Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have announced the first ever MLB “Players Weekend,” a celebration that will take place during games held from Aug. 25 to 27.
The highlight of the celebration is a freeing of the uniform restrictions for players, who for that weekend will be allowed to wear custom equipment such as cleats and gloves, and will wear special jerseys that feature a player’s chosen nickname on the back, rather than their standard surname.
A screencap from a recent MLB announcement showing a selection of the custom jerseys that will be worn by several of the MLB's star players during Players Weekend.
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said, “The Players Weekend I think will be a great event for our fans. I think it will provide two important opportunities: To give our fans a little insight into the personality of the players and it’ll give them, the players, an opportunity to express themselves.”
The full list of new uniforms for the weekend, featuring the nicknames chosen by the players, was unveiled by MLB on Wednesday evening. Nicknames featured everything from slight variations on the player’s actual name, such as “Goldy” for Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, to elaborate jokes, such as “PTBNL” for Oakland Athletics catcher Josh Phegley.
Fifty-eight players did not choose nicknames for their Players Weekend jerseys, opting to take the field as normal with their jersey displaying their surname. However, for one of those players, New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, taking the field with his surname on his jersey will be a first. Gardner has played his entire 12-year career with the Yankees, who have never before worn surnames on their jerseys, and are breaking team convention for the first time for Players Weekend. This means when Gardner takes the field on Aug. 25, he will be wearing “Gardner” on the field for the first time in his MLB career.
Two of the MLB’s South Korean contingent chose to have their names on their jerseys as normal, but with a twist. Those two players, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Oh Seung-hwan and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Kim Hyun-soo, elected to have their names written on the back of their jersey in their native Korean in lieu of a nickname.
The two other South Korean major leaguers, Texas Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo and Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, opted for nicknames instead. Choo choosing “Tokki 1,” a name picked up from his time on the Cincinnati Reds (former teammate Joey Votto is "Tokki 2"), and Ryu choosing “Monster.”
Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames, who spent three seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization from 2014 to 2016, went with a nickname harkening back to his KBO days. Thames will take the field with a jersey reading “Sang Namja,” or “Manly Man.”
By Alex Park / Intern reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)