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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Remembering MLB's "Turn Ahead the Clock" Promotion

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 4:56 PM


It was ten years ago that 22 teams took part in a bizarre, forward-thinking (literally) promotion by donning "Turn Ahead the Clock Uniforms" for 14 different games combined.

The Indians — thankfully for those of us that still like to talk and read about the Tribe this season — were one of those teams, so every once in awhile it's nice to look back at the abomination of athletic apparel the Tribe wore for one game.

By the "future," it seems that the designers meant a time when "everything was blown up really, really, really big," because everything would be huge in the future — because of the nuclear radiation, natch. On the back of the Tribe's top, the nameplate ran vertical to the right of the number — another new "innovation" the future was sure to experience. (Except not really.)

Admittedly, there were some pretty interesting designs. Not good. Just not bad. Those didn't include the Indians.

Paul Lukas recently penned a column on the anniversary of the promotion over at ESPN and caught up with the guy whose idea it was to take MLB into the "future," and ranks the top five of the "TATC" uni's.

Reaction was swift, and mostly negative. As the promotion unfolded and the uniforms looked more and more bizarre, everyone from local newspapers to "SportsCenter" was asking the same question: Whose bright idea was this?

Ten years later, we finally have an answer: "It was my idea," says Steve McKelvey, who teaches sports marketing at UMass. And if you think he's here to apologize, forget it. In fact, McKelvey's primary regret about the TATC program is that the uniform designs were too tame.

"If we'd been able to do it the way we wanted to, the uniforms would have been more futuristic," he says. "But MLB wanted to control the uniform design, control the brand, so we lost control of that. That was their decision. They didn't want to step outside the box too much. So we'd have to try to suggest things that wouldn't provoke some level of push-back about making the uniforms too crazy."

So there, perhaps that's why they were all basically snooze-inducing. There was a sponsor (Century 21) and MLB was involved, so not surprising overall.

Although, as atrociously boring as the get-ups were for the Wahoos, part of me wishes they, or any other team for that matter, would take one game a year and put on the vintage future uniforms. That just naturally would lend itself to a Back to the Future Night, and no one can tell me that'd be a bad thing.

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