I’ve always had an on/off relationship with baseball jerseys. The appeal of wearing them has always been because I feel like I’m making a statement, like, “Hey, not only do I support this team, but I support this specific player on this team because he is frick’in awesome.”
But baseball things happen and ruin my jerseys. Players get traded. They get released, they get injured, sometimes they even retire. And for me, that’s always made wearing jerseys difficult sometimes.
I’ve had four jerseys in my life. Here’s a quick rundown of each of them.
The first one I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I have no idea where it came from. It’s one of those shirts that’s just always been in my drawer. It’ll go missing for months on end and then just randomly appear one day as if it was never gone. There isn’t a name or a number on the jersey. It’s just a typical white Twins jersey with stripes. Nothing special.
The first named jersey I got was a Johan Santana jersey. He was my favorite player on the first Twins squad I watched as a kid. It was way too big for me at the time, but I absolutely loved it. I swear I probably wore it at least once a week to school. But then the Twins traded him away.
Next, I got a Joe Mauer jersey for Christmas when I was in middle school. When I should have been ecstatic, ready to show off a new jersey to my classmates, they couldn’t care less about the Twins or baseball in general, so instead I was a little let down. The jersey wasn’t a “real” jersey like the ones the players wear. It was one of those alternate style jerseys. I feared that the kids would judge me for it not being a “real” jersey, but I wore it anyways.
Finally, in college, I got a Denard Span shirsey — a t-shirt jersey. This one I bought on my own. I was a big Span fan and was super excited that I would have a jersey of the guy who would man center field for the Twins for years to come. But then the Twins traded him away.
Looking back on these jerseys, I stopped wearing them for various reasons.
I was a mad kid when the Twins traded Santana away and stopped wearing the jersey in protest. Span just kind of went and did his own thing and it felt weird wearing a jersey of a player who plays on another team. The generic Twins jersey also chafes my nipples really badly.
But that Mauer jersey, it is different. I’ve had that thing for like 12 or 13 years now. Even though he won’t be taking the field this year, I can’t see myself stopping wearing it. I can’t see myself folding it up and putting it in a box, never to see the light of day again. It just means too much to me.
That Mauer jersey is the first jersey I have that I feel I can wear for... well forever. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to accept that the jersey isn’t a “real” jersey. In fact, I kind of like it more. In the 12 to 13 years I’ve owned it, I’ve never seen anyone else with a Mauer jersey like mine. It’s one of a kind. Just like Joe Mauer himself.