Bay Area design company Opening Day Designs forced by MLBPA to stop making player-referenced shirts

A.J. Griffin is a supporter of Opening Day Designs. He wore this shirt during his on-air interview on MLB Network. Watch VIDEO.

Opening Day Designs is a Bay Area clothing design company that makes pretty neat fan-inspired shirts featuring the Oakland Athletics, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. You can check out the entire collection on the site. Designer Adam Olson has established quite a following with his Oakland Athletics collection. It’s been very popular and as you can see by the above video, players from the team all have their own designed shirts and they really like it.

In fact, I own two shirts from ODD. It’s very creative, fun and it always gets the attention of any Athletics fan that sees it. Here’s one of my favorites.

However, this morning Olson announced that the MLBPA wasn’t having it with his designs.

In an email to BATEOTD, Olson clarified what exactly happened to his designs.

“I was contacted by my printing/shipping company Spreadshirt that there were some designs being sold through my website that violated intellectual property rights,” explains Olson. “Some turned into about 60 or so that are now removed from the shop.”

Olson says that when he was notified of the violations, he learned that any player-related designs that are unlicensed, and not created by or with the consent of the relevant player, his agent, or anyone at the MLBPA is a violation of player intellectual property rights.

(For the official wording from the MLBPA, you can reference this.)

It was a rule that Olson assumed was not violated, given the fact that he would run the designs by Spreadshirt to ensure that there would be no violations. Spreadshirt takes every design they receive and check to make sure there is no copyright infringements with the design. Olson knew to stay away from official team logos, but was unaware that his designs would be in violation with the MLBPA.

“At the beginning of this whole adventure in early January, I had tons of designs that were rejected,” says Olson. “I stayed away from using any professional logos, script (which were their reasons) and haven’t heard much lately. A design here and there would be rejected, so I would delete it and create something new.”

The designs that did not get rejected were up for sale on his site through Spreadshirt. Since starting his design company, he has sold over 1,000 shirts and even started a campaign for fans to donate a shirt to each player on the Athletics roster. It became a huge success and several players have been seen wearing the shirt or have the shirt in their locker in the clubhouse.

But now, some designs will just be a distant memory.

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This is a tough speed bump for ODD because they have been so well-received by fans and players. He has received a solid following on InstagramTwitter and on Facebook. Every so often on social media, a contest for fans usually welcome in a good portion of new followers and great interaction.

The surprise of this dismissal of designs from the MLBPA to ODD isn’t actually something that you wouldn’t expect from a major sports league. Ever since the counterfeit shirts and jerseys have made their ways across seas in recent years throughout all the four major sports in America, leagues have been very concerned about lost merchandising and revenue from it. Granted these designs from ODD are unique and original in its own way, the MLBPA and possibly other companies who have partnerships with MLB felt that the designs were a serious threat to their revenue.

Despite the compliance with what was assumed to be the rules, apparently now any reference to an active player, even though a name or a team logo isn’t used in the design, is not acceptable. This won’t stop Olson from creating new designs on the team he loves, but it will make it a little tougher.

“The inspiration from fans will never stop so my job isn’t done,” says Olson. “This whole process started because fans never got to own apparel that they truly wanted. They would purchase generic team apparel that would be hard to even find at your local sports store, especially for Athletics fans.

“Find me an Eric Sogard shirt prior to this week before his shirsey (shirt jersey) was made available. He has been in the league for four years. You could buy his $200+ jersey though. That isn’t right. With the help of the Athletics fan base I was able to create several designs specifically for fans to show their support for their favorite nerdy ballplayer.”

Olson isn’t fighting the MLBPA on the violations. He understands why his designs could not be sold but still finds it a great inspiration when the players, coaches, announcers and fans of the Athletics have supported his work prior to this morning’s news. It’s a great statement, in his eyes, of how strong the Athletics fanbase continues to be.

“It was all worth it just to get one design to each of the players,” says Olson. “Just another way to show our support for the players, coaches, announcers and organization as a whole.”

It’s a tough way for any designer to continue success when these kinds of rules that must be followed. But the last thing Olson wants to do is to violate any rules and cost himself his business. For now, the inventory is very limited due to these restrictions but there will be more new designs in the works. He’s hoping that soon enough he will be able to produce new designs that are not in violation of the MLBPA rules.

And with this creativity and enthusiasm, there is no doubt he’ll come up with some great new designs.

Tina Sarnecki, fiance of Athletics pitcher Tommy Milone, is a supporter of ODD.

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3 thoughts on “Bay Area design company Opening Day Designs forced by MLBPA to stop making player-referenced shirts

  1. Awww…Major League Baseball isn’t making any money off it :( Ya’ know what baseball? You need to embrace anything that keeps fans interested in your slow, cows grazing in the meadow, nonconforming to the helpful evolution of video replay, uh, sport. It wasn’t too long ago that you were practically bankrupt. You were desperate enough to try inter-league play (a contradiction to your great “tradition”) that turned out to improve your ratings and sales. You turned a blind eye to the obvious steroid use that helped chase and shatter Maris’ record. It aided your cause, but when the steroids scandal broke out, You crucified the same players and pretended you knew nothing of it. Now a small market team has something unique that interests and links the fans to it’s players. Since there is no record of “profit” in your books, you choose to seperate “it’ from yourselves…Shame on you baseball. How quickly you forget, and shoot yourself in the foot…

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