Padres unveil new uniforms: 'Brown is back'

November 10th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- It's official: Brown is back in San Diego.

The Padres unveiled their new look on Saturday night, embracing a brown and gold color scheme as their three biggest stars emerged on a stage in the Petco Park outfield with fresh uniforms.

First, was Fernando Tatis Jr. sporting the new road alternates -- a gray pinstripe edition with "San Diego" emblazoned across the front. Then came Eric Hosmer in the brown road edition with San Diego written in gold.

Manny Machado capped the unveil wearing the team’s new home uniform. He emerged in a white pinstripe edition with “Padres” across the front in brown lettering and a gold outline. The Swinging Friar logo adorned all three jerseys on the sleeve.

In some ways the look is a throwback for a franchise that wore brown in some form over the first 22 years of its existence. In others, it marked the start of a new era of baseball in San Diego.

"This," executive chairman Ron Fowler said in the moments leading up to the unveil, "is going to be the uniform we win a championship in."

The timing of the Padres' new look isn't a coincidence. Fowler and the Padres have been building toward 2020 as the year the organization begins its run at contention. Over the past few seasons, general manager A.J. Preller slowly amassed the sport's best farm system. Then the Padres spent big on Hosmer and Machado -- and they appear intent on spending again this winter.

That was the backdrop Saturday night, as a few thousand Padres fans arrived at Petco Park to witness a moment that many of them had been hoping for since the team first transitioned to blue in 1991.

Sure, the color change might only be symbolic. But there's a sense among those fans that "bringing back the brown" marks the start of something bigger. The players are on board with that notion.

"The way everybody is looking at it is that we can turn the page on those tough times," Hosmer said. "We're trying to start a new wave now, a new culture. The brown really represents the beginning of all that."

Before the uniforms were unveiled, the Padres TV and radio broadcasters took the stage and introduced new manager Jayce Tingler to the home fans for the first time. (It was Tingler who unveiled the team’s new hat for 2020 during his press conference last week.)

When Tingler finished speaking and left the stage, the stadium went dark, and a video began playing on the Petco Park videoboard. Legendary Padres left-hander Randy Jones reminisced about donning brown for his Cy Young Award winning season in 1976. Tony Gwynn Jr. spoke of his father's love for the pinstripes. Trevor Hoffman, too.

Then the video cut to Machado standing in the batter's box wearing the 2019 home blues. As he swung and bat met ball, Machado’s look changed. Suddenly, he was donning white with brown pinstripes.

"Brown is back," he said into the camera.

The fans who had congregated in the Petco Park outfield roared their approval.

"That makes you feel good because a lot of work went into it that people don't realize," Fowler said. "It was probably collectively over a thousand hours of time and research that went into this. It was well worth it to see the fan reaction tonight."

It was a process that began two years ago as the Padres experimented with a variety of different looks. In a number of focus groups, the brown and gold scheme continually tested best, Fowler said. The culmination of all that research was on display Saturday.

A number of factors went into the Padres’ decision to change their color scheme. But one of the biggest sticking points was the distinct look it gives them. The Padres’ blue and white visage was widely regarded as bland, even by some inside the organization. Their new color scheme – a “deep, rich brown” paired with a vibrant gold – is anything but that.

"It's going to be unique,” Tatis said. “They're going to know who's playing right away when they see the brown and gold.”

Tatis, one of the sport's emerging superstars, spoke those words on the "brown carpet" outside the Compass Premier Club. He was flanked by Hosmer and Machado, all three still decked out in the team’s new colors.

It was the culmination of a fan-led movement that had existed for a decade, maybe longer. As such, many viewed Saturday night as moment for celebration.

But the Padres remain very aware that there's one thing fans in San Diego have been craving much more than a return to brown.

"People wanted brown, and we gave it to them," Fowler said. "Now we've got to start winning."