By Nick Shook
On the seventh day, Kent State took a risk.
In uniforms, that is.
The Flashes’ baseball team, which has sported a number of new looks this season—a new blue top, new pinstriped home uniforms (which are gorgeous) and a new gold top—took it one step further.
Kent State took the field in all gold. That’s right: gold tops and gold pants.
The Flashes surprised many by taking the field in these unique uniforms, accompanied by blue caps and white sanitary socks with blue stirrup socks. In the first game, they went with even more gold, wearing a gold cap with a blue K and blue brim. As it likely did for many baseball enthusiasts, it took my mind straight to the 1970s look of many teams in Major League Baseball.
The monochrome look was ditched long ago in baseball, save for all-white or all-gray uniforms, but it seems to be making a comeback.
And the best part about it? The players wanted the gold pants.
“We wanted to get something different,” Flashes senior outfielder T.J. Sutton says. “We wanted the pants to be different. We had an option between yellow or baby blue, and I don’t think they were going to let us do baby blue, because it’s not a school color.”
What Sutton didn’t know until I told him is Kent State once wore baby blue uniforms. It’s unlikely that anyone currently on campus knows this.
But I know because I had one.
My father once attended Kent State, and somehow, a Kent baseball uniform from the early 1980s landed in my closet as a child. I remember this only because the baby blue was so unusual to me, with a navy blue KENT screen-printed on the chest, that it made its mark on my memory.
I have no idea where that uniform is now. I still don’t know how it got there. But it definitely existed. I wish I had a photo to show you.
So, the current KSU players really wanted baby blue alternates, in the style of the Kansas City Royals’ current alternate. They ended up with all-gold. They still achieved what they wanted, which was to be different.
As a near-obsessive uniform buff who often does things simply to be different, I couldn’t have been happier when I heard that part.
Some may have thought the Flashes looked like bananas in their uniforms, but I think they’re a beautiful look. Granted, they’re 0-2 in the uniforms—which might discourage the players from wearing them again, depending on whether their superstition levels reach that of head basketball coach Rob Senderoff, who will have his team wear the same uniform until they lose in it—but it’s a great, unique look in college baseball, which harbors some of the best (and worst) uniforms in sports.
The Flashes are only one of three teams in America to take the field in an all-gold look. The other two are Vanderbilt and Florida State.
“We like the idea of them,” Sutton says with a laugh. “The majority of the team wanted them, that’s what I’ll say. It was a majority vote; coaches counted them.”
Kent State will only wear the uniforms when playing the final game of a series and going for the series sweep. Judging by how they’re playing as of late, we could see them more often, though their rocky start in the golden duds hasn’t exactly thrilled Sutton about them.
“We’ve got to play better in them,” Sutton says. “I’m not in favor of them, maybe it’s because we’re 0-2 in them.”
Like them or not, they’ll never be nearly as bad as these special “Turn Ahead the Clock” sets MLB teams trotted out back in 1998.
The all-gold set is one of four new uniform sets to go along with three new hats. The Flashes are nearing the territory of the Oregon Ducks football team, which has an outrageous amount of possible uniform combinations, and also happened to wear an all-yellow look last season.
Sutton’s favorite? It’s the blue top with the gold K on the left chest and gold numbers and nameplates, accompanied by white pants. But it is usually up to the day’s starting pitcher to make the clothing decision.
The new uniforms and sharper look is part of new head coach Jeff Duncan’s approach to his team and to the game. Sutton says Duncan, a former major-leaguer, is used to having a team with new, nice gear, but they must also take care of their fresh look.
“I think it’s the big league in him,” Sutton says. “Him and [volunteer assistant Brandon] Larson played in the 2000s, when Nike and all that stuff became real prominent. He’s a gear guy. You have that big league attitude and big league experience, you like nice, new stuff.
“He’s got kind of a policy, you know, he’ll tell you to go clean your spikes if they’re too dusty or too dirty. He likes to look sharp.”
It is likely that the Flashes, one of the sharpest-looking teams in the Mid-American Conference in terms of gear and play, will take the field in those all-gold uniforms at least once more this season.
Maybe a win or two will help the set grow on Sutton.
I know I’m already a fan.