Grit and Glow: Tampa Bay Rays Reveal City Connect Uniforms Inspired by Skateboarding

Grit and Glow: Tampa Bay Rays Reveal City Connect Uniforms Inspired by Skateboarding

The new MLB City Connect Series uniform was unveiled, taking inspiration from the region’s skateboarding culture while also incorporating some fun little nods to the team’s past. From May 3rd to May 5th, these uniforms will debut on the field, celebrating the “Grit and Glow” of not only the team, but also the vibrant culture of Tampa Bay.

This is the “Grit,” which is black with a black cap, black jersey, very dark grey pants, and skateboard grip tape patterning. The “Glow” features an array of almost neon-like colours: multiple blues, purples, and greens applied both as solid colours and gradients and mainly used as trim throughout the mostly black design.

The design of the Tampa Bay Rays’ new City Connect uniform is deeply rooted in the local culture, drawing significant inspiration from the area’s vibrant skateboarding scene and other counterculture elements. Skateboarding culture is embodied in features such as skateboard grip tape textures on the jerseys and caps, mimicking the surface of skateboarding and the tactile feel that is so prevalent.

Tampa Bay Rays 2024 City Connect Charcoal Elite Baseball Jersey

Besides skateboarding, the uniform incorporates visual motifs that refer to the Rays’ history as well as those that echo the Tampa Bay area, such as the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

“One of the things that really resonated with us [while designing this uniform] was the idea of connecting with our community and really using that as a guiding principle throughout this process,” Bill Walsh, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Chief Business Officer, said. “This has been a fun process. We really wanted to capture the unique vibe and creative energy that this region has. It has been a lot of fun.”

Making a triumphant comeback to the Rays uniform is the phrase “Tampa Bay,” which hasn’t been seen on their jerseys since 2007 (although it did make a brief appearance in small letters on their “fauxback” alternate jersey in the 2010s). The black wordmark, placed at an angle from the lower right to the upper left, bears a striking resemblance to the wordmark featured on the early Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ road jerseys from 1998-2000. This fresh design incorporates a grip-tape pattern within the letters, outlined with a gradient of blue-green (a familiar touch), and topped off with fiery flames shooting out from each letter.

Grit and Glow: Tampa Bay Rays Reveal City Connect Uniforms Inspired by Skateboarding
Grit and Glow: Tampa Bay Rays Reveal City Connect Uniforms Inspired by Skateboarding

According to Warren Hypes, Tampa Bay Rays Vice President, Creative & Brand, the Tampa Bay wordmark is an important part of the story. “This is the first time ‘Tampa Bay’ has been on the uniform since 2007.

There is a pattern on the jersey’s black base that represents a black shirt left out in the Florida sun for too long, slowly fading to a lighter shade of grey. Ingeniously combining a Ray with the Bay (rhymin’!) and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

“We’re a team that represents not just a city, but a region, so connecting the community is crucial in this story. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is one of the most iconic things here in Tampa Bay. The Devil Ray is a great example of connectivity and connecting the region together,” Hypes said. We combined it with this logo, so you see water flowing beneath the bridge as the gradient goes down beneath the bridge.

My hope is that the Rays find a way to incorporate this into their regular identity somehow… maybe as a sleeve patch? It’s almost like the Twins’ Minnie and Paul logo, with their two communities shaking hands over a river.

According to Hypes, the three palm trees logo captures the essence of a subtropical breeze and invokes memories of dropping into a bowl in Florida. It pays homage to the iconic marker sign at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, which holds the distinction of being the first skate park on the National Register of Historic Places and a Florida Heritage site. This well-recognized emblem is used by all Florida Heritage sites and serves as a tribute to the park’s rich history as a community gathering place. Additionally, it represents the laid-back yet vibrant atmosphere of Tampa Bay. These palm trees are synonymous with Florida’s scenic beauty and relaxed lifestyle, inviting both fans and players to feel connected to our local environment.

One of Hypes’ favorite Easter eggs is that the ray does a trick called a stale fish – when you grab a board from the back. You won’t get it if you don’t know skateboarding, but for those who do, I think it’s a really cool Easter egg.

Join the Rays for a series of exciting events to celebrate the launch of their new uniforms, starting with a public City Connect Launch event at Tropicana Field today at 2 pm. The festivities will continue with a special celebration at St. Pete Pier on Thursday, May 2. These gatherings will feature live broadcasts of the Rays’ games and offer an energetic and celebratory atmosphere showcasing local landmarks for fans to enjoy.

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