The uniforms will be black and white. The players will bring the color.
In a new twist on what has quickly become a vibrant event, Players’ Weekend, to be held this year on Aug. 23-25 – an opportunity for players to showcase their passions, backgrounds and interests by putting their personal touches, including nicknames, on what they wear and the equipment they use -- will feature monochromatic black or white uniforms.
They are simple and sharp, and they will help the creatively colored and decorated equipment -- including bats, spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves and catcher’s equipment -- pop. With jerseys by Majestic, caps by New Era Cap and socks from Stance, they are the black-and-white canvases upon which players will paint their personalities for the weekend-long event planned jointly by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association.
Each home team will decide which color -- black or white -- it will wear for the weekend, which means we could have some road teams wearing white for a change. Pitchers on teams wearing white will wear black caps to ensure umpires and batters have clear visibility of each pitch.
And yes, once again for Players’ Weekend, there will be self-selected nicknames. And lots of 'em.
For the third annual installment of Players’ Weekend, “WHO” really is on first, thanks to Reds first baseman Joey Votto wearing that name on his back. He’d fit right in with White Sox reliever Evan “FORGETTING SARAH” Marshall and Cardinals utilityman Tommy “AGENT SCARN” Edman, who are also bringing some comedic relief to the proceedings.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer, a hero to those with heterochromia of the eyes, was “BLUE EYE” last year, so it stands to reason that he is “BROWN EYE” this year. Meanwhile, Indians starter Shane “NOT JUSTIN” Bieber’s nickname is a repeat from last year, but it feels especially appropriate so soon after he discovered Topps misidentified him as Justin on a card.
Brewers pitcher Zach Davies’ nickname “BAT BOY” -- because of his small frame and boyish looks -- is a repeat from 2017. But this time, he’ll wear “BB” in place of his No. 27.
Following the lead of reliever Brad Boxberger, who last year became the first player to wear emojis on his back (a box and a burger), you’ll see more of those images, such as Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon and his flash symbol or Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor with smiley faces sandwiched around his “MR. SMILE” nickname.
Some players are bringing a strong pun game to the ballgame. Like Rockies shortstop Trevor “TRUE” Story, D-backs starter Mike “DRIP” Leake and Dodgers utilityman Kris Negron’s choice of “NEGRON JAMES” (as fate would have it, he chose this reference to a certain Lakers star before a recent trade to L.A.).
Others went a more emotional route. Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies’ choice of “BOLLY” with the prayer hands emoji is a reference to his late father Osgarry’s nickname.
The late Tyler Skaggs, the Angels pitcher who passed away suddenly at the age of 27 on July 1, will be remembered leaguewide, as players will have the option of wearing a patch in his honor.
This will mark the first time that a league-wide batting helmet will be used. The Rawlings helmets will be decorated in matte black and matte white to go with the white-on-white and black-on-black uniforms.
In addition to the uniforms, another new addition to this year’s Players’ Weekend festivities will be expanded use of mobile devices on the field or in the dugout at any point prior to the National Anthem, in order to promote the event on social media (using the hashtag #PlayersWeekend). Players will also again have the option of wearing a T-shirt highlighting a cause or charity before and after the game.
There will be 30 Players’ Weekend Ambassadors -- one for each team -- who will champion the initiative and their teammates’ efforts. That group includes reigning Home Run Derby champ Pete “POLAR BEAR” Alonso (Mets) and fellow All-Stars such as Ronald “EL DE LA SABANA” Acuna Jr. (Braves), Cody “BELLI” Bellinger (Dodgers) and Alex “A-BREG” Bregman (Astros), among others.
Game-worn Players’ Weekend jerseys and helmets will be auctioned, with all proceeds donated to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, which aims to improve the caliber and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the U.S. and Canada.
The Players’ Weekend idea originally emanated out of efforts by MLB and the MLBPA -- efforts that include MLB’s wide-ranging Play Ball program -- to more effectively market the sport’s stars and to engage a young audience.