Baseball season is almost here! The 2018 season will begin Friday afternoon at 4 P.M. down in Hattiesburg, MS where the Bulldogs will take on Southern Miss. Due to ongoing construction on the new Dudy Noble Field, the first three weeks of the season will be played exclusively on the road; the Bulldogs will return to a partially-finished Dudy Noble on March 6th against New Mexico State, and will host 5 SEC home series as usual.
With the exception of the mid-2000s, Mississippi State has generally had some of the better uniforms in college baseball. In 2018, they might just have the best. Two uniforms have been confirmed for the season, a couple more are likely, and a few more are possible. The big news is that the maroon 85 v-neck pullovers are back; 2018 will be the first season since 2015 that the Bulldogs have worn a maroon jersey with the "85" wordmark, and the first since the originals were retired around 1988 with the full v-neck pullover look.
“Everything going around the country now is all about crazy uniforms and how many models can you have and what kind of new stuff you can come up with to attract 16, 17, and 18 year old kids to want to come and play in your program. When I really started to think about it, I think Mississippi State has that same position as Alabama football, as Penn State football; those are schools that never ever change their colors- they never get away from their everyday uniforms. When everybody thinks of Mississippi State baseball, they think of those 80s years with those uniforms with the v-neck maroon and white; Clark and Palmeiro, Thunder and Lightning, Brantley and Thigpen, and Ron Polk. So one of the first things I did last year when I got here was say “We are going to go back, we’re gonna turn back the clock, we’re bringing back those uniforms, because I really believe that’s what Mississippi State is about. So we’re breaking those out this year, and those are gonna be with us for the foreseeable future; I just believe those are the coolest uniforms in the country, and we’re gonna rock them everyday.”
-Mississippi State HC Andy Cannizaro on the new Maroon 85 Pullovers
(on Out of Bounds, ESPN The Zone 105.9)
The updated maroon 85s were announced by Cannizaro on Twitter on Sunday, and were worn by the team to Fan Day later that day. The pullovers feature double collar stripes that meet in a v-neck as well as thick double stripes on the sleeves, both reminiscent of the original 1980s design. Also like the 1980s design, the pullovers don't feature front numbers. The back of the pullovers are identical to the backs of the maroon MS jerseys; numbers in the "Starkville" font with the state of Mississippi outline above. Possibly the only weak point of these uniforms is the fact that they do feature the more block-like numbers rather than the western number font that matches the front wordmark.
The uniforms weren't a complete surprise; this is actually the fourth year in a row that new jerseys have been shown off at Fan Day. The updated maroon 85 jerseys were worn at Fan Day in 2015, the gray pinstripes in 2016, and the white "State" pinstripes in 2017. Cannizaro had previously hinted in a couple of tweets that 85-style uniforms were coming in 2018; he actually seemed to hint more towards traditional white 85s (his favorite Mississippi State baseball uniform) making a comeback, so it was a bit surprising to see the maroon 85s revealed instead. I do still expect updated white 85s to be worn in 2018- hopefully matching the maroon versions.
In addition to the new 85-style pullovers, the maroon MS jerseys also got a slight makeover for the 2018 season. Switching to the newest Adidas template, the maroon MS jerseys are now full-button. Other design changes include a slightly different SEC patch, slightly thicker sleeve piping, and the movement of the Adidas logo from the right chest to the left chest.
While I think the button-down jersey is an upgrade over the two-button, I can't help but think that the terrible placement of the Adidas logo makes this an overall downgrade. The logo was inexplicably moved from the right chest, where it fit perfectly, to the left chest, where it is right above the MS logo. This needlessly clutters the left side of the jersey while leaving the right side completely blank, creating an unbalanced look. Looking at all of the other teams' jerseys on the new Adidas template, you will notice that the Adidas logo placement is the same on all of them, so that may have been something that Adidas would not budge on. Still, I wish they would look at it on a case-by-case basis and not force something that looks off.
Other uniforms that could see the field in 2018 include the white and gray pinstripe jerseys that were both worn in 2017. Given that the white "State" pinstripes were only introduced in 2017 and jerseys tend to last at least two seasons, I think it is very likely that they see the field again in 2018. By the same rule, there is a chance that the gray pinstripes, which were introduced back in 2016, may not see the field in 2018. They have reached their two-year life expectancy, but there is still a chance that they come back for a third year, especially given the higher than usual amount of road games that the Bulldogs will play this season.
There's always the chance that a new, unexpected uniform is thrown into the mix in 2018. A new gray or cream jersey would be welcomed with open arms. There's also a possibility of a more modern dark gray or black alternate being introduced. In fact, it's usually more surprising when new uniforms aren't unveiled during the season; last year was an exception to the rule, when all four jerseys were worn within the first two weekends of the season.
I do not expect the inverted white 85 jerseys to return in 2018. Given the possibility of more traditional white 85 pullovers returning and the fact that the inverted white 85s have surpassed the two-year mark, I think it is a safe assumption that these jerseys saw their final appearance in last year's Baton Rouge Super Regional.
To recap, the 2018 Mississippi State Baseball Uniform Lineup:
I, along with many others, have been calling for the return of the 85 pullovers for years- scroll back through the concepts section for proof. This feels like something Adidas could have done 5 years ago but just never did- shoutout to Andy for pushing them to finally do it. I hope that there are indeed white versions to go along with them; Maroon MS, Maroon 85, White 85, White Pins, and Gray Pins would be a killer uniform lineup. If it ends up being anything close to that, there won't be any debate over who has the best uniforms in college baseball in 2018.