|Venue||Major League Baseball ballparks|
|Founder||Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Players Association|
|Previous event||August 24–26, 2018|
Players Weekend is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) event in which players on all 30 MLB teams wear colorful baseball uniforms based on youth sports designs and sport nicknames on the back of their jerseys during regular season games. Players also wear brightly-colored and custom-designed gear. The event is designed to give players the opportunity to express their personal style, appeal to the youth demographic, and acquaint hometown fans with newer team members.
The inaugural Players Weekend took place on the weekend of August 25–27, 2017. Players were encouraged, but not required, to wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys in place of their last names (or, in the case of Ichiro Suzuki, his given name). All uniforms, whether or not the players chose to use nicknames, had names on the back—including those of the New York Yankees, a team that had never before placed names on the back of any official jersey. The league also relaxed the rules for cleats, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher's masks, and bats, allowing players to use brightly colored and custom-designed gear.
MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced the venture on August 10, 2017. According to the MLBPA website, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, Bo Schultz of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Josh Thole of the Arizona Diamondbacks were "instrumental in developing the concept" together with representatives from the MLBPA and MLB. The event was designed to give players the opportunity to express their personal style, and to acquaint hometown fans with newer team members. The introduction of colorful uniforms and nicknames also reached out to the youth demographic.
Each team wears a pullover jersey (similar to what many teams wore in the 1970s and 1980s), as opposed to the traditional button-down jersey, with contrasting sleeve colors. The team uniforms, which took their color cues from youth sportswear, were designed by Majestic Athletic. The jerseys had a "tribute patch" on the right sleeve where each player could write under the words "Thank You" the names of those who had the most influence on his life and career. "Mom" and "Dad" were the most popular picks; players also saluted other family members and religious figures. The player's surname on the back of the jersey was replaced with a nickname of the player's choosing.
The choice of nicknames ran the gamut from shortened monikers and initials to rhymes, puns, and descriptive epithets. In the 2017 event, St. Louis Cardinals player Seung-hwan Oh imprinted his name, in Korean characters. A few players were not able to use their preferred nickname due to potential copyright or trademark infringement, such as "Superman" (Kevin Pillar), "Kojak" (Adrián Beltré), "Led Zeflin" (Zach Eflin), and "Hoby Wan Kenobi" (Hoby Milner). Chicago Cubs pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. was the only player allowed to use a brand name, Carl's Jr., on the back of his jersey; Edwards Jr. also imprinted the restaurant chain's logo on one of his cleats (note that "C. J. Edwards," as he was known, is from Newberry, South Carolina, and the chain is primarily west of the Mississippi, as the chain's parent company uses the Hardee's name east of the Mississippi). Game-used jerseys were sold after the event, with proceeds benefiting the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation.
Caps and socks
The New Era Cap Company supplied caps. Socks in multicolored hues were the same for all 30 teams; players had the option of rolling up the cuffs of their pants to show off the design. The socks were supplied by Stance.
Cleats, batting gloves, bats, and other gear
Players were allowed to wear brightly colored and custom-designed cleats, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, and catcher's masks that are typically not permitted under MLB rules. The league did prohibit the use of white as a color for the batting gloves, wristbands, and compression sleeves, since it might interfere with umpires' ability to judge a play. Players could also custom-design their bats. Sam Bat, a bat supplier to the league, produced dozens of custom-ordered bats for the weekend that were painted with different colors, images, and country flags.
Players Weekend was hailed by MLB players as a long-overdue opportunity to express their personal style on the field.
According to SB Nation, 58 players across the league declined to choose a nickname, instead using their first or last name on their jerseys. New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, whose team had never had a name on the back of the jersey, wanted no name at all, but he was overruled; he ended up printing his surname. While most players enjoyed custom designing their cleats and other gear, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Chafin opted to wear his regular black cleats.
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- Hunter, Ian (August 26, 2017). "A Look at the Blue Jays Custom Gear and Patches for Players Weekend". Blue Jay Hunter. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
- Myers, Joseph (August 14, 2017). "Copyrights to Keep Three MLB Participants From Using Preferred Nicknames During Players Weekend". Promo Marketing Magazine. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Yellon, Al (August 9, 2017). "MLB unveils 'Players Weekend' jerseys and caps". SB Nation. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- "The story behind Carl Edwards Jr.'s food-themed Players Weekend cleats". Chicago Sun-Times. August 26, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Rovell, Darren (August 9, 2018). "The top 10 MLB Players Weekend nicknames". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
- Lukas, Paul (June 15, 2017). "MLB to Let Inmates Run Asylum for Players Weekend". uni-watch.com. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
- "MLB Players Weekend Cleat Giveaway". curtisgranderson.com. 2017. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
- Normandin, Marc (August 9, 2017). "These 58 MLB players won't have a nickname on their jerseys because they hate fun". SB Nation. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Marchand, Andrew (August 25, 2017). "What is it like to NOT put on the pinstripes? Not every Yankee is thrilled about it". ESPN. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
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