When Major League Baseball Turned Ahead The Clock
July 21, 2010 2 Comments
Today, July 21st, marks the twelfth anniversary of Major League Baseball’s first Turn Ahead The Clock Night.Whereas for years teams had worn throw back uniforms, this marked a brief period where teams took to the field wearing uniforms from THE FUTURE!
The initial game was a match up between the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals. The game was marketed as a taking place in the year 2027, the fiftieth anniversary of the Mariners franchise. The Kingdome, the Mariners’ stadium at the time, was decorated with lasers and advertisements for interplanetary corporations. Both teams wore “futuristic” uniforms with non-traditional colors and alternate logos. The jersey design for all intensive purposes resembled a basketball jersey worn over a sleeved shirt
Ken Griffey Jr. really got in to the spirit of the event and had most of his Mariners team mates not just cut off the sleeves of their jerseys, but also wear them untucked and with backwards baseball caps. When a member of the Mariners staff said that the new style didn’t look traditional, Griffey reminded him “It’s the future…anything is possible!” Additionally, prior to the game Griffey spray painted the shoes of his teammates, and his own glove, a metallic silver.
The game was a great success and soon the MLB wanted to expand it to the whole league. So, in the summer of 1999, with Century 21 as a heavily promoted corporate sponsor, Turn Ahead The Clock Night went nationwide. These games were said to feature the uniforms of 2021 (to tie in with Century 21). Whereas the Mariners TATC promotion was a success, the 1999 games were met with disdain.
Unfortunately, Century 21 and most teams didn’t put as much effort into the games as the Mariners did. To this end, with a few notable exceptions, the jerseys were virtually identical. Almost every jersey featured the team’s current hat logo blown up large on the front of the shirt and vertical text on the back. The most notable exception to this style were the New York Mets, who for their TATC game became the Mercury Mets.
Perhaps the biggest death knell for the TATC promotion was in the refusal of many of the older big city franchises to participate. Eight teams, including the Dodgers; Yankees and Cubs, said no to the promotion and uniform changes. It was George Steinbrenner who had the best line about the TATC uniforms. When he was asked why his Yankee team wouldn’t wear the “uniforms of the future,” Steinbrenner said “”We already are.”