Confessions of an A’s Jersey Junkie

The Kelly green, Fort Knox gold and wedding gown white double knits that the A’s switched to in 1972 which they wore through the 1981 season
RICHARD PALOMA PHOTO

There’s a scene from the 2005 movie “Fever Pitch” where Drew Barrymore is looking through Jimmy Fallon’s closet (he plays a big Red Sox fan) and she exclaims, “This is a little boy’s closet” due to all the Red Sox jerseys, shirts, and other wear.

Well, that’s me – especially the jersey part.

In fact, I have a whole closet in my home devoted to JUST my jerseys, most of which are ones from the Oakland A’s throughout the years.

Growing up I never had the opportunity to have “authentic” team jerseys. They just weren’t available to the public – you have to remember this was the early 70s – and if they were, I wouldn’t have been able to afford one due to my young age 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 green that was introduced in 1994.

Since then, in over 20 years’ time, I’ve collected an assortment of team jerseys from various leagues, mostly historic throwbacks to reminisce my youth.

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” stayed the same year-to-year.

There’s the cream colored vest style “OAKLAND” from 1968 (still working on the road grey one), the single ‘A’ vest in white and Fort Knox 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 various caps from the years to accompany them too.

And I also have the 1982 home jersey that the A’s wore for only one season. Quite a find and is rarely recognized as an A’s jersey when I sport it to games.

The A’s current jersey style has been (basically) the same for both home and road since 1987, but those darn alternates keep getting me, as even as last season, I added the new alternate green one that had been introduced for a planned road trip visit I had to Kansas City.

By the way, I REFUSE to acknowledge those God-awful black things they had as alternates in 2000 and 2011 to my collection.

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 team’s long lost years when the game was pure, and the legends, such as Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, Jim Catfish Hunter, et. al., wearing the jersey were my heroes.

I have my own jersey etiquette however, such as not wearing the A’s home jersey when they’re away and vice-versa. I also don’t quite understand the reasoning of having a current player’s name and number on a throwback style and likewise putting a historic player name and number on a team’s current jersey model.

To me, knock-offs are a no-no and are 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.

There’s also the jinx/taboo of buying a current jersey with players’ names as all those that purchased Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, and Brandon Moss jerseys last season are realizing now.

The purchase of a real throwback shows everyone around you that you have great sports – and fashion – sense, but owning over 40 – including NFL and NHL – may show a little less financial sense.

So with 2015 coming up, I’ll have to see which ones get brought out for which games, reserving the throwbacks for those special occasions like turn-back-the-clock, honoring prior teams and players, or just because it hasn’t made an appearance in a while. See you there.