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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I Bought a Jersey

Luckily, not the one with Newark and Jersey City.

In the weeks before Spring Training, there really isn?t a lot to talk about. Every baseball site has done their prospect lists, done their projections, and written their "What to Watch For in 2003" articles. The baseball cupboard is so bare of stories that the big national debate is about what should be done with the intentional walk. As the Swedish would say, it?s böring. I don?t want to read about Pete Rose anymore. I don?t want to listen to spring training clichés that haven?t changed in a hundred years. I don?t want to read about how half the league is in the best shape of their lives. Obviously, there?s nothing interesting to write about.


I want some baseball.

Maybe that why I bought a Phillies jersey yesterday. I?m not a Phillies fan, and I don?t particularly like the city of Philadelphia. But you should see this jersey! It?s not just any Phillies jersey, mind you, but a replica of the 1980 championship team. It?s the road uni, light blue with broad red-and-white trim and the stylized "P" on the front. It is ? beautiful. It cost me ? well, more than I?m willing to admit to, and now, I?m feeling mighty guilty about it.


You see, 2002 was a really good year for me. I got engaged, bought a house, got a new job, and my Anaheim Angels finally?FINALLY?won a World Series. Sadly, nothing in this world comes free. An engagement means money for rings and weddings and honeymoons, a house means money for mortgage payments and new furniture, and a World Series means money for post-season tickets. While money spent on these items was money well spent, it does mean that other, previously vital, parts of my life had to be cut out of the budget.


Way back in April of 2000, I bought a black Angel warm-up jersey on a whim for $80 bucks, complete with Jim Edmonds? name on the back and that goofy Disney logo on the front. I probably wore that jersey at least twice a week, and to every game I went to. A few months afterwards, I found a Cincinnati Reds jersey on-line for just $45 bucks. "What a deal!" I thought, and whipped out the credit card. ("18% interest on money I don?t have? That?s like free money!") Besides, I had no girlfriend at the time, no house, savings accounts were for chumps, and a post-season in Anaheim was about as likely as a nuclear war with North Korea.


Three years, a couple thousand dollars later, and a few steps closer to the Apocalypse, the whim had become a full-blown obsession. I have close to 40 jerseys now (LeBron James has got nothing on me!), including one of almost every team. I?ve got some repeats; four Angel jerseys hang in my closet, as well as two St. Louis Cardinal jerseys and two different jerseys for the Cubs, Astros and Indians. I hate the Dodgers, but have two Los Angeles jerseys ? one was a gift, and one is a Koufax replica. Those don?t get worn often; I wear a Mike Piazza Met jersey to Dodger games. I picked up a New Orleans Eagles Negro League replica pullover for six bucks on E-Bay. My Oakland Athletics jersey has Rickey Henderson?s name and number on it, and every time I put it on I tell myself that I?m the greatest of all time. I save my black t-shirts to wear with the sleeveless Pirates and Reds jerseys (very classic), but almost never wear the sleeveless Diamondback jersey (no purple t-shirts). On patriotic holidays, I proudly display my USA Olympic Team jersey. I?ll don my Alex Rodriguez Rangers jersey to my city league softball games, hoping to channel some skills, but I haven?t been able to wear the Barry Bonds Giants jersey since he pounded the Angels during World Series. Lately, I?ve taken to wearing to work the uniforms of the truly awful; more likely than not, you?ll find me wearing Marlin, Royals or Devil Ray threads on casual Fridays. Today, I?ve got a San Diego Padre jersey on.


Since I?ve started buying jerseys, I have become an easy check-off on Christmas and birthdays. My fiancée, bless her heart, actually encouraged my habit. "Those are the only clothes you wear, so it makes sense that they?re the only clothes you buy." We?ve joked about wearing uniforms to our wedding with "Bride" and "Groom" stitched on the backs.


I don?t have a Tigers jersey yet, because I want one with Alan Trammell?s #3. (Now that he?s the manager, those should be easier to find.) I have warm-up jerseys for the Mariners, Red Sox and White Sox, but no game jerseys yet. I have a black Oriole jersey, but would prefer a gray one. I don?t have a Twins jersey yet, because contraction drove the prices up (yet strangely, had the opposite effect on Expo jerseys). Before yesterday, I didn?t have a Phillies jersey either, but of course that?s changed.


Now that I have actual big-boy fiscal responsibilities, spending a few hundred bucks a month on baseball paraphernalia just isn?t an option anymore. After all the bills are paid and insurance dealt with, whatever?s left gets zipped into a savings account.


When I was little, sports depended on the season. Summer was for baseball, autumn was for football, and basketball filled the gap between the two. That?s no longer the case. I still watch some basketball (two L.A. Lakers jerseys) and the occasional hockey game (one Team USA hockey jersey), but I basically ignore football (one Dallas Cowboy jersey). As I?ve gotten older, other sports recede into the background, while baseball has become a year-round passion. In the past, I could count on basketball to tide me over until Opening Day. Now, every spring training game is just a reminder that the season still hasn?t started, and it leaves a void only a quality, genuine, MLB-approved throwback jersey could fill.


I haven?t told my fiancée about the jersey, but I will. And I?ll tell her that these jerseys are more than just articles of clothing, and that baseball is not just a game to me. After all, I learned English listening to baseball games on the radio. It was the first sport I learned to play and, at school, it formed the environs within which so many of my friendships were formed. During the starving college years, bleacher seats in Anaheim were the one great joy I could afford to pay for. Now, game nights are a reward for good day?s work, and an occasion to celebrate being with friends while watching the greatest sport in the world. And I?ll tell her that, yes, it sounds stupid and corny, but to me, baseball is a living organism, and that organism has become my oldest friend ? and shouldn?t I subsidize my oldest friend by buying from him something of superior quality? Fine, I?m a moron, but I actually feel uncomfortable if I?m not wearing a jersey. I don?t like the way I look without one on. I don?t feel like me without a jersey.


We make a pretty good living together, she and I. We squirrel away our share of the future, but we still enjoy some of the finer things. After all, what good is money if it doesn?t buy a little happiness? I know we?re trying to save money, I know I definitely overpaid for it, and I really am sorry that I did not at least mention it before I bought it ?


But I?m not sorry I bought the jersey, baby! It?s beautiful!


Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 12, 2003 at 05:00 AM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Shredder Posted: February 12, 2003 at 01:30 AM (#608757)
It's all about ebay, baby! Alright, the rundown:

Home Angels jersey with the ugly logo (and #42 Vaughn--I don't wear that one anymore).
Road Angels jersey with the ugly logo
Alternate blue Angels jersey with the ugly logo
Angels BP jersey with the ugly logo
Angels road jersey, current
Angels Road Jersey late '80s
Padres jersey, navy blue
Diamondbacks jersey, purple
Diamondbacks jersey, home, given to my brother for Christmas
Tigers jersey, road, given to Buddha (I got others to donate for that one)
Team USA jersey, home

LA Kings Current Purple (Adam Deadmarsh)
LA Kings black mid '90s (Josef Stumpel)
LA Kings white mid '90s (Kimmo Timmonen worn in pre-season camp)
Hartford Whalers road blue (Shanahan)
Washington Capitals road red (old) (Hatcher)
Quebec Nordiques road blue (26 Peter Stastny--greatest European NHLer ever)
University of Illinois orange 3rd jersey

LA Kings current black
Columbus Blue Jackets home white
Hartford Whalers road green
Chicago Blackhawks home white
NY Islanders road blue (late '80s--a present to myself on my sister's birthday, still a point of contention to this day)
Dynamo Moscow
Michigan State University

Arsenal red
Arsenal gold with the blue sleeves (Sega)
Arsenal blue champions league (#10 Bergkamp)
Man United Red (The 'Sharp' one with the patch in the middle)
Ajax Amsterdam blue (mid '90s)
Netherlands (USA '94)
England red (Euro '96)
Germany green (Euro '96)
Germany green (USA '94)
Germany white (USA '94)

I've probably left out a few due to shoddy memory. Yes, I have a serious problem, but with help, I'm trying to get it under control. I think as long as I stay away from those gawdawful "future" jerseys (ebay $20), I'm OK.
   2. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: February 13, 2003 at 01:30 AM (#608774)

Excellent essay. Just do me 1 favor: NO MORE NEW JERSEY (The State) BASHING, PLEASE! Some of us actually LIKE it here.

As for me, here's my jersey history:

When I was in high school, a cheesy, not-very-authentic Mets replica double-knit home shirt, and a numberless New York Islander sweater (and I'm a NY RANGERS fan!)...

Nowadays, just 2:

A Mitchell & Ness flannel 1969 New York Mets road jersey, #41;
A replica NY Football Giants blue jersey, #56.

I believe the numbers speak for themselves...
   3. blue Posted: February 13, 2003 at 01:30 AM (#608779)
"Just do me 1 favor: NO MORE NEW JERSEY (The State) BASHING, PLEASE! Some of us actually LIKE it here."
I can't believe I'm agreeing with a Mets fan, but there it is.
   4. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: February 13, 2003 at 01:30 AM (#608786)

Do you know Alex and Holly Jauch and/or Jonathon and Tonya Suker? If I remember your name correctly, I think we may have met at or after a Dodger game about five years ago.

David Marshall (fracas)
   5. Dan Szymborski Posted: February 13, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608796)
I'm the Jersey basher; most people forget to write teasers!

I only own two jerseys. Orioles/Orsulak and Steelers/O'Donnell.
   6. Brian Posted: February 13, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608798)
LA Kings home white (the year they switched over from black and silver) #14 Mattias Norstrom, who's been my favorite King ever since he came over from the Rangers many years ago.

I used to go to the Forum (and later Staples Center) and have the only Norstrom jersey in the crowd. Then the Kings went and made him captain and now every other fan has one. Arghhh.
   7. Shredder Posted: February 13, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608799)
Brian, I played street and roller hockey with a guy when I was in college at UCR. He had a silver and black road Norstrom jersey (I think during the '97-'98 season (when they lost to the Blues in the playoffs). He passed away around Christmas in '98, and they had a viewing (an open casket thing). He was buried in his Norstrom jersey. Not to make light of his passing or anything, but I thought that was pretty cool.

Getting Deader on my purple one was a tough call, but I had to go with an American. He has now fallen victim to the curse of the jersey, as everyone I get either gets traded or hurt.
   8. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 13, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608800)
What a great column.

My collection isn't too big, but I've got my eyes on some.

SF Giants Willie Mays

SF Giants Barry Bonds (BP)

TEX Rangers Will Clark (with the All-Star patch, too!)

Atlanta Thrashers Dany Heatley (Hockey, if you didn't know) I watched Heatley in college at Wisconsin. The jersey came in handy last week on the day after he won the All-Star MVP. Of course, only two people had a clue why I was wearing it...but sometimes that's the point.
   9. Bunny Vincennes Posted: February 14, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608807)
I have a few mostly purchased in the early 1990's.

1) 1990 Ryne Sandberg jersey with the All-Star patch

2) 1908 Mitchell & Ness Cubs jersey

3) 1969 Mitchell & Ness Ron Santo

4) Ebbetts Field Flannels 1948 Oakland Oaks jacket. My friend Soz, and I were tossing back martinis one afternoon, and before hitting happy hour I had stopped home to pick up my mail. Low and behold EEF had sent out a "sale" flyer and after another martini, we asked for the phone, and both order the same jacket. My girlfriend hates it, but I think its beautiful.
   10. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 14, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608809)
One of my friends is convinced the next "thing" is going to be retro jerseys of scrubs. I actually thought that was kinda cool.

So, if you were to get a jersey of a scrub (or, at least someone that is't a star or HoFer) who would it be?

My thoughts are
Atlee Hammaker (Giants jersey from the year he started the AS game)
Kurt Bevaqua (Brown Padres jersey...I really don't know why, though)
Sixto Lezcano (Powder blue Brewers jersey)
Tom Haller (60's Giants of my favorites from my Strat-O--Matic replay)

Oh...on a side note, I damn near bought a game used Giants jersey that was Clark and #22. Good thing I looked closely to find out it was *Jack* and not Will. Oops.
   11. Bunny Vincennes Posted: February 14, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608811)
Hey Andy:

Love Dany Heatley! I live in Madison, and made as many hockey games as I could to see Heatley. The guy is awesome.

Speaking of scrub jerseys, one of my friends has a Gary Scott jersey. I'd make fun of him, but I have a Gary Scott autographed baseball sitting on my desk right next to me. But its next to a Willie Mays ball, too, so things even out.
   12. Jay Jaffe Posted: February 14, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608816)
For my 30th birthday a few years ago, my friends pitched in and bought me the Seattle Pilots Jim Bouton jersey from Mitchell & Ness. A year later when Bouton was doing a book signing in NYC for the re-release of Ball Four, I wore it and ended up having a 45-minute conversation with the man (I resisted the temptation to have him sign the shirt, because I knew then that I'd never wear it again). That's easily the coolest encounter I've ever had with a celebrity or a baseball player, and while the jersey wasn't the reason -- an under-publicized book sigining at a dingy Bradlees department store was responsible for the virtually unlimited access I had to the Bulldog) -- it was an accessory to the whole thing.
   13. Scott Lange Posted: February 14, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608820)
Mark Grace Cubs Home 1997
Jackie Robinson Ebbets Field Flannels
Atlanta Crackers jacket
Los Angeles Dodgers Road 1999
   14. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: February 14, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608823)
I have 4 jerseys. #24 Manny Ramirez Indians, #8 Albert Belle Indians, #25 Jim Thome Indians. Of course I bought them when they were still with the team. Had I waited until after they left I would have saved about $500. Oh my other jersey? A Tony Gwynn cammo jersey. It is way too cool to wear.
   15. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: February 15, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608829)
My list:

Baseball -- (1) Late 90s Cubs home jersey w/#23 (Sandberg) on back. The problem is that I was trying to capture the mid 80s look before they had the names on the back, but they only had the smaller, more moder numbers so it looks kinda retarded -- oh, and it's also too big.

(2) '93 style Giants road jersey (gray w/ "San Francisco" across the front. Cool, but one major defect -- I got Williams #9 on the back instead of Bonds #25. What on earth was I thinking?

Over the last few months, I've become interested in retro jerseys (particularly the "rainbow" Astros jersey and I'd love to find an '08 era Cubs jersey), but haven't spent the $$$ yet. For his birthday, I plan to get my Dad a '69 Cubs home jersey, likely w/ #14 (Banks) on the back.

Hockey -- '80s Blackhawks road jersey w/ #24 (Doug Wilson)

Soccer -- (1) '01 Liverpool jersey (red w/long sleeves) and Owen #10; (2) '01 Bayern Munich goalkeepers' jersey (orange w/ long, padded blue sleeves) and Kahn #1; (3) '00 Roma home jersey (maroon and unnumbered) -- rarely worn because it is skintight like a biker's jersey; (5) late 90s Scotland national team jersey (blue); (6) '02 US Mens National team jersey (white and unnumbered); (7) '02 Guingamp home jersey (red and unnumbered).

Don't get me started on baseball caps.

Nice thread.
   16. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 15, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608833)
If I remember your name correctly, I think we may have met at or after a Dodger game about five years ago. Fracas

Sorry, David, I don't think we've ever met...

A scrub jersey I've always wanted is a Junior Noboa Expos jersey. Ah, Junior, where have you gone!
   17. Voros McCracken Posted: February 16, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608834)

Man United? What are you, Satan?

The only jersey I have of any expense whatsoever is a Chicago Bears #46 with Doug Plank's name on the back.

I wanna get a Gascoigne jersey from whatever Chinese team it is he's playing on.
   18. Chris Dial Posted: February 16, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608838)
And Voros, don't forget your D-Backs' Quinton jersey.
   19. Shredder Posted: February 17, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#608847)
Sorry, Voros. A moment of weakness. Hey, it's not like I bought a freakin' Tottenham jersey.
   20. Curtis Posted: February 18, 2003 at 01:32 AM (#608864)
I have my favorite baseball player: Steve Kline, #44. Izzy stole his number. I hate Izzy with a passion now, as Kline wears #49.

Hockey: I have two Detroit Red Wings jerseys: Federov #91, and Joseph #31. I root for the Cardinals more than any other team, but it's $200 for a real jersey.

I'd like to get a Terrell Owens jersey, and maybe a Brad Smith Mizzou football jersey. The NBA is bunk, don't waste your money.
   21. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 21, 2003 at 01:32 AM (#608891)
"Speaking of Cooperstown, the sharpest uniform I saw there was Walter Johnson's old Washington Senators threads. It was a flannel-looking grey with a cool purple "W" on the front. Understated, but just great-looking. Anyone know where I could find one?"

Garrett, the Mitchell & Ness site only had second Senator jerseys from the 1969 season, before the team moved to Texas. I don't know anyone who would have the 1920s Senator jersey available....
   22. Scott B Posted: February 26, 2003 at 01:33 AM (#608962)
I actually just picked up 2 very nice jersey's at Marshall's on clearance.

Illini Basketball #34 (Brian Cook) $17 (wore it yesterday to watch the Illini destroy indiana)
Illini Football #15 (Kurt Kittner I suppose) $15
I already had a Blackhawks (3rd jersey, black) and a Bears (Blue, #54 Urlacher the best selling jersey on, i'm trendy i guess).

I really need a White Sox jersey.. And a USA Soccer jersey would be nice.

The only jersey I have of any expense whatsoever is a Chicago Bears #46 with Doug Plank's name on the back
Voros, so you are that guy that wears a bear-head helmet and orange/blue 80s zebra striped (wtf were those called again?) pants and runs around with the Bears flag at games?
   23. Bunny Vincennes Posted: February 27, 2003 at 01:34 AM (#609001)
Scott B,

I think you are speaking of the fashion holocaust that was known as Zubaz.

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