Rays’ ‘Turn Back the Clock’ uniforms want to party like it’s 1979

David Brown
Big League Stew

Everyone knows that Major League Baseball arrived in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the 1998 season. What the Tampa Bay Rays presuppose by having a "Turn Back the Clock" to 1979 day is, what if it didn't?

That the Rays didn't exist in '79 yet is not stopping them from donning the uniforms modeled by skipper Joe Maddon in the above photo for a game against the Detroit Tigers on June 30. The duds are '70s chic, and could be described as '79 San Diego Padres meet '78 Seattle Mariners, meet '77 Atlanta Braves, meet '76 mom's kitchen. With a little Milwaukee Brewers thrown in, especially with the cap. Two shades of blue — sky and navy — along with a dash of sunshine yellow, the unis perfectly capture what the Rays look might have been had they ... been. The "A" in Rays is a sunshine/orange deal that sort of looks like if a blow dryer mated with a French horn. But it was the '70s, when subversive subconscious suggestions became popular in advertising. Accuracy!

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The Rays have done "Turn Back the Clock" games for 10 years, and in other seasons have used old Devil Rays jerseys or uniforms from minor-league teams that used to play in the area. This is cooler.

The Tigers are good sports for playing along (visiting teams don't always), wearing their Alan Trammell-Lou Whitaker-Kirk Gibson-Jack Morris-era road grays. Note that the olde English "D" is orange like in today's Tigers' road cap, but is slightly bigger with a white outline for a 3-D effect. (OK, I might be a uniform nerd.)

And '79 was a good year for Detroit, as Sparky Anderson took over midseason as manager and "Magnum, P.I." debuted on CBS with Tom Selleck in the titular role as a private investigator who often wore a Tigers cap and sometimes even went out for a beer with the double play combination:

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