Futuristic Mariners jersey donated to Hall of Fame

Written by: Meghan Anderson

Baseball is shaped by tradition. From the rules of the game to what the players wear, the sport is defined by its past. However, on July 18, 1998, amid fog, lasers and synthesizers, the Seattle Mariners promoted baseball of the future.

Today, that future is the past – and the Hall of Fame now has an artifact to tell the story.

“Turn Ahead the Clock Night” lightheartedly projected what baseball would be like in the franchise’s 50th anniversary year of 2027. Veteran player and team icon Ken Griffey Jr. assisted with uniform design, trading in the signature Mariners navy blue and northwest green for futuristic brick red and metallic black. The visiting Kansas City Royals also joined the fun and donned bright yellow cut-off jerseys and shimmering gold helmets. Home plate umpire Jim Joyce and his crew joined the festivities, sporting shiny silver shirts.

The Kingdome became the “Biodome.” Banners for new “major league” teams on Mercury, Saturn, and Pluto waved in the upper decks. A robot delivered the baseball to the mound, while a DeLorean car delivered actor James Doohan, better known as Scotty on “Star Trek,” to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Finally, Orbit, the Houston Astros’ mascot, provided his intergalactic expertise and gave Mariner Moose the night off.

What the Mariners marketing staff did not expect from the promotional concept was to win an award for the idea during that fall’s Winter Meetings. Nor did they expect Major League Baseball to endorse the idea with a major corporate sponsorship deal the following year. During the 1999 season, Century 21 promoted a “Turn Ahead the Clock” night for 20 major league teams. The league-wide promotion was not as successful as the original, which featured Junior’s charismatic inspirations: Spray-painted cleats and gloves, cut-off undershirts, untucked jerseys, and backwards caps.

One of the newest additions to the collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame is the “Turn Ahead the Clock” jersey worn by Mariners first base coach Sammy Mejías from the 1998 event. Today, the jersey brings remembrances of a quirky promotion about the impending future.

Can baseball be ready for space pants, monstrous logos, and silver gloves? We still have a decade before the Mariners’ space age vision comes to play.

Meghan Anderson is the 2017 curatorial intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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