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Padres May Finally Bring Back The Brown

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Recent research conducted by the Padres and described by Ron Fowler indicate a change may be coming to the Padres primary uniforms.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Padres radio broadcaster Jesse Agler got to brass tacks in his 6th Beyond The Booth episode featuring Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler. Towards the end of the interview Jesse asked the questions that have been burning in the minds of numerous Padres fans since the team unveiled ho-hum white and navy jerseys to kick off the 2017 season: are the Padres going back to full-time brown uniforms anytime soon?

The entirety of Ron’s responses have been transcribed below in quotes.

You haven’t heard that everyone loves blue? Jesse, where have you been?

Ron starts off with a joke on the colors. Jesse remarks that he himself is wearing blue.

Long story short, we completed a rather exhaustive round of what I’ll call dial research where we’ve looked at our existing uniform, the 98 uniform, and two brown uniforms; I would not call those consistent with the baby poop brown uniforms that the late Tony Gwynn did not like...but they are brown uniforms.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres
Yep, these were part of the process...
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote an article detailing the process Ron Fowler, Wayne Partello, and other Padres execs undertook for the dial research Ron is referring to in this quote. According to the article groups of ~20 people of varying Padres fanhood, age, occupation, etc. were brought in to look at a set of uniforms and indicate via a dial whether they liked or disliked a choice.

Of the uniform choices described by Acee in the article are the home and road jerseys the team is currently utilizing alongside...some intriguing choices.

via Acee:

Then a prototype of a home jersey with brown pinstripes with brown and orange lettering and trim. And a road jersey, tan with brown and orange.

A white home jersey with blue and orange. A gray road jersey with blue and orange.

A white jersey with brown pinstripes and brown lettering with yellow trim. A tan road jersey with the same color pinstriping and lettering.

What I would give to get a look at those prototypes...

It seems that the gamut of former and current Padres jersey designs were on display in this market research test. Not indicated in the quote but referenced to later in the article are brown and yellow uniforms in varying combinations. It’s unknown as to which wordmarks were used or if the designs were merely of the former uniforms the Padres have used, but the results were mixed to some degree. Both Ron Fowler and Wayne Partello remarked (perhaps somewhat pointedly) that they were glad a reporter was at hand to witness the focus groups undergoing the research, Partello stating that “You wouldn’t have believed this if we told you it happened.”

Back to Ron’s response:

I think what we have found and we’ll get into that in greater detail. but there’s a...largest minority likes a deep brown uniform, they think it says we’re San Diego, it differentiates us, but it’s a minority. You add it up, that would be the largest minority, the second largest minority is our existing uniform.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres
Will Ron Fowler make the choice the fans want?
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The wording Ron uses in this quote is a bit odd. A largest minority would more accurately be a majority, no? He goes on to explain that “you add it up, that would be the largest minority”, which I can only guess means if you add up all the brown responses in aggregate they would represent the largest choice...or the majority. It seems odd that the existing uniform would be in second, though perhaps the combination is more appealing to laypeople or casual fans?

Acee indicates in his article that the responses were mixed between color combinations, indicating that several people mentioned “classic or traditional San Diego” when referencing brown/yellow, brown/orange, and even blue/white.

The chairman in regards to testing and his conclusion:

We’re going to further test probably within the 60-90 days. that I would expect that brown will prevail in a side-by-side versus 4 uniforms and we will probably move in a direction, that direction hopefully for the 2020 season.

The clear favorite in the research as confirmed by Ron and in the article by Kevin was brown and yellow. Ron commented further in the interview regarding the process:

In 3 minutes crystallized about 6 months of work, and probably 12 months of thought going into the 6 months of work and research but...no uniform got close to 50 percent.

Though it did not have a majority versus blue and white, Acee makes a note in his article to indicate that brown/yellow was least disliked. A comment by Ron is also notable: he asks, “I’d like to see solid white with brown and rich yellow or gold or whatever you call it.” Such a declaration could prove to be a coup for the Bring Back The Brown crowd. “People who do like brown are far more passionate than the people who like blue,” Fowler remarks further in the article, reiterating a version of a common refrain he’s thrown to fans prodding about the Padres colorway. The mixed results previously mentioned were noted by Fowler towards the end of the interview with Jesse:

..,.and it was interesting as the evening progressed - I don’t know what the cause was because we did not control who was brought in, this was an outside research firm (Competitive Edge) that has a very significant reputation, but it evolved as later in the evening blue became more the preference than earlier in the evening it was brown.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres
If not the brown, this totally would be my 2nd choice.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the fans of the ‘98 uniform set (including this cap collector), Acee goes on to write that orange was the odd color out after testing 10 groups. Both the article by Kevin and the interview with Jesse conclude that the Padres are far from finished with their research into the new uniform colorway:

Once we have that, once we sit down with our consultants and the research people we will look to establish the second round of research.

The second round may have a deeper focus as to which style of uniform is most appealing and which mix of colors works best. As noted by Acee the president of the research firm conducting the Padres study asked the groups to focus on the color combinations rather than the actual uniforms. The Padres have until next spring to determine what their new uniform set will look like for the 2020 season. The year is also notable in that it will be the first year Nike takes over as uniform outfitter to all of MLB, replacing longtime supplier Majestic.

The Padres need distinction in their uniform set, and hopefully the second and subsequent rounds of research and polling lead the team to a more unique and identifiable identity by 2020 to go along with a more competitive team filled with the fabled talent showcasing itself in the minors. With the lack of success the team is currently undergoing a fresh new look could only serve to galvanize Padres fans and make them more recognizable both at home in Petco Park and away at other MLB stadiums.