Baseball fans are hard to please and, as mentioned many times over, change is not something that is accepted with open arms.
MLB continues to utilize different strategies to attract casual and younger fans. With the popularity of uniforms of flashy varieties and alternates galore in the NBA, Manfred has attempted to capitalize on that trend.
The Rise of the Uniforms
As you may know, Nike worked with each MLB franchise to artistically build aesthetically different yet pleasing uniforms that tap into culturally and regionally specific aspects of the team’s home city. For some teams, it’s easy enough to imagine what the designs may be but for those teams that took a step outside of the box, it was a jarring yet somewhat pleasing experience for all baseball fans. The City Connect uniforms are winning even the most vocal critics over.
Let’s go back to the origin of this release. Last year, we had seven City Connect uniforms making their debut which seemingly were not met with as glowing a reception as the latest in 2022. The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins, and San Francisco Giants debuted their alternate uniforms and continue to don them on the field of play this year.
With 2022’s season a month in, we got the unveiling and debut of the Houston Astros‘ Space City jerseys on April 20th. I did a deep dive into the debut of Washington Nationals‘ cherry blossom-inspired jerseys—check out that piece here.
We also will have the debut of Colorado Rockies jerseys who will bring a certain purple flare on June 4th. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will join the club on June 11th followed by the Milwaukee Brewers who have something fermenting and ready for harvest on June 24th. Finally, we have the Friars’ eventual City Connect take on July 8th.
A lot to look forward to from these jerseys that have been a hit as of late.
The third of these City Connect jerseys was the City of Fountains, worn on April 30th as the Kansas City Royals took on the New York Yankees.
K.C.’s Rich History of Fountains
The Royals’ uniforms aren’t just a beautiful design, they are another well-vetted, researched endeavor that also lends some perspective into the culture of the city. Nike took some liberty with the color palette of the Royals and added a darker blue but the baby blue trim continued to make it feel like a Kansas City Royals home jersey,
Anyone that has visited or lived in Kansas City immediately recognizes the significance of fountains for the city. The front crest and logo on the hat beautifully represent the cascading and falling water of the over 200 fountains strewn about the city. Much like their Washington Nationals‘ version of the City Connects, Nike continued to utilize nuance to capture the spirit but not make it overly obvious or overdone.
Symbolic of our city.
Rooted in our history.https://t.co/bvv5OBfyi4 pic.twitter.com/03s4zclzc9
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 25, 2022
Kansas City is aptly dubbed the “City of Fountains” and is home to visually stunning water structures and uniforms that emphasize them with beautiful integrity. The uniform is also modeled with a similar style and modernity while tapping into the design of the city. You can see the art-deco influences on the sleek design.
Paying homage to being a city that has had World Series Champions, the powder blue and white trim around the jersey sleeve is a call back to the teams of the 70s and 80s. A nice nod to their history.
Similar to the other City Connect jerseys, the Royals were engulfed with universally positive feedback from fans on all platforms. Even the most pessimistic fans had to love the effort put into the jerseys. It seems like people mostly enjoyed how the Nike teams were able to tie in the fountains without being overdone or tacky. The uniform has the fountain homage on the hat. These jerseys are sure to fly off of the shelf.
The only negative feedback to the fans’ jerseys was that they did not have the powder blue pants reminiscent of the past. The Royals really could have pleased everyone with a return to those fan-favorite, powder blue bottoms.
Fountains’ Significance to Kansas City
Baseball is a sport steeped in amazing history and people love to immerse themselves in it.
Kansas City’s introduction to constructing fountains can be traced back to the late 1800s. Their function was to serve a purpose and did not have a design in mind when they were built. These fountains were built to provide drinking water for thirsty dogs and horses when passing through the city. Of course, other animals found some subsistence as well, like birds.
After the wild success of these fountains and praise from weary travelers, Kansas City started to build drinking fountains throughout the city. But these new ones were starting to be built with specific and distinct styles and even had themes. They still were providing the same function but people started to see the value of the beauty they were providing as well.
Today is Fountain Day in Kansas City! KC has over 200 officially recognized fountains which is second only to Rome. Get out there and explore our beautiful city!
Check out our designs that celebrate The CIty of Fountains. https://t.co/4Ei9AEDMal
#fountainday #kansascity pic.twitter.com/EmbHhfB1P0
— FountainCityKC (@FountainCityKC1) April 19, 2022
These fountains served a very important purpose: to give safe drinking water to the citizens of Kansas City. Of course, over time, creativity took over and it made sense for these fountains to look as beautiful as they were useful.
Each year in early April the whole city recognizes and honors the holiday Greater Kansas City Fountain Day. This is the day to celebrate the emergence of warmer weather when all fountains turn back on. This is the day that symbolizes how immensely proud the city is to have these beautiful structures.
Fountain Day fell on Tuesday, April 19th, and guess what? The Royals beat the Twins 4-3. No one should beat the Royals on Fountain Day.
Fountains Given the Royal Treatment
Kansas City continues to romanticize and wax poetic about its relationship with fountains. To cement this love affair, the City of Fountains was formed in 1973 with historical preservation in mind. The City of Fountains was started in the same year that Kauffman Stadium was opened to the public.
Fountains and the Royals are a match made in heaven and will forever be entangled with the history of the city.
It’s Fountain Day in #KansasCity – a day when more than 50 of the publicly-operated fountains are turned on. Learn more about the history of this day here. https://t.co/S8ipt6urmc pic.twitter.com/FEEkyt0POJ
— Harpreet Gill (@HarpreetGill03) April 19, 2022
The City of Fountains was created by an executive named Harold Rice and his wife Peggy. When traveling to Italy, they noticed the dilapidation of many structures and with the recognition of how important the fountains were to Kansas City, there was an urgency to make sure that never happened to their beautiful city. The logo for City of Fountains looks very similar to the logo on the front of the Royals’ new threads.
Intertwined Into the Future
Now, these fountains are a tourist attraction which people from all over the globe gather to gaze upon the beauty. 200 fountains are spread throughout the city of Kansas City, each more beautiful than the next.
They’re not just structures for functionality anymore—it’s an identity and something that has become engrained in the culture of the city.
Any place of importance in the city has a crescendo of falling water in a fountain, including the Royals’ home, Kauffman Park. In 1973, the ballpark opened its doors with the now-famous Kauffman Stadium fountains in the outfield. There were no seats out there, so it highlighted its importance, but we know the urge to jam as many people into the ballpark was too much to resist.
In 2007, the K got a much-needed facelift. The main focus of this renovation is upgrading to include fountain view terraces. Since 2009, spectators can take in the game next to the water fountains. This waterfall area is super popular because of its beauty but again going back to functionality, the water creates a refreshing mist to provide relief from the brutal Missouri sun in the summer.
Functionality and beauty have always been the calling card of these fountains in Kansas City. The more things change, the more they also stay the same.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Drew Wheeler (@drewisokay on Twitter)
So did you not do a deep dive into Houstons unis because it’s obvious why it’s relevant?
Hey Travis, Thanks for reading! I am continuing to consider doing a deep dive on the Houston “Space City” alternates because the history is just deeper rooted than their history of space exploration. It truly is a fascinating part of the city’s legacy. I appreciate your feedback and make sure to look out for further pieces like this.
Being biased these blue jerseys were my favorite so far for the city connect collection. I think hitting all the blues resembled the team and city really well and agree 100% put the powder blue pants on!