07/01/2018 9:14 AM -
When it comes time for a team to update their uniforms, the change is usually born either out of necessity, or because it was time for a change.
For the Gary SouthShore RailCats, both scenarios were on the horizon as the 2017 season drew to a close. The RailCats have mixed up their looks throughout franchise history, and had even replaced both the home whites and road greys in the last three seasons.
However, 2018 would be a year of massive change for the franchise, with brand-new sets across the board.
“We think it was time for a fresh look,” Lyter said. “We’d been filling in with the same ones for at least the six years I’ve been here, so we wanted something new.”
Something new is exactly what the RailCats got, with Lyter saying that the team had not replaced all of its uniforms at once since at least 2011.
Throughout the franchise’s existence, team uniforms have routinely succumbed to the wear and tear that they go through during the grind of the season, or saw a handful or jerseys sold off during the offseason, requiring the team to piecemeal sets together with uniforms that look the same, but often vary in age from player to player.
With the arrival of the new sets, that won’t be an issue this season.
The uniforms were supposed to arrive around Opening Day, though various delays in production and shipping pushed back their unveilings.
The first set out of the box were the new home uniforms, a white set featuring a maroon “RAILCATS” spelled across the chest that debuted on June 15th against Sioux City. In the next two weeks, the ‘Cats would unveil new road grays with green “RAILCATS” lettering and an alternate green version with maroon trim and the “RC” logo, the latter of which debuted last Monday in Chicago.
Of course, on top of that, this season features the brown and yellow Dwight Schrute-inspired Office Wednesday uniforms that will be worn for nine Wednesday home games.
As for the more conventional looks, the reception has been positive.
“The players always enjoy [getting new uniforms],” said manager Greg Tagert.
“They have more of an old-school look, which I really like,” said the longest-tenured RailCat, Alex Crosby. “These also are lighter and have a more athletic feel than the old ones.”
The reception validates an effort that involved collaboration from a variety of sources, starting with Lyter and Tagert, which also included Marketing and Promotions Director David Kerr, who helped draw up initial designs, which were then fine-tuned with help from uniform manufacturing companies.
In the front office, they looked to previous uniforms hung up throughout the U.S. Steel Yard to gain some inspiration on what they ultimately looked to do.
“We wanted a little more use of the ‘RC’ which we’ve gone to more the last five or six years,” Lyter said. “We also did some mixing and matching of different logos in different spots.”
Lyter emphasized that the alternate green jersey was a set he wanted to bring back, basing it heavily off a special Friday edition that the team wore for several seasons.
Tagert and Lyter both added that the green look was partially inspired by the bright sky blue road uniforms worn by the expansion Chicago Dogs, adding that the RailCats wanted a color-based set of their own. Consequently, it is expected for the green set to only be worn against Chicago.
Ultimately, the team developed a full catalogue of uniforms that was eventually signed off on by team owner Pat Salvi, a final nod of approval that Tagert deemed to be important.
“[Mr. Salvi] loves style and is an impeccably dressed man,” said Tagert. “So we have to look good, and he believes in that as much as I do.”
Multiple players have expressed gratitude for the new uniforms, saying they see them as a commitment from the team for dressing its players in comfortable, well-fitting uniforms.
As for how they look and which ones they like the best, a clear favorite of the three sets has emerged.
“The style of the green is the best one,” said pitcher Alex Gunn. “I’ve never had anything like that here, so it’s neat.”
“My personal favorite has to be the green,” said Crosby. “It looks the best, feels the best, and you know, you look good, you play good.”
Lyter and several others in the RailCats front office declared the green jersey to be their personal favorite as well.
However, for Lyter in particular, that could potentially be topped by a fourth new set, which has not arrived yet. We won’t give away any spoilers, but let’s just say that Lyter’s experience of growing up a New York Yankees fan played a hand into the final set’s design.
That set is expected to arrive in mid-July.
A day at U.S. Steel Yard is non-stop fun, and that's even without the baseball! The RailCats promise a wide array of laugh-out-loud between inning entertainment, great giveaways, jaw-dropping fireworks and a family-first, kid-friendly atmosphere! RailCats fans come in all ages, shapes, and sizes, and the RailCats promise every fan will have fun.
U.S. Steel Yard
One Stadium Plaza
Gary, IN 46402