Specialty uniforms spice up life in minor league sports

One of the hottest trends in minor league sports these days is specialty uniform jerseys and the Tulsa Oilers have certainly worn their share them this season.

This past Saturday, the Oilers wore a camouflage jersey in honor of the National Wild Turkey Federation. After the game the jerseys were auctioned to fans to raise money for the organization. Generally, whenever teams wear specialty jerseys the proceeds from the auctions go toward that particular charitable organization. On occasion, there is no charity connected to the special jersey, and the team keeps the money raised from the auction.

Earlier this season, Tulsa sported special jerseys for the Junior Oilers – raising funds for the junior team in town, Military Night with proceeds going to Folds of Honor Foundation, red and green ugly Christmas sweaters, pink jerseys for Turn Tulsa Pink, and still to come will be a special purple jersey to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Some of those themes are popular among all teams; especially the ones in support of veterans groups, the pink jerseys to raise funds for cancer support organizations, and the Christmas jerseys.

Another popular thing many teams are doing is wear “throwback” jerseys, by bringing back uniform designs from the team’s past, either for just one night or as a third or alternate uniform.

The Oilers had a very unique design last season when they asked fans to submit photos of themselves on Facebook, and then the team wore jerseys with a collage of thousands of fan photos. This is one of my favorite ideas because it is unique and gets the fans involved. Although the uniforms didn’t have much eye appeal, especially from a distance, to say your picture is on a hockey jersey is quite cool and those jerseys proved to be very popular among the fans.

Other hockey teams have also turned on their creative juices with unique specialty jerseys.

The Wichita Thunder donned tuxedo designed jerseys for New Year’s Eve.

The Hershey Bears wore a Groundhog Day jersey with a cartoon groundhog poking his head out of a hole, and on March 20, they will be wearing a green St. Patrick’s Day themed jersey.

Possibly one of the coolest designs was the royal blue with red trim Dr. Seuss jerseys worn by the Rapid City Rush in 2015. The jerseys featured a few of the Dr. Seuss characters – Thing 1, Thing 2 and the Cat in the Hat. These jerseys were worn to promote a book drive the team hosted.

Many teams have worn jerseys with particular Hollywood themes – like Star Wars and superhero jerseys. Even the Tulsa Drillers wore Star Wars themed baseball uniforms last season, which were auctioned off to raise funds for charity.

So if you’ve missed out on the recent bevy of specialty jerseys, don’t worry, I’m sure there will be many more to come. It’s a trend that will be around for a long time to come; just keep checking the Oilers and Drillers promotion schedules.

TED OWENS MOVIE

Former Oral Roberts and Kansas head basketball coach Ted Owens will soon have a movie made about the Cameron College baseball team he led to the 1958 Junior College Baseball National Championship. Members of the team recently reunited in Oklahoma City to take part in a series of videotaped interviews talking about their experience winning the very first Junior College National Championship tournament.

The interviews are part of the preparations for production of a feature length motion picture, The Hang Up, which details the story of the team as outlined in chapter seven of Owens’ book, At The Hang Up, about the miraculous season that produced this championship. The movie is being produced by Total Entertainment Partners, a Tulsa-based group led by Scott E. Thomas, J. W. Weeks and Gray Frederickson, Academy Award-winning producer of Godfather II and artist-in-residence at the Oklahoma City Community College School of Film and Video.

The term, “The Hang Up” refers to cotton farmers that spent all day picking cotton bolls by hand – a job that Owens had as a young man. It was grueling work. At the end of the row their sacks are weighed at the “hang-up.” It was the measure of how well you did that day. But there’s another “hang up” at the end of your life, Owens wrote in his book. This “hang up” is a measure of what you did with the life God blessed you with. Under the pressures of life…who were you?

This is a movie about how sports changes life and builds character and how this epic moment in the lives of these young men cast the die for the rest of their lives. Principal shooting is scheduled to begin spring of 2017.