James Shield’s Other Talent….Rays T-Shirt Designer
After World War II, the T-shirt was worn by returning soldiers as daily outerwear while performing duties around the house, or in farming communities. But most think the true origin and National preference came after actor Marlon Brando wore a T-shirt in the film “Streetcar Named Desire”. After that film it was considered by many to be a fashion statement and an accepted garment to wear out and about doing daily activities. The transformations of the T-shirt from there have been swift and very visual for all of us to see…daily.
From that moment on the T-shirt has transformed from a simple undergarment to prevent sweat stains on outerwear to the preferred clothing options within sports coats and on the film industries red carpet. From the tie-dye T-shirt to the invention of the silk screening process, this clothing item has been invented and reinvented several times until we finally get towards the most recent evolution of its creation, the designer T-shirt.
So maybe it is only right that the one member of the Tampa Bay Rays roster who has shown a knack and a passion for not only wearing classic designer T-shirts, but also classic Rock and Roll T-shirts would set his sights on taking on the task of designing a special Rays edition T-shirt to be given out to Rays Republic fans. And we have all seen him before after games or at Rays events like Rays Fan Fest or the Season Ticket Party at Gameworks in recent years sporting his black “Motorhead” T-shirt.
But then again, Rays pitcher James Shields was also the guest announcer during a segment of the Rays 2009 “Rays on the Runway” fashion show and showed his own sense of style and designer flair during that brief flash on your television screen. And with that passion now exposed, the Rays consulted with Shields about maybe designing a Rays custom collectible T-shirt to be given out during the Rays Friday night celebrations in 2010.
Since the 1980’s, this form of clothing has been known to sport expressionistic ideals and images and was the perfect opportunity for Shields to show his skill in this avenue of fashion. Now this is not to suggest or introduce Shields as a T-shirt designer to the World, but is a great and special way for him to show his expression and passion for the game of baseball upon a cotton canvas. And Shields immediately chose his most famous T-shirt color, black as the base for his artistic T-shirt expression.
When you first gaze upon the T-shirt you see instantly his style and his want to include baseball images and motifs intertwined in his design. From the lower cap lettering of “big game” under the front collarbone line to the induction of blue flames going outward from the center, you instantly got a Rock and Roll feel to the project. Then the central image of Shields in his on-the-mound pose right before he delivers a pitch, to the two flaming baseball skulls located around the bodies pectoral muscle region, the T-shirt instantly brings you into the design.
And the use of the white to accent both the outline of Shields and the baseball skulls brings you instantly into that region of the T-shirt as it pops off the black T-shirt. The front design of the Shields inspired T-shirt ends about midway down with a scroll piecing that is center under Shields outline on the mound and includes his uniform number “33” in a blue lettering. And around the centralized design is blue hued artistic designs that also seems to push your eyes towards the center of the design.
The back of the T-shirt also sports its own Shields inspired creation as his ever popular nickname set in uppercase lettering that is emblazed across the back upper shoulder region like his game day jersey. The moniker “Big Game” on the back of the T-shirt instantly pulls you into this region in silver ink and you also notice just below it the “TB” initials of the Tampa Bay Rays team. But the thing that might miss you eyes unless you turn the T-shirt upsides down might be the gigantic griffin, which has long been considered a symbol of power and strength.
The griffin is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle, which encompasses the king of beasts and birds into one animal entity. And the griffin illustrated on Shield’s T-shirt actually takes on the characteristics of a 15th Century alce or a keythong and the image is pronounced as if it was actually a coat of arms inspired design with a crown upon the griffin’s head.
I got to say it personally is a unique and well designed T-shirt that will become an instant Rays collectors item, and one I think we might possibly see again in the future from Shields. But again it shows that each of these members of the Rays 25-man roster have outside interests that some of us might never know, or hear about unless it is brought to our attention or provided for all of us to marvel and enjoy also in life. Shields has a knack for designing, and might have been one of those kids who doodled a lot in class as a kid upon his notebooks or on sheets o paper.
Talent can come in many forms. It can be a sports talent like Shields unique change-up that has buckled the knees of many Major League Baseball player, or it could be an artistic talent like his recent T-shirt design for the Rays fans. Who knows where this first inspiration by Shields will go from here. He could go on to producing a yearly special design or make it an off or in season project to help raise funds or involve the community to show support for a cause or an event.
Major League Baseball players like Shields are all over the place. Most of the guys on the Rays 25-man roster have additional talents most of us might never know about unless they are shown or expressed to us fans. Fernando Perez has a special gift for writing, Carlos Pena is the fashion staple on the team, and we all know Rays bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos is the team dance instructor.
Talents off the field help to endear us to our Rays players and it takes away that invisible barrier that makes them “off limits” or unapproachable to us. The Rays boast one of the most fan-friendly teams in Major League Baseball, but sometimes a little insight or exposure of the person within brings a new appreciation of that player to all of us.
I know with Shields it showed a side of him you would not have imagined with the creation of this special James Shields inspired T-shirt. Hopefully this is not the first player that opens the door a bit to us in 2010 and shows us the level of talent this team has beyond the base paths and mound.