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On This Date in Sports July 27, 1999: The Mets are out of the World

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The New York Mets go interplanetary for Turn Ahead the Clock Night, becoming the Mercury Mets as they hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates in a bizzaro promo with futuristic uniforms at Shea Stadium. The concept was the brainchild of the Seattle Mariners promo department who wore “future” uniforms against the Kansas City Royals in 1998 with several teams following suit in 1999, with only the Mets leaving the planet Earth.

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It all started in 1990 when the Chicago White Sox playing in their final season at Comiskey Park decided to have one game against the Milwaukee Brewers in which they wore uniforms that looked like they were from 1917. Called “Turn Back the Clock Day” it was a great mix of nostalgia, that helped kick off a new market for retro jerseys. Soon every team was hosting their own throwback nights, with often the visiting team also wearing retro uniforms.

In 1998, as the 20th century was nearing an end the Seattle Mariners decided to reverse the concept and wear mock-ups of what they thought uniforms would look like in 2027 as they played the Kansas City Royals, who also wore uniforms from the future. They even went as far as to have players on the Mariners look like characters from Star Trek on the scoreboard, while Ken Griffey Jr. used the name Trey Griffey in reference to his son. (Trey Griffey in 2019 is still trying to make it in the NFL and is back with the Pittsburgh Steelers in training camp, with whom he was on the Practice Squad in 2018.) Even sponsors hopped on board with Northwest Airlines, becoming Northwest Spacelines. The Mariners would win the game 8-5 thanks to a three-run home run by Alex Rodriguez.

The Mariners promo was a success, that other teams followed suit with a promotion sponsored with Century 21. There were a total of 14 teams hosting Turn Ahead the Clock promotions, the New York Yankees were notable in their refusal, claiming they will be wearing the same pinstripe uniforms in the future. The Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays also declined to participate. Whereas the 1998 Mariners promo was a success, the 1999 copycat did not go over well as fans did not rush out and request futurized uniforms, as the games were often mocked by sportscasters and players.

Every team was content to just wear team uniforms with future style versions of their current logo, except the New York Mets who took it to a more bizarre level but not in a creative and innovative way, it was more of a Buzz Killington style, that went beyond cringe-worthy. You see the Mets decided to play as the Mercury Mets, thinking somehow in the future they would relocate to the planet closest to the sun. The uniforms feature the planet Mercury and a symbol resembling that of Prince with Mercury Mets written on the side. The hats were black and white with the same symbol replacing the orange NY.

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Things got off to a rough start for the Mercury Mets, as Al Martin of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit a leadoff home run against Orel Hershiser. When Mets leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson stepped up to plate, he needed to step out of the box, as he was dumbfounded by an image of himself as a three-eyed alien on the diamond vision. The rest of the game would not go much better for the Mets as the Pirates added a run in the fourth and two in the sixth as Martin added a second home run. Mercury’s only run came in the seventh on a home run by Robin Ventura, as Kris Benson went the distance to earn the win for Pittsburgh, 5-1. The Pirates improved to 49-51 with the win, while the Mets dropped to 60-42. It was the only loss they would suffer in an eight-game stretch, proving they should have stayed in New York and not ventured off-planet.

One other side note would see the Turn Ahead the Clock promotion canceled at Fenway Park when the Boston Red Sox future uniforms were “lost”. As 2000 arrived, sanity returned and throwback games have become even more popular, as teams have even begun to wear throwbacks regularly. Only the Mariners would revisit Turn Ahead the Clock Day, as a 20th anniversary throwback to the original Turn ahead the clock day in 2018, fortunately, they did not throw us into a time paradox or disrupt the earth time continuum with the throwback to a turn ahead the clock day uniform.