It is still jersey week here at SB Nation, and we are going to use that theme to get into this week’s roundtable discussion for the staff. The question for the edition was pretty straight-forward: What is your favorite jersey (or shirsey) you have ever owned?
This is going to sound ridiculous, but my favorite jersey I ever owned is my Daisuke Matsuzaka jersey. Look, Dice-K was one of my favorite players to watch, even when he was terrible (and there were some really bad, frustrating to watch starts in his tenure), and his career is among the most fascinating I’ve been able to watch start to finish. Not many people remember this, but Daisuke Matsuzaka was actually a positive on the 2007 team that won the World Series. He struggled in the ALDS and ALCS, and at the time there was a valid question as to whether he should even be on the World Series roster... but he persevered and pitched a solid Game 3 in the World Series that put the Red Sox in position to end it in a sweep. Not only did he keep the Rockies to five baserunners through five innings but he also drove in two runs with his first major league hit. He ended that season with the Red Sox rookie record in strikeouts, as well.
Every game he pitched was must-watch for me. Every. Game. We may not have ever seen the famed “gyroball”, but in some ways we saw so much more. We saw a man thrust into an extraordinarily difficult situation, and emerge looking mostly acceptable for the majority of his Red Sox career. He may not have been the ace we expected, but he provided us with a lot to talk about, and as a fan, there’s not much more I can ask for.
I have had my fair share of the usual’s like David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Jon Lester but by far my favorite was my Hideki Okajima shirsey. Okajima spent 7 seasons in the majors, six with the Red Sox, and was really only good for 2 of them. He wasn’t closer or a starter and didn’t dominate for an extended period. He was just a bullpen arm that was good that one time and I felt confidant enough to buy his shirsey. This is easily the most random jersey/shirsey I have ever owned and that’s exactly why I like it so much. Honorable mention to the Kosuke Fukudome shirsey I bought when I took a trip to Chicago at 18 years old and bought purely because I wanted a jersey that said FUKUDOME on the back because I find immaturity hilarious.
I used to buy a lot more jerseys than I do today. I still have a closet filled with them, but most are out of date, especially now that Tom Brady is in Tampa Bay. My most cherished jersey is my home Paul Pierce Celtics jersey, but if we’re talking Red Sox apparel, my pick is my Ted Williams away jersey that my sister got me one Christmas.
If we open up to include player shirts, among the countless I’ve owned/still own, the green Jason Varitek shirsey I got with the captain’s C on the chest is the pick. I liked it so much I bought it a second time when I thought I lost the original.
I’d have to go with my Pedro Martínez shirsey I bought after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. As I mentioned before, Pedro is the reason I became a Sox fan. However, by the time I realized shirseys were a thing he wasn’t on the Red Sox anymore and getting a Mets shirt was out of the question.
Growing up in south Florida, I wasn’t around too many die-hard Red Sox fans. Both of my parents are from Boston, however, and when I was six, my dad promised me a Sox jersey the next time we visited family. Upon our visit, I begged him for a Pedro Martinez jersey, but he came back looking dejected and said that they had sold out. To compensate, he got me a Trot Nixon jersey, which I was disappointed with at first. However, I soon came around, and Nixon soon became one of my favorite players to follow. Even though Trot wasn’t a star like Pedro, that first Red Sox jersey remains very special to me.
This is an easy one. I have a red Garciaparra jersey I picked up in January 2005 from eBay for, no joke, five dollars. Nomar had been traded the summer before and I guess demand was nonexistent. We share a birthday, so I always assumed those home runs were for me.
A funny thing happened shortly after: people missed Nomar. Sure, Orlando Cabrera was fun and helped win in 2004, but Edgar Renteria was never a fan favorite. People would tap my shoulder and say how much they liked Nomar. How great he was. And until Xander Bogaerts emerged, Nomar was really the hole that was missing from the team: the star shortstop. Now we can all celebrate Nomar again. As it should be.
I have only ever owned two real Red Sox jerseys: Pedro Martinez and Xander Bogaerts. I still have both of them, but I think it’s my Bogaerts one that I’m most attached to. I started really following prospects heavily around 2010 and Bogey was the first guy in the Red Sox system I was waiting for throughout his entire time in the minor leagues. I spent years telling everyone who would listen how great this Bogaerts kid was going to be once he got to the big leagues. When he made his debut and they won the 2013 World Series it felt extra special knowing I had followed his progress the whole way. Once he settled in on number two I bought his jersey and I’ve been wearing it proudly since 2014.
I have a Jonathan Papelbon 2007 World Series jersey still hung up in my closet. I haven’t worn it in a long while, but it still fits and is mighty comfortable. It used to get popped out for big occasions like when I went to Coors Field to see the Rockies play the Sox, but I live in Louisiana now so there’s no Major League Baseball to go to! Papelbon didn’t leave the game in the best way, but he’s still the best closer in franchise history, had one of the best modern relief seasons in franchise history in 2006, and was instrumental in their ‘07 World Series run. All enough to make him one of my favorite pitchers of all time.
I’ve owned so much Red Sox gear it’s hard to know where to start, both because of the number of choices and the fact I’ve forgotten about more stuff than I care to admit — if I see myself in photos from 10 years ago, I often have totally forgotten that I owned the clothes I’m wearing. All that said my favorite jersey/shirsey that I ever owned was a red Ortiz shirsey circa 2004. The red really made it for me, and it’s far more about the red than it is anything else. It could have been Shea Hillenbrand in red and it still would have been my favorite. But it wasn’t, so alas, I was stuck with Big Papi.
I’ve owned a lot of shirseys over the years, mostly of the relatively boring variety with the same players everyone had. I did have an Okajima one, but I put more respect on that name than Keaton apparently does. I also got a Sandoval one for Christmas right after he signed. That one wasn’t worn much. I have only owned one actual jersey for any sport, though, and that’s one I cherish. Do you know how expensive those things are? It’s crazy! Anyway, I went out Christmas shopping in 2013 and I was looking for something for my brother in a sports apparel store at the mall. This was probably a week or two after Jacoby Ellsbury signed with the Yankees, and the store was selling through his Red Sox authentic jerseys at 70% off. Ellsbury is perhaps my favorite position player to watch in Red Sox history, and his signing with the Yankees was sad for me but it also led me to being able to snag a real jersey for shirsey price, so I’ll call it an even trade.