Alonso says Mets 'need' to bring black unis back

April 29th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Asked last week to articulate his desire for the Mets to bring back their black jersey tops, a Flushing staple from 1998-2012, launched, uninterrupted, into a 3 1/2-minute soliloquy that began with this: “I don’t want them back. We need them back.”

“The reason why I love the black uniforms so much, [is] when I think of the New York Mets, I think of Pedro [Martinez],” Alonso continued. “I think of Mike Piazza. I think of Edgardo Alfonzo. I think of Cliff Floyd. David Wright wore the blacks. Carlos Beltrán wore the blacks. I think of so many just electric players that wore the black.

“When I think of that, I imagine and put in my mind 45,000 people blacked out, screaming down the necks of whoever’s in that opposing dugout. It’s a mentality, and it’s an attitude.”

Alonso has been the most outspoken Met in recent months to extol the virtues of the black jerseys, but he’s far from the only one. On social media and in interviews, players ranging from to to have all come out in support of the uniforms, which the Mets mothballed in 2012. A recent Twitter poll revealed nearly 80 percent of respondents were in favor of bringing back the blacks in some form. But that does not mean the team has any plans to acquiesce. Multiple Mets officials declined comment when asked this week about the black uniforms, and a spokesman said that club employees -- outside of players -- would not discuss the subject publicly.

It seems like the polarizing nature of the black uniforms has rendered them controversial, with the most common dissenting opinion being that the Mets’ color scheme exists for a reason. When the franchise was established in 1962 after a four-year absence of National League baseball in New York, the Mets borrowed their blue from the Dodgers and their orange from the Giants in homage to those departed teams. The colors also mirrored New York City’s official municipal scheme and were even immortalized in song. In the seldom-heard second verse of “Meet the Mets” is the line: “All the fans are true to the orange and blue.”

“It doesn’t say anything about black,” said Paul Lukas, author of the popular blog and a longtime critic of the Mets’ black uniforms.

“We may have to amend that to put something in there parenthetically that says, ‘not black,’ because that’s not what their colors are,” added longtime Mets radio broadcaster Howie Rose. “Some things are sacrosanct, and for me, the team’s colors and uniforms are. Sorry, there’s no room for black.”

Rose, whose unparalleled historical knowledge recently found a new Twitter home @HowieRose, has been a vocal opponent of the uniforms since the Mets debuted them in 1998. According to Lukas, the aesthetic dates to a mid-‘90s trend that saw teams across baseball introduce black into their designs. Sensing the fashion movement was a way to increase retail sales, the Mets dove in, working with a small Los Angeles-based uniform company called AIS to develop black uniforms, a new black skyline logo and even black drop shadows on their regular home and away jerseys.

Next came on-field success. Playoff appearances in 1999 and 2000 cemented the black uniforms as part of franchise lore, just as the 1986 Mets became known for their orange-and-blue racing stripes. When the club clinched the NL East at Shea Stadium in 2006, it did so in black home alternates. It was not until the following decade that the color fell out of favor amidst a series of lean years, all but disappearing when the Mets redesigned their uniform kits for their 50th anniversary celebration in 2012. A year later, they added blue alternate jerseys that essentially replaced the black uniforms.

“Obviously, [the black uniforms] have special meaning to me sentimentally,” Wright said. “I think that they look sharp. But I don’t know if you go back to that, or if you’re supposed to make your memories in the new blue because you’d be the first ones to do that? I don’t know. … This isn’t like a black-and-white answer, no pun intended.”

A proponent of the black uniforms in general, Wright also appreciates that they are linked to a singular era in franchise history. Turn-of-the-century nostalgia sells; despite his distaste for the black uniforms, Lukas is among those who would be fine with the Mets bringing them back for a one-off anniversary celebration -- just not for anything more permanent.

Alonso has bigger ideas in mind. He envisions the Mets wearing black uniforms every home Friday night at Citi Field, with fans donning black shirts and jackets in the stands to complement them. Alonso has gone as far as to voice his opinion to Nike, which manufactures the Mets’ uniforms, and he has been vocal enough for team officials to take notice.

Whether the Mets will grant his wish remains to be seen.

“Hopefully, you’re wearing black and it’s a funeral for the other team because we’re going to beat them on Friday,” Alonso said. “It sets a tone. It’s an attitude, and it’s a type of swagger. I feel like that gives people something to really look forward to -- show up wearing black and just create this absolute mayhem.”