One long wait ends today for Orioles fans, who will no longer be able to gripe about the absence of the city's name from the team's road uniforms.
At a fan rally today at noon at The Gallery at Harborplace, attended by some of the organization's top players from its past and present, the Orioles will unveil new uniforms for the 2009 season.
The Orioles logo and the bird on the team's caps have undergone alterations. There are also changes in each of the team's three jerseys, some more subtle than others. But surely, no change will attract as much attention - and be met with as much applause - as the addition of "Baltimore" to the team's road jerseys for the first time in 36 years.
"Anytime we have a situation where our fans are requesting something of the club, we, of course, listen and try to accommodate whenever possible," said Greg Bader, Orioles director of communications. "One of the things that we said is if and when we do engage in some sort of uniform change, it would not be strictly a reactionary move to do something that didn't help our brand and, in turn, help the organization and our fans in that regard."
The city's name hasn't been on the Orioles' road jerseys since 1972, when then-owner Jerold C. Hoffberger had it removed in favor of the team's nickname. The decision, made about a year after the Washington Senators moved to Texas and left the nation's capital without a professional baseball team, was widely viewed as an attempt to cast the Orioles as a more regional entity and attract the Senators' fan base.
However, few topics have drawn more ire from Orioles fans, who have cited the organization's failure to make the change as proof that the club had lost touch with its local fan base.
Here's a look some of the changes:
Home jersey: The Orioles' script across the home whites will stay the same, though two elements have changed. There will be an orange and black stripe around both sleeves and down the pants, replacing a thin black line in both areas. There will also be a circular patch on the left sleeve, featuring a Maryland flag and the text, "Baltimore Orioles."
Road jersey: "Baltimore" will be across the front of the gray jerseys in orange and outlined in black and in lettering very similar to the way "Orioles" is scripted on the home jerseys. The Maryland flag patch on the left sleeve will be surrounded by the text "Orioles baseball." On the right sleeve, the "Orioles" script, which stretches across the home jerseys, will be written in smaller form. The uniform pants will also include orange striping.
Alternate jersey: The black jerseys the Orioles have worn on most home Fridays since 2005 will have "Baltimore" scripted on the right sleeve and the Orioles baseball and Maryland patch on the left one. Bader said that allows the club to wear the alternate jerseys in Friday games on the road, as well as at home. The black cap with an orange brim and "O's" on the front will remain.
Cap/logo: The Orioles will not have a different cap for home and away games next year. Their 2009 cap, which is orange-billed, will feature a slightly different look because of changes made to the team's bird logo. The bird looks more like a traditional oriole with its head tilted upward and its feathers more outstretched and a more pronounced head, chest and neck area. The bird's feet are also more perched rather than flat. The logo will be outlined in gray, eliminating yellow from the team's color schemes. The team's batting helmets will also feature an orange bill rather than being all black like previous season models. The "swinging bird" logo will be on the left sleeve of the player's jackets and warm-up tops.
What: The Orioles will unveil their new uniforms and host a fan rally that will include appearances by several current and former players, including Nick Markakis, Jeremy Guthrie, George Sherrill, Jim Palmer and Boog Powell.
Where: The second floor of The Gallery at Harborplace at the Inner Harbor
Merchandise: When the rally ends, the new jerseys and other Orioles merchandise will be available at a store set up on the fourth floor of the Gallery, as well as the team stores in the Warehouse and in York, Pa.