Tigers' City Connect unis celebrate the Motor City

May 6th, 2024

DETROIT -- The Tigers shied away from baseball’s trend of myriad alternate jerseys for years, sticking with their traditional home whites and road grays with the Olde English D. Fittingly, their jump into baseball’s City Connect series is both a tribute to Detroit’s rich history and a nod to the city’s promising future.

The Tigers’ twist on the Motor City theme, unveiled Monday morning, is forward with form, progressive with a purpose, a break from their whites and grays but not a break from their heritage. From a mix of dark navy and electric blue colors to a shoulder patch that simultaneously salutes one of Detroit’s famous roads and the famed 313 area code, the jerseys -- which spent nearly two years in design -- make a statement on the Tigers’ home while still honoring traditions of one of the American League’s charter franchises.

The Tigers will debut the new uniforms on Friday for the opening of a three-game weekend series against the Astros at Comerica Park. They’ll wear them again on Saturday.

“The City Connect uniforms represent Detroit’s unique combination of muscle and innovation and pay homage to the city that put the world on wheels,” Ilitch Sports + Entertainment president/CEO Ryan Gustafson said in a release. “From the tire treads to the VIN tag to the M-1 patch on the sleeve, there are unique features on the uniforms, caps and batting helmets we feel Tigers fans and Detroiters will appreciate. Above all, the uniforms are symbolic of the revitalization and exciting future ahead for the Tigers and our great city.”

Much like the Astros’ Space City jerseys released a couple years ago, the Tigers’ City Connects honor their hometown nickname on the front. The dark navy jerseys feature an electric blue -- a brighter, more intense shade representing the future -- treading across the front beneath the white Motor City lettering. A racing stripe adorns the bottom of both sleeves as well as down the side of the navy blue pants. The shoulder patch recreates the diamond-shaped M-1 road sign synonymous with Woodward Avenue, which passes just outside Comerica Park -- the stadium address is 2100 Woodward Avenue -- and runs from downtown Detroit north and west to Pontiac. Put the patch in a different light, however, and the 1 becomes the center digit in a 313 logo.

While the navy blue cap and electric blue batting helmet both read DETROIT across the front, on the right side is a string of digits meant to read like a Vehicle Identification Number but signifying milestone seasons in the Tigers’ history: 1901 (the Tigers’ inaugural season in the American League), 35, 45, 68 and 84 (the club’s World Series title years). The VIN is also printed on the inside of the jersey collar.

The traditional Tiger logo still shows up, even if its usual orange color does not. A bright blue set of Tiger eyes adorns the inside of the cap brim as well as the beltline on the right side of the jersey.

“The tradition part is having the Tiger eyes,” Tigers vice president of marketing Katie Jackson said a Monday media session unveiling the gear. “The innovation, the forward-looking [part] is really the zoomed-in, intense look that you get from those eyes. You also see it on the underbill of the hat. It's almost like when the team is on the field and they're looking up, there's some intensity under that bill. It's a more zoomed-in, really special, forward-looking Tiger eyes versus that full face. It's a nice little detail that I think isn't going to be as in-your-face as some of the other ones, but it's nice little touches.”

The jersey’s debut Friday will mark just the first regular-season game in which the Tigers have worn blue jerseys since 1995, when they wore blue alternates for one game only. They actually had all-blue road jerseys in 1905-06, Ty Cobb’s first two seasons.

The uniforms seemed to resonate with players, particularly those who have been in the organization a while.

“They’re cool. The meaning behind it, I think is really cool,” said Riley Greene, who played a big role in the social media campaign unveiling the uniforms. “There’s the tire track, and there’s the numbers on the side. There’s different things that mean something, and I think that’s pretty cool.”

The Tigers will celebrate the City Connect debut with a block party outside Comerica Park, featuring live music, local food trucks, mural artists, a kids zone, classic car show and merchandise outlets with City Connect gear. The block party runs from 4-7 p.m. ET on Friday, and from noon to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.