NEW YORK -- Seats in the upright position, tray tables stowed, art supplies at the ready?As Didi Gregorius prepared for Players Weekend, the Yankees shortstop transformed the team's charter plane into his own personal art studio, spending hours in the sky sketching Looney Tunes characters onto three separate pairs of
NEW YORK -- Seats in the upright position, tray tables stowed, art supplies at the ready?
As Didi Gregorius prepared for Players Weekend, the Yankees shortstop transformed the team's charter plane into his own personal art studio, spending hours in the sky sketching Looney Tunes characters onto three separate pairs of Nike spikes that he wore onto the diamond at Yankee Stadium.
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"I just wanted something different, so I decided to go with Looney Tunes," Gregorius said, proudly pointing out Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on the pair he wore on Friday against the Mariners. "It's straight freehand. No tracing, nothing. Just straight freehand on the plane. I tried to finish everything on the plane, so it was an easy plane ride for me and a fun one."
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association established Players Weekend as a way to emphasize the importance of individuality in the game. All 30 MLB teams are wearing colorful, non-traditional alternate uniforms inspired by youth league uniforms, designed by Majestic. The Yankees' jerseys are navy blue with gray sleeves, numbers and lettering.
"I like that it kind of looks old-school with the V-neck," said Yankees reliever Player Page for David Robertson. "It looks very similar to the jerseys that we had in Chicago [with the White Sox], the '83s. It's kind of like a BP top. It's nice. They're comfortable to wear."
While this marks the first time since 1914 that the Yankees have taken the field in The Bronx without their pinstriped tops, it is the third time that they have worn an "alternate" uniform. On April 8, 1996, at Detroit, they wore replicas of the Negro Leagues' New York Black Yankees, and on April 20, 2012, they wore reproductions of their 1912 uniforms to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park.
"I guess what I would say is, this is not a permanent change," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. "For one weekend in August, we're going to leave our normal home jerseys in the lockers untouched and we're going to be part of an MLB initiative to continue to get young kids -- particularly Gen. Z kids -- interested in baseball, and to show them that baseball, even at this highest level, can be fun."
Gregorius' Friday night spikes also include spot-on recreations of Elmer Fudd, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam; generally, he said that he was able to complete one shoe per flight. His Saturday gear pays tribute to the never-ending battle between the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, while Sunday's white cleats feature Marvin the Martian.
"I liked watching all of them -- Tom & Jerry and all those were the big ones when I was growing up," Gregorius said. "I like watching Bugs Bunny and especially Road Runner and the Coyote, because he's always trying to get him. It's always fun."
For those less artistically inclined than Gregorius, some outside assistance was required.
Todd Frazier asked an Under Armour representative to help create a memorable pair; Frazier's left spike shows him holding the Home Run Derby trophy in 2015 and a postage stamp of Frank Sinatra, while the right spike shows his hometown of Toms River, N.J., and himself rounding the bases after hitting a homer in the 1998 Little League World Series.
"I thought of a couple of things that were near and dear to my heart, like winning the Home Run Derby and the Little League World Series," Frazier said. "Frank Sinatra, of course, and then my hometown. It was a pretty easy choice. I just hope I don't get them too dirty, because these are cleats I want to hang up afterwards and re-live over and over."
New York City native Dellin Betances opted to pay tribute to his home by requesting a pair of Jumpman spikes in the blue-green oxidized copper and gold of the Statue of Liberty.
"Once I knew about Players Weekend, I spoke to a rep from Jordan and told him I wanted the Statue of Liberty colors," Betances said. "Obviously I'm from New York, born and raised, so I'm excited to wear these."
In the hours preceding Friday's game, many of the Yankees delighted in comparing their individualized gear against their teammates, posing for photographs and embracing the opportunity to show off a little style.
"Most everybody on the team has a cool design about family or what they love and enjoy," Frazier said. "It's going to be a fun event if you're a baseball fan. You're going to look and there's going to be a lot of close-ups on everybody's cleats and it's pretty cool. It's one of those days where you can let loose and be yourself."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.