Remember back in elementary school how there was always that one kid in the class who wore a sports jersey to school once or twice a week? Well, that kid was me.
I don’t know why jerseys fascinated me so much. Maybe it was the material, or the colours, or the logo, or the name and number on the back. Either way, my elementary school years were littered with sports jerseys. Then, my fascination wore off – probably because my high school required me to wear a uniform fit for education and not a sports arena.
Below is a list of jerseys that I have owned over the years (in no particular order). For each one, there is a story.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs/White Home Jersey/Curtis Joseph #31
My first ever sports jersey. Grade 2. 1998. I remember it like it was yesterday. I came home for lunch one day and there was a box sitting on the couch. Inside was a white, Toronto Maple Leafs jersey that read “JOSEPH 31” on the back. (The jersey pictured on the right has the Nike logo at the bottom. Mine had a CCM logo). Forgetting how hungry I was, I put on the jersey. By the way, one of the best smells in the world is the smell of a brand new jersey. Someone should make it into a perfume. Anyways, I loved this jersey. Curtis Joseph remains one of my favourite athletes of all-time. Wearing this jersey elevated my mini stick hockey skills as a goalie. There I was, sprawling on the carpet in the family room making TSN worthy, highlight reel saves. I remember wearing this jersey to school and sitting on the carpet listening to the teacher while some classmates sat behind me and traced the letters and numbers on my back. This jersey lasted about three years. It got sold at a garage sale. I still regret that.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs/White Home Jersey/Alexander Mogilny #89
Grade 5. 2001. My Curtis Joseph jersey was in the hands of a garage sale customer and my brand new Alexander Mogilny jersey was on my back. I remember that the jersey was big when I first got it and I had to tuck it in so it wouldn’t hang out of my coat. The cool thing, to me, about this jersey was that the numbers were outlined in silver. I just thought that was the greatest thing I had ever seen at the time. I wore this jersey during floor hockey intramurals and pretended to be Alexander Mogilny. I don’t know why, but as a kid, if I put a jersey on with a name on the back, I became that player. I think a lot of kids do this. Do they still do it today? Probably not. They just follow their favourite athlete on Twitter and hope they get recognized. Oh, how times have changed. I still own this jersey.
3. Toronto Raptors/White Home Jersey/Vince Carter #15
I believe I got this jersey in 2002. It might have been late 2001, though. I remember going to Yorkdale mall with my Mom and we went into Sportchek. At the time, I wanted an Alvin Williams jersey. Vince Carter was a superstar on the rise and everyone had a Carter jersey. I wanted a Williams #20 jersey. Correction, a A. Williams #20 jersey. There were two players with the last name Williams on the team so his jersey had his first initial. He was a scrappy, gritty player who was a big part of the team. Too bad Sportchek only had Carter jerseys, so I “settled” for one of those. I liked the jersey. It was a nice simple colour scheme. I wore this until 2004. I still own this jersey.
4. Toronto Raptors/Alternate Red Jersey/Vince Carter #15
I got this jersey for Christmas in 2003. The Raptors had just come out with their alternate red jerseys that season. I can’t remember why I asked for another Raptors jersey that said Carter on it, but apparently I did. Not much was different about this jersey, except the colours. Carter remains my favourite Raptors player in history. He single-handedly made basketball relevant in the city of Toronto. Yes, he also single-handedly destroyed basketball in Toronto when he demanded a trade and left. However, the details show that he rescinded his demand to be traded, but General Manager, Rob Babcock, said it was too late – he already verbally agreed to trade Carter to New Jersey. Let me end this before I get mad…I still own this jersey.
5. Toronto Rock/White Home Jersey/No Name
It’s crazy, I still remember the moment I became a lacrosse fan. Then again, I also remember the moment I became a baseball fan, but that’s for another time. I came across the Toronto Rock on television one night in December or January of a year in which I can’t remember. But, I was young. I never bothered looking in the TV Guide to see when they played, I just assumed it was always on the weekend on Sportsnet. I was right most of the time and always seemed to find their games. It made me happy. I got this jersey at a lacrosse game in 2003. No matter what size I tried on, the sleeves seemed short. Then, they finally told me that that is how the jersey was made. Wow, what a difference from a hockey jersey. I didn’t get a name on the back because that would cost extra money. If I did get a name, I was set on getting “TOLL #17” on the back. Steve “Speedin” Toll was my favourite player back then. As his nickname suggests, he was fast.
I remember wearing this jersey to school and on the back, near the top of the neck, it said “Projoy.” They were the makers of the jersey, but some kids thought it was a player’s name. “Who’s Projoy?” “What’s his first name.” Guys, can you not tell that Projoy is not a player’s name? It’s not even in the position where the nameplate would go AND there is no number. What jersey has a name and no number? I was disappointed that others weren’t as informed on the topic of jerseys as I was. I still own this jersey.
6. Edmonton Oilers/Alternate Jersey/No Name
I got this jersey in 2003 or 2004. I’m leaning towards 2003 and saying I got it for Christmas along with my red, Vince Carter jersey. I wasn’t really a fan of the Oilers at the time, although Ryan Smyth stood out as one of my favourite players. I just really liked their third jersey. It was dark blue, white, and silver. The logo across the centre was a streaking mechanical gear with a droplet of oil in the middle. This jersey made me realize it was ok to like more than one hockey team. I still own this jersey.
7. Edmonton Eskimos/Green Home Jersey/Terry Vaughn #3
I don’t know what it is about teams from Edmonton, I just like them. This was my first, and only, Canadian Football League jersey. I am a Toronto Argonauts fan, so how did I end up with an Eskimos jersey? Well, my family went to the Eaton’s Centre downtown one day in 2003 or 2004…leaning 2004. There was probably a CFL jersey for all nine teams, but I only saw five. Only one player from each team was on the jersey. Which means, if I wanted an Argonauts jersey, it HAD to be a Mike O’Shea #50 jersey because that is what they had. Ottawa’s jersey was represented by Pat Woodcock #16. Montreal – Ben Cahoon #86. Hamilton – Rob Hitchcock #42.
But, I didn’t want any of those. I wanted an Edmonton Eskimos jersey with “VAUGHN #3” on the back. He caught my attention in a Grey Cup game and I instantly became a fan. I had previously asked for his jersey for a birthday or Christmas and even printed out a picture of it for my parents to use as a reference. It didn’t matter to me that when I went to a Toronto vs. Hamilton game that I would be wearing an Edmonton jersey and cheering for the Argonauts. At school, I had to deal with kids who kept asking me, “Why are you wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey?” and “Who’s Vaughn?” No you fools, this is an Eskimos jersey and they are in the CFL. If you bothered looking at the jersey, you would know. I don’t know why I expected people to know who he was. I was the sports fanatic, not them. I still own this jersey.
8. Washington Wizards/Blue Away Jersey/Michael Jordan #23
In 2003, my friend gave me a Michael Jordan jersey as a gift. My friend had three jerseys that he wanted to give to me and two other friends. All three jerseys said Jordan #23 on the back. Two jerseys were of the Chicago Bulls. The other was a Washington Wizards jersey. My friend presented the three jerseys to us and told us to decide who got which one. Since I didn’t jump at the jerseys like my friends, I ended up with the Wizards jersey. Great. I still own this jersey, but I have never worn it for longer than ten minutes.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs/White Away Jersey/Luke Schenn #2
This is the third Leafs jersey I have owned. Each time, I have gone with a white jersey. I just like it more, I guess. I got this jersey in 2008. If you look at the Leafs roster in 2008, there wasn’t really a player on the team that anyone thought would be there long-term, except Schenn. I thought he was going to be a solid player and probably the Captain of the team in a few years. None of that happened. Also, I was in a phase where the term “defensive defensemen” actually seemed like a really important component to a team. Now I realize my stupidity. Sometimes, too much TSN can be a bad thing. Oh, and the Leafs jersey was ugly. A logo and stripes on the sleeves, that was all. Talk about plain. I still own this jersey.
10. Toronto Blue Jays/Blue Alternate Jersey/Brett Lawrie #13
I got my first baseball jersey in 2012. I know, I’m shocked too. It took me 14 years as a Blue Jays fan to finally commit and get a jersey. I think it didn’t happen sooner because they switched to the hideous black/white/grey colour scheme in 2004. How dare they call themselves the BLUE Jays and barely have any BLUE in the jersey? Those were some scary years. I always feared they would change the name to simply, Toronto Jays. I am so, incredibly relieved, that they decided against it. Prior to that, I loved their jerseys. It just never occurred to me that I should buy one.
In 2012, the Blue Jays changed their logo and team colours. THANK YOU. The Blue was finally back in Blue Jays and I knew I wanted a jersey. It was between the high-energy, Canadian kid, Brett Lawrie, or superstar on the rise, Jose Bautista. I chose Lawrie. Now that Lawrie is still acting like a child around the team, I kind of wish I got Bautista instead. Oh well, can’t change the past. I still own this jersey.
So what will be my 11th jersey? Now that Luke Schenn is no longer a Leaf, I need a new Leafs jersey. I’ve decided on a white jersey, again. Might as well keep with tradition. As for the player on the back…I can’t decide between Kadri #43 and Lupul #19. I really like Kadri, but the #43 still has to grow on me. I like Lupul, and the #19, and I would have the “A” (or “C” if they trade Phaneuf) on the front of the jersey. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but both players should be with the Leafs for many years to come…at least I hope so.
So that’s it! Those are the jerseys I own, have owned, or will own. I don’t think I’ll ever buy an NFL jersey for the simple fact that I no longer have a favourite team. Thank you, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
Also, I think as I get older, the fascination with jerseys will subside. I can’t imagine myself being 40-years-old and wearing a jersey of a player that is half my age.
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a jersey at that age will make me feel like “that kid” again in elementary school. We’ll see…