Turn Ahead the Clock
Turn Ahead the Clock was a promotion in Major League Baseball (MLB). It was originated by the Seattle Mariners marketing team in the 1998 season. During the 1999 season, all but ten teams elected to wear the promotional uniform that were in a "future" style. The uniforms have been widely criticized and the promotion proved unsuccessful.
In 1998, Kevin Martinez, former Seattle Mariners marketing director, came up with the idea to have futuristic jerseys from the 2027 season as an alternative to "Turn Back the Clock" promotions. The marketing team transformed the Kingdome to give it a futuristic atmosphere. According to Martinez, Ken Griffey, Jr. was instrumental in the design of the jerseys and came up with the idea to change the Mariners' colors from teal, blue and white to red, black, and silver. Majestic Athletic worked with the Mariners' marketing team to create the uniform. Martinez himself described the jerseys as "gaudy". The Mariners' opponent during the promotion was the Kansas City Royals, who according to Martinez, were "fantastic to work with". Originally, the Mariners played with the jerseys un-tucked and turned their baseball caps backwards. Griffey, Jr. painted his teammates baseball cleats with silver spray paint. Griffey, Jr. also convinced teammates to cut off the sleeves of their uniforms. During the game, the umpires, who were wearing silver shirts as a part of the promotion, ruled that the un-tucked shirts gave batters an advantage because they could more easily be hit by a pitch so the umpires ruled that the players had to tuck them in. The Mariners promotion was considered successful, unlike the major league wide promotion in 1999. The futurism also extended to pregame festivities: the ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by James Doohan (Mr. Scott from Star Trek), who arrived at the pitcher's mound in a DeLorean and was given the ball by a robot created at the University of Washington.
1999 season promotion
Major League Baseball sold the promotion concept to Century 21 Real Estate. The New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, and Los Angeles Dodgers did not participate in the promotion. The New York Mets changed their names to the "Mercury Mets" (complete with caps featuring the ☿ symbol) while hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 27, 1999. In games, stadiums would use futuristic graphics on their scoreboards as a part of the promotion. During a Padres and Giants game, fielding positions were renamed. Shortstop was renamed "intermediate station" and left field was renamed "left sector". Some ballpark advertisements also joined in, with Northwest Airlines becoming "Northwest Spacelines" (this can be seen when Mariners outfielder Butch Huskey crashed into the outfield wall during a game).
Paul Lukas, writer for ESPN.com, described the promotion as "...a concept that was goofy yet charming for one night became a bad joke when transmogrified into an extended vehicle for corporate sponsorship." Pitcher Greg Hansell was quoted as saying, "It looks like Halloween came early."
- Paul Lukas (July 21, 2008). "Looking back at the Mariners' futuristic night". ESPN.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
- Todd Fitzpatrick (August 16, 1999). "Turn Ahead? Turn around". The Sporting News. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- "Notebook: Padres, Giants turn ahead the clock". Gainesville Sun. July 21, 1999. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- Archived MLB.com "Turn Ahead the Clock" page
- Turn Ahead the Clock Night on Baseball-Reference Bullpen