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Championship Colors

by David Villavicencio

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The colors are unmistakable.

The uniforms are unforgettable.

And the orange and green U and Old English M?

Legendary.

The Miami Hurricanes are one of the most successful programs in the history of college baseball, totaling over 2,600 wins while making 25 trips to the College World Series and winning four national championships. But Miami is known as much for its renowned uniforms as it is for its winning ways.

“It’s a very powerful and recognizable brand,” said Miami director of baseball operations Robert “G.M.” McDaniel. “Obviously, we have the U, but baseball also has the M that goes back to when Coach Fraser started building the program up. The M is an iconic logo in college baseball that gets recognized across the country. I remember growing up as a kid here in Miami you always saw the old school Miami script and the M logo; you hardly ever saw the U logo back then.

“For college baseball fans, especially people that grew up watching UM baseball, if you asked them what our logo was, they’d probably say the M,” McDaniel continued. “It’s definitely a recognized logo in our sport that I’d say is right up there with the U. When I first got here 20 years ago, we used the M on everything and rarely used the U logo. Over the years we have put the U on more stuff, but we have always used the M a lot because that M is a huge part of Miami baseball.”

Miami head coach Gino DiMare is a Hurricane to the core. DiMare grew up attending Hurricanes games before having a standout career as an outfielder under legendary head coach Ron Fraser.

Shortly after hanging up his cleats as a player, DiMare went into coaching and spent two decades working as an assistant on college baseball icon Jim Morris’ staff before taking the reins of his alma mater’s baseball program in 2019. In his three years leading the Canes, DiMare has made an emphasis on infusing Miami’s rich tradition to its on-field look.

“I’m a guy that’s experienced a lot of history here and grew up with that M being one of the most recognizable logos in college baseball and we want to try to bring that back,” DiMare said. “The history of our program is something we all take great pride in and both the U and the M are huge symbols that represent our program. The U is a much bigger one that is known across the world to be the University of Miami, but anybody that has been around college baseball for the last 30 to 40 years knows when they see that M that it’s Miami baseball. So, that’s why you see us wear both logos throughout our uniforms and our gear. It’s a big deal. You want to have something that whenever they see that logo, they know exactly what that is and that’s a big deal for us.”

DiMare and McDaniel play large roles in designing the Hurricanes’ uniforms, with the director of baseball operations taking DiMare’s input and working with adidas to come up with designs for Miami’s head coach to choose from.

“adidas works with us hand-in-hand to come up with our uniforms,” McDaniel said. “There’s a person that oversees all uniforms for all sports the sports and I work with him to tell him what we’re looking for.

“Gino is also involved in the process,” McDaniel added. “He gives us ideas on what he would like to see and he approves all designs before we decide to get them made. Gino grew up here as a Miami fan and obviously played here before coaching here, so he takes a lot of pride in the program and likes that we have taken a throwback feel with some of our uniforms. He really likes the M and the script Hurricanes looks because they go back to our tradition.”

Miami’s traditional uniforms include jerseys in orange, green, white and gray, but McDaniel has helped work some alternate looks into the uniform rotation that have helped keep the Canes looking sharp while winning on the field.

“Personally, I don’t like to have the same uniform for more than two or three years,” McDaniel said. “We are always going to have a green jersey, an orange jersey, a white jersey and a gray jersey, but I like to change the designs every two or three years.

“And then you add in the other uniforms like we started the black again last year and brought that back after a few years without it and we have the camo jerseys,” McDaniel continued. “And we have used the pink jerseys for the pink game in the past and a few years ago we had a creme uniform. We also have done special caps for games on St. Patrick’s Day and things like that, so there are always new and different things that we like to do with our uniforms while sticking with our brand and our traditions.”

The Canes’ two newest jerseys for 2021 are a nod to the past, as the orange top with “Miami” in Old English lettering across the front is inspired by uniforms from Fraser’s tenure leading the program. The white jersey, which features “Hurricanes” in script lettering across the chest, is a new take on the classic green jersey Miami players wore for decades.

While there are two new jerseys in this year’s rotation, Miami will have plenty of options to choose from when they suit up for games in 2021.

“It’s not like in Major League Baseball where most teams have a home and a road uniform and maybe one or two alternates,” McDaniel said. “It seems like almost every college program in power five and even a bunch of mid-majors have at least three or four uniforms. Here at Miami, we usually have anywhere from six to eight. It’s something our players really like and our fans want to see.”

In addition to coming up with new uniform concepts, McDaniel takes pride in helping design all of Miami’s team apparel. Entering his 21st season with Hurricanes baseball, McDaniel lets his creativity run wild as he comes up with new and different designs for the players to wear each year.

“I always try to take care of our guys and give them new and different stuff,” McDaniel said. “I like to have it where if you’re a player, you’re not having the same shirt for two years, three years, four years. I like to switch it up for them so they have options. We had a lot of things with “U Baseball” when I first got here and it looked great. But over time, I learned that I liked to switch it up where it’s not the same words and not the same look every year. We are fortunate that adidas does so much for us and I work with them to figure out what I want on the shirts. Some of the stuff we give them is for practice or workouts, but there is some gear that they might even want to wear out to class or around campus or to travel.”

While Miami’s gear has always been recognizable and coveted, the amount of clothes the players get has multiplied exponentially as college baseball has grown over the years.

“I feel bad when I think back to my first couple of years here because the guys in the last seven or eight years are getting a lot more stuff than guys when I first got here,” McDaniel said. “The players love the gear and they are proud to wear it. I’ve noticed that now with the popularity of social media, guys see what other schools are giving their players, so I try to take care of our guys as much as possible.”

The Hurricanes partnered with adidas in 2015, when the two megabrands agreed to a 12-year pact where the three-striped apparel brand would be the official sponsor for the University of Miami through June 30, 2027.

“We’re an adidas school so most of the stuff we have is adidas and we’re very fortunate that we get taken care of so well with what we get to wear with our uniforms,” DiMare said. “People recognize our uniforms. Miami has some of the more popular uniforms in college baseball and we have a bunch of them out there. Then, of course, there’s the shoes and cleats and all the stuff that our players get with that like workout gear and polos and things like that, so adidas has been great to us.”

Like DiMare, fourth-year first baseman Alex Toral is a South Florida native who grew up loving the Hurricanes. The veteran infielder loves representing The U and has enjoyed the notoriety that comes with wearing the famous orange and green.

“We definitely stand out everywhere we go,” Toral said. “No matter where I’ve gone, if I’m wearing a U on my chest or I’ve got an M on or Miami on everybody’s like, ‘Oh, that’s the Canes.’ Even in summer ball when I’ve gone to play in different places, everybody wants to trade for one of my shirts or asking if they can trade for something I have of Miami. That logo and those colors are something that people instantly recognize and are attracted to. That reputation and that swagger are known across the country.”

Miami’s uniforms are iconic and the program is elite. With so much success on the field and one of the most powerful brands in all of baseball, the Hurricanes have the opportunity to partner with some of the biggest equipment providers in the sport.

“We’re very fortunate to work with Wilson,” McDaniel said. “We feel that Wilson is one of the better products out there so we have the Wilson gloves and our guys can choose to either swing a DeMarini bat or a Louisville Slugger bat because they are both owned by Wilson. We are fortunate that we’re not stuck on one brand for bats and I think our guys appreciate having that choice. I think that’s a huge thing for them and for recruiting where players that come here know they’ll have six or seven models of bats to choose from.”

The Hurricanes’ partnership with Wilson, which owns DeMarini, Louisville Slugger and Evoshield among other premier baseball brands, began before the 2019 season when Miami was in search of an equipment provider after adidas decided to stop producing bats and gloves.

“We were in a transition where we didn’t know what we were going to be using,” DiMare said. “I just remember leaving it up to the players and what they wanted to use. The bat seemed to be the biggest piece of equipment that we use in terms of success on the field. Gloves are very important as well, but for the hitters, the bat is probably the most competitive piece of equipment that’s out there.

“We tried out a bunch of different bats from a bunch of different companies and we put it to a vote and basically it was split where about half the guys wanted DeMarini and the other half wanted Louisville Slugger,” DiMare added. “With Wilson owning both, it made it the right fit for us to go with them in terms of using their bats and their gloves and it has been great for us.”

The deal with Wilson has been beneficial for Miami, whose players get access to some of the best equipment in the game and they get to customize it to their liking.

“Players like anything that’s new and here we are fortunate enough to get to design our own custom Wilson gloves,” McDaniel said. “The guys get to choose their main color, whether its orange, green, black or tan, and they get to design the look and color scheme, which they seem to really enjoy. They are allowed to put the U logo on there and their number, so they get to have a first-class glove and customize it to their liking. We’re very fortunate to be able to do that where some programs just give you a stock glove. Wilson takes care of us pretty good and we are happy to partner with them.”

While the gloves are made of premium materials and designed to the specifics of each player, the most noticeable difference since Miami signed a contract with Wilson comes on the offensive side of the game.

“The decision to go with these bats certainly was big for us,” DiMare said. “The first year we used the DeMarini and the Louisville Slugger showed a big difference. We went from one of the bottom of the offensive teams in the country to one of the top five offensive teams in the country while having basically the same players from year before. So, I think that was a big, big positive change for us and they’ve taken care of us very well since we began our partnership. Coach Morris used to say we’re very spoiled here with what we get at Miami and we’re very appreciative of everything that we get.”

Access to excellent equipment and athletic apparel are some of the perks of being a Hurricane, but every student-athlete in the program knows its about much more than wearing nice uniforms and using premium bats and gloves.

“I think our guys take great pride in being Hurricanes,” McDaniel said. “They know that you play for the name on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back. That’s a culture that has been established here since coach Fraser and it continued with coach Morris and now with Gino. Beyond the coaches setting standard, you have guys like Jon Jay and Yonder Alonso and so many others who know the special honor it is to wear those colors and represent that M and that U and have Hurricanes on your chest every day. That foundation that was built before any of us got here is what started this program’s rise to the major program that it is today and we definitely make sure that we are consistently striving to live up to that standard.”

Toral is grateful to have the chance to don Miami’s incomparable green cap with the white Old English M and orange bill. The lifelong Canes fan is appreciative every time he throws his jersey on and takes the field to represent his team, his University and his city.

“To have the opportunity to play here and follow in the footsteps of guys that helped establish the legacy of The U is something that means a lot to me,” Toral said. “I am a big believer that when you get to put that U on your chest every day, you’ve got to go out there and represent that as an individual and as a team. I grew up down here as a huge Canes fan and my dad’s a huge Canes fan along with most of my family. So, to be able to represent The U and go out there wear those colors across my chest means the world to me.”

But DiMare, whose passion and respect for the University and its baseball program are evident on a daily basis, may have the best description of what it means to wear Miami’s orange and green.

“The best way for me to tell you what it means to me to wear the University of Miami uniform goes back to my sixth-grade year,” DiMare said. “One of the biggest days of my life was when I got a Hurricanes jersey in the sixth grade. It was the old green jersey that said Hurricanes in script diagonally across the front. I think that was uniform they wore in ’82 when they won the championship and I just remember wearing it to school and what a big deal it was for me to have that uniform top on.

“And then I can remember the first time I put it on as a player and what an honor and what a big, big deal it was to me, bigger than anything you can imagine for me because I grew up a Miami Hurricanes fan,” DiMare added. “Then being able to put that uniform on every day since, the one word that comes to mind is pride, a lot of pride. I could go on and on about what Miami and this program mean to me, but it’s just a lot of pride in the deepest sense of the word.”