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Aircraft carrier perfect for unveiling camo jerseys

Sunday salutes to military will be in Navy 'blueberries' camouflage tops

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Next to the bald eagle, the greatest symbol of the United States is the aircraft carrier.

At least that's the way I see it.

When I look at a carrier, I see the blend of power and grace. When a United State carrier is deployed in one of the world's great oceans, it represent a sovereign piece of our nation -- a living, breathing fortress.

I was reminded of that on Tuesday afternoon as the USS Theodore Roosevelt -- CVN-71 -- hosted the Padres for the unveiling of the baseball club's new Navy-themed camouflage jerseys.

Camouflage jerseys, of course, are nothing new to the Padres. The club inaugurated the idea of saluting the military by wearing camouflage jersey tops on Sundays and special military days since 2000. And I mean inaugurated. The Padres were far ahead of the curve when it comes to honoring the military.

Tuesday's introduction of the digital, four-color Navy camouflage jerseys completes the cycle for the Padres. The program started with the Army woodland design in 2000.

In 2006, the military tops were changed to mirror the camouflage worn by the Navy SEALS. And in 2011, the Padres switched to the popular MARPAT (Marine pattern) tops worn by the Marines.

Now, the Padres will honor the branch of the service that is synonymous with San Diego -- the Navy.

And what better way to introduce the beloved "blueberries" design -- a computer-developed mixture of deck gray, haze gray, black and Navy blue -- than with a press conference of the newest carrier to call San Diego home.

The nuclear-powered Theodore Roosevelt arrived in San Diego eight days ago with commanding officer Capt. Craig Clapperton and a crew of 2,800, plus the air wing.

Although the history of the U.S. Navy predates the carrier by almost 1 1/2 centuries, it is the carrier that has come to represent the long-arm of Naval power.

Starting with the USS Langley in 1922, the Navy has commissioned 77 fleet carriers with two more under construction. Carriers were decisive in the Pacific in World War II and have been the workhorse of the Navy ever since. The most decorated ship in U.S. Navy history is the Enterprise, CVN-6.

And there the Padres were on Tuesday, unveiling their newest camouflage jerseys on the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which has been serving the country since 1986.

"We are honored to have the Padres here," Capt. Clapperton said.

The feeling was beyond mutual. Quite an honor to have the unveiling of a baseball uniform made on the deck of a symbol of liberty.

Modeling the new Navy camouflage jerseys were Padres manager Andy Green, pitcher James Shields and outfielder-first baseman Wil Myers. Also on hand for the unveiling were president and CEO Mike Dee, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Ron Roberts of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, plus 50 members of the Theodore Roosevelt crew.

With two exceptions, the Navy "blueberries" will be the Sunday home attire for the Padres, although the Marine Corps camouflage will be used on U.S. Marine Corps Appreciation Day and U.S. Army Appreciation Day.

And the Marine camouflage jerseys are not being retired. While the Navy "blueberries" will be featured in 2016, the Marine and Navy digital camouflage jerseys will be alternated annually starting in '17.

The "blueberries" jersey tops will be complimented by the traditional blue Padres cap with the white "SD" and new gray pants that will match the lighter gray in the digital pattern.

The Padres and the Navy worked together to develop the camouflage jerseys based on the Navy's Working Uniform Type 1.

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