Monday, December 16, 2019

12 Days of Christmas Day 4 - Put a jersey on!

The first jersey I ever owned was a Lou Brock Cardinals throwback I picked off the rack at a store in Cooperstown. The last jersey I bought was a Wayne Gretzky Oilers throwback from the NHL store in Manhattan. In between I've probably owned at least 40 pro sports jerseys. Many of them were Christmas gifts.

If the bar's not bending, you're just pretending

My sister bought me the first hockey jersey I ever owned. It was a white Penguins jersey from the Lemieux/Jagr days. I never liked the Pens, so she took me to the hockey shop downtown so I could exchange it. My eyes lit up when I saw this sweater:

As a young sports fan, I was always interested in out-of-market teams and players. This jersey was bright red and random and I loved it. My brother's friend saw me wearing it once and he said "Calgary?" all confused because why would a kid from Connecticut want a Calgary Flames jersey? Unfortunately it didn't last long, the material was cheap and it pilled pretty bad. I had to trash it within a year. 

That experience soured me from shopping for hockey jerseys - but not sports jerseys in general. Two of my all-time favorites were Christmas gifts from Mom, including this Hakeem Olajuwon jersey:

Again with the red and yellow. I held onto this jersey for about 15 years, even after I'd stopped following basketball. I sold it on eBay when throwback jerseys were all the rage.

The other jersey my mom bought me that year was a Sterling Sharpe Packers jersey exactly like this one:

I wore my Sharpe jersey so much that the lettering cracked until it was barely recognizable. Couldn't bring myself to throw it out though; I buried it in a storage container along with a Rick Mirer Seahawks jersey, possibly my Hideo Nomo Dodgers jersey, and some other sports team apparel I've long outgrown.

Since Sterling's career came to an abrupt end in 1995 I was never able to replace this jersey. I've had plenty of other Packers jerseys - including Dorsey Levens and Bill Schroeder (which were under $20 each IIRC) and at least three Brett Favre jerseys.

These were not Christmas gifts, but many others were. My brother bought me a Dan Marino jersey that I absolutely loved. There was just one problem with it .. it was huge!

not my Marino jersey

I was probably a size L back then but I always bought XL jerseys whenever possible. The Marino jersey my brother gifted me was like an XXL, 52-56. I was swimming in it. Still, I wore it over a turtleneck and kept it in my closet for about ten years. 

I can't really blame him for misjudging my jersey size. I've done it myself. Once I bought a Bryant Reeves Vancouver Grizzlies jersey in the mall right off the rack. When I tried it on at home it was too small (I think it was an L.) They didn't have a bigger "Big Country" jersey so I couldn't exchange it. In Chicago, I bought an authentic Mark Prior jersey that would be a perfect fit for a 6' 5", 230-lb pitcher but was way too big for my 6' 1", 190-lb (at the time) frame.

Here's one more jersey I got as a Christmas gift. One of my favorite Christmas traditions was thumbing through all the catalogs that would come in the mail. My source for hockey memorabilia was River City Sports in Canada, which is where my mom ordered this Ryan Smyth jersey for me.

I haven't bought a new jersey in about a decade and I don't see myself buying one for a long time, if ever. The RBK line of NHL jerseys were a complete turn-off, with the patch on the front and the rounded bottoms. Yuck. Pass. The NBA jerseys have ads now, and players in all sports (except football) change teams even more than they did a decade ago. 

If I didn't already have a closet full of jerseys, a mortgage, and two kids I might consider buying a Damian Lillard Blazers jersey, or a Milwaukee Bucks throwback. It's shameful that I don't already have an Aaron Rodgers jersey, and I could be talked into purchasing a P.K. Subban Devils sweater - even though he has not lived up to the hype at all

How many sports jerseys do you own? Did you get any as Christmas gifts? If you could have any player's jersey - past or present - who would you choose?

Thanks for reading!




  1. I own (and have owned) exactly one jersey. It's a Duke Snider jersey. I've worn it once. I don't feel comfortable wearing it or wearing jerseys in general, I don't really understand the appeal or the fashion angle.

    This is another case of me coming along a little before a trend. So far that's been the case with all your 12 Days posts. Maybe one of the next ones will hit my wheelhouse!

    1. Thanks for reading them anyhow, I hope at least one of these will hit your wheelhouse :)

  2. I've never owned a jersey. I was so skinny as a kid that jersey's just looked stupid on me, and I'm sure that this will annoy a few people, but adults wearing jersey's has always seemed a little silly to me, so I'm not about to start trying to wear one at this age.

    1. Lol, I'm sure some people think it's silly that adults collect baseball cards. I dont wear jerseys often, but I couldn't imagine attending a major league game without one.

  3. I have a bunch of NBA jerseys...but they are mostly from when I was in middle school and I got too fat to fit into them. Someday, maybe. The last two I got in my first go-round were for Christmas 2003, when my brother got me Marcus Camby's Nuggets road blue and Yao's throwback to the jersey design you are wearing in that photo. I bought one since I've come back to the NBA, an Elton Brand Sixers jersey...have not worn it in over a year. I own one hockey jersey. I got a Mats Zuccarello jersey when it went on sale after het got traded, but for the first time in my life, it's too large for me. I might be able to put it on over my jacket and wear it in the winter. Might. I mail ordered it, and chose the largest expensive mistake.

    Unfortunately some of my NBA jerseys have gone missing. I know I had them, because pictures exist, but I don't know where they are. I have had to accept that they are probably gone forever.

    As for an exact count? No idea. I had started photo documenting them but never finished.

    1. That's a very impressive collection! I hope you find it some day.

      Your Zuccarello mistake sounds like my Mark Prior mishap. I guess too big is better than too small?

    2. It probably didn't hurt that in the 90s we had a Champion outlet and they would sell "rejects" for 75% off retail price...I remember we would go a couple times a year and get everything that fit me. I would wear a different jersey every day of the week to school.

  4. As for jerseys I want...I want a Lundqvist, of course. I would like to get one of the neon green Timberwolves jerseys, just because I love neon green. I would like to get a Golden Knights jersey just because they got me into hockey and now it's taken over my life.

    I'd like to have one of each team some day, but with the cost of them I just don't see that happening. I'd be more inclined to wear a hockey jersey because I can wear it and just it- with the NBA jerseys I need another shirt underneath them, and that makes it too hot to wear them very often. But I still don't like the stupid sleeved jerseys they wore for a while. As I mentioned in the first comment it's been over a year since I wore an NBA jersey. If I had hockey jerseys that actually fit I'd wear them a little more often. But only on certain, when I go to Manhattan I would wear a Rangers jersey...but not when I go to Massachusetts.

    I actually saw some guy wearing a Detroit Red Wings jersey in the NBA store earlier this year...go figure.

    1. The Knights have a really cool jersey. I'd get a Marc-Andre Fleury if I could. Would you get a blank jersey or a player?
      One for every team would be amazing, in any sport. I never dared to try it with jerseys but I have tried it with McFarlane figures...

    2. Absolutely a player...even if they get traded or leave the team it's still part of the history of the team...or I'd get my number and my name on them (96, the first year I watched an NBA and an NHL game) but at $250 a pop, not going to happen.

  5. My brother years ago (on separate occasions) bought be Mets and Rangers jerseys, without a name or number. I also have an old Rangers jersey, #7 with no name, that I got from my might have actually been worn by a minor leaguer on a Rangers affiliate. That's about it.

    I suppose if I had my pick I'd chose an Edgardo Alfonzo Mets jersey. Of course I wouldn't mind getting one of the current stars--Alonzo, deGrom, Lundqvist, Zibanejad. But that's always dangerous...a few years ago I might have picked Derek Stepan or someone like that, you know?

  6. Never had a "real" jersey, though as a kid I did have generic jerseys of Yankees and Dodgers from the Sears catalog. Maybe White Sox too? I was all over the board back then as far as teams I was reppin'.

  7. Oh man, I am like you. I've had probably close to 50 jerseys in my lifetime. My first jersey was probably a Marlins Sheffield jersey. I had 3 different Reggie Miller jerseys (dream team 2, white pacers, blue pacers) which is the most I had for any player. My favorite was a black Penny Hardaway jersey and the jersey I had kept the longest (grade school through college) was a Panthers John Vanbiesbrouck.

    Nowadays I have a few Pirates That I rotate throughout the year (Tekulve, Archer, Marte, Clemente, Morton, Garrett Jones). I also have a trio of McCutchens that I wear (Pirates, WBC Team USA, Phillies).

    For hockey I have 3 different Kris Letang jerseys each with a different Stanley Cup Champion patch. LET'S GO PENS!!!!!

    Football nowadays I only rotate out my Polamalu and Bettis jerseys. My Lev Bell and Mike Wallace jerseys have been "retired".

  8. I too had the jersey obsession. 6 years ago my wife and I counted 72 jerseys in my collection. That summer we sold off more than half of them. I still have a ton left (I kept mostly the oddball ones).

    That Hakeem jersey is awesome. Like you, I also had a Bryant Reeves Vancouver Grizzlies jersey. I loved that thing. I bought it off the rack at JCPenny's in 8th grade. That Ryan Smyth jersey is pretty sweet and although that Favre is awesome because of the ink, I just love the Oilers jerseys from that time period. I had a Rob Schremp navy one from that era, but I sold it in the purge of 2013.

    Right now, I think my favorite jersey in my collection is my Mikhail Grigorenko Sabres jersey. Just because it's so comfortable.

  9. I went through a phase back in the 90's where jerseys were part of my every day attire. I had basketball jerseys of Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan. Football jerseys of Joey Galloway, Brett Favre, and Dorsey Levens. I also owned a bunch of baseball jerseys, but they were the playerless ones. And of course I had home and away versions of my beloved San Jose Sharks.

    I don't really wear jerseys very often, unless I go to a game. But I have probably 5 or 6 different Sharks jerseys (including the two from the 90's). I also have 3 or 4 A's jerseys, a Gwynn 1984 Padres jersey, a 1998 Padres jersey, a Kobe Bryant Team USA jersey, 2 Golden State Seals hockey jerseys, a Steve Largent throwback jersey, and a partridge in a pear tree.

    1. You have two Seals jerseys? That's awesome!