Jeffers' custom City Connect helmets exude 'Ripple Effect'

June 16th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Do-Hyoung Park’s Twins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MINNEAPOLIS -- One of the more exciting parts for many of the Twins’ players ahead of their City Connect uniform reveal on Monday was that they were able to customize new cleats, socks and other apparel to match the new aquatic blue and yellow theme -- a totally different palette from the normal color scheme they typically accessorize.

But catcher took that customization to a previously unseen level -- and that’s why, in the days leading up to his first start behind the plate in the City Connect uniforms, he was asking the media in the clubhouse which of his two catchers’ helmets he should wear.

It’s a tough choice, because, in the end, he’s literally choosing between two works of art.

Jeffers worked with local artist Todd Miska -- known better around NHL circles for his lengthy résumé of custom-painted goalie masks -- to have a pair of special helmets painted with custom designs for in-game use. According to the Twins, they are believed to be the first custom hand-painted catcher’s helmets to be worn in MLB.

“We didn't really have a ton of input, and I didn't really want a ton of input,” Jeffers said. “It's kind of, ‘Hey, these are the themes of the jerseys, and these are some of the logos. Do what you think.’ And he came back with some really awesome pieces.”

“I like the catchers’ masks, because they’re just a little bit wider instead of a tight curve to it,” Miska said in a video released by the Twins.

One helmet has more to do with the overall City Connect themes and features the following hand-painted art:

• Minnesota-shaped cap logo painted on the forehead
• Jeffers’ uniform number 27 on the chin guard
• A profile portrait of a loon covering the left side
• The night skyline of Downtown Minneapolis covering the right side
• Jeffers’ name and “10,000 Lakes” painted on the back flap
• An underlying canvas of a painted depth map of Lake Minnetonka

The other is more personal to Jeffers and focuses on a sunset theme as part of a helmet for which Jeffers said he gave creative agency to team photographer Brace Hemmelgarn, who also had input on the overall City Connect design. Here’s what to look for on that one:

• The “MN” City Connect chest patch logo painted on the forehead
• Jeffers’ uniform number 27 on the chin guard
• Landscape art of a sunset scene on Lake Harriet wrapping around the entire helmet, covering both sides and the back flap
• Jeffers’ name, along with the names of wife Lexi and daughter Harper, on the back flap
• The athletic logo of the University of North Carolina Wilmington -- Jeffers’ alma mater -- on the left side of the back flap, superimposed over the outline of the state of North Carolina
• Two area codes on the left side of the back flap: 919 (for Raleigh, N.C., where Jeffers grew up) and 910 (for Wilmington, N.C., where he now makes his home)

“I was like, ‘That loon one is cool,’” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s like, ‘Yeah, my family is on the other one.’ And I’m like, ‘Wear whichever one you want. They’re both awesome.’”

Jeffers started talking about the idea in Spring Training, when he first saw the City Connect designs, and said he got the concept approved by Major League Baseball before he set out to get the pieces made.

“I’m sure we’ll start a trend,” Jeffers said.

Jeffers said he’s thought about using custom gear for the normal road and home uniforms, too -- but also that it’s probably nicer to keep those simple. Let’s see if he becomes a trendsetter first.