MLB, MLBPA revive and expand Players’ Weekend

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have finalized plans for the third annual Players Weekend, slated for Aug. 23-25, with players again featuring nicknames on their jerseys and customized accessories such as spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, and compression sleeves.

Started in 2017, the Players Weekend effort is a joint effort between management and labor in baseball to showcase player personalities and seek out additional connections with fans, particularly younger ones. 

The customized accessories reflects a temporary and intentional lifting of typical MLB uniform rules for players, though the league and union and prior to this season did also relax for every game its prior mandate that player spikes have least 51 percent of the exterior be of the club’s designated primary shoe color.

In addition to the jersey nicknames and custom uniform accessories, players will again have the option to wearing t-shirts spotlight a cause or charity of their choice during batting practice and post-game interviews. Like the prior two years, the game-worn jerseys from Players’ Weekend, along with batting helmets, will be auctioned to be benefit the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, which seeks to expand the reach and efficacy of amateur baseball and softball.

This year’s Players’ Weekend will carry several particular changes to the prior two iterations. First, the league and union have also eased usual rules regarding player use of mobile devices and social media near gametimes to allow device usage, including on field and in the dugouts, right up to the singing of the National Anthem before first pitch. 

This year’s uniform designs for Players’ Weekend have additionally traded out the colorful, Little League-inspired versions from 2017 and 2018 for monochromatic all-black and all-white looks. Each home team will pick which version they will wear, though pitchers on teams wearing white uniforms will wear black caps to enable batters and umpires to see each pitch properly. The monochromatic look is aimed in part at allowing the custom accessories to stand out even more. The design strategy will also extend to batting helmets, with each player helmet decorated matte black or matte white. 

MLB and the MLBPA have also expanded the prior player ambassador program for Players’ Weekend, and this year have designated one player from each club that will help promote the event. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs will also wear jerseys with nicknames during the third annual MLB Little League Classic on Aug. 18 in Williamsport, Pa., which is another key event in the sport’s youth outreach initiatives. But that particular game will not feature the other elements of Players’ Weekend such as the custom accessories.