Did Nick Swisher Steal Fan’s Yankee T-Shirt Idea?

As the Yankees head to California to wrap up a World Series bid, controversy brews back home. Did Nick Swisher take a fan’s original T-shirt idea and trademark it for himself, in order to make some extra cash? Because everyone knows $5.3 million in ‘09, $6.75 million in ‘10, $9 million in ‘11, and a $10.25 million club option for ‘12 with a $1 million buyout doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Nick Swisher T-shirt

Vinny Milano (Bald Vinny to you), sells amusing t-shirts on his web site, one of which celebrates Swisher’s unique “Swisher Salute” to Yankee fans during roll call. But now Milano claims that Swisher has copyrighted the design, and is selling the shirts through Modell’s, a sporting goods chain. What’s up with that?

Vinny fired his first salvo at Swisher via Twitter:

Milano even got some press in THE NEW YORK POST:

“I just couldn’t believe he’d stab me in the back like that, because Swisher has been so cool to us,” Milano told THE POST. “He’s such a fan favorite. I just couldn’t believe he’d betray me like that.”

But when Swishers’ agent saw his tweet, he quickly called him to say that Swisher knew nothing about the Modell’s shirts. Swisher himself then chimed in via Twitter:

Apparently what happened is that the Major League Baseball Players Association stepped in and trademarked the phrase, as they do with all such items involving their players. And they’ve mass-produced the shirts, selling them in stores such as Modell’s, but without Swisher’s consent. Even though Swisher shares in the profits of all shirts sold.

“We know this kind of thing is going to happen and simply want Nick to have some protection if a certain product is overly negative, obscene, etc.,” said Swisher’s agent, Joe Bick.

Anyway, Swisher is back in Milano’s good graces, even if MLB isn’t. Does baseball’s giant corporate paw have to be in every pie? I can see trademarking the phrase in case it’s used recklessly … but then grabbing the guy’s idea and selling the shirts? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Sleazy. Go to Milano’s site if you want one of these shirts. Don’t go to Modell’s.

By the way, isn’t it quite evident that many athletes just pay a rep to post on their Twitter accounts? After reading endless posts such Swisher’s Can hardly wait for tomorrow ! Do it CC. Let’s go Yankees”, it’s hard to imagine that he’d waste time writing that himself. Be sure to look for Swisher’s next tweet, “I’m sitting on the patio.”