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Pirates Pirates fashion a new attitude

Players hope uniforms not only change in '01

Saturday, February 03, 2001

By Robert Dvorchak, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Not everybody who remembers the sleeveless look would have been familiar with the guitar licks of ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man".

To music and a shower of confetti, Lloyd McClendon shows off the Pirates' new home uniform. (Matt Freed, Post-Gazette)

But with rock lyrics and a shower of confetti, the Pirates reintroduced the sleeveless home and road uniforms yesterday at the Carnegie Science Center for PirateFest. They recall a bygone era but also are spiced with newfangled details that speak to the new ballpark, new manager and new outlook.

"Anytime we did as poorly was we did a year ago, there are obviously going to be lots of changes," outfielder Brian Giles said. "There's that excitement with the ballpark and the uniforms. This is how it all starts."

Giles wore the alternate home jersey, which is black and has sleeves. But the red-brimmed cap introduced in 1997 is gone. The new alternate cap is black with a gold bill, a red button and a gold "P" trimmed in red. The cap also has a red underbill, the first to be used in a major-league cap.

Manager Lloyd McClendon modeled the new home uniforms -- a sleeveless white jersey with black-gold-black piping around the arm holes and down the legs of the white pants. It will be worn at the April 9 home opener.

"It brings back a little bit of history," McClendon said.

Pirates catcher Jason Kendall donned the gray road uniform that will debut when the regular season opens April 3 in Cincinnati.

The home and road jerseys will have player names and numbers on the back and are worn with black undershirts sporting a Buccaneer head on the left shoulder.

Sleeveless look is part of the road uniforms, too. (Matt Freed, Post-Gazette)

"I think they're cool. It's a classic baseball look," Kendall said.

General Manager Cam Bonifay, a fan of the traditional look, called the road jersey "one of the cleaner gray uniforms in the game."

The Pirates last made uniform changes in 1997 and have worn 31 different looks in their 115-year history. The sleeveless look was worn between 1957 and the middle of the 1970 season, when the team changed to double knits going into Three Rivers Stadium.

"I think its a sharp uniform," said owner Kevin McClatchy. "It goes with the new beginning that started with the ballpark and the manager."

The last time Giles was in town was for a November players' meeting with McClendon, when, in a two-hour period, the air was cleared after last year's 93-loss season.

"We talked about what we need to do to get better. He wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth," Giles said. "We needed to get on the same page, have that family atmosphere. We didn't have that last year."

Giles said there were lots of things roiling last year -- Kendall's rehab from his ankle injury, high expectations from McClatchy's statement of 90 wins if everything went well, Gene Lamont's contract status and injuries to two starters.

Brian Giles models the new second cap. (Matt Freed, Post-Gazette)

"Everything was whacked," Giles said. "It just all added up. When things didn't go right, it got frustrating. Obviously, we need to be a little more disciplined. I'm as guilty as the next guy."

It will be a challenge for the Pirates to win given the economics of baseball, but Giles said the reason he signed a five-year contract extension was to win in the new ballpark.

"I've got enough money. It's about winning," he said. "A lot of things will have to go right. We have to find ways to win. But we have an opportunity to win. Anytime you have a new ballpark, it's not only good for the community but for the team."

As far as taking up McClendon's challenge to step forward as a leader, Giles said: "I'll lead my own way. I lead by example more than anything else."

Kendall, who signed six-year contract, is eager to get started. The reporting date for pitchers and catchers is 11 days away.

"I'm excited. It's that time of year to say your goodbyes at home and get rolling again," said Kendall, who will be in Pittsburgh again next weekend for his Dapper Dan award.

"You can only watch fish around in the tank for so long."

NOTES -- Among the 19 non-roster invitees the Pirates will bring to spring training is 39-year-old right-handed reliever Billy Taylor, who spent part of last season pitching for Tampa Bay.. ... Others who will be in camp are pitchers Paul Ah Yat, Manuel Bernal, Bobby Bradley, Balvino Galvez, Randy Galvez, Mike Garcia, Jason Ryan, Brian Smith, Steve Sparks, Marc Wilkins and Larry Wimberly; catchers Lee Evans and J.R. House; infielders Leo Gomez, Reggie Jefferson and John Wehner; and outfielders Thomas Howard and Adam Hyzdu.

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