Dressing rooms have a distinct fragrance. Pungent. Fetid. I could go on at great length and detail here, but at some point, and rather quickly, the words alone might make you toss this week’s “Second Thought” in the trash can, grab a bar of Irish Spring, and bolt for the shower.
Smell, it turns out, is turning into big business in the sports industry. Specifically, the individual scents of teams. Not everyone out there conjures up the odor of mold, Desenex, cheap beer, greasy grilled hot dogs, and stale cigar smoke when they imagine the distinct olfactory quality of their favorite club.
Just over a year ago, the Yankees, a team currently trying to rid the stink of Alex Rodriguez from their dressing room, unveiled their branded scent. Sure, go ahead, laugh. Eau de Bronx Bombers. The scent of Sabathia. Pettitte parfum No. 5. Hey, men, don’t you dare leave the Yankee pro shop without a tube of Mousse Skowron! Just a little Mousse’ll do ya.
Well, according to a recent SportsBusiness Journal report by Terry Lefton, the Yankee scent has produced $10 million in retail business since its debut in April 2012. With the Yanks’ payroll up around $200 million, that may seem merely a drop in the spittoon, but that’s $10 million made out of thin air, or wherever and however perfume is made. All revenue streams gladly accepted.
Granted, I should know how baseball perfume is produced, but I’m still having trouble calculating hardball metrics such as WAR and WHIP and OBP. If she hasn’t done so already, it’s a good bet the Globe’s Meredith Goldstein can tackle the manufacturing angle in her “Love Letters’’ column. Heck, Meredith may already have her own “Mending Hearts’’ scent for all I know. Meredith, if you don’t, ol’ Owe de Dupes wants his 5 percent royalty.
Sorry, back to the smelly sports thing.
Like the Yanks, the Red Sox this year came out with their own scent line, too, produced by the same New York-based outfit, The Cloudbreak Group, that rolled out the Yankee line last year. A 3.4-ounce bottle of Red Sox Eau de Toilette — I swear on John Henry’s masthead that I am not making this up — typically retails for $55. The Yanks charge right around the same, through big retailers such as Macy’s and Lord & Taylor.
I especially like that New York’s $10 bubble bath-and-shampoo set for kids comes with . . . wait for it . . . a Yankee rubber duck. Oh, yeah, a pinstriped duck. Wow, what a New York Post sports cartoonist could have done with a rubber duck in the George Steinbrenner/Billy Martin days.
Notre Dame announced late last month that it has teamed up with Cloudbreak, and Steiner Collectibles, for a Fighting Irish scent line to be unveiled at the start of the football season. The men’s label will be Gold Eau de Toilette, and then Lady Irish Eau de Parfum for women, each selling for $62 in that familiar 3.4-ounce bottle.
ND also next month will begin selling shower gel and body lotion for women, as well as hair-and-body wash and after-shave balm for men. All with that particular South Bend scent, whatever that scent is, depending, I imagine, on the prevailing wind. I wonder what scent Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend would have found the most fetching?
Masik Collegiate Fragrance, based in Harrisburg, Pa., is really into the smell biz — all Spritz-Boom-Bah. According to its website, it has developed unique scents for 11 universities, including Penn State, Florida State, Auburn, and even Waseda University in Tokyo.
I had never heard of Waseda U. But now, thanks to Masik Collegiate Fragrance, I can almost smell it. Waseda is big on baseball, soccer, rugby, and karate. It also has seven campuses and thousands and thousands of alums, making it a potential gusher for perfume sales.
Following its success with the Yanks, Cloudbreak this MLB season rolled out its scented goodies for the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Rangers. The Cubs, Phillies, Cardinals, and Giants come on line this holiday season.
Obviously, these guys are touching all the bases. Next, a scratch ’n’ sniff seventh-inning stretch. Instead of Neil Diamond and “Sweet Caroline,’’ everyone will belt out Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell.’’
In case you are wondering, my nose for news sniffed out no perfume/toilette business under way in the NFL, NHL, or NBA. Either those leagues have to wake up and smell the money trail, or maybe they just don’t think perfumes and colognes pass the smell test when it comes to sports. If so, I think they have it wrong. This is all too good.
Just look at the money those stinkin’ Bombers have made so far. Imagine if the MLB umpires jump in on this one? No one stinks more than those guys. That’s been true since the invention of horsehide, stitches, strikes, and balls. If there is a concoction out there that can make those guys smell OK, then noted perfume pitchman Brad Pitt might have to give up that Chanel gig and ballyhoo their brand. My luck. My fate. My ump!
The key ingredient to the Red Sox scent, best I can tell, is the tonka bean. Like Waseda U., I had never heard of a tonka bean until I began poking around the perfume beat. The tonka bean is from the pea family of plants. It is black and wrinkled and blends smells redolent of vanilla, almond, and cinnamon. Sorta reminds me of some of that suntan lotion around the hotel pool in Winter Haven and Fort Myers.
“The Boston Red Sox fragrance captures the enduring pride and legendary tenacity of the traditional sportsman lifestyle.’’ So says the ad copy for Red Sox Eau de Toilette.
Yep, traditional sportsman lifestyle. All wrapped up in a $55 bottle of je ne sai quoi. Hey, whatever. I guess it’s the perfect 3.4-ounce confluence of pine tar and tonka bean.
But I have to say, the traditionalist in me highly doubts that former Sox such as Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Yaz would have lathered up in Red Sox Eau de Toilette. I think the Babe in particular would have followed his nose to a good bourbon and a rib-eye steak. No one’s going to bottle that any time soon. Some smells are just best left to the imagination.