Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Throwing back to nowhere

Getting caught up after the holiday weekend = DAHOF blog-post explosion.

I took my son and his friend to the Texas Rangers/Baltimore Orioles game yesterday. Before the game, as you would expect in Texas on the Fourth of July, It was hot. Really hot. The most comfortable place in and around the stadium was the large air conditioned merchandise store located beyond the center field concourse. Because I spend most of my time at this ballpark in the photo wells making pictures, I had not been inside this team store in several years. It was fun just being a fan and looking at all the branded gear the Rangers sell. I was a little surprised when I saw all the 2010 post season swag being sold at 75% off.

But then I saw this:

At first, I shrugged it off, having seen every major league team sell "Cooperstown Collection" jerseys featuring their all-time superstar players. Then it came to me... Nolan Ryan never actually wore that uniform design during the time he played for the Texas Rangers. Nolan pitched in Arlington from 1989 through 1993 and thanks to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Dressed to the Nines database, here are the uniforms he wore:

How sad... the Rangers uniform design he wore when he pitched his sixth and seventh no-hitters is available at Mitchell & Ness but it looks nothing like the only "throwback' uniform I could find in the store with his name on the back. This powder-blue/full-button-down uniform design matches the road jersey worn in 1981 and 1982 by Ranger greats like Jim Sundberg and Buddy Bell. It looks great, but Nolan never wore it.

I guess the harsh reality is the Texas Rangers merchandisers and most Rangers fans don't know or want to acknowledge is their beloved Nolan Ryan was wearing an orange tequila sunrise outfit in Houston in 1981 and 1982.

To be honest, despite living in the state and shooting the club a couple of times each year, I am neutral about the whole Rangers franchise. I recognize the quality roster and realize they are the defending American League Champs. I believe Josh Hamilton is a once in a decade type talent and love watching him do his thing. I also have over a decade of experience of enjoying my local minor league team owned by Nolan Ryan, so I greatly respect his abilities as a baseball owner and executive. However, from a merchandise and marketing perspective, vast improvements can be made in Arlington.

In my opinion, there is no reason to sell an expensive jersey under the "throwback" banner that never actually existed to fans that obviously don't know the difference. I am sure would be interest in powder blue Ranger throwbacks with Wills #1, Sundberg #10, Bell #25, or Jenkins #31 on the backs. I know if they offered the Mario Mendoza #41 jersey mocked up below, I would have a tough time walking out of the store without buying one.

EDIT: Proving once again the world wide web is the most important invention in my lifetime, almost immediately after posting this, I discovered I can, in fact, get a customized Mario Mendoza old-school Trident era Seattle Mariners jersey. I think I just found the #1 item on my present wish list for Christmas in December. God Bless America.


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