O's to add 2 caps to '95 wardrobe

July 21, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

So what if owners and players can't agree on a salary cap? The Orioles are giving baseball a new road cap.

It's gray on top with a traditional black bill. And not surprisingly, it makes its debut when the Orioles begin their road schedule in 1995.

The two-tone cap is one of several uniform refinements planned by the club for next season. Ending weeks of fashion suspense, the Orioles revealed a package of changes, many falling into the category of subtle.

The club's cap collection will be expanding to three next year. In addition to the traditional black caps, which will be worn at Camden Yards, and the new road grays, the Orioles occasionally will wear black caps with orange bills. That model, which probably will get the least wear of the three, will be matched with the black jerseys that are required attire for the Orioles any time Ben McDonald is pitching. The new items should be in stores in the fall.

The change many Orioles loyalists have been clamoring for -- the return of a script "Baltimore" to the road uniforms -- isn't in the club's plans for now, even though a Baltimore investor, lawyer Peter G. Angelos, now controls the team.

Baltimore disappeared from the road jerseys in the mid-1970s, shortly before the Orioles began marketing to a more regional audience.

Joe Foss, Orioles vice chairman for business and finance, said club officials decided to stick with "Orioles" on the road jersey because the team stands for "a very broad community, outside just the city of Baltimore."

"It's not intended in the slightest to imply we're not proud to be from Baltimore," Foss said. "One of Mr. Angelos' motivations in buying this team was to bring back local ownership. I don't think people can question our sensitivity to that."

Two-tone caps will be the most striking change next season, but the new look will extend to several other areas. Starting next year, Orioles uniforms will feature an arm patch featuring the ornithologically correct bird from the team cap, Foss said.

There also will be minor changes in lettering on the game jerseys. The script will be less stylized and the letters spaced slightly farther apart.

Orioles officials mulled the changes for several months, considering lots of possibilities, including several dramatic ones. They even talked about dumping the classic bird now featured on their caps in favor of a cartoon character like that on Orioles caps from 1966 until 1989.

That idea faded, Foss said, when club officials "couldn't find a version we felt would fit into today's look of the team."

The refinements were finalized this week, after they were displayed for Angelos and for several Orioles players, including Rafael Palmeiro, Chris Hoiles, McDonald and Brady Anderson. Foss said the players unanimously liked what they saw, with Palmeiro curious enough to try on a new jersey.

The Orioles join the growing ranks of teams that recently have tweaked their uniforms. This year, the Astros, Brewers and Indians overhauled their uniforms. The Royals, Mariners, Phillies and Blue Jays expanded their wardrobes, introducing alternative caps or jerseys.

A popular cap or uniform can become a huge seller, generating millions of dollars. But the 28 baseball clubs split evenly the money generated by sales of licensed items. As a result, even an explosion in Orioles cap sales isn't likely to translate into a windfall for the club.

The Orioles have redesigned their uniforms 10 times in their 40-year history. The last changes occurred for the 1989 season, when the cartoon bird was dropped from the cap.

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