The Jersey I Wear

Forgive the self indulgence but since we started doing the post game webcasts people have caught on to the fact that I only have two pairs of clothes: my going to a baseball game gear and my not going to a baseball game gear. I’ve gotten a few questions about the jersey that I’ve been wearing on our live streams and it’s kind of a funny story, so I thought I’d share it here.

Believe it or not, it’s a game worn John McDonald jersey from the 2009 season. If the date from the inside of the shirt is to be believed it was used at some point in June of that year.

I came to call the jersey my own through a series of humourous events beginning with the final home game of the 2009 season. At the time, the Blue Jays had a promotion called “The Shirt Off Our Backs” where ten lucky ticket holders in attendance were allowed to come on to the field after the game and pick a player who would then literally give them the shirt off their back as a souvenir and a representational thank you for the fans’ support throughout the season. A friend had gotten some nice tickets for the home finale for myself and a group of friends and unbelievably my ticket’s section, row and seat appeared on the big screen as one of the winners.

Being the swell guy that I am, I gave the winning ticket to the person who had paid for our seats and told her that she had to ask for John McDonald’s jersey because it was the last year of his contract and I believed at the time that it would be the last game that the fan favourite would play in a Blue Jays uniform in front of the hometown crowd. She agreed and we all celebrated the good fortune. However, a woman behind us was rather adamant that despite what it said on the big screen, we did not win, but rather the jersey belonged to her.

There are a lot of, how shall I express this, characters at a live baseball game and we didn’t think anything of her claims to the prize at the time, but as the game wore on, no one from customer service approached us and before we knew it, it was the end of the game. Sure enough, the winners were paraded onto the field, including the seemingly crazy woman behind us, and they each selected a jersey as a keepsake.

It seemed to me that the so called random draw was in fact as rigged as a Florida election. For the first time in my life, I was able to properly use the terms indignant and incensed with regard to my own feelings. The 2009 season was a very disappointing one for Blue Jays fans with the inevitability of Roy Halladay leaving and an impending season of rebuilding. On several occasions, the franchise had seemed to be less of a team and more of an marketing opportunity and content provider for its corporate overlords, so much so that on Drunk Jays Fans, I took to referring to the team as Rogers Baseball Operations.

This was the straw that finally broke the fan’s back, and unfortunately for the Blue Jays, the ticket mix up happened to me, a blogger of some consequence. I wrote angrily in the moment, on my blog about the whole experience, and if you’re into the whole obscenity laced tirade thing, you can check it out here. It got linked to quite a bit by several sites, including Deadspin, and if it wasn’t a nightmare, it was at least a bad dream for the Blue Jays PR department.

We later learned through Will Hill, the former VP of Customer Experience for the Blue Jays, that the selection process for these giveaways during his time was random, but that they were held long before the game had begun and consisted of less than a draw and more of going to an actual section and ensuring that there was a person there in the flesh who would be able to accept the prize.

To their credit, the Blue Jays eventually got in touch with my friend and gave her a game worn John McDonald jersey, and that Christmas, the jersey ended up in my possession. And I’ve worn it to games, quite often with a collared shirt underneath, ever since.