Major League Baseball in 2019 will commemorate the 150th anniversary of professional organized baseball with a seasonlong series of uniform features and content integrations across its league-run media platforms.
The league’s celebration of the sport’s sesquicentennial will begin on Opening Day late next month with special cap patches worn by every player. The cap application has never been done to celebrate a major anniversary in baseball, but it will be similar to special postseason patches worn on the side of player caps.
There will also be a uniform patch worn all season on the right sleeve of player jerseys. Those sleeve patches recall similar ones used to celebrate baseball’s 100th anniversary in 1969 and 125th in 1994.
MLB is also planning an extensive series of anniversary-driven multimedia content commemorations of great moments in baseball history that will run on MLB Network, MLB.com and the league’s official social media channels.
“We are looking forward to recognizing our anniversary and celebrating our extensive history throughout the season,” said Barbara McHugh, MLB senior vice president of marketing. “Having that on-field reminder [with the uniform patches] in particular will be a constant presence of this milestone.”
The anniversary is tied to the 1869 formation of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first openly professional and all-salaried team, and one that ultimately led to the creation of the Cincinnati Reds.
As a result, the Reds will play a prominent role in the anniversary celebration. Club plans include the use of its own anniversary logo and 15 throwback uniforms during the 2019 season, a free public party on July 5 at Great American Ball Park called the Reds Rockin’ 150 Open House, an upgrade to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, and the development of a new memorial at the ballpark for that original team called the 1869 Pavilion.
The Reds’ commemorative efforts have been in the works for more than a decade.
“When you have 150 years of history, you don’t do it in one day, and you don’t do the planning in a couple of weeks,” said Reds COO Phil Castellini.
The 150th anniversary plans, however, will not overtake MLB’s lengthy series of other marketing campaigns and special events planned for the 2019 season. Other key initiatives this season include the ongoing Play Ball youth participation effort; the 100th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s birth last month that will be celebrated all year; an unprecedented schedule of international games that includes the first trip to Europe with two Yankees-Red Sox games in late June in London; special event games in Omaha, Neb., and Williamsport, Pa.; and various club-specific anniversaries, among others.
“We have a lot planned for the 2019 season,” McHugh said. “The 150th anniversary is certainly an important part of that as we celebrate our history, but we have a lot of other initiatives we will also be highlighting.”