Rachel Levitin: The shirts on fans’ backs tell a story

There was a time back in 2005 when I worked at a Major League Baseball team apparel store for extra money before leaving for college. This store specialized in Chicago Cubs gear, but it was that store that garnered my appreciation for team logos and memorabilia from the past.

Numerous retailers attempt to recreate some of the most unique logos in baseball history on caps, t-shirts, jerseys, plaques, and just about anything you can think of - and the novelty to that is the fact that baseball is a game based on history and tradition.

As my appreciation for these relics of baseball’s past continues to grow, I find myself having the same conversation with folks at Nationals Park before, during, and after games. At least the Nats’ memorabilia history doesn’t date too far back. It’s easy to keep up!

The team’s birth in 2005 signifies a year that a team needing some serious building from the ground up got a chance to shine on the big stage, thereby creating memorabilia for all sports fans wishing to bear the team’s name upon an object or item of clothing. My favorite part, by far, of going to a Nationals game or even just walking around D.C. is watching to see what Nats player shirt or jersey gets worn to a game.

Years from now, the kids sitting in prime seats watching a championship Nats team on the field are going to want that Ryan Zimmerman player tee from 2005. They’ll want it because of the historical significance, context and story behind the year the shirt was made, when the team moved to Washington, drafted and then called up one of the best third basemen baseball’s ever seen.

Fewer faces in the stands are less likely to catch the unique factor to a 2011 Ivan Rodriguez jersey. The Nats changed uniforms between the 2010 and 2011 season from a block print “Nationals” logo written upon the player’s chest to a curly W on the breast.

Rodriguez only played in Washington for two seasons - 2010 and 2011 - with 2011 being his final full season as an active major league player. That means a Rodriguez jersey from 2010 is the only Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez jersey with a block print “Nationals” logo written upon it - because that’s the only year any such jersey was made.

Next time you find yourself at a ballpark, on the Metro to a game or running errands, take a look at the shirts you see sported about town. It really is interesting to see how far back the fans will go to take a little piece of Nats history into the future.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation’s capital as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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