For the Red Sox, the color of autumn is yellow.
Since the unveiling of the “City Connect” alternate uniforms over two games in mid-April, several players had politicked to wear them again, with outfielder Alex Verdugo proving particularly enthusiastic and persistent. Finally, at the start of the last homestand of the season, the team elected to wear them for last weekend’s three-game series against the Orioles.
Bryan Loor-Almonte, a Red Sox communications manager who’d been in charge of the outreach related to the launch of the uniforms in April, watched last Friday night nervously.
“The first one’s always the scariest,” said Loor-Almonte. “It’s one of those where I’m hoping we win the first game of this series because if we don’t, we’re probably never going to wear these until next April.”
The Sox beat the Orioles, 7-1, then followed with two more wins to sweep the series. With the team on a five-game winning streak, the uniforms transformed almost instantly from novelty to staple.
“I know it’s not white and red. I know we’re not the Yellow Sox. But we need wins right now,” said shortstop Xander Bogaerts. “So if it’s yellow, it’s yellow.”
The team then swept two games from the Mets in the uniforms on Tuesday and Wednesday — seven straight wins overall, five in the yellow-and-blues. They’ll wear them on Friday against the Yankees for the start of the three-game series, and almost surely will continue wearing them at least until they lose a game.
“We’re not superstitious. We just love routines,” said manager Alex Cora. “It just so happens at 6 o’clock, the uniforms are there. It’s part of our routine right now.”
Seven MLB teams this year worked with Nike to develop “City Connect” alternate uniforms for the season, with bold designs meant to celebrate the bonds between teams and their residences. The Red Sox introduced theirs April 17-18 — the weekend leading up to Patriots Day, the traditional Marathon Monday.
The colors (as well as the runner’s bib with a “617″ on the sleeve) connected the apparel to the Boston Marathon. But the aspirations of the design went well beyond a celebration of a signature event.
The appearance of the team in bright yellow with blue lettering — and no red — also sought to reimagine the representation of the city and its community. To look beyond tradition and perception, and to embrace vibrancy and diversity.
“There’s one perception of Boston, when in reality it’s a big melting pot at the end of the day,” said Loor-Almonte. “By wearing these, it helps push that narrative that we are diverse. We’re here for each other and we’re going into this together.
“It was great to hear when we did the campaign, working with the Black and Brown community, how much they felt as though, ‘Finally we feel like we’re a part of the Red Sox family.’ ”
Players have embraced the intended messaging and an opportunity to represent Boston in a different way. Chris Sale, who once reacted to a decision by the White Sox to use throwback jerseys in his scheduled start by cutting them to make them unwearable, leading to a team-issued suspension, enthused about the alternate look.
“I love them. I do. I know that might be a surprise to some people, but I think it’s great,” said Sale. “It’s kind of crazy, right? We’re wearing yellow, we’re wearing baby blue. We’re a red, white, gray, blue team. But it makes it fun. I think the fans love it, and what it represents means even more to us.”
Sale’s enthusiasm isn’t isolated. Loor-Almonte was struck last weekend by how energized and boisterous the players were while wearing the uniforms.
“It’s almost like these uniforms give these guys superpowers,” said Loor-Almonte. “It’s so loud, it’s so different [around the team]. And that’s because of what it represents. I think that’s what these guys love. Once we started to, like, rattle off those wins, I just felt like, ‘Now we’re in a good spot. We’re probably gonna ride these out.’ ”
While Sunday night’s game is their last regular season home game, it might not mark the last time the jerseys are seen. According to MLB sources, teams are allowed to wear alternate jerseys on the road so long as they do not look too much like a home team’s uniform. (No worries for the Sox on that front in their forthcoming road series against the Orioles and Nationals.) The City Connect uniforms can also be worn in the playoffs should the Sox reach the postseason.
“I think you’re going to see them quite a bit more because we play well in them,” said Sale. “For now, we’re going to keep that rolling and have some fun with it. We love these unis.”