A package from Minnesota arrived at the A's clubhouse in Phoenix Municipal Stadium and a frenzy commenced.
Players quickly got their hands on -- and later their legs into -- a brand new green and gold pair of Zubaz. That’s right, Zubaz. The intentionally tacky pants that resemble a crazy zebra print, appear to be making a comeback. They reached their height of popularity in the early 1990s. Even the A's grounds crew got into the act back then.
That tweet by reliever Pat Neshek is what started the newest trend in the A's clubhouse. Neshek, a Minnesota native, grew up near the owners of Zubaz. He bought several of their products when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins and the rest is history.
"I tweeted about them the other day and he sent me a big box," Neshek said.
Dan Stock is the man behind the shipments. He and his business partner Bob Truax started the company after designing the pants to be comfortable workout clothes. The A's groundskeepers weren't the only ones to get into the act in the early 90s. Twins players used to wear them during batting practice, pro wrestlers wore them to the ring. Even the late Al Davis, always a fashion icon, was spotted wearing them.
"We were licensed by all the pro sports teams back then," Stock said. "We did a ton of stuff with grounds crews."
Surprisingly, A's manager Bob Melvin was well versed in the history of Zubaz.
"I think they came out of the Minnesota clubhouse," Melvin said. "I might have some tucked away somewhere from a long time ago that you won't see."
While the skipper won't wear his own pair, he will be forced to look at his players wearing them around the clubhouse and exercise room. He doesn't seem to mind.
"I'm not the fashion police here," Melvin said. "What they do in the clubhouse as far as what they wear, it's fine by me."
The players lucky enough to claim their own pair can be seen strutting around the clubhouse in comfort. Jerry Blevins made it a point to showcase his pants while they hung in his clubhouse stall, and he offered his opinion of them.
"They are pretty awesome," Blevins said. "I think they are hilarious. I'm all about them and they are comfortable."
Travis Blackley not only has the pants, but sandals to match. The Australian native seemed a bit conflicted when asked about the combo. He said there's a fat chance he'd ever wear them in public.
"They are so ugly, but they are so awesome," he said. "Awesomely ugly."
"I don't think it's going to catch on," Blackley added. "I wore them for one workout and realized I'm probably not going to work out in them again. They are too comfortable to work out in."
Sean Doolittle said he owned several pairs of Zubaz when he was a kid. He is a member of the pro-Zubaz faction in the clubhouse.
And everyone seemed to agree they’d like to see current A's grounds crew once again donning the old-school crazy pants.
"We'll get Clay [Wood] on it, see if he buys in," Ryan Cook said. "If it's going to be a thing it has got to be consistent."
"You never know," Neshek said. "Look at all the crap that happened last year with the Bernie and pies. You don't know what your thing will be, so we'll see what happens."
Since the grounds crew is widely considered the hardest working group at the Coliseum, it does make sense that they should be comfortable. It still seems a far-fetched plan to outfit them Zubaz-style again. Always the visionary, Melvin had a pretty solid idea of how he could make it happen.
"If they don't pitch well, maybe they can be part of the grounds crew," he said of his pitchers.
If it catches on, the A's won't be the only team showcasing their Zubaz this season. The Chicago Cubs are actually hosting a Zubazpalooza this season after the Detroit Tigers held one last year.
Photos courtesy Zubaz