MLB All-Star jerseys: Players split on repping their team vs. their league

SEATTLE — For decades, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game was a visual feast: Thirty uniforms on one field, touching nooks and crannies of the color palette, from cream to white to baby blues.

First-half excellence could be displayed in the pregame introductions, with deserving teams and their multiple All-Stars aligned in their jerseys. And the teammates-for-a-night element took on a different hue, home run high-fives celebrated by men in different uniforms.

For better or possibly worse, that’s gone the way of homogenization.

For the third consecutive year, All-Stars will not wear the togs of their teams but rather a Nike-designed jersey with AMERICAN and NATIONAL emblazoned on the front. If nothing else, this year’s kits celebrating the city of Seattle and the Mariners are a huge improvement on last year’s edition in Los Angeles, which was neither Dodger blue nor particularly compelling.

This year’s gear features teal for the home American team and navy for the visiting National, immediately conjuring images of both the Mariners and the serene and beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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Yet perhaps something will be lost to the eye when players line up for the anthem before tonight’s 93rd All-Star Game.

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Randy Arozarena takes photos with Adolis Garcia before the start of the Home Run Derby.

“That’s how I remember it as a kid,” Devin Williams, the Milwaukee Brewers’ closer, tells USA TODAY Sports. “When you take your uniform away, it kind of takes away from the identity. Who you are, who you play for. You spend all year, for me, playing for the Brewers. And I’m representing the Brewers.

“I think we should wear our jersey.”

Beginning with the 2021 All-Star Game at Denver, MLB reversed its sartorial choices. In years prior, players participating in the Home Run Derby wore the host-themed jerseys, as did their All-Star teammates during workout day. And come gameday, it was their native teams’ jersey, often with special touch-ups such as stars representing their number of game appearances.

But now, Derby sluggers wear their team’s jersey during that event, as do their hype men on the sideline. And the site-specific jerseys receive a three-hour, nine-inning game platform.

Shohei Ohtani donning a 2022 All-Star Game jersey.

Which way to go – time and place, or representing?

“That is a great question,” says Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Jung, 25, an All-Star in his rookie year. “I feel like wearing your team’s jersey would be really cool. I’m going to say Rangers jersey, just so everyone is showing off their team and where they came from.

“We could potentially have six guys on the field at one time. That’s pretty awesome.”

Yet Rangers fans might already have a Jung or a Marcus Semien jersey. What they don’t have are Jung and Semien All-Star jerseys – available for up to $195 on MLBShop.com.

The 2023 jerseys go beyond simply moving product. This year’s edition will debut a new technology that’s called Nike Vapor Premier, which, according to MLB.com, is “engineered to improve mobility, moisture management and fit.” It said Nike body-scanned more than 300 baseball players to find the ideal fit, and the result will comprise every MLB uniform beginning in the 2024 season.

Starting with the AL and NL.

“Being out there in the game and watching each player wear their individual uniform and watching like that is pretty cool,” says Philadelphia Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel, a nine-time All-Star. “There’s a lot of fans tuning in that want to see their players in their uniform.

“But at the same time, it’s cool to view it as a united team – our team against their team.”

Says Baltimore Orioles outfielder Austin Hays: “I kind of like the idea of all of us wearing the same jersey. We’re all sharing the field together, so I like the idea of everybody wearing the same jersey for the All-Star Game.”

Soon enough, a new generation will get used to the singular game jersey, but many in the current one bemoan the limited platform afforded their team, their city and even their nation.

“I like wearing the Blue Jays,” says Toronto closer Jordan Romano, a Canadian citizen. “I like representing the city, the country and being Canadian, it’s pretty special to me.

“I love it. That’s a really unique part – you get to see what teams are representing. Texas, it feels like their whole team is here. I definitely love the Blue Jays colors and all the different teams.”

Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Lorenzen said it was a baseball video game he played as a child in All-Star mode that got him into the different uniforms – Pudge Rodriguez coming to the plate as a Texas Ranger, followed by Ken Griffey Jr. in his Mariners jersey.

Mariners fans clad in George Kirby and Julio Rodriguez All-Star Game jerseys watch Rodriguez take batting practice Monday.

“I think team uniforms are cool to see on the field,” says Lorenzen, in his first season sporting the Olde English D of Detroit. “I just think it’s really cool to see guys come together and wear all their different jerseys.

“I’m not saying the other way is bad, I’m just saying ….”

As for the other way, there’s definitely a market for it.

Darren Moody, a 56-year-old Mariners partial season-ticket holder clad in a Julio Rodríguez All-Star jersey, snapped up the $195 version as soon as they landed at the T-Mobile Park team store Saturday. He noted that the price was a savings over those choosing to get the jerseys customized at adjacent Play Ball Park.

Fans clad in Julio Rodriguez jerseys - two from the All-Star Game - watch workouts at T-Mobile Park.

And you could say he was a captive audience for the first All-Star Game in Seattle in 22 years.

“It really didn’t matter what it was going to look like,” he says. “I was getting it.”

Turns out they look pretty good, bound for countless closets for jersey-ophiles and hung from trophy room walls for the 80-plus players who will wear them Tuesday, even Romano.

“The jersey is cool, though, you know what I mean?” says Romano. “I have it framed at my house.”

This year’s edition should look even better on display.

“They are,” says Kimbrel, “pretty cool jerseys.”

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