Royals unveil new powder blues

Royals unveil new powder blues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Frank White remembers when the Royals first introduced powder blue road uniforms in 1973.

"Other Major League teams didn't like them, thought they were effeminate," White said on Thursday. "Then we started winning, and other teams started wearing them."

The Royals, however, put the powder-blue uniforms in moth balls after the 1991 season. The powder blues have long been a fan favorite in Kansas City with campaigns to bring them back.

After a lengthy absence, the powder blues will return in 2008. The new powder blue jerseys were unveiled to an enormous applause from season-ticket holders on Thursday night at a special private function at The Grand Ballroom.

Royals players John Buck, Mark Teahen, Alex Gordon, Jose Guillen and David DeJesus and manager Trey Hillman modeled the new powder-blue tops, which will be an alternate home jersey next season.

"Bringing back the powder blues will stimulate in bringing back some tradition," said White, a member of the Royals Hall of Fame who had his No. 20 retired. "We do have a [winning] history here. This will let them know there was a time when we were very successful and everybody wanted to be a Royal. I think it just symbolized a good time in Kansas City Royals history."

There were card-board cutouts of George Brett, Willie Wilson, Bo Jackson, Kevin Appier, Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza and White playing in the powder blues outside the ballroom.

John Mayberry, an All-Star first baseman on the Royals' first three American League West championship clubs in 1976-78, liked the polyester feel of the powder blues after wearing wool uniforms in 1972 at the old stadium.

"They were pretty comfortable," Mayberry said. "It was a leader in its time. I think that uniform was one of the best around. It was different. Everybody liked it. I know I did."

Assistant general manager Dean Taylor remembers the Royals wore the powder blues in St. Louis in 1985, the year the club won the World Series.

"It is part of the tradition of this franchise," Taylor said. "We were one of the clubs that initiated [powder blues] in that era, and then others copied it. The new powder blues is a modern update look that the fans will relate to."

Outfielder Teahen like the new powder-blue look.

"It is cool," Teahen said. "I know what it means to Kansas City."

Gordon will not only be wearing a different color Royals uniform, but with a different number, switching from No.7, which he had as a rookie, to No. 4.

"That was my number growing up, and that's what I wore my whole life," he said.

Royals Lancer Doug Hinton is happy to see the club bring back the powder blue tops of his youth.

"I just remember all the winning tradition wearing the powder blues, the team running around Yankee Stadium wearing powder blue," Hinton said. "I'm glad they are bringing them back. That's what I remember growing up. My kids saw them and said they are kind of cool."

Paul Splittorff, a Royals announcer and Hall of Fame pitcher, started recalling many of the great moments in club history that occurred on the road: Steve Busby's two no-hitters; Brett's home run off Rich "Goose" Gossage in the 1980 playoffs at New York; the Royals winning Games 6 and 7 of the 1985 American League Championship Series at Toronto; and Bo Jackson's three home runs at Yankee Stadium.

"All in powder blue," Splittorff said.

When White homered in the All-Star Game, he was wearing the powder blue.

The powder blue will return next year, but this time it will be at Kauffman Stadium, not on the road. It will be the first time in club history for the Royals to wear the powder blue uniforms at home.

"As we all know, the uniform and color scheme is not going to allow us to win championships," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "But I think this is a very, very special concept that our front office and our leadership team came up with. It is a melding of the old and the new, and I know that our players are going to be so proud and honored to wear this uniform. It's not a retro jersey, but an alternative jersey that we are going to wear at home. I think the fans are going to enjoy it."

Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.