The picture at right is from a recent college baseball match-up between the University of Florida and the University of Rhode Island (via UniWatch). That jersey should look familiar. It is basically a complete knock-off of the Rays powder blue alternate jersey.

The serifs are a little smaller, and there is no sunburst. But everything else is identical, right down to the navy blue piping along the placket and on the sleeves.

Certainly, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Something the (Devil) Rays have never experienced before. But we wonder how the Rays, an organization that is very protective of their identity, and Majestic, the makers of big league jerseys, feel about this.

We have a feeling Rhode Island and Adidas will be receiving letters from Major League Baseball in the very near future.

 
 

6 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    No likelihood of confusion, Rhode Island probably sells less than 50 jerseys a year. No cause of action here.

    Vince (the man who gave you the 3 page waiver to sign before entering FanFest) would sue here, of course. The 2% people, however, should take it as a compliment (like Iowa football copying the Steelers unis by their own admission) and move on to more important uniform matters, like living up to their pledge to put Tampa Bay on the road jerseys.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      The Rays did sue that guy selling t-shirts near the trop with a logo that bore some resemblance to the sunburst logo.

      Besides, with the Rays I dont think it is about sales. It is about image and brand control. What if one of the Rhode Island players goes on a murderous rampage during a game while wearing that jersey? Of course, that is an absurd example, but the point is, if something bad or negative ever happened with a team wearing what is essentially a Rays jersey, it could have a negative feedback to the Rays even if they had nothing to do with it. Consider all the peaceful groups that used to use the swastika as a symbol. Same idea.

      That’s why schools like Wisconsin go around the country suing every high school that uses the flying W logo. It sucks, but that is the only way to have complete control of their image.

      • Gus says:

        The could sue under the guise of policing their trademark, but in this case, they shouldn’t, mostly because their is very little commercial use of college baseball apparel by teams in the NEAC. Like when Disney sued the day care for painting its characters on the walls. You get bad pr for picking on the little guy. You can police your mark by talking to the AD and saying next year, can you lay off our logo a little more without Naimoli calling the team lawyer to draft papers (not sure if the 2% has this in there, but it was surely telling that the first two Rays employees were (1) a lawyer and (2) Vince’s brother Ray (an accountant)).

        Plus if you consider where the Rays are now and where they were just 3 years ago — the idea that baby blue (with navy) are the hottest uniform colors at the college, high school and youth level is the ultimate compliment to the organization. No team’s re-branding has ever worked this well.

        • Derek says:

          Was Navy blue popular before the Rays? What about the Royals, they have an alt that is navy blue. Id like to know who came first. The bucs had a lot of success with their revamp.

          • Gus says:

            Royals have had the baby blue alts (a retro take on their all baby blues from the 1970s and 1980s) longer, but nobody sees them. Same thing with Toronto.

            Bucs killing Bucco Bruce was locally quite popular, but the Rays have greater national reach I think (helped that they got to the world series and won the AL East the same year of the new uniforms). As the anti-Red Sox and anti-Yankees, they have a built in market if they get good. Certainly two good models to emulate for rebranding.

  2. Preston says:

    As a born Floridian but a raised Iowan, I would like to point out that Hayden Fry got permission from the Steelers before using the jersey scheme. If I remember correctly, Coach Fry even had a meeting with the Steelers brass to discuss the adoption of their jerseys.

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