You got a problem with Jermaine Allensworth?
The truth is, I used to love sports jerseys. My closet was filled with them—Barry Sanders and Erik Kramer and J.R. Richard and Ottis Anderson and Jim Kelly. Back in the late 1990s, when Russ Bengtson and I were roommates, we surely led New York City in athletic apparel. He was a fanatical collector of sneakers—game-worn and otherwise. I was mainly into jerseys, though Russ surely had more of those, too.
To point is, I loved everything about jerseys. The colors. The bagginess. Everything.
Then, one day, jerseys became trandy. Mitchell and Ness started pumping the damn things out, and every rapper and rock star could be found wearing Larry Bowa Phillie duds and Phil Simms Giant duds and on and on. Which was fine—until the phenomenon died and, suddenly, Marshall’s was filled with them. That’s the ultimate bad sign. Actually, scratch that—the ultimate bad sign is when Marshall shifts an item from its regularly priced racks to the Clearance ranks. Which happened to jerseys. Soon, Mitchell and Ness product—a rainbow of color and sizes—dotted Marshall’s and Ross Dress For Less and TJ Maxx. Jerseys weren’t merely outdated—they were decidedly lame.
Which pissed me off, because now I faced a choice: Give up the duds, or find myself living in some sort of black-and-white time warp. Hence, I hung up the jerseys. A ton were given away, and I held on to, oh, four.
My favorite: Jermaine Allensworth.
In case you’ve never heard of Jermaine, he was a once-upon-a-time Pirates prospect who wound up playing 238 games for the Bucs over three forgettable seasons. He bounced around a few times, then vanished.
I purchased the Allensworth jersey for, I believe, $20 in the Pittsburgh airport. I believe the year was 1998, shortly after he was traded to Kansas City.
The appeal of the garment isn’t look or style or cut or colors. No, I dig it because it’s Jermaine Allensworth, and, right now in America, only one person is wearing his jersey. I’ve gotta think this would please Jermaine, if he knew.
For a day, it pleases me.
Even though I look like a dork.