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Discussing the Milwaukee City Connect Reveal

The Brewers' City Connect jerseys tap into MKE's history

Baseball enthusiasts continue to be difficult to please in mass form and, as we continue to find, alterations to any traditional norms can be upsetting to many.

To MLB’s credit, they are digging into their bag of tricks and attempting to run plays from the NBA playbook with these Nike City Connect jerseys and each of these releases is met with anticipation and shockingly positive feedback.

These Brew Crew ones are more of the same. As the team will debut them this weekend against the Blue Jays, now is the best time to dissect what they were inspired by!

 

The Rise of the Uniforms

 

As mentioned in previous articles, Nike has collaborated with individual franchises in Major League Baseball to creatively construct unique and dynamic uniforms that are fun and also have a history tied into their design. It is a hard task to utilize this road map, but Nike has done a great job for the most part in capturing the essence of each market and making the hometown fans feel connected to these uniforms

Let’s hop into the way-back machine and look at the timeline of the releases. In 2021, we were gifted with seven City Connect uniforms that made their initial appearance on the field and if you remember, they were met with a little more criticism that the latest string of drops in 2022. The 2021 releases still have space on rotation for all the teams that debuted them. The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins, and San Francisco Giants were part of the 2021 Nike City Connect class.

As we approach the All-Star Break, we have a few more uniforms to look at with the debut of the Houston Astros‘ Space City jerseys on April 20th, the Rockies’ on June 4th, and the Angels’ on June 11. I did an article looking into the debut of Washington Nationals‘ cherry blossom-inspired jerseys that came out April 9th—check out that piece here. I also did a look into the Royals’ fountain-inspired uniforms that came out on April 29th and you can read that one here.

The only one left to debut will be the Padres on July 8th and we are sure to see a San Diego flair to the Friars’ alternate uniforms.

Let’s see if they can continue this stretch of fun and positively received uniforms.

The sixth of these City Connect jerseys was the Cream City, which will be worn this weekend—June 24th against the Blue Jays.

 

 

Capturing Milwaukee’s Essence

 

The Brewers love to play the hidden ball trick with their logos. Their original glove logo had a hidden MB in it and these City Connect hats also have some hidden Easter Egg designs. MKE appears across the cap and the city’s area code is designed within the initials which is a nice personal touch that only a local may pick out without being told.

The jerseys are powder blue which is an ode to the Brewers’ original jerseys when they joined the league. The classic powder blue that Robin Yount and Paul Molitor wore had to be included in some way to pay homage to the franchise.

The difference with these is how they tied a modernist approach to the front with navy accents feature that may rub some traditionalists the wrong way. Nike went with “Brew Crew” across the chest, which makes it the first time that any official jersey donned this beloved nickname.

Fans have been calling their team the Brew Crew for years but it always served as an unofficial moniker. Now this sort of legitimizes it in a way it was not before.

As noted, the colors do pay homage to their rich history on the field but it also serves as a reminder of how important the People’s Flag of Milwaukee is and what it means to the people of the city. Nike also noted that they wanted people to feel like they are looking at Lake Michigan and the sun because that is the ideal Milwaukee summer day. Either way, the yellow and powder blue compliment each other nicely.

What about the beer?! The name pays tribute to the brewing industry and its significance both socially and economically but a more subtle hint can be found elsewhere. Representing a foaming beer, the sleeves are highlighted yellow as well as the white piping. The sleeve patch of the grill seems to be what Brewer fans love most about this uniform.

But perhaps more importantly, these uniforms dispel a long lasting myth in the world of sports…

 

Are you Down with MKE? Yeah, you Know Me!

 

These uniforms served as a reminder that maybe sports fans and pundits have been using the wrong abbreviation this whole time. Across all different platforms, MIL finds its way onto scoreboards and score scrolls throughout the history of Milwaukee sports. This release was a chance for the city of Milwaukee to stand up and say:

“Hey, it’s been MKE this whole time and I just didn’t know how to tell you”

MKE is the listing in airports if you are flying into Milwaukee and how those that live locally identify the abbreviation. Whether that changes the way fans and broadcasts present Milwaukee to the general public remains to be seen.

 

Milwaukee’s Foamy History of Tailgates

 

On these jerseys, the grill that appears sewn on the sleeve may seem small but it is a huge part of the relationship between the Brewers and its fanbase.

Believe it or not, tailgating has only been a big deal for baseball fans in Milwaukee since the Brewers came to town. It seems obvious that Wisconsin citizens would do this for all events, but it used to just be for Packers football.

Most people associate the Green Bay Packers and their famous tailgates filled with endless rows of grills filled with sausage, brats, hot dogs, burgers, and the distant sound of cracking a beer but it used to be just a football thing.

The Brewers are the team that made it cool in Wisconsin to have a good time before the first pitch.

As many of you may know, the Brewers were not the first team to call Milwaukee home. The Braves made a pit stop for 12 years from 1953-1965 but tailgating was certainly not a part of that culture. Many note that before the Brewers and their fans, tailgating would not even cross any fan’s mind. Fans would park as close to the stadium as possible, watch the game and be at the mercy of whatever was being served at the concession stands.

In history, the Braves never really resonated with the Wisconsin faithful for whatever reason. This is apparent through the lack of attendance which led to the Braves’ eventual departure and final stay in Atlanta. Possibly, they were not tailgating because they did not feel connected to the product on the field and the Braves never really felt like they were Wisconsin’s.

There was an immediate kinship between the Brewers and its fans. This team represented the grittiest part of Wisconsin and from the beginning, it was nothing but love. That fandom and bond that fans build with the franchise can happen outside of the sanctioned walls of stadiums.

Love for the Brewers and other franchises alike has been cemented over time with the memories made getting ready for games. It must sound silly or trivial to the outsider but true die-hards understand this notion.

As mentioned, the Packers fans mastered the art of the tailgate at Lambeau Field during the coldest months of the year, and to this day are still out there supporting their team and getting ready for kick-off. It is just as much a motivation for the players as they pull up in buses to get ready to see blankets of people who support this franchise in such a way that they are enduring rain, snow, sleet, or wind chill to be there for them. It also can be intimidating for the team traveling on the road to see.

It’s a bond that is forged over years that becomes part of the allure of playing there.

As far as history goes, many scholars note that the tailgate started outside of sports and a very long time ago.  Some note that it started during the Civil War when those not involved in the conflict packed some food and prepared to watch the battle and cheer on their side.

People are always looking for a reason to gather and drink. Tailgating wasn’t so much an idea, than just a natural force of human nature

College culture and the student bodies tailgating before college games have grown to a level that people over 100 years ago couldn’t even imagine.

Tailgating has been vital with the Brewers’ faithful developing a relationship with their team and even during lean years, fans can rely on congregating with food making the whole parking lot feel like a giant party. A huge part of the allure of the tailgate is it brings everyone together with a sense of belonging.

You are all gathered there for a reason, and Milwaukee fans adopted it as their rallying cry to show support for their franchise in the best way possible. Drinking local beer and eating brats.

It’s safe to say the strong bond forged over the hot coals of a grill would not be the same without the tailgate. It is amazing to see it represented on the City Connect jersey.

 

The Significance of Tailgates in Milwaukee

 

Tailgating is a serious endeavor in Milwaukee. The experience is as unique as any pregame in all of Major League Baseball.  Way back in the day, and still sometimes today, the players will mosey on to join the fans to grab something to eat and talk with the faithful.

This has been so important to the franchise and its fans that location and proximity to allow tailgates were part of what went into building a new stadium. Originally, American Family Field was to be built in downtown Milwaukee but the team was concerned that this would limit spacing for tailgating.

They chose to build the stadium in the Menomonee Valley area which allowed for the space necessary for the fans to have their fun pregame. That truly shows that ownership even understood back in the late 1990s how important this was and had their finger on the pulse of what fans wanted.

Keeping tailgating as the tradition was important and fans feel a sense of loyalty when their desires come into play for a decision like that. Fans want to feel valued and the Brewers do just that by embracing the tailgate culture.

Brewer fans find ways to tailgate even when their beloved Brew Crew are not on the field. So much so that since 2007, they kick off tailgating season with the Arctic Tailgate where fans hang out from early in the morning to purchase tickets for the upcoming season.

The other interesting part about the game-day tailgating is that some fans in the parking lot will not even have a ticket punched into the stadium. They are just there for the party in the parking lot. That alone shows the level of event that this has become.

Most fans will arrive hours before the first pitch and set up WAY more than just the small grill that appears on the sleeve of the City Connect jerseys. Some bring full spreads that could feed a full wedding. Show up hungry if you head to one of these!

The menu changes depending on which tailgate party you pull up to but the love for the Brewers remains the same. The tailgate is an institution in Milwaukee.

Beer and other types of alcohol play a huge part in the day and ironically, there were laws in place for the longest time that prohibited drinking in parking lots. That long ignored and unenforced ordinance disappeared in 2005.

Milwaukee fans fought the law and the law lost. Not that they would have stopped anyway.

Tailgating is a part of the fabric of Milwaukee and Wisconsin alike. Taking away the tailgating would be like imagining New Orleans without the parades, it’s just not possible.

These jerseys are sure to be selling like brats on a Brewers game day. The real eye test will be to see them live and in action this weekend.

 

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