The Washington Senators didn't wear a jersey that actually said "Senators" until 1959. For most of the previous 58 seasons in the American League, their shirts had always displayed a block "W," either on the right breast (as you're facing the player), or on the sleeves. Chalk it up to either economics - a single block letter is a pretty cheap applique - or to the fact that only one city in the big leagues started with a W.
That fact, combined with the results of focus groups, surveys and casual conversations, led the Nationals to showcase the simple, sleek curly W look prominently on the new jerseys, which were unveiled tonight at a fashion show at Nationals Park.
The Nationals unveiled their new 2011 uniforms tonight in a fashion show at the ballpark, and instead of the long rumored "Nationals" in script with a flourish, they're going to a stark, bright white home uniform with a scarlet-on-navy curly "W" on the right breast, and a uniform number on the left. The shirts features a round patch on the logo side sleeve that shows the curly W with "WASHINGTON NATIONALS" circling the border. The plaquet of the shirt is lined with a scarlet-and-navy piping that is also on the sleeve ends.
I like it. It's striking in its simplicity, and seems very traditional. The fact that there's a small resemblance to Senators/Nationals uniforms of a half-century plus ago is probably inadvertent, but who cares? The curly W is here to stay.
Other changes worth noting: the gold trim is gone, meaning the full block numbers are scarlet-on-navy with no drop shadow. There's no "DC" logo on anything, though the club reserves the right to still use it. The new road cap still has a navy crown, but the visor and button are now scarlet. The patriotic jersey is navy with a stars-and-stripes curly W. The red alternate jersey has the new sans gold number style, and all jerseys feature the same sleeve patch.
The Nationals will now join what had been a pretty exclusive list of teams that don't wear a jersey either at home or on the road that has their nickname spelled out on the front. The others are the Yankees, who haven't worn a shirt that actually said "Yankees" since the 1920's; the Tigers, who last wore a shirt that said "TIGERS" in 1960; and the Rangers, whose shirts, both home and road, have all said "TEXAS" the past two seasons. I'm told that internal discussions to return "RANGERS" to the uniform front have been ongoing.
The event at the ballpark was well-produced, and the players involved in the runway phase all seems to enjoy themselves. John Lannan told me that Ian Desmond wanted to take the modeling aspect "to the next level," but was talked out of it. Nonetheless, all 6 players - Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen were the others - all gave the new outfits high marks.
One other bit of news - Storen has switched to #25, buying my argument totally that #58 is either a linebacker's number, or a non-roster player in spring training.
The new uniforms will be available at the Nationals' team store beginning tomorrow.