Black on Friday: The Rise and Fall of the Molten Pig

 

The IronPigs have changed their uniforms before.

The biggest, sweeping change came in 2014 with the “Smell the Change” campaign, spearheaded by former ‘Pigs media executive Jon Schaeffer.  That’s when the molten pig began.

Black, Friday uniforms were introduced–to better highlight the fireworks, we were told–which paired with black baseball pants and the molten pig logo cap.  The jerseys were striking.  The chrome-steel IronPigs logo across the chest, and the two-tone steel numbers were ever so sharp.  The name plates with white lettering were easy to read.  The molten logo on the hat was super.  Of the new logos–bacon Pigs on Saturday, powder-blue pig-head pullover on Sunday–it was easily my favorite.

But, it certainly wasn’t perfect.  The players hated the black pants.  Hated.  They really despised them.  And, from press level, it always looked like we had too many players because they were indistinguishable from the umpires at first glance.  Eventually, the players refused to wear the all-black pajamas and would substitute their preferred home-white pants.  As much as all-black didn’t look good, the black over white looked almost as bad.

Enter, Majestic.  In an historic deal for a minor league club, the IronPigs struck a deal with Major League uniform maker Majestic prior to the 2016 season.  While the designs would mostly remain similar, small changes were made as Majestic would now replace Wilson as the on-field uniform provider.  The sweeping Pigs-bagon logo would be replaced with “Bacon USA” on Saturday.  The powder-blue pullover on Sunday would now have IronPigs in retro Phillies script on Sunday.  The road grays would darken to the “storm gray” worn only by Arizona at the time.  And, the Friday blacks would now have a molten logo on the front, which would continue to the numbers on the back, making them harder to read.  Coupled with the storm-gray road pants and the original molten cap, the Friday ensemble improved overall.

But, it still wasn’t perfect.  The new numbers and logo were very hard to see.  Ditto the red name plate.  Photographers had difficulty getting the uniforms to show up properly in images.  The players, creatures of habit, still strongly preferred to wear white pants at home, which didn’t look as good as the storm-gray.

 

In one of Cheryl Pursell’s signature images, JP Crawford can be seen in the Majestic molten jersey and hat, along with the white player-preferred pants.

The Sunday outfit was changed again prior to the 2018 season, as the IronPigs brought back the old Phillies maroon, continuing the tradition of using Sunday to salute the Phillies.  It looks like we’ll be getting new Friday uniforms for 2020.

A Word About Uniforms

The uniforms are provided by the IronPigs, not the Phillies.  Our local club designs and orders the uniforms that are provided to the players, and also pays for the customization with numbers and name plates.  Many clubs will save money by having fewer uniforms, and by skimping on their away-designs.  The IronPigs have not done so, but in the process have had more merchandise to sell, and have been able to expand their market beyond the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia becoming as much a national brand as almost any other minor league franchise.  By looking good on the road, fans of the Phillies (or just bacon, really) can be enticed to shop for IronPigs merchandise online–with plenty of choices of designs, colors and logos.  The IronPigs have also traditionally sold off the used jerseys to benefit their IronPigs Charities arm, which provides money for a variety of community projects across the Lehigh Valley every year.

Historically, I believe it was only Russell Athletic and Wilson–and maybe one other–who were licensed to provide on-field USA-manufactured uniforms for Minor League Baseball.  That was until the landmark deal the IronPigs were allowed to pursue with local MLB provider, Majestic.  Majestic, however, has since been purchased by Fanatics.  Their MLB contract expires at the end of the calendar year, 2019.  Under Armour has a deal in place for MLB uniforms and on-field apparel beginning in 2020.  Going forward, Fanatics will manage the manufacturing and distribution of the Under Armour and Fanatics fan gear, which includes retail jerseys, name-and-number products and postseason apparel.  I’m unsure of the term of the Majestic deal with the IronPigs.  It may be up this season or may run into next.  It’s not clear whether they’d use a Fanatics branded uniform or Under Armour.  It’s also not clear how that impacts the coming changes to the Friday ensemble.

Uniforms, of course, need to be replaced from time to time.  The newer, lighter designs–preferred by the players–may wear out more quickly with the hard use, washing, and name-plate changes.

Black on Friday

Despite my relative disdain for the black pants, the Friday design was by far my favorite of the “Smell the Change” group.  In fact, wearing black on Friday has become a personal lifestyle theme of mine, following into the off-season and even dictating which hockey jersey I wear to the Phantoms for Friday night games.  The hat is super, of course.  I have three versions of it:  The on-field 59FIFTY, the flex-fit 39THIRTY as well as the season ticket holder exclusive, Melonwear Velcro enclosure.  I have two versions of the original black and steel jersey, as well as countless black polos for the IronPigs and Reading, T-shirts, warm-ups, pullovers–all of it.

And yes the neurosis of the whole thing follows through to other days:  Red on Saturday (orange if there’s a hockey game), powder blue or maroon on Sunday, and something old on Thursday for Throw Back Thursday.

I know, I know.  I really need to calm down.  But that’s why I’m taking this so hard.

Smell the Change

I had no clue the nature or extent of the “Smell the Change” campaign back in 2014.  In fact, a source close to the situation told me he/she was forced to sign a disclosure agreement to make sure those who were part of the design, approval and roll-out did not leak the details to snoopy, unscrupulous bloggers.  I have no idea what they were worried about.  (insert winking emoji)

But, I knew something was coming.  During the off-season following the 2013 season, the original Saturday hats with the angry front-facing pig, and the Sunday caps with pig-tail were put on sale at a close-out price.  Sensing they’d no longer be available, I immediately purchased back-ups for my already worn-in versions.  I do recall a divesting of the powder-blue liberty bell following the 2015 season, but it seemed a bit more subtle.

Now, starting this past August, I noted the sudden aggressive sale-off of the molten pig.  Molten logo replica jerseys are no longer available.  Other molten logo replica hats and shirts are missing from the store.  And, the on-field 59FIFTY caps are priced to sell.  If you need to grab one, or just back-up the one you have, click HERE.  Less than half price.  Golly.

So yeah, I smell the change coming.  And, I’m not happy about it.  Media and photographers alike probably are.  But, not me.  Not this time. Or, at least not yet.  (It’s notable that I was an early detractor from the bacon hats.  I now own six different versions of it.  It’s a problem, I know.)

Catcher Rob Brantly was acting manager, in a Friday game from earlier this season. His hat has been, um, altered. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Wild Conjecture

So whatever they have on tap, I’ll probably warm up to it.  And, it’s probably already in the works.  Logo designs and product ordering don’t happen overnight (notice me rolling my eyes at the “IronPugs” nonsense.)  And, they’ve been good about being tight-lipped about everything.  That leaves me to guess wildly, taking stabs at invisible bugs.  Here’s what might (read: “probably won’t”) be on the way:

Reimagined Black

They could stick with the black theme for Friday, but just re-do the logo and replace the jerseys.  Perhaps they’ll come up with something that would please the players so that they can wear their white pants.  Perhaps a new black cap will match better.  The new threads will perhaps be Fanatics branded or Under Armour.

Home Whites

The IronPigs could just do away with a Friday get-up altogether.  It would be cheaper to cut down on the number of different jerseys to maintain for the players.  They would get to wear their home white pants.

Coquis, Jawn, or IronPugs

Reading this past year tuned up their Los Peleadores alternate from 2018, and used it as a Friday uniform, alternating with their “Pretzels” alternate and Pennsylvania Dutch theme (The jersey and hat were black.  Hmmm.)  The IronPigs could similarly clean up the Coquis uniform and use it, or continue with a new form of the “Jawn” campaign on a more regular basis.  The IronPugs which has already debuted could be made a permanent fixture for Fridays.  (Although, having dog day along with it on Fridays would preclude the traditional Friday fireworks as you would never do fireworks and dogs on the same night.  There have been some local changes in fireworks ordinances, but I think it mostly applies to private, residential use, not professional permit-driven displays.  I don’t see them giving up the draw of Friday fireworks at this juncture.)  I’m not sure that chrome hat logo is approved for on-field use.

They could also move the Sunday maroon to Friday and put something new on Sunday afternoon.

An All-New Theme

If I had money to bet, I’d put it here.  I think they’ve probably got something completely new to unveil.  We likely won’t learn what it is until February or March–perhaps even into early April.  We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with.

I just hope it’s black.

 

So that’s what I’ve got.  I think they’ll come up with something new for us and I hope I like it.  If you’ve got any ideas or if you’ve heard a rumor as to what it could be, please leave it in the comments below–your email won’t be published and I’ll approve it immediately.  Comments on the Facebook page cannot be seen by all; I’d prefer any discussion happen here.

 

See you at the park, eventually,

Kram207

 

 

 

 

 

same, Under Armour

 

weekly whites

 

jawn or other current/past pugs coquis

 

all new incl different night



Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

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