Oakland Athletics’ July 4 Uniform Solution: Spirit of ’76 for 2016

Just imagine the Athleticsreverting to the Kelly green and Forth Knox gold look so proudly displayed by the Mustache Gang for July 4, 2016

In addition to my recent column on MLB’s Independence Day Stars and Stripes uniform “debacle” and co-writer Katrina Putnam’s “Were Oakland Athletics’ Patriotic Fourth of July Uniforms Disrespectful?”, there has been much talk around baseball and related blogs about the disappointment of this what-has-now-become “tradition” for July 4 ball games; check out Uni-Watch‘s and SBNation‘s articles for their take on the on the Independence Day jerseys and caps.

In other words, this year the flag was run up the pole and not many were saluting. As one who was taught – and frequently had to learn the hard way – that you shouldn’t complain or criticize without offering a solution, I’ve come up with a suggestion that would satisfy MLB’s intent to take advantage for merchandising money to honor America’s birthday and to mark the day with special uniforms.

There are other ways to honor the U.S.A. other than a tacky desecration to the American flag. As a tribute to America’s 240th birthday in 2016, my proposal would be a nationwide MLB turn-back-the-clock to 1976. A time when America celebrated its Bicentennial in some of baseball’s most colorful uniforms.

Imagine seeing the San Diego Padres back in their original brown and yellow of 1976, the Chicago White Sox with their collared jerseys (minus the short pants) and the Houston Astros’ infamous “tequila sunrise” uniforms. Think about the plethora of visiting teams that sported the powder blue road uni and the Sans-A-Belt look. Additionally, not to be unpatriotic, but the Nationals, who moved to Washington D.C in 2005, could easily transform back to the ’76 Montreal Expos for the day.

In their 1969 TBTC game last season, the A’s featured the MLB 100-year patch for both teams. The 1976 game jerseys featured a variety of patches worn by most of the major league teams to celebrate the occasion, which could also be displayed. Even the “pill box” caps worn by a few of the teams could be brought back for the day adding to the merchandising opportunity.

Some teams however – the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers (home), and New York Mets – would remain unchanged since their current uniform resembles the same look as the ones in 1976.

Philadelphia 76ers patch. Credit: Rich Paloma

There is one hiccup in my plan since there are currently six teams that were not in existence at that time – the Toronto Blue Jays (’77), Seattle Mariners (’77), Miami Marlins (’92), Colorado Rockies (’92), Arizona Diamond Backs (’98) and Tampa Bay Rays (’98). The Jays and Mariners could easily wear the unis from their first year in the MLB since 1976 was only one season prior and the TBTC objective would still be portrayed. This could also apply to other teams as well. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Marlins back in their original teals? Or, as the Rays have done in previous seasons, those teams could develop a “fauxback.”

The “tequilla sunrise” jersey of the 1976 Houston Astros is still a very popular throwback purchase. Credit: Rich Paloma

As someone who has studied marketing in college and used every chance he got to write his papers related to baseball, the merchandising profits for throwback jerseys and caps would far exceed any sales and auctions for any Stars and Stripes Independence Day promotion since, in addition to the July 4 game, fans would still be able to commemorate their team’s history. Proceeds can still go to the good causes MLB supports.

So sports fans and especially MLB executives, what do you think? How does “Spirit of ’76” for July 4, 2016 sound?