• Chad R. MacDonald

My Favorite Derek Jeter Shirt

Chad R. MacDonald and his favorite shirt.

My favorite T-shirt has been around almost as long as Derek Jeter has had a career. My wife wishes I’d throw it out. You can’t blame her. Do you own a T-shirt that’s almost 20 years old? How’s it holding up?

I don’t mind telling you it’s ratty. It sure hasn’t held up as well as The Captain himself. Holes are scattered around. There’s a fair sized one behind the right shoulder. Another one below the number 2. The collar is frayed and falling apart. It looks terrible.

I used to be a bit clumsy, shall we say, when I did laundry back in the day. I was a young guy in the nineties. Didn’t take the best care of some of my stuff, and took the wrong kind of care of some of the rest.

But that’s how it is when you’re young right? You gotta learn as you go. And one day at the laundry I learned how much bleach was too much on my white clothes. The white parts of the clothes? Came out great! Gleaming white. The colored parts? Ah, no.

And that’s why my favorite Derek Jeter shirt has these weirdly colored sleeves. They used to be navy blue. Now they are sort of a mottled violet pseudo tie-dye kind of deal. Not official Yankees colors at all. Looks a bit silly.

And I don’t even need the shirt, either. I have other Jeter T-Shirts. Not to mention jerseys. I have a pinstriped Jeter, a grey away Jeter, a limited edition black Jeter, and my signature piece, a Yankees hockey jersey, numbered for Jeter, and emblazoned with the “C.” It looks stupid on a baseball jersey, but it’s a hockey shirt, so screw it, it’s awesome.

Yes, I can afford to ditch the shirt, but I won't.

What I’m saying is I have other Derek Jeter shirts. I don’t need this one. I have much better-looking stuff. My wife desperately wants it gone. I have actually hidden it from her to keep it safe. It needs to stay with me.

So why would a person hang on to an almost twenty-year-old shirt that is full of holes, faded colors, besmirched by botched bleaching, wife-infuriating, and not even an official Yankees shirt? Why would you bother with it?

It was the first one, that’s why. Up until that point, everything I’d had Yankees-wise, was named for Reggie Jackson. This shirt represented to me the changing of the guard. This would be Jeter’s team. He would be our Captain now.

The thing wasn’t even expensive. All of five bucks at the time. It’s not official merchandise at all. I bought it from some guy on the street. Don’t even remember what the vendor looked like. Bald Vinny sells stuff there now. That’s pretty cool, too.

It isn’t the shirt itself; it’s what it represented. That was me telling myself I had a new hero now. It was a wise choice. Now Derek Jeter adorns a dozen different items of my wardrobe. Not to mention action figures, bobble-heads, baseball cards, and various other assorted forms of merchandise.

As The Captain enters the Hall of Fame, the shirt means even more. This cheap, chintzy, discolored, hole-y, torn up, unofficial rip-off of a rag barely shaped-like-clothing shirt. I love the stupid thing. It’s not going anywhere, even if it is the worst looking item in my collection.

There is no rationality to this. Don’t try to find any. I sure can’t. Know that my dedication to the shirt is representative of my reverence for Derek Jeter. I wear it out of a sense of superstition combined with respect. If I have this much trouble saying goodbye to an old shirt with his name on it, you can imagine how hard it was for me to say farewell to The Captain himself.

So over the course of next season, if the camera should pick me up in attendance at Yankee Stadium, you will see this shirt.

I want you to remember this story if you see it.

Remember the story, and say, “Wow, who let that skeevy homeless guy in there?”

Play ball!

A version of this story was previously published on Yanks Go Yard.

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