Astros FanFest was full of the normal fun events related to the start of the Houston Astros season. There was one exception from the traditional FanFest schedule, an event labeled "Astros Jersey Evolution and New Jersey Reveal, with Authentication Manager Mike Acosta and hosted by Robert Ford."
At the event, Acosta and Ford went through the colorful history of the Astros uniforms from the Colt .45s to the brick and red era. Then came the time for Acosta to show the waiting Astros fans the team's new alternate jersey.
"We felt it was a shame that (the rainbow jersey) would take a backseat again as a batting practice," said Acosta. "Our buyer and I worked close together and talked about (making) an effort to try to get a (rainbow) game jersey but do a couple different things with it.
"I just sat down and started drawing stuff."
Acosta unzipped an Astros jacket on a manikin to reveal a blue Astros jersey with orange letters and the rainbow pattern running down the sides -- similar to the Astros' batting practice jersey but clearly different.
"We wanted to have that representation (on the field)," said Acosta. "We liked the look internally and the players liked it.
"After the 2014, we talked the players and they really liked it. But (we couldn't) tailor it. You can't cut to our specifications."
The biggest change was the switch from the star-h on the left-hand chest panel to an 'Astros' script across the breast similar to the white and orange uniforms. The more detailed changes appeared in the rainbow pattern that more closely reflected the 1970's Astros jersey and an overall material change from the previous batting practice jersey.
"For most ballplayers, it feels different when (an embroidered emblem) on one side and nothing on the other," said Acosta."
The rainbow pattern was key for Acosta's new design.
"The main thing was I really wanted the rainbow pattern of the original uniforms," said Acosta. "I want to do a little more.
"I didn't want to literally take the batting practice jersey and turn it into a game jersey."
The jersey is a mesh of a modern look and a look to the past.
"When you stretch, hold up a bat, reach out for a base or make any type of play on the field, all of the sudden you get this glimpse of the rainbow uniform of the past," said Acosta. "Where if a player is crouched at third base, shortstop or first base and waiting for the ball, it looks like a solid navy jersey.
"It looks like a modern jersey but all of the sudden action happens and you that rainbow look."
With the new jersey, comes a new hat as well. It is a combination the blue and orange primary hats, using the crown off the orange cap and a blue brim.
"The only thing we changed was the bill," said Acosta. "It's the opposite version of the road hat."
The star will have the two tone dark and light blue like the past two season. The single tone star from the 2013 season was actually a manufactory mishap.
"Our style guide (in 2013) had a two tone star (like you see now)," said Acosta. "But it was manufactured that way the first year with that one tone. In 2014, they more or less corrected that. It's the way it should be."
With the addition of this new uniform, the batting practice jersey from the past few years will be no more.
"The batting practice jersey is gone," said Acosta. "We no longer have a batting practice jersey. Most of the guys don't wear it. We have designated (the blue alternate jersey) as the go-to if someone wants to wear a jersey."
The batting practice jersey is gone, but the Astros will have a new batting practice hat. Acosta noted that the new BP hat wasn't at the presentation but it will be similar to the previous years' version but with the colors flipped -- a blue crown and orange bill.
The conversation with Acosta turned to the Astros' choice with current and throwback uniforms -- specifically the shooting star jersey from 1960's and the rainbow shoulder jersey from the 1980's and 1990's.
"I hear a lot of talk about bringing the shooting star uniform (back)," said Acosta. "If we did that in my opinion it wouldn't hold the same effect as seeing it as a throwback game.
"If we wore the rainbow uniform all the time right now, you might get tired of them. But if you incorporate elements of your history, what I call the heritage and the DNA of the franchise, then it lasts. It becomes something new, but you know it's the Astros."
The landscape for baseball jerseys was drastically changed this offseason by the Arizona Diamondbacks who add fading colors to panels on their jersey and cap -- pushing baseball jerseys that normally very conservative and traditional into the modern age.
"I thought it was pretty cool," said Acosta. "You look at baseball from a brand standpoint and the history of the game, then you look at the franchise -- a prime example is (the Astros).
"The fact that the (Astros) did the rainbow uniforms is almost the way (the Diamondbacks) are doing their uniforms now. They've made a statement about their identity."