Ranking baseball jerseys and the rules of engagement

March 23, 2011 · 3 comments

"We're Number 1! We're Number 1! No, wait; aren't we Number 2? I'm confused."

Apropos to yesterday’s Bits and Pieces entry about rankings of caps and logos, here’s one from the Getting Blanked blog about the best-selling jerseys.

Personally I never quite understood wearing someone else’s name on your person, although the whole psychological study of BIRG (basking in reflected glory) is fascinating. (When I played softball at Marine Park in Brooklyn there was one guy who would always show up in a full St. Louis Cardinals uniform. Did he really think someone would think he was a Major Leaguer? Naturally he was the biggest pain in the ass of all the players. I’m just sayin’…)

Even better than the ranking is the “Jersey code” of selection.

Rule #1: Do not get your own name and favourite number printed on the back of a baseball jersey.  The only bigger faux pas at a baseball game is interfering with play by grabbing a baseball to the detriment your home team and then not giving that baseball to a nearby kid.

Rule#2: No matter how old you are, you must at least struggle with the idea of purchasing the jersey of a player that is younger than you.  This rule used to be a lot more strict, but that was before I turned 28 years old.

Rule #3: Do not wear a former player’s jersey to a game unless: a) he played on a championship team, b) there’s an element of irony attached, or c) he’s a personal friend of yours and scored you the tickets.

Rule #4: Buying a promotional third or fourth jersey with a zany colour is regrettable about 238 seconds after you hand over the money for it.

Rule #5: Jersey Ts are only allowable if you’re a student.  After that, you might as well just tell the whole stadium that you’re unemployed.

For a fascinating look at the evolution of uniforms, pick up a copy of Marc Okkonen’s Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official Major League Baseball Guide, which is sorely in need of an update).

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  • Metsilverman.com

    I’m a uniform numbers person, but I’m with you on not buying someone else’s jersey with their name on it. (I do have an Olerud #5 T-shirt that is out of circulation that I plan to wear to a victory parade one day, or give to a great-grandchild to do so for me in the 22nd century.) This makes me a Mets fan talking about the Yankees, which is normally a no-no, but is germane here. Here’s the question: Why do the Yankees insist on not having names on the back of the uniform–even on road jerseys–yet almost every jersey of theirs I ever see sported by a fan has a name on the back?

  • Anonymous

    Matt is being modest here when he says he’s a Mets fan. He’s the author of several great books of the team including the brand-new “New York Mets: The Complete Illustrated History” as well as “Mets by the Numbers: A Complete Team History of the Amazin’ Mets by Uniform Number” and many other baseball titles.

  • Jay



    Me, I can’t afford jerseys!

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