By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — There will be a new pitch on Major League Baseball fields next season.
The San Diego Padres became the first team to announce a deal for ads on their uniforms, saying Tuesday that patches with a Motorola logo will be worn on the right sleeves of their jerseys.
The March 10 memorandum of understanding for a new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players’ association gave the 30 teams the right to sell patch ads on uniforms and sticker ads on helmets. The sides adopted an Aug. 6, 2021, proposal by MLB to amend a section of the Official Baseball Rules which states: “No part of the uniform shall include patches or designs relating to commercial advertisement.”
MLB’s proposal read: “Notwithstanding the foregoing or anything else in these rules, a club may license to third-party commercial sponsors the right to place their name, logos and/or marks on the uniform, provided that the patch or design is approved in advance by the Office of the Commissioner after consultation with the players’ association.”
MLB decided to launch the uniform ads with the 2023 season and says it may start the helmet ads with this year’s postseason.
“Motorola’s iconic logo on our jersey is a perfect alignment with our Padres brand,” Padres CEO Erik Greupner said in a statement Tuesday.
Baseball has had ads in the past for special events. For the opening series in Tokyo, the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs wore sleeve patches in 2000 for the insurance company AIU and helmet decals for the am/pm convenience store chain, according to uni-watch.com. The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays had sleeve ads and helmet decals for the Japanese electronics company Ricoh in 2004; the Oakland Athletics had Pepsi ads on their sleeves and the Boston Red Sox EMC in 2008, when Ricoh was on both teams helmets; the Seattle Mariners had Boeing on sleeves and Oakland Athletics had the social app company Gloops in 2012, when Gloops was on both sleeves; and Oakland had MGM Resorts on sleeves and Seattle had the petroleum company Eneos in 2019, when there were no helmet ads.
Eintracht Braunschweig, then in the Bundesliga, became the first German club with advertising in March 1973 under an agreement with Jägermeister.
Jersey ads in Britain’s professional leagues started with Scotland’s Hibernian during the 1977-78 season and Bukta, a sportswear company, and extended to English League fields when Liverpool reached an agreement with Hitachi ahead of the 1979-80 season.
Juventus began shirt advertising in Serie A under a deal with Ariston in 1979, and Real Madrid started in Spain’s La Liga with Zanussi in 1982, according to footballpink.net.
Major League Soccer became the first of the major North American leagues to allow jersey ads in 2007. Real Salt Lake was the first to announce a deal, with the dietary supplement juice company XanGo.
Among other North American leagues, the NBA started selling sponsorship logos for the 2017-18 season. The NHL launched helmet ads for the 2020-21 season and began jersey advertising this season.
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