MLB Players Weekend is more than just cool new uniforms
A number of flourishes speak to the fun-loving and appreciative nature of Players Weekend
From Friday through Sunday, you'll notice something different about the MLB games you're watching. That's because Aug. 25-27 occasions the first MLB Players Weekend.
As part of Players Weekend, teams will be wearing special uniforms designed to evoke the game at its more youthful levels. We've already shown you each team's Players Weekend uni.
There's more to it than "just" cool one-off uniform designs, however. Players Weekend was crafted by the league in close collaboration with the MLBPA, and it reflects a mutual desire to let players express themselves and to let fans get a closer glimpse of who these guys really are. Let's take a look at some particulars ...
Batting gloves and socks
Like pretty much any other major sports league, MLB has restrictions on what players can wear. With the Players Weekend batting gloves and socks, though, no such "neighborhood covenants" are to be found. Have a look ...
So those gloves and socks appear to make use of all available colors and perhaps some colors invented for this very occasion. Players of course don't have to wear these -- and sadly low pant cuffs are too much with us these days -- but you're going to see some real flair on the field from those who rightly expose their socks.
For Players Weekend, hitters are allowed to customize their implements of destruction -- i.e., their bats -- with nicknames and colors of their choosing. Suffice it to say, that's going to be a departure from the norm. By way of example, here's Brandon Phillips' lumber ...
And Didi Gregorius ...
And Adam Jones ...
As noted above, Players Weekend is, on a subplot level, about that baseball continuum that stretches from Little League to the Show -- baseball evolution, if you will. The Players Weekend logo is very much a testament to that idea ...
That's sort of the baseball equivalent of those "evolution of man" visual timelines. Except this one spans not from lesser primate to homo sapien but rather from bat-swinging kiddo to big leaguer. Note the similarities to the Little League and MLB logos ...
Pretty cool design, no?
So here's what you'll see on each player's sleeve this weekend ...
So we've got the afore-praised Players Weekend logo plus some white space in which each ballplayer can give a shout-out to someone who helped him along his baseball journey. "Mom" will probably be a popular choice. As it should be!
You'll probably see some heartwarming gestures along those lines this weekend. Or some players may just opt for the flash ...
Rep a charity
Standard-issue batting practice jerseys? Not on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A lesser hailed Players Weekend feature is that players may wear T-shirts promoting charities during batting practice. And they don't even need to be MLB-affiliated charities. That means hometown good causes or organizations near to the player's heart for other reasons will be in abundance.
For instance ...
This, of course, is the thing we're all talking about. Players if they want are allowed to put nicknames on the backs of their jerseys instead of their actual names. Regard these two prominent examples ...
Speaking of the Yankees, when CC Sabathia (nickname, "Dub") took the mound against the Mariners in the top of the first on Friday night, he became the first player in franchise history to have a name on the back of his jersey. Until that moment, the Yankees had been the only major North American sports franchise never to have player names on their jerseys.
Speaking of Dub, dig his cleats for this weekend ...
Cool nicknames certainly won't be hard to come by (e.g., Jake Marisnick = "Big Fudge"), and another that bears mentioning is that of Orioles reliever Darren O'Day. What's his nickname for Players Weekend? It's "Odachowski" ...
Time was when the O'Day family was known as the Odachowski family.
"My grandfather fought in World War II," O'Day explained to CBS Sports, "and came back not quite the same -- what we now know to be PTSD. It affected his life quite a bit, and obviously his wife and his kids."
O'Day's grandfather -- his father's father -- unfortunately passed away at a young age, and it fell to his grandmother to raise three young boys in Chicago. She worked downtown at Montgomery Ward and wound up going by the name "Odach," which is pronounced "O'Day." Why she did this isn't precisely clear, and while O'Day doesn't want to speculate blindly, he justifiably wonders whether was because of the discrimination that Polish immigrants like his grandparents faced in those days.
Whatever the reasons, the name stuck.
"Whey my father and his middle brother got married, they 'Americanized' it to O'Day as a tribute to their mother."
O'Day's father's oldest brother kept the name Odachowski, and to this day O'Day still has Chicago cousins who carry the original family name. This weekend, O'Day will also carry that name -- with deep pride, no doubt.
"Some of my younger cousins in Chicago, they play Little League and tell people that have a cousin who plays in the big leagues," O'Day said, "but no one believes them because the name is different."
Thanks to O'Day's choice of nicknames for Players Weekend, that disbelief should be no more.
Happy Players Weekend, baseball enthusiasts.
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