at the Maya was that they looked like softball uniforms.
On the plus side, they may match the blush on the players’ face when they wear them on the field for the first time. Especially if the team matches the red pants with the new red jersey.
Four New Uniform Sets
The main home uniform will be a cream top, with Fresno in red across the chest. The bottom part of the jersey will be red as well.
The design incorporates a red star, explained to symbolize California’s independence.
The cap for this set will be red, with a more aggressive, ferocious Grizzly bear, complete with slash marks.
But, the way it is presented, does that mean the grizzly is getting slashed?
The star is also a holdover from the Grizzlies’ previous parent club, Houston.
Unfortunately, those cool alternate blue jersey with the grizzly inside the star, and the ‘F’ on the cap in a star, ala the Astros, are gone.
But, they are replaced with two other alternate jerseys.
A red jersey with “Grizzlies” displayed on the front with the slash mark, is combined with a black cap, with that same aggressive grizzly in front of a pseudo California flag.
A black alternate is similar to the black tops of prior years. Orange is erased in favor of “Chukchansi Gold.”
The combo is the best looking, and a nice nod to the million-dollar sponsor of the stadium name. The color also represents the four World Series titles the team’s parent club won (the Giants in 2010-2012-2014, and Astros in 2017), as well as the Grizzlies own Triple A national title in 2015.
The designated road set is gray, with “Fresno” across the chest, in black-red combination. It is paired with a black cap with the familiar, if not altered, ‘F Slash’ logo. The ‘F’ is wider than prior incarnations.
A New Identity
The Grizzlies started the process for new uniforms back in April of last year. The team paired with a San Diego-based company called Brandiose to develop the new design.
It is also a chance to move away from matching Fresno’s colors with its parent team’s colors. Red is the new color, but not because the Nationals also wear it — after all, there is no blue.
“The only thing we can control is that we will be playing baseball in Fresno,” Franks said.
While he hopes to stick with the National for the long haul, at least for the next two seasons, the red will be here to stay.
The Grizzlies will continue playing Tuesdays as their alter-ego, the Tacos. Franks says new uniforms will debut under that name as well.
Brief Uni History
When the team debuted in 1998, the Grizzlies wore black and purple—popular colors for teams at the time. The switched to green as the dominant color in 2005, opting for a stylized F logo on the jersey and cap.
To closer match its parent club, the Giants, the team adopted orange and black in 2008. When the affiliation started with the Astros in 2015, the mixed in blue as well.
There have been tweaking of the jerseys over the years.
And while red and black, cream and gold are traditional baseball colors, those red pants will take a while for the eyes to adjust.