Baseball wants to paint the town red.
Way back when, major league teams nearly always wore white jerseys at home and gray on the road. Now, some teams have so many kinds of uniforms that players can hardly keep track.
"I imagine it appeals to women, it's flashier," Braves pitcher Mike Hampton said.
In their search for sartorial splendor, not to mention dollars from extra sales, Colorado, Houston and the New York Mets each will use five sets of uniforms this year. That makes for some confusion.
The Mets have white pinstripes, plain white, home black, road black and road gray. Last June 27, Mets catcher Tom Wilson and reliever Jose Parra wore the wrong jerseys for the second game of a doubleheader against the Yankees - home black shirts with "Mets" in script instead of visiting shirts with a fancy type "New York" - because the team forgot to bring the correct ones to Yankee Stadium.
Last Sunday, second baseman Craig Biggio wore a red jersey that read "Houston" instead of the red one with "Astros," mistakenly grabbing a 2003 road shirt from his locker instead of the 2005 home version.
"Nobody noticed," he said. "I had a good game. Maybe I'll wear it again."
In their bid to make baseball's best-dressed list, Houston, Atlanta, Boston and Cincinnati all have red jerseys in their wardrobes this season.
Not coincidentally, all four are among the most trendy threads, topping sales among the 30 teams, according to Steve Armus, vice president for licensing at Major League Baseball Properties.
"Red is an extremely hot color right now, also for batting practice jerseys and for outerwear," he said.
With Majestic Athletic supplying uniforms for all 30 teams for the first time this year, Armus said baseball is on pace to set a record for shirt sales. In all, there are 98 jerseys in use in the major leagues for games, and that doesn't include batting practice shirts.
Just seven teams go with the traditional set of two game outfits: Detroit, the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco and Washington.
"I will not go to alternate uniforms," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said through spokesman Howard Rubenstein. "The pinstripes represent a great Yankee tradition, and we will maintain that."