What’s old is new again in Blue Jays Land in 2017.
For 16 years – from 1977 to mid-way through the 1993 season, the white panel cap and helmet were a staple in the Toronto Blue Jays uniform set. The white panel has been absent since 2010, but in 2017 the Jays’ white panel caps and helmets returned full-time and are officially part of the Blue Jays uniform rotation once again.
Players and fans alike could not be happier about the change. But what was the genesis behind bringing these beloved caps back? To learn a little more about the uniform change, I spoke with Sebastian Gatica: VP of Fan Engagement for the Toronto Blue Jays.
We brought back the white panel caps as a specialty cap last season for our three 40th anniversary celebration days. We also wore the white panel cap back on August 16th 2015 for one game as part of our “Turn Back the Clock” night.
We received a lot of positive feedback from our players and from our fans on social media, so we took that opportunity to discuss introducing it more frequently and approached the league to add it to our cap options.
Interestingly enough, what initially began as a “one night only” special back in 2015 opened the door for the Jays to bring back the cap back into the fold as a regular part of their uniform rotation. As of this season, the white panel cap and helmet are no longer worn on just “special occasions” – they are full-time alternates for the Blue Jays.
At any given batting practice session at the Rogers Centre the last two years, Josh Donaldson could usually be seen sporting the white panel cap; which could be construed as his unspoken approval for the cap. Not only are the Blue Jays themselves proponents of the white panel Gatica says the fans also responded extremely favourably:
The players love the white panel and so do the fans – they love the nostalgia of it. In fact, that one game back in 2015 when the players wore it for Turn Back the Clock night, we sold out of the caps in Jays Shop and had to quickly order some more. Today, the white panel cap continues to be a top seller.
The Blue Jays have been known to get a little superstitious about their uniform and cap choices. The reason why the team abandoned the white panel caps back in 1993? It was because of a brief five-game losing streak during the 1993 season.
Equipment manager Jeff Ross suggested the club change over to the solid blue cap, and the Blue Jays never looked back (hat tip to Bluebird Banter for sharing those details).
So who ultimately has the call on when and where the white panel caps can be worn? Gatica notes that decision is usually up to the game’s starting pitcher.
Now that it is a full-time alternate hat, we can wear it whenever we decide. Most of the time, it’s that day’s starting pitcher who can choose what cap is worn.
According to SportsLogos.net’s Uniform Tracker, the Blue Jays have worn the white panel caps and helmets during nine of the club’s home games this season.
If the decision is ultimately up to the starting pitcher, Francisco Liriano seemed to have an affinity for the set, as the club has wore the white panels during five of his ten home starts during his stint as a Blue Jay this season.
The Blue Jays also wore the white panels twice during Mike Bolsinger starts and once during J.A. Happ and Joe Biagini starts.
Perhaps these caps invoke some warm and fuzzy feelings from the Blue Jays’ early years in the seventies and eighties, or maybe people just really enjoy the aesthetic look of the white panel cap and helmet.
Either way, the white panel caps and helmets are here to stay as a part of the Toronto Blue Jays uniform set.