Recently, one of my favorite websites, Uni-Watch.com, had a piece written titled “One Fan's Experience with Jersey Addiction” and it got me thinking of my own special closet that houses over 40 jerseys of past and present MLB, NFL, and NHL teams.
Yes, I am a sports jersey junkie.
Growing up I never had “authentic” team jerseys. They weren’t available, and if they were, I wouldn’t have been able to afford one and doubt I would have received one as a gift.
Thus, at age 28, I bought my first “Diamond Collection” Oakland Athletics 1988 home white team jersey to wear to games. It was soon followed by the road grey one for those occasional trips to other teams’ ballparks and within a few years I just had to have the new alternate that was introduced in 1994.
Since then, 20 years’ time, I’ve collected an assortment of team jerseys from various leagues, mostly historic throwbacks to reminisce to my youth.
Some women have closets of shoes, some GQ guys have closets of suits, I have a closet specially reserved for all my jerseys with my Type-A OCD filing system by sport, team, and year.
One of my quests was to have one of each style of the Oakland A’s since their first year in 1968. Note here I said “style” and not each year, since, with minor changes, many “styles” stay the same year-to-year.
There’s the vest style “OAKLAND” from 1968, the single ‘A’ vest in white and gold for 1969 not to be confused with the “A’s” style for 1970 and 1971 (both white and gold) and all three of the Kelly green, Fort Knox gold and wedding gown white double knits that they switched to in 1972 (that style lasted until 1981). I also have the caps to accompany them too.
And I also have the 1982 home jersey that they wore for only one season.
The A’s current jersey style has been the same for both home and road since 1987, but those darn alternates keep getting me as even as last week, I just added the new alternate green one introduced this year for an upcoming road trip visit I have to Kansas City.
Some that I have aren’t even of real players. I have a Billy Chapel Detroit Tigers jersey from the movie “For Love of the Game” and a Tanner Boyle Chico’s Bail Bonds jersey from “The Bad News Bears.”
My jersey fetish didn’t end at baseball – and not just the home teams either.
I loved the AFL growing up as a kid and so I have a Jim Otto Raiders jersey, white with the SILVER 00 of course, both Joe Namath home and away Jets jerseys, and a Lance Alworth powder blue Chargers. This year I added a Joe Montana to wear during 49er games.
Hockey isn’t left out either (Sorry NBA fans). I can be seen sporting jerseys from the Oakland Seals, California Golden Seals, and even a Phil Esposito Bruins jersey for Stockton Thunder games. A Hanson Brothers (Slapshot) or 1980 US Olympic Team jersey is on my radar.
The throwbacks are my favorite. I’m not talking about oversized varietals worn by rap stars who have popularized the jerseys in videos –those guys couldn’t name players of the past if they tried – I’m referring to the jerseys that are popular because they conjure up nostalgia and remind the enthusiast like me of the long lost years when, to them, the game was pure and the legend wearing the jersey was their hero.
There is some jersey etiquette however, such as not wearing your team’s home jersey when they’re the visitor and vice-versa. I also don’t quite understand the reasoning of having a current players name and number of a throwback style and likewise putting a historic player name and number on a team’s current jersey model.
Knock-offs are a no-no and easily spotted by the aficionado for their lack of proper detail. Thus, this is why I probably have financed my own wing at Mitchell and Ness or Majestic Apparel, both known makers of authentic throwback collections.
The purchase of a real throwback shows everyone around you that you have great sports – and fashion – sense, but owning over 40, however, may show a little less financial sense.
Now if only it was acceptable to wear them in the newsroom, I’d be set with my wardrobe.
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.