The Baltimore Orioles unveiled their new “City Connect” uniforms on Monday, featuring a black-and-white exterior with a colorful Baltimore neighborhoods-inspired design peeking out from the interior.
City Connect is a collaboration between Major League Baseball and Nike to create alternate uniforms that are meant to pay homage to each team’s home city. The first set of new uniforms was introduced in 2021 when seven MLB teams began wearing them. The Orioles are the 20th team to participate in the program.
“There is no one storyline that defines Baltimore,” begins the announcement. “We are a 3,000,000-strong metropolis that will never stop being a small town of neighborhoods and individuals who truly reflect us….an open community that celebrates our different and defends equal access to our fundamental American freedoms. There is no ‘quit’ in this place, and when adversity comes, we just start another rally.”
The Os unveiled the design Monday with a video featuring a voiceover of Kondwani Fidel’s poem “You Can’t Clip These Wings,” whose title is printed as a slogan on the uniform’s cap, jersey, and socks. Fidel’s spoken poetry was played on the Camden Yards scoreboard before the Os games in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The announcement explains, “’You Can’t Clip These Wings’ is a melody that arises from the depths of Baltimore’s baritone. It’s a breathing rhythm that exemplifies the city’s perseverance. It is an embodiment of our pride and lets everyone know that Baltimore is all we got, and Baltimore is all we need.”
The simple bold typeface of the word “Baltimore” printed across the chest of the shirts is a nod to the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Globe Collection and Press, and the Baltimore arts scene in general. “The speckled details and the imperfections represent the shared grit the Orioles and the Baltimore community possess,” reads the announcement.
The video introducing the uniforms features a young man on a bicycle passing out posters reminiscent of Globe posters of the past to people in neighborhoods all over Baltimore with the slogan “You can’t clip these wings” printed in the familiar typeface against bold solid colors.
The Orioles are the first MLB team to design the inside of their uniform. The rationale comes from Baltimore’s history of innovation. “From historical artifacts and industry to institutions and ideas, the desire to create change is in our blood. Nothing is ever surface level with us; we always dig deep,” the Orioles’ unveiling stated.
The design of the inside of the uniform represents the neighborhoods that shape Baltimore City. “From the corner stores and barber shops to the schools and the everyday working people in our neighborhoods – it’s the neighborhoods that helped build us to be proud Baltimoreans we are today,” explained the announcement.
So while on the outside the uniform appears all black and white, the inside is colorful. “The greyscale exterior represents the surface level view people have of the City. Look deeper and you’ll find the colorful interior, inspired by Baltimore’s arts culture, that highlights the vibrancy of the City,” read the unveiling.
It continues, “Threaded from the artistic tapestry of our City, the palette is like our people: colorful, vibrant and quirky. Whether it’s our iconic rowhomes, egg custard or skylite snowballs, steamed crabs, lemon sticks or salt boxes, Fifi the poodle or pink flamingos, the Ravens or the Os, our colors run deep here in Baltimore.”
The announcement pointed out that the Orioles enlisted local Baltimoreans — natives and transplants — to create the City Connect reveal video, emphasizing that Baltimore-native Fidel was instrumental in the “collaborative creative process.”
The team will debut the uniform on the field for the first time this Friday against the Texas Rangers.
Many on Twitter approved of both the uniform and of the reveal.
Not everyone was impressed, and some were disappointed and angry. The uniform design was called boring, and its designers were accused of whitewashing and accomplishing the opposite of what they claim to have set out to do.