‘We bleed black and gold’: Bucs unveil City Connect uniforms

June 22nd, 2023

PITTSBURGH -- The city of Pittsburgh is defined by two colors and two colors alone: black and gold. It’s the only city in the United States where every professional sports team shares a palette. So, when Stephen Perkins and his team began toying around with concepts and designs for the Pirates' City Connect uniforms two years ago, the decision to utilize black and gold as the foundation wasn’t really a decision at all.

“There’s truly no other city in the country that has that formula,” said Perkins, the Pirates’ executive vice president of marketing and fan engagement. “So, for us, building a City Connect uniform, we had to get black and gold. That’s what we landed on here.”

On Thursday, the Pirates, in partnership with Nike, unveiled those uniforms, which feature a design that pays homage to the city’s past while also looking forward to its future. The Pirates will debut the uniforms on Tuesday against the Padres at PNC Park and will wear their City Connect jerseys for every remaining Friday home game, excluding Roberto Clemente Day on Sept. 15.

“We believe this uniform collaboration with Nike represents what being from Pittsburgh is all about,” said team president Travis Williams. “From a distance, a Pittsburgher is strong, sturdy, quiet, friendly and never showy or overstated. However, get to know someone from the city and you learn that there’s more to them than meets the eye. But you would never guess until you get close to them.”

At a distance, the uniform -- featuring a yellow jersey and black pants -- evokes memories of what the Pirates wore in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series. With this uniform, however, the allure lies in the details.

The uniform features a custom print with three core elements: the inverted “Y,” the astroid and the check.

The astroid, or the diamond shape inside of the squares, references the famous “Steelmark” logo, the same icon that the Pittsburgh Steelers sampled and made their own. The check, which is the square icon that houses the astroid, plays off Pittsburgh’s city seal and is meant to evoke the idea of community. The inverted “Y” represents the convergence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.

“Pittsburghers have a hard-working, head down mentality,” Perkins said. “They’re generally not boisterous. They’re generally not loud. In some ways, they’re subtle. So, having that foundation really helped us creatively think about, ‘How can we communicate that through the actual design language of the jersey?’ That subtlety is there, but inside of it is a really deep and rich story that we think we brought to life pretty well.”

Additionally, inside the “PGH” on the front of the jersey and within the numbers and names on the back is a pattern that can be located on the sides of the Three Sisters Bridges -- the spans over the Allegheny named for Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol and Rachel Carson that connect downtown to the North Shore and PNC Park. Above the “jock tag” on the bottom of the jersey it reads, “We bleed black and gold.”

“One of the things that we were anchored on is this traditional idea that Pittsburgh is viewed as a town that’s rooted in steel and the steel industry, but what really underpins that is that a lot of people don’t know that we’re a tech center now,” Perkins said. “We’re focused on health care in a really innovative and non-traditional way. We wanted a jersey that was a forward-looking view at what the city of Pittsburgh represents. The design does evoke a bit of innovation because it’s not meant to look back at who we were but look forward as to who we are as a city and what we want to represent.”

Added Williams: “Pittsburghers are made in the detail; so is this jersey. It pays homage to the uniforms in the ’70s, yet when you get close, there is more to it than meets the eye. We are excited to share in this celebration of our great city with our fans beginning June 27.”

Along with the debut, the Pirates will host a City Connect Block Party on Federal Street beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET. The function will feature a DJ, interactive games, food, beverages and appearances by current Pirate players.