Even Marty McFly and Doc Brown would be horrified by the events that took place in the late 1990’s. For a long time, teams had been doing “Turn Back The Clock Night” where the teams wore jerseys from seasons long gone by.
The Seattle Mariners tried something bold in 1998. They decided to do a Turn Ahead The Clock Night, to celebrate the future 50th anniversary of the Mariners. Both teams, the M’s and the Kansas City Royals, wore uniforms designed by the Mariners and Marketing Director at the time (Now VP of Marketing) Kevin Martinez.
Not only were new jerseys introduced, but an entire atmosphere was created for the event. For today’s Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look back at the Mariners looking forward.
- The ball for the ceremonial first pitch was delivered to the mound by a robot, which was constructed at the University of Washington.
- The first pitch was thrown by James Doohan, who played Scotty on “Star Trek.” He made his way out to the mound in a DeLorean that entered through the “Biodome” – the new name for the Kingdome – through lasers and dry ice down the left-field tunnel.
- Three new teams were added to the standings banner at the Kingdome. They were the Pluto Mighty Pups, the Saturn Rings and the Mercury Fire. They even included an Interplanetary game on the out-of-town scoreboard. I believe Saturn (SAT) took on Mercury (MER).
- A futuristic 50th-anniversary Mariners logo was placed on the outfield wall.
- The outfield wall sponsor signage was changed to have a more futuristic feel.
- The Mariners borrowed the Astros’ mascot, Orbit, for the game. They decked him out in the futuristic Mariners colors. The Moose was nowhere to be found on this night.
- All the lights in the Biodome were turned out for the pregame lineup introductions, which were done on the video screen with accompanying lasers and pyrotechnics. A synthesizer was added to the PA system, so the announcer sounded like a computer as he introduced the batters.
- The team gave away replica futuristic Mariners caps to the fans.
Ken Griffey Jr. ran with the idea, spray-painting everyone’s helmets silver. He even sprayed several of his teammates’ shoes and gloves silver. He also ripped his sleeves off and wore his hat backwards.
So how about those uniforms? It was a rousing success. The night drew so much attention that Major League Baseball decided to run with it in 1999. Unfortunately, Century 21 became a corporate sponsor of the event (held around multiple stadiums) and they changed the year to 2021 (get it? Huh?…oh boy).
The New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers declined to participate in the promotion.
And it’s probably a good thing they did. What started out as a fantastically inventive idea by the Mariners, turned into a PR nightmare for baseball.
Too bad, because I would love to see this promotion again.