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Friday, May 24, 2024

MLB Uniform Changes Coming by 2025 As Union Blasts Nike

  • MLBPA blasts Nike and absolves Fanatics in a memo to players.
  • Changes will be made by the start of the 2025 season at the latest.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB uniform saga could be nearing an end. 

In a memo that the MLB Players Association sent Sunday, the league is apparently returning to its more traditional look. Modifications to the jerseys and pants were widely ripped by players and fans.

The MLBPA memo was obtained by ESPN

A return to the large lettering on the back of jerseys and a fix to the new Nike jersey’s tendency to visibly collect sweat will be among the changes made, the memo said. The most notorious issues—see-through pants and mismatched gray jerseys and pants—will also be addressed by the start of next season, according to the union. 

In its memo the MLBPA cleared Fanatics of wrongdoing and blasted Nike for making unnecessary changes. The Nike uniform, called the Vapor Premier, has been disliked by players despite being advertised for its improved performance compared to previous jerseys. 

“This has been entirely a Nike issue,” the memo read. “At its core, what has happened here is that Nike was innovating something that didn’t need to be innovated.”

Fanatics has taken pains with the media and its corporate partners to blame Nike, the designer of the uniforms, for the issues.

“We’re purely doing exactly as we’ve been told, and we’ve been told we’re doing everything exactly right,” said Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin in April. “And we’re getting the s*** kicked out of us. So that’s not fun.”

Rubin had previously said in March that in time “Nike will be proved right” for making positive changes to the uniforms. That doesn’t appear to be the case. 

In its defense of Fanatics, the MLBPA said Fanatics “recognizes the vital importance of soliciting Player feedback, obtaining Player buy-in and not being afraid to have difficult conversations about jerseys or trading cards. Our hope is that, moving forward, Nike will take a similar approach.”

The union took the somewhat unusual step of picking sides in a corporate dispute. Granted, it has reason to. The MLBPA made $44 million from Fanatics in 2023 off licensing revenue and invested in Fanatics in a 2022 equity round. 

“We cautioned Nike against various changes when they previewed them in 2022, particularly regarding pants,” the union memo read. “MLB had been, and has been, aware of our concerns as well. Unfortunately, until recently Nike’s position has essentially boiled down to — ‘nothing to see here, Players will need to adjust.’”

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