Greg Bader, Baltimore's director of communications, said that the changes have been in the plans for almost a year now and that they originated with Peter Angelos, the team's managing partner. Bader also said that the Orioles hoped to re-position their brands in a way that emphasized their deep-seated roots in Baltimore.
"We're always re-evaluating our brands and we're proud to represent our local fans and area," he said of the changes, which include restoring the word Baltimore to the team's road jersey. "And with these moves, we hope to connect to the community, to honor the 55-year history of our franchise and to also look to the future."
The Orioles estimated that 2,500 people turned out for the ceremony, stopping the normal business routine of Baltimore's Harborplace and the Gallery, a shopping mall located at the Inner Harbor. Black-and-orange was everywhere, from balloons tied to railings to banners attached to the various overhangs on each floor.
Local broadcaster Jim Hunter served as the emcee for the proceedings, and several of the team's current players served as models for the new uniforms. Staff ace Jeremy Guthrie was on hand for the event, as was third baseman Melvin Mora, outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis and relievers Dennis Sarfate and George Sherrill.
"It's good to have this kind of support here for something like this," said Sherrill, the team's closer. "Hopefully we can take this, make some moves and take the fever into Spring Training. ... We didn't know how many people we'd get, but a lot of people took time off work to come out and take their lunch break. It's good to see."
Perhaps the most notable effect of the re-design is the initiative to replace the team name with the city's on the road jerseys, a script lettering that quite literally spells out the place the Orioles call home. That element had been missing for decades, causing local fans to openly call for a road jersey that emphasized their home city.
Franchise icon Jim Palmer and current star Markakis were the first to model the new road duds, which were met with a thunderous ovation from the gathered crowd. Palmer and former first baseman Boog Powell welcomed the return to the familiar look, which hadn't been seen around Baltimore in more than three decades.
"I'm very proud of this uniform," said Palmer, a Hall of Famer. "It's the only one I ever wore."
"It's a very special moment," added Powell, who has stayed connected to the team through his barbecue concession at Camden Yards. "I put [this uniform] on for some 17 years and I get just as big a thrill putting it on this morning."
And the Orioles have not only restored their home city's name to their jerseys, they've also returned to a more familiar uniform. Baltimore's jerseys and pants will include a simple element of striping that hearkens back to uniforms from days gone by, and the team's hats will include small changes to the team's familiar logo.
The team's Oriole logo will be offset with white in its chest, a coloring detail that should play well with its jersey colors. Baltimore will wear white pants and white jerseys at home and grey pants with grey jerseys on the road, but there will also be a black alternate jersey that the team can wear either at Camden Yards or at away games.
"I'm not from Baltimore, I'm not from Maryland but I represent this city now," said Sarfate. "Seeing the city of Baltimore across your chest is something special, and it's something special to these fans. They haven't seen it in a while, and hopefully, we can put wins with the new uniform. I think we'd all rather win, [even if we] wear nothing."
The changes have even manifested themselves in the team's business cards, which used to feature the Oriole bird coasting over a baseball diamond background. Now, the diamond has been removed and the team's color orange has been re-emphasized, allowing the Orioles to enhance their trademarks without reinventing them.
Another key part of the re-design is the sleeve patch that recognizes the club's home state. The patch includes elements of the state flag and the team name and will be present at home and on the road. Taken by itself, it's just another measure of pride in the community and another way of tying the thread together.
"I think a lot of thought was put into it and I think it looks very nice," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "And I think it's accommodated the players and the fans, which is the most important thing. It's kept a very significant part of Orioles tradition and history intact and it's returned to some of those things as well.
"This just ought to tell everybody how important the Baltimore Orioles are in this community and in this city. It's because of the people that are here and because of the people that have done so much to make the Orioles what they are. ... The key thing here is there's a tremendous amount of pride in this city and this community."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less