Tigers gear up for the future with City Connect uniforms that embrace 'Motor City'

Detroit has been known as the “automotive capital of the world” since Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Over a century later, the “Motor City” moniker remains strong — and the Detroit Tigers are changing gears to tap in to that nickname with a new look.

The Tigers revealed their City Connect uniform on Monday, tapping into the “exciting future” of the franchise and city, while honoring Detroit’s rich automotive history.

The uniforms will debut Friday and Saturday against the Houston Astros and will be worn during every home Friday game throughout the season.

“The City Connect uniforms represent Detroit’s unique combination of muscle and innovation and pay homage to the city that put the world on wheels,” Tigers president and CEO Ryan Gustafson said in a news release. “The uniforms are symbolic of the revitalization and exciting future ahead for the Tigers and our great city.”

It’s a design that focuses on an “era of excellence” as the Tigers drive their “forward thinking, building something special through technology, youthful energy and optimism.

There are multiple elements of the electric blue and dark navy blue uniform that do exactly that. “Motor City” appears across the chest of the uniform for the first time in franchise history. Tiger eyes are on the beltline of the right side of the uniform and underneath the brim of the cap.

The “beautiful” shade of the jersey’s electric blue is also no accident, Katie Jackson, Tigers vice president of marketing, told ESPN. Detroit, and Michigan as a whole, is at the forefront of an electric vehicle renaissance, coinciding with the Tigers’ revitalization.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal for 2 million electric vehicles in the state by 2030, emphasizing accessibility.

“Electric blue, I mean, it truly is the innovation of what’s happening here in Detroit across the auto industry, the city itself and the team,” Jackson said.

The Tigers are also optimistic about their future, although their last playoff appearance came in 2014. Detroit has selected in the top five picks of the MLB draft in five of the past six years, including No. 1 overall picks Casey Mize in 2018 and Spencer Torkelson in 2020.

The aforementioned shade is featured on tire treads that run down the middle of the jersey and provide a pop of color. Racing stripes are included at the bottom of each sleeve and down the pants, “a nod to Detroit’s central role in the racing industry and parallels youthful speed and energy.”

One of the more unique elements of the design is a faux “vehicle identification number” that appears on the cap and uniform — 190135456884.

The “1901” represents the Tigers’ inaugural season as founding members of the American League. Season-ticket members identify themselves as “1901 society members.” The rest of the numbers — 35, 45, 68 and 84 — are the years Detroit won the World Series

“Because we’re immersed in it every day, being in Detroit, like auto is just so top of mind … so when thinking through what is a unique element that is distinctly auto, I mean, that is truly unique, right?” Jackson said. “There is a [VIN] for your car and that doesn’t exist anywhere else, and so that concept was a bit of, like, that ‘aha’ moment of, like, how do we make this really unique to us?”

A baseball-diamond-shaped patch with the numerals 313 is stitched on the side of the sleeve. It represents the Detroit area code with the 3s more reflective and the 1 in bold.

The 1 stands out to represent the M-1, a Michigan highway more commonly known to Detroiters as Woodward Avenue. In 1909, it became the first paved road in America and runs 27 miles from south Detroit to north Pontiac. The home of the Tigers, Comerica Park, is located at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

“That [sleeve patch] worked out so nicely to be able to really give a nod to both of those things that are so special to people who are from here,” Jackson said.

The electric blue going down the uniform stood out immediately to players. They reacted with amazement to the design, especially when seeing the specific elements.

“They really saw every element of it was so thoughtful and was really beautiful and something that they were super excited and proud to be wearing and certainly going to be proud on Friday to wear it as part of the debut,” Jackson said.

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