Monday, January 17, 2011

Majestic Cool Base Umpire Shirt

This is dating myself a little, but I remember when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in 1987. Now, I don’t profess to know the difference between a “Trekker” and a “Trekkie,” but I did notice a difference in the uniforms from the original Star Trek show to the new series. Others did too and debates still rage over the best and worst Star Trek uniforms (no, that's not me at left).

Jim Kirk at Ump-Attire, no relation to the Star Trek Captain, sent me a Majestic Cool Base Umpire Shirt to review (Majestic and VF Corp have been unwilling to provide any sample apparel to this site for review). When Majestic changed the design of the shirts provided to MLB umpires during 2010 my immediate reaction was, naaawwww. . . The new uniform eliminates all piping in favor of a solid color on the collar. The new shirt cuff has a thin white band, but it only extends ¾ around the cuff. Another thin white band runs up each side of the shirt to just under the arm. Why these changes? I dunno.

The Majestic Cool Base Umpire Shirt is made of 100% polyester with a closed hole design. It appears fairly well constructed, although I did find some sloppy work along one interior seam. Unlike other umpire shirts made with a polyester (or cotton) knit around the collar, the Majestic Cool Base uses the same polyester material for its shirt and collar. This makes the collar lay flatter and blends in with the shirt. At right is a picture of Joe West wearing this shirt last season. Notice how the collar is not stiff and appears weak and wrinkled.

The Majestic Cool Base weighs 11 ounces, which is heavier than all other shirts this site has tested except the Gerry Davis Signature shirt. The Cool Base in XL measurements are:

26 chest
24” bottom hem
18.5” shoulder

Those measurements run a little on the large side and are comparable to the Ump-Attire Ultimate Umpire Shirt tested in 2009 (shirt comparison review here).

The Majestic Cool Base is made in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Where? Swaziland is a small, land-locked country in south Africa bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique. The US State Department states that Swaziland has the world’s most severe Aids/HIV epidemic, with an estimate 39% of the adult population infected. A reported 28% of Swaziland’s GDP comes from manufacturing (mostly textiles and sugar processing). According to, the unemployment rate is 40% and the State Department cites 69% of the population live in poverty. Some authors have stated that “deplorable working conditions and low wages” which creates a “large number of ‘working poor’” people in Swaziland.

In 2005 Majestic became the sole provider of MLB jerseys, and then in 2007 Majestic was purchased by VF Imagewear, Inc., a subsidiary of VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC), which owns many brands including The North Face, Nautica, Wrangler, and Lee. Interestingly, I pulled a couple older Majestic shirts from my closet and the tag says, "Made in the USA." The tag on the recently introduced Therma Base jacket says "Made in Indonesia."

Fair or Foul?
Aside from questions concerning the ethical manufacturing practices of VF Corporation and its Majestic brand, my opinion is Majestic missed the mark with the Cool Base Umpire Shirt. The shirt is a very important part of the umpire uniform and should convey an understated confidence and authority. The Cool Base has a weak, flat collar that seems to undermine the umpire’s presence. For my money, the Cool Base shirt can "boldly go" away from my field.

1 comment:

Warren said...

While I have not worn this shirt I think it is a step forawrd. I personally like the collar not being knit.
That said if it doesn't hold its form and looks sloppy then the material doesn't make any difference. I hope this is the next step in the evolution of umpire shirts with the more professional collar.