You’ve heard about it. Now you can hear more.
The Orioles are unveiling their new caps and jerseys today. The cartoon bird is back. Let us rejoice.
This is an updated version that takes elements from the 1970 and 1983 models. As I told you yesterday, it more closely resembles the Brooks Robinson bird, not the Todd Cruz one, in terms of overall shape. And this is the first time that the bird is wearing a cap with O’s on the front.
Here’s what you didn’t know until today (and what I was asked to keep quiet for months): The home cap and batting helmet will include the white front panel worn by the last Orioles team to win the World Series. The road cap and helmet will be black - no white panel - with an orange bill.
The alternate O’s cap remains unchanged and will be worn for Friday home games.
The team is reintroducing its orange in-game jerseys, with the Orioles script in black with a white outline, which haven’t been worn since the inaugural season at Camden Yards in 1992. The current plan calls for them to be used for Saturday home games, though the club will be flexible about it. A winning streak, and the accompanying superstitions, could convince the Orioles to make a different fashion statement.
The white home jerseys won’t change, but as you’ve been told, the angle of the Baltimore script on the road jerseys is less severe.
Every jersey will feature a Baltimore Orioles patch incorporating the Maryland state flag on the left sleeve and a 20th anniversary patch on the right.
Also, the bird swinging a bat can still be found on the team’s jackets.
The cartoon bird disappeared from the caps and helmets after the 1988 season and was replaced by variations of an ornithologically correct one.
“We’re always looking for ways in which to enhance the strength of our brand, and we feel that a change to the hat, adding a version of the cartoon bird, was a way in which to do that,” said director of communications Greg Bader. “We find it has widespread appeal among many demographics, many age groups. There’s an affinity for the mark that someone has if they grew up watching the team wear this in the ’60s and ’70s or someone of a much younger age that has just seen it as part of a T-shirt. They seem to have a great appeal to it. And it’s a logo, it’s a mark, that has a lot more character and personality than the ornithologically correct bird.
“We found last year we saw that a lot of our current players would wear the cartoon bird, Cooperstown-style hat around the clubhouse or when they did interviews on TV. It was something that was obvious to us that there was an appeal to this. So the fact that most of our fans, most of our players felt strongly toward a new look and a change to bring back a cartoon bird, that became a slam dunk for us.”
It was purely coincidence that Matt Wieters began wearing the white-paneled helmet while catching. The Orioles already decided to bring back the cartoon bird before the season started, and it became official in May.
“When we saw Wieters wear that, we thought it was a fun coincidence because there was no planning of that,” Bader said. “It was something that Matt wanted to do and we found it to be great because it did kind of give a small preview to what fans could expect. And the fact that that created as much interest as it did gave us the belief that ultimately the unveiling of the new look was going to be well received.”
Bader stressed that the Orioles aren’t doing this to distract from the product on the field. A cartoon bird can’t erase 14 consecutive losing seasons.
“There’s no attempt to change focus,” he said. “The timing, really, was going to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the ballpark versus trying to deflect attention from the team performance. Any time you make a change, you have an element of detractors that are cynical as far as why a change is made, but there is nothing behind the change other than a desire to provide fans with a look that we think they like and a look that the ballclub is proud of.”