Nike expected to alter MLB uniforms by 2025 after complaints


After months of complaints from fans and players, Nike is expected to change several elements of its new Major League Baseball uniforms by the start of the 2025 season, according to a memo obtained Sunday.

The memo from the MLB Players Association to players states that after weeks of conversations with the league and its official uniform supplier, Nike, the union has “receive[d] indications” the following changes will be made: Returning to the larger lettering on the jersey tops, and on the pants bringing back the previous tailoring options, seam stitch count and higher-quality zipper that were in place in 2023.

In addition, as Nike previously told The Athletic, the memo said Nike is working toward solutions for teams’ mismatching gray uniforms and for the sweat stains showing through jerseys.

“This has been entirely a Nike issue,” the memo said. “At its core, what has happened here is that Nike was innovating something that didn’t need to be innovated.”

It’s worth pointing out what the memo is and isn’t. It is, first and foremost, not a commitment directly from Nike. (Nike did not respond to a request for comment.) It is the union updating players on perceived progress to that end. It also is not a promise to return to the uniforms from previous seasons. The Nike Vapor Premier is here to stay, as far as fabric and general jersey design are concerned.

Nike rolled out the Vapor Premier this spring, after first introducing it at the 2023 All-Star Game, and was met by immediate blowback. Fans ripped certain designs, most notably the strangely small name-on-back lettering. Players blasted the pants fitting process and the cheap feel of the fabric.

Once the season started, sweat stains appeared, road grays were identified as having different tones and pants began blowing out along the seam — apparently due to a change in stitch count. (One issue not mentioned in the memo is the pants’ see-through nature, because, as previously reported, well-placed sources say the pants fabric did not change this year, though some smaller details like the zipper and belt loops did.)

“We cautioned Nike against various changes when they previewed them in 2022, particularly regarding pants,” the memo said. “MLB had been, and has been, aware of our concerns as well. Unfortunately, until recently, Nike’s position has essentially boiled down to — ’nothing to see here, Players will need to adjust.’”

MLB and MLBPA declined comment.

In leveling blame at Nike, the MLBPA continued to back Fanatics, the manufacturer of the uniforms. For months, as more and more issues arose with the new uniforms, Fanatics drew much of the public ire for the mess. MLBPA has on multiple occasions publicly absolved Fanatics, which it did again in Sunday’s memo: “Fanatics has been, and continues to be, a great partner with the Players and has been making the uniforms for the last eight years without issue.” Apart from its partnership with MLB and Nike, Fanatics also has a lucrative licensing deal with the players union, and the MLBPA has invested in Fanatics.

Fanatics declined comment.

“Fanatics has been, and continues to be, a great partner with the Players and has been making the uniforms for the last eight years without issue,” the memo said. “Fanatics recognizes the vital importance of soliciting Player feedback, obtaining Player buy-in, and not being afraid to have difficult conversations about jerseys or trading cards.

“Our hope is that, moving forward, Nike will take a similar approach.”

Required reading

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)





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