SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The creator of the “Jazz” design, made in Springfield, tossed out the first pitch.
Nineties nostalgia was in the air Saturday night at Hammons field, as the Cardinals wore “Jazz” themed jerseys against the Tulsa Drillers.
You may recognize the teal and purple color scheme, which was on plates and cups over the years. That design originated in Springfield.
Saturday night at Hammons Field wasn’t just about flashy jerseys, as the jerseys were auctioned off to benefit a potentially life-saving cause.
Like pink is to breast cancer, “GYNCA” uses, teal to heal. GYNCA helps with education, support, and resources for Gynecological Cancer Patients. Springfield Cards and Public Relations Director Matt Turer says these jerseys are a perfect fit to raise awareness.
“Every single themed jersey, we hold an auction. The money from that goes to that association, so this one will go to the Gynecological Cancers Alliance,” Turer says.
The design splashed across the uniforms is rooted locally.
“The design originated in Springfield. What we kind of found out as we went along is who actually created it, who was the actual original artist for this,” Turer explains.
The design we all know so well was designed by Gina Ekiss at the Sweetheart Cup company in Springfield in 1989 before gaining worldwide notoriety. Items with the design were put into production in 1991.
Turer says it was an interesting thing to learn about.
“We told her what we were doing here, said ‘Do you want to come out to Hammons Field and throw out a first pitch?'” Turer says.
Ekiss, who now lives in Aurora, Missouri, says she was so excited to get the offer.
“I practiced a little bit in the backyard this morning and this afternoon before I came,” Ekiss joked.
Gina Ekiss worked for the old Sweetheart Cup Company for 14 years and tells the story of how this idea got its start.
“It actually was a competition for the cup company that I worked for at the time. They were looking for a new stock design to represent the company, Jazz was the final choice,” Ekiss says.
After Ekiss threw out the first pitch, she showed us her first pitch of the now famous design.
“These are the original separation sketches for the teal and the purple, and just swashed it back and forth until I got something that was pleasing,” Ekiss explains.
Perhaps even more pleasing, is the benefit her design will have towards fighting cancer.
“I think it’s a great cause, and I think it just fits perfectly together,” Ekiss says.
Turer says this is something that showcases Springfield’s past and present.
“I think it’s just this fun full circle story bringing everything back to Springfield,” Turer says.
Ekiss says after having her design selected by the company, she did not receive any royalties. Since she was an employee, she signed a waiver saying anything she created was property of the company.
She did, however, receive a gift certificate and a few mementos such as pens and shirts.