Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You can take the boy out of Jersey but you can't take the jersey off the boy.

I posted a few days ago about my most recent birthday present, and the newest addition to my huge athletic jersey collection. It got me to thinking about why I have them all. In the beginning my quest was fed by those 70's and 80's tee shirts that would be some horrible combination of earth tones with the last two digits of the year as the number. There are countless pictures of me as a young lad in a puke green shirt with the number 82 on it in brown, or some other such mock football jersey.

I must have been about 12 or 13 when my family was visiting one of my mother's cousins and he showed me a Redskin practice jersey he got first hand from one of the Washington players. At that moment I was hooked, I wanted a jersey more than anything. It was about two or three years later when I saved up enough of the money I made at the pizzeria to buy my first jersey and my first fitted hat. We were in Baltimore for my first game at Camden Yards and I dropped $12 on the 7 1/8 size had and $90 on the white home jersey with no numbers or letters for the last name on it.

I wore that combo for years and years, even as my collection grew. The only thing that stopped me from wearing them was when I grew both into a 7 3/8 hat and out of a 48 jersey. By that point I had picked up my first few Redskin's jerseys, which I have the most of by far now a days. I have enough Skin's jerseys to field a whole offense, even though I have a lot of low numbers with all the quarterbacks shirts I have picked up over the years.

By the time I was in college the collection was pretty big. I had more money from my summer job, and the jersey industry was now beginning to expand. There was a time when you couldn't find more than a few of them even in the big sporting goods stores, but now they are all over the place. By the time college was ending I had branched out to all sports picking up Hockey and Basketball jerseys.

Since then I have added minor league baseball, Rugby and even a few 'personal throwback' jerseys into the mix. I have jerseys from my high school and my college with my name on them, in fact almost all my jerseys have my name on them. Exceptions are made for big time idols of mine like my Cal Ripken #5 Rochester Red Wings jersey. Cal wore 5 in the minors, but couldn't with the O's because it was retired for Brooks Robinson, who's Cooperstown Collection Flannel XL got me last year. I also have A jersey with Eddie Murrary's name and the number 33 on it with the team name Cooperstown on the front to mark his entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame a few years back.

Each year my collection gets a bit bigger, and as I branch out I have begun to run out of obvious ideas, but new and cool ideas spring up all the time. This year I have asked my wife for an Australia world baseball classic jersey with my name, but the number 7 rather than my traditional 5 on it due to the seven points on the Aussie commonwealth star. I have always wanted a Milwaukee Braves or Brewers 1960's throwback with Bob Ueker's name and number, or a late 80's Indians Jersey with Taylor and 7 or Cerano and 13 on it. If you know why that is cool/funny then you are the same type of person that I am.

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