As the story goes, Padres President Tom Garfinkel was watching Little Leaguers march onto the field at Petco Park and thought to himself how wonderful it would be if they were all wearing Padres uniforms. On that day the idea was born.
I love the Padres' Youth Baseball Initiative, formerly known as the Padres' Little League initiative. As the program enters its sophomore year, let's look at the new results of the distribution and compare the popularity of each of the uniforms to last year.
First things first, the number of uniforms has jumped from approximately 10,000 the first year to just shy of 15,000. The number of uniform options however has dropped from 20 in 2012 to 16 in 2013.
Before you get all upset that the Padres are limiting choice and free expression of the little childrens, think about all the set-up and production costs associated with the 4 other jersey options that can be better used by supplying more children with uniforms. Then understand that realistically with a program of this scope that's probably not even an issue. Also realize that there are only 8-12 teams in each Little League Division, so a good portion of the jersey options weren't being used anyway, so it does kind of make sense to have less options.
Without further ado, let's look at the uniforms that were kicked to the curb this year.
Out With the Old
1969 Home Jersey (Ranked 20th, dead last in 2012)
It's a little bit sad that the 1969 home jerseys were booted since this is the original uniform that the team wore in its first Major League season. The off-white uniform like tanned skin. The brown hat and lettering highlighted by gold like a brunette with sun kissed hair. It is San Diego. However, it was ranked 20th last year, coming in dead last. This great game of baseball is results oriented though and it simply didn't make the cut. I guess this uniform didn't speak to the youth of today. Still I'm kind of surprised that coaches didn't force this upon their teams out of respect to the original Sixty-Niners. Oh well.
1997 BP Jersey (Ranked 19th in 2012)
This jersey came in 2nd to last in 2012. I call this the Garth Brooks jersey because this is one that he often wore when he famously attended Spring Training. I've never been a big fan of the two-toned uniforms, it seems to need that third color to make it really pop. This jersey foreshadowed the "Low Places" that the uniforms would be cast into in the early 2000's.
1976 Road (Ranked 18th in 2012)
I like this jersey, but it finished 3rd to last in 2012. The kids have spoken! Maybe because it's very similar to the 1978 jersey it loses its appeal. That jersey is probably more well known because people see it associated with the 1978 All-Star game. Then again, I'd be surprised if Little Leaguers are even aware of San Diego's first All-Star game.
1997 Alternates (Ranked 16th in 2012)
I'm shocked that this jersey ranked so low last year, at 16th, and has now been dismissed. For me this was the quintessential jersey from the 1998 season. This was the Caminiti give-away t-shirt that I wore every other day in the late 90's. A classic as far as I'm concerned.
2004 Road (Ranked 15th in 2012)
These were the "bland sand" uniforms with "bow tie" font that made the team look like the California Highway Patrol. I had flashbacks to my days watching Officers John and Poncherello riding side by side on the 5 in CHiPs every time the team wore these. I'll say this for the sand road unis though, at least they were unique and not gray.
2004 BP (Ranked 5th in 2012)
This was a popular pick last year. It was ranked 5th for reasons I cannot explain. It's dull beyond words, so I'm glad it is gone. What were the youths of yesteryear thinking? Maybe these jerseys were first on the top of the pile and all the kids with Attention Deficit Disorder lost interest when given a choice of the other options. To me, it's a little weird that BP jerseys are even an option when the Padres have so many different game used options on the table. Good riddance!
In With the New
And now for this year's results...
16. 1985 Style (541 Requested, Ranked 12th last year)
The brown pinstripes of the 80's fell 4 places from last year and into last place this year. You've got to be sh_tting me. These uniforms are classy, did they not see the pinstripes? The interlocking SD? It's times like these that I really start to believe that parents don't spank their children enough.
15. 1984 Home (555 Requested, Ranked 14th last year)
Why in the hell does this uniform rank so poorly with kids every year? You're telling me it's cool enough for Jay-Z to wear but not cool enough for Little Leaguers? These kids need to get over themselves. This was the jersey worn when Garvey made history and the Padres wore it in their first World Series for crying out loud. It's beautiful!
14. 1984 Road (589 Requested, Ranked 11th in 2012)
Jeez, both of the 1984 jerseys sitting in the back of the bus together. They're probably my two favorite in history, yet they were just spat upon by the next generation of Padres fans. I weep for our future.
13. 1998 Road (619 Requested, Ranked 17th in 2012)
So this is the first jersey that got more popular this year. Weird, right?. It's gray. Do kids see gray differently than me? Is that what Ritalin does to you? I'm not sure how the 1998 Alternate lost out to this. Still I guess it's my favorite of the gray unis.
12. 1978 Road (686 Requested, Ranked 7th in 2012)
Maybe the kids are trying to send us a message. This is their backlash to the Bring Back the Brown campaign. They're tired of old folks and are calling for a Brown Out.
11. 1978 Home (735 Requested, Ranked 8th last year)
It's weird that both the 84s and the 78s are lumped together, like there's no difference between the Home and Road jerseys in their eyes. The Home 78 leap frogged the Road 78 this year though. You know something? This is the only jersey I own, so you'll understand that I take offense when it doesn't even make the top 10. I feel like they're taunting me.
10. 1998 Home (773 Requested, Ranked 4th last year)
1998 isn't as popular as it used to be. It was only the greatest year in Padres history. I guess that sort of thing doesn't matter anymore.
9. 1936 PCL Style (815 Requested, New this year)
I like this uniform, it's probably my favorite from the team's PCL days. I hope the parents use the money saved on the jerseys to buy the stirrups. The stirrups really make this an ensemble. Ted Williams wore this as a Padre, so you know its good. Interestingly enough the pinstripes aren't as thinning as you might expect, if the picture above is any indication.
Photo credit: Denis Poroy
8. 1948 PCL Style (869 Requested, Ranked 13th in 2012)
Red, white and blue. So patriotic yet so not the Padres.
7. 1975 Road (888 Requested, Ranked 9th last year)
Are these the only Padres jerseys to have a player's number on the front of the jersey?
6. Current BP (931 Requested, New this year)
Again with the Batting Practice jersey, huh? I guess when you think about it it's the jersey that is the most breathable and best at wicking away sweat. When you're a young person on the verge of puberty, that's important. Little kid body odor can be the worst, they probably realize this and turn to the BP jersey to air out.
Photo credit: Doug Pensinger
5. 1972 Home (1,002 Requested, Ranked 10th in 2012)
The 1972 uniforms jumped up 5 spots and now ranks #5 with a bullet! They really passed the muster, or should I say "mustard". Here's my theory, kids devour hot dogs at Little League snack bars. They can drip mustard all over themselves, but they're still game ready, look sharp and don't catch hell from their mom when it comes to stain removal. These uniforms are utilitarian and gorgeous at the same time.
4. Current Alternate (1,164 Requested, Ranked 6th in 2012)
From here on out, it's all current jerseys. What's this tell us? Kids want to dress like current Padres, not old timey time ones. Kids don't live in the past. These are practically the only uniforms they've ever seen. These jerseys came out last year, they're "old school" to them.
3. Current Road (1,254 Requested, Ranked 3rd in 2012)
Same ranking as last year. Like I said before, the color gray must look like a puppy when you're high on Ritalin. I guess gray goes with just about everything if your into being matchy and want to appeal to the masses.
2. Current Home (1,455 Requested, Ranked 2nd in 2012)
I'm at a loss for words. It's not that I don't like this jersey, I just don't really have an opinion at all. Maybe that's what makes this one so popular. If you're a kid and you wear it to school, no one is going to pick on you or even notice you for that matter. In our current age of bullying that can matter. Sometimes it's best to just fit in.
1. Current Camo (1,912 Requested, Ranked 1st in 2012)
Wowee! The MARPAT jerseys finish in first place for the second year in a row and dominated all the others. I get this. The kids get the best of both worlds. They want to look like their favorite Padres and look hard like Marines. It's unique look in baseball and if I was a kid I'd probably want to wear these too. I get a certain amount of pleasure from the fact that these Camo jerseys are almost universally panned by critics, yet they are loved by children just like the Padres themselves.