The hot weather months are upon us. That means it’s time to break out brighter, lighter shirts and pants. You know, your cottons, linens and ginghams.
Even athletes are dressing to the weather. This season, the Charleston, S.C. RiverDogs, the Class Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees (and partially owned by legendary comedian Bill Murray), have debuted a specialty seersucker uniform. Seersucker’s lightweight quality and the fact that the fabric is naturally held away from the skin helps to facilitate both heat dissipation and air circulation, which keeps the players cool.
While the utilitarian aspect of the uniforms is important, the team is also concerned with the ties seersucker has with the city of Charleston. “One thing that our organization prides ourselves on is being open to ideas,” Noel Blaha, the RiverDogs’Director of Marketing and New Media, explains. “From ownership and the GM down to groundskeepers and interns, we consider all kinds of ideas. The seersucker concept came from one of our brainstorming sessions. We wanted to find something that would be uniquely Charleston. In the Minor League baseball world, specialty uniforms seem to be a dime a dozen. It’s become more of a ‘who can shout the loudest in a crowded room’situation. Seersucker is still prominent among many demographics in Charleston and it has kind of a timeless feel, which also epitomizes Charleston.”
Once the idea was approved, Blaha and the organization got right to work. “We went to Wilson, who we have a strong relationship with, and told them up front that we didn’t want a pinstripe, we wanted seersucker. All of the stock models we saw initially were pinstripe. We had to make sure the white and colored lines on the jerseys were a equal length for a true seersucker. And I think Wilson did a great job of matching colors and getting the width down for the look we wanted.”
Unlike Seinfeld’s George Costanza, who’s experiment with cotton uniforms famously backfired against the New York Yankees, the RiverDogs’seersucker uniforms have been a success. The team is 2-1 in seersucker contests since the uniforms were introduced on April 13, but the true victory has come within the community. “The fan reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.”Blaha says. “People think it’s such a cool way to recognize a Charleston and Southern tradition. People have immediately wanted to find out where they could buy them. Our initial plan was to not make replicas, but because of the response we are planning to sell them through our stores.”
The RiverDogs have seven more seersucker games this season—the last coming on August 17—but moving forward, based on the reception, Blaha sees no reason why the specialty uniforms won’t be kept in the team’s rotation.
So, if you’re in Charleston this summer, check out the RiverDogs and see some seersucker on the diamond.
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