The TinCaps have worn argyle, tuxedos, pink and the names of their fans in games this season.
There have been eight varieties of Fort Waynes jerseys this season, said Michael Limmer, vice president of marketing and promotions, the most ever.
The team wore uniforms representing 50s Night, Turn the Park Pink, Prom Night, Military Appreciation/Superhero Night (same jersey for both nights), Social Media Night, 80s Night, Prostate Cancer Awareness and 90s Night.
Be it a quirky uniform change or the usual pinstripes, the looks have been well received.
We kind of just sit back and look at our theme nights and kind of decide which ones would lend themselves best for a jersey, Limmer said. Every single jersey we give away is one-of-a-kind. It was worn just that one time by that one player, and it came right off the players back to the person that either won it or won the auction.
The TinCaps partner with Wilson for their jerseys, and this season, the Fort Wayne promotions staff has put together almost all of its own designs.
The TinCaps pay for the alternate jerseys on their own, too. The buzz some of them generate – like the Social Media Night jersey, which was mentioned on ESPN.com and several other sites – is worth the extra money.
Whatever we dream up, we can put on the jersey, Limmer said. Seeing what we did in 2013, moving forward into 2014, I cant think of a reason why we wouldnt just design them all.
Turnaround for specific jerseys is eight to 10 weeks, Limmer said, so all of the alternate uniforms are planned in the offseason. The TinCaps staff built its picks around its promotions, which include some annual choices like the pink Breast Cancer Awareness jerseys, blue Prostate Cancer Awareness jerseys and the Fourth of July-themed jerseys.
The rest come from brainstorming, mock-ups and in-house ingenuity.
The Padres are not involved unless we have a jersey that would be really, really out there, Limmer said. Sometimes we just run it by them and say, Hey, you guys good with your guys wearing this?
San Diego always has been.
This will also probably be the last time Fort Wayne throws this many new looks into one year.
We obviously want to give fans the chance to see our regular jersey and our red jersey, and the guys this year kind of mixed in their (batting practice) tops once or twice, Limmer said.
We dont want to have so many jerseys that people forget what our regular, pinstripe jersey looks like, so we try to balance it, spread them out.
That has worked out well for Fort Wayne. With the exception of one auction, the TinCaps have beaten the costs of the jersey production and raised money for the partner charity that is part of the auction nights.
Limmer said that through their jersey auctions, the TinCaps averaged a donation of $854.60. The largest donation they made from an auction this year was $3,328.
When the TinCaps lost money on their tuxedo-themed Prom Night jersey, they came through with $500 for their partner out of pocket.
Its just another fun thing. Its a visual thing, Limmer said. It plays well in the media, either social media or traditional media.
That goes for all of minor league baseball.
Thanks to media like Twitter, unusual jerseys have gotten national attention, be it for the TinCaps or other teams. And the Fort Wayne staff is receptive of that.
Its another way to be different, to be unique, to give fans just another thing to experience, Limmer said.
On theme nights, well change headshots on the video board and well incorporate different music and different promotions. Well, what the players are wearing is just another way for us to extend that theme into the game.