Thursday, June 20, 2024

Tampa Bay Rays Unveil Skateboard-Inspired City Connect Uniforms – SportsLogos.Net News

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The Tampa Bay Rays unveiled their new Nike MLB City Connect Series uniform today, taking inspiration from the region’s skateboarding culture while also mixing in a few fun little nods to the team’s history. These uniforms are set to make their on-field debut during a special weekend series from May 3rd to May 5th, celebrating the “Grit and Glow” of not only the team but also the vibrant culture of Tampa Bay.

Overall, it’s a black uniform—this is the “Grit,” a black cap, black jersey, very dark grey pants, and skateboard grip tape patterning. The “Glow” treats us to an array of almost neon-like colours: multiple blues, purples, and greens applied both as solid colours and gradients and used mostly as trim sprinkled throughout the mostly black design.

The design of the Tampa Bay Rays’ new City Connect uniform is deeply rooted in the local culture, drawing significant inspiration from the area’s vibrant skateboarding scene and other counterculture elements. This is reflected in features like the aforementioned skateboard grip tape textures on the jerseys and caps, mimicking the surface of a skateboard and the tactile feel that is central to the skateboarding culture.

SHOP: Tampa Bay Rays new City Connect caps, jerseys, and more available now

In addition to skateboarding, the uniform incorporates visual motifs that reference the Rays’ own history and those that echo the Tampa Bay area—such as the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The bridge is a vital link to the area, connecting the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The Tampa Bay Rays Nike MLB City Connect uniform

“What really hit home for us [while designing this uniform] is this notion of connecting with our community and really using that as a guiding principle throughout this process,” said Bill Walsh, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Chief Business Officer, in a chat with SportsLogos.Net. “This has been a fun process. We really wanted to capture this unmistakable vibe and this creative energy that the Tampa Bay region has. It’s been a fun process.”

A welcome return to a Rays uniform is the words “Tampa Bay,” which haven’t been featured on their uniforms since 2007 (though it did appear briefly in small lettering on their “fauxback” alternate jersey in the ’10s). “Tampa Bay” is presented on this jersey as a black wordmark, angled from the lower right to the upper left, in a style very similar to the wordmark on the original Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1998-2000 road jerseys. This new wordmark is filled with a grip-tape style pattern, trimmed in a blue-green gradient (another familiar element), and accented with flames shooting out the top of each letter.

“[The Tampa Bay wordmark] is such an important part of the story for us,” said Warren Hypes, Tampa Bay Rays Vice President, Creative & Brand, in this same call with SportsLogos.Net. “It’s the first time ‘Tampa Bay’ is back on the uniform since ’07. [For the flame logo], we took references from skateboarding and its impact on hip-hop, music, punk music, even fashion.”

The black base of the jersey contains a pattern designed to resemble a black shirt left out in the Florida sun a little too long, one that’s slowly fading to a lighter, grey-like shade.

I personally love the new cap logo—it ingeniously merges a Ray with the Bay (rhymin’!) and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The logo is placed on a black crown with a purple visor and a green button.

The new City Connect cap logo incorporates the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

“We’re a team that represents not one city but a region, so connecting that community is so important in this story. One of the most iconic things here in Tampa Bay is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I think that’s such a great example of connectivity and connecting the region together,” Hypes said. “We had a little fun with it. We merged it into this Devil Ray, and as the gradient goes down underneath the bridge, you see the water going under the bridge in this logo.”

It’s almost a Devil Rays-ized version of the Minnesota Twins’ Minnie and Paul logo, which shows their two communities shaking hands over a river. It’s brilliant, and I hope the Rays find a way to incorporate this into their regular identity somehow… maybe as a sleeve patch?

The underbill of the Rays’ City Connect New Era cap includes the grip tape pattern. The interior sweatband has 360 degrees of gradient goodness, transitioning from blue to green and back again.

The player names on the back of the jersey are arched and neon-like green. Below are player numbers, a new style based on the TAMPA BAY wordmark logo on the front (minus the flames). This numbering, which would have fit perfectly into the overall look of the original Devil Rays uniforms, incorporates the grip tape pattern and also includes the gradient-style trim around it.

Player sleeves include the current Rays “sun glint” logo in green. A gradient stripe is present on one sleeve only, while the other is blank. This same style is applied to the pants. Why? It’s asymmetrical, something quirky and unique, just like Tampa Bay, its residents, and its Rays.

“We’ve got this great accent on the right side of the sleeve, and on the pants, it’s going down the left side. It’s how we like to be against the grain here, both as an organization and as a region, just doing things differently,” said Hypes. “This kind of design not only captures our spirit of innovation but also visually represents the dynamic and diverse nature of Tampa Bay. The asymmetry is not just aesthetic; it symbolizes the balance between tradition and forward-thinking, which is central to our team’s identity and to the broader community. It reflects our commitment to stand out and embrace unique approaches in everything we do.”

SHOP: Tampa Bay Rays new City Connect caps, jerseys, and more available now

Spinning back around to the front, the jocktag logo (the part of the jersey that gets tucked into the pants) shows a pelican with the Rays’ sun glint design on its eye. The pelican is placed on an oval in a style similar to the original Devil Rays logo, with three palm trees towering behind it. The historic marker sign located at Perry Harvey Sr. Park inspired the three palms, while the pelican is an emblem of St. Petersburg. It’s also been a symbol used in St. Pete baseball history, used previously by the 1940s-50s Florida State Negro League St. Pete Pelicans.

“The three palm trees logo represents that feeling of subtropical breeziness beneath the Florida palms as you drop into the bowl. It’s an ode to the historic marker sign at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, the first skate park that was ever on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s also a Florida Heritage site,” Hypes explained. “All the marker signs that all the Florida Heritage sites use this three-palm tree logo. This emblem not only honours the park’s rich history as a gathering place for the community but also symbolizes the laid-back yet vibrant spirit of the Tampa Bay area. The palm trees, synonymous with Florida’s scenic beauty and leisure, are depicted in a way that invites fans and players alike to feel connected to the essence of our local environment.”

The various elements that inspired the design of the Rays jocktag pelican logo

A new skateboarding Devil Ray logo, another of my favourites, is placed inside the back collar of the jersey and on the upper left front of the pants. The design intends to connect skateboarding and baseball with the team’s overall identity. The logo shows a devil ray performing a skateboarding trick called a “stale fish” (get it? It’s a fish?). A closer look at the ray shows purple baseball stitching on its front. It’s also worth noting that another name for a stingray is a skate, yet another clever tie-in across this overall design.

“My favourite little Easter egg about this is that the ray is shown doing the trick called a stale fish — when you go up and grab the board from the back,” said Hypes. “If you don’t know skateboarding, maybe you don’t get it, but for those that do, I think it’s a really fun little Easter egg in this.”

Of course, new Stance socks are part of the set. Breaking up the darkness, the socks are bright blue with the new Devil Ray-bridge logo in black and the new TAMPA BAY flaming wordmark on the sides.

The Rays will hold a public City Connect Launch event today at 2 pm at Tropicana Field, marking the “official” unveiling of the new uniforms. Continuing the festivities, a special celebration will take place at St. Pete Pier on Thursday, May 2, at 5 pm. Additionally, the Rays will host City Connect-themed watch parties over the next two months, starting with May 18 at 2:30 pm at Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach, followed by June 1 at 3:30 pm at Midtown Tampa and then June 15 at 3:30 pm at Payne Park in Sarasota. Each party will feature live broadcasts of the Rays’ games, allowing fans to cheer on their team in festive settings celebrating local landmarks.


TAMPA BAY RAYS 2024 CITY CONNECT UNIFORM SCHEDULE

The Rays are scheduled to wear their new City Connect uniforms fifteen times this season, thirteen of which are at Tropicana Field. They’ll slide in as a regular home Saturday uniform following the opening weekend from May 3-5. The Rays will continue to wear their throwback-style Devil Rays uniforms for Friday home games.

Friday, May 3 vs New York Mets
Saturday, May 4 vs New York Mets
Sunday, May 5 vs New York Mets
Saturday, May 11 vs New York Yankees
Saturday, May 25 vs Kansas City Royals
Saturday, June 8 vs Baltimore Orioles
Saturday, June 15 at Atlanta Braves
Saturday, June 29 vs Washington Nationals
Saturday, July 13 vs Cleveland Guardians
Saturday, July 27 vs Cincinnati Reds
Wednesday, August 7 at St Louis Cardinals
Saturday, August 10 vs Baltimore Orioles
Saturday, August 17 vs Arizona Diamondbacks
Saturday, August 31 vs San Diego Padres
Saturday, September 21 vs Toronto Blue Jays

Worth noting, the road games (yes, they’re taking these on the road!) on June 15th at Atlanta and August 7th at St. Louis will feature both clubs wearing their City Connect uniforms. No, the Cardinals have not unveiled theirs yet, but they will have between now and then.

Fans can purchase the new Tampa Bay Rays City Connect caps, jerseys, shirts, and more right now online at MLBShop here.

The current collection of MLB City Connect uniforms

The Rays are the third team to unveil their new City Connect uniform during the 2024 season, following earlier releases by the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. There are six more of these uniforms to come this season: Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Toronto.

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