Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dunedin Blue Jays Turn Back the Clock and Create a Fantasy History

(This post originally appeared on Bus Leagues

Earlier this season, the Tampa Bay Rays held a “Turn Back the Clock Night”, dressing up in 1979-style Tampa Bay jerseys. There was only one problem: there was no Tampa Bay Rays or Devil Rays in 1979. Whereas some teams have worn jerseys of teams that have left their city, long-forgotten minor league teams, or honored Negro League teams long since passed, the Rays might have been the first team to create their own historical look.

Now the Dunedin Blue Jays are following the Rays and hosting their own fictional “turn back the clock” night this Saturday. Hosted by the Dunedin Historical Society and Museum, the promotion will bring the Dunedin ballclub back to the year 1929, 48 years before the team existed.

At first glance, I really like the turn back the clock promotion. I am a history fan and the Dunedin 1929 jerseys are really sharp. I like the look. I could definitely have pictured a team in Florida wearing a similar style jersey. Even better, they are auctioning off the jerseys after the game to raise money for the Historical Society, so fans can own and wear the jerseys to games in 2012 and beyond.

(Additional note: why haven't other teams in Florida done "turn back the clock nights" in their respective cities? I'd love to see the Daytona Beach Admirals or the West Palm Beach Sun Chiefs take the field again.)

I wonder why the Dunedin Blue Jays picked 1929 as the year to fictionally throw back to. Following the epic Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 and rolling into the Great Depression, there was no Florida State League from 1928 to 1936. Maybe that’s precisely why they picked 1929. It is a fictional team playing in a year that no organized baseball existed. The Dunedin Blue Jays opponent, the Stone Crabs of Port Charlotte, also hail from a city that was without baseball in the early days of the Florida State League. So it is a fantasy exhibition between two teams that did not exist in a year where baseball did not exist. I guess that makes sense.

That said, I am not really keen on re-writing or creating a fantasy history. There was no team, so hence, there should be no time to turn back to. Unless the Dunedin Blue Jays are imagining a world where Dunedin had a team and the Florida State League had a league in 1929. In that case, they shouldn’t be the Blue Jays, being that name also assumes in this fictional past that Toronto had a major league team, which they didn't get until 1977. Perhaps they should have played on Dunedin’s Scottish heritage and named the team the Highlanders for the day.

It’s less of a stretch than the Mercury Mets.

Speaking of, these “time transformational” promotions kinda remind me of Major League Baseball’s "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotions from 1999, although the uniforms are better. I wonder how soon until a minor league team throws itself back to 1955, and tops it off with a visit from a Delorean and Marty McFly and Doc Brown impersonators.

Great Scott, that would be heavy.