Turn Back the Clock (baseball)
Turn Back the Clock is the name associated with the promotion by Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises when they wear throwback uniforms. Often, the uniforms signify a special event in the team or regions history. The promotion was originated in 1990 by the Chicago White Sox. Since then, multiple other teams have made it a yearly tradition.
The first known instance of a team going back to a uniform of an earlier time in its history is the 1953 New York Yankees. To celebrate their appearance in the 1953 World Series (also their 50th anniversary year as a New York team) with a 1930s-style left breast logo (basically a smaller version of the classic logo) and uniform numbers (identical to the style on current Boston Red Sox uniforms). This would make it the very first "turn back the clock" uniform.
In 1990, the Chicago White Sox set-up a "Turn Back the Clock" game against the Milwaukee Brewers.1 The White Sox dressed in 1917 uniforms, while the Brewers wore their normal uniforms.1 The promotion was aimed at celebrating Comiskey Park's final season.1 To set the early baseball atmosphere, ballpark ushers wore dated dress and some had megaphones to announce lineups.1 Also, ticket prices for general admission were $.50 and all other tickets were half price.2 The 1917 season was selected because it was the last time (at the time of the promotion) that the White Sox won a World Series.2 The promotion was considered successful.1
The Baltimore Orioles were the second team to use the marketing strategy after the Chicago White Sox.3 In that game, against the Minnesota Twins, the Orioles wore attire from the 1966 season and bleacher ticket prices were reduced to $.75.4 After that, the Chicago Cubs mimicked the promotion in 1992 wearing throwback uniforms.5 Likewise, the Milwaukee Brewers used the promotion in 1993 by wearing uniforms from the 1920s Milwaukee Brewers.6 Multiple other teams built off the concept over the seasons (including the wearing of Negro League uniforms).
A faux-back Turn Back the Clock game was featured on June 30, 2012, featuring the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers wearing uniforms from the 1979 season. The Rays, who did not exist as a franchise in 1979 (they were enfranchised in 1998), wore specially-designed throwback uniforms for the game, using popular design cues of the time such as two-tone caps, colored pants and pullover tops.
In 1998, the Seattle Mariners marketing team developed a concept off of the "Turn Back the Clock" promotion. In the "Turn Ahead the Clock", the team's uniforms would be transformed into a "futuristic" style. The Mariners promotion was successful, and in 1999 it was sold by Major League Baseball to Century 21 Real Estate, who made it into a league-wide marketing campaign. The league-wide promotion proved unsuccessful despite the success seen by the Mariners.
- "White Sox turn back the clock at Comiskey Park". United Press International. Lodi News-Sentinel. July 12, 1990. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- Tom Haudricourt (July 11, 1990). "Chisox go back in time". The Milwaukee Sentinel. The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- "Orioles will try to relive 1966". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. June 19, 1991. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- David Ginsburg (June 19, 1991). "Baltimore turns back the clock". Associated Press. Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- Joey Reaves (June 22, 1992). "Cubs turn back clock, Phillies". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- Bob Berghaus (July 7, 1993). "Brewers turn back the clock to a bad time". The Milwaukee Journal. The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved June 16, 2010.