While perusing the Dodgers’ team store, I noticed something. I could not find any authentic blank gray road Jerseys. Undaunted, I kept looking online, but I noticed there was a dearth of selection in both official and unofficial outlets. In my experience, normally if one wants to buy a jersey, it is best to do it at the beginning of the year when supplies are plentiful rather than at the end of the year. Having September-like levels of stock in April led me to a simple question: is there a jersey shortage?
And for the life of me, I cannot find a definitive answer.
For want of a jersey
For most of my life, I did not own a Dodgers jersey. To be fair, for most of my life, I was unable to even afford a jersey. The idea of having someone else’s name on my back felt silly. What if they got traded or moved on, I wondered. The Dodgers broke my heart when they traded Mike Piazza in 1998.
To be fair, I was 15.
For the original #SaveEli trip, I did not have a jersey. Frankly, having one did not occur to me. Getting one did not even occur to me when I was at Dodger Stadium as I had packed for two weeks of travel on the road. As it turns out, I overpacked.
While in Chicago, I stayed in a moderately sketchy AirBnB on the Southside. I stayed there for two reasons. First, it was slightly cheaper. Second, the AirBnB had a washer and dryer. While doing my laundry, I came to the conclusion that next time, I could make my life much easier if I bought a jersey and packed undershirts instead of regular shirts.
Luckily for me, the Dodgers’ team site had a sale and I was set to wear a replica of the Dodgers’ away uniform with the Los Angeles text for the rest of the season. I ultimately added a road gray replica with the Dodgers lettering and an alternate spring training replica jersey later on, which brings me to a question that I have been asked more than once.
Why default to the road grays?
In my mind, one should not wear home white on the road. I know that the Dodgers’ classic home white jersey is worn nationwide. Heck, I even wore home whites for the final game I went to in 2021 in Cincinnati, which is so very far from Los Angeles.
My reasoning back then was simple. It was such an ordeal to find even a replica home white jersey that would fit me that I was going to wear the bloody thing to more than a couple of games in Los Angeles. The Dodger team store was of no help at the time as they were sold out of both replicas and authentic jerseys in my size.
In fact, I had to venture out to Maywood by rideshare to go to Pro Stop Sportswear in to finally find what I was looking for. In retrospect, the distance was only 10 miles by car by I remember the ride taking about an hour, roundtrip. Los Angeles traffic is just the worst.
To be fair, my obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests in a couple of ways and jersey selection is one of them. In my head, the rules for wearing a jersey are simple. If I am in Los Angeles, Anaheim, or Phoenix, in my mind, it is appropriate to wear white. Admittedly, the selection of the latter two cities is me being a bit of a jerk. Everywhere else, it’s time for road gray or spring training blue, if I want to mix things up.
But one may why jerseys sales are they way they are now.
Fanatics: A love-and-mostly-hate relationship
Fanatics, Inc. is a $3.4 billion company that began as an online retailer of licensed sportswear and merchandise. In 2015, MLB announced a merchandise deal that split the rights to selling merchandise between the company and Nike. In 2019, MLB announced a 10-year deal involving uniforms and footwear with both Nike and Fanatics.
Starting in the 2020 season, Nike would be the exclusive provider of on-field uniforms, game-day outwear, and all training apparel for the 30 clubs. At the same time, MLB would grant Fanatics broad consumer product licensing rights to manage the manufacture and distribution of said gear to the public, along with Nike and Fanatics fan gear. In other words, Nike would provide the gear, and Fanatics would sell said gear to you, the customers.
As these companies are the literal only official game in town unless you want unofficial merchandise. Considering that replica jerseys usually cost about $100 (unless there is a sale) and blank authentic jerseys cost about $250-$350 (unless there is a sale), you might as well go through official channels.
In case anyone was curious, the fit on authentic jerseys is a bit better than the replicas. The replicas have broader sizing in Small, Medium, Large, etc., whereas the authentic jerseys have more dress shirt sizing in chest sizes 40, 42, etc. all the way to size 60. Is the difference in quality and sizing enough to make a difference to buy? Only you can answer that question.
But a change in my status caused me to think to about that very question.
When Eric hired me for this gig, I handled the appointment with the customary grace and dignity that I have now become known for. As such, I figured if I was going to play the role of a “professional fan” and refused to come to the game in a suit and tie, it was time to upgrade my replicas jerseys to authentic ones to become bonafide.
Thankfully, a couple of sales later I had two authentic road gray jerseys (with both the Los Angeles and Dodgers script) and one home white jersey. Granted, these purchases happened prior to and during the lockout, but an uncomfortable truth arose from that day to the cold winter day in Minneapolis when I tried to put them on again. The jerseys were snugger, or more accurately, layers did not work with them. And it was too late to return them.
So I soldiered on the best I could throughout the 2022 season before I realized I likely could not slim down in time in a healthy way and just endured it. I have done an okay job during this past offseason, but admittedly, I have gone through quite a bit behind the scenes that I would rather not talk about, lest I bring the mood of the room down.
So in preparation for my first trip of the season to Atlanta and Tampa, imagine my shock to find that all authentic road jerseys for the Dodgers are completely out of stock at the team store. In fact, authentic road jerseys are not even listed for sale on the team site, which is quite odd. It’s not like the Dodgers or Fanatics to not go after money.
Replica jerseys of all kinds and sizes are available. But as for any authentic jersey, right now the selection is quite limited. For example, you can pay $400 (before taxes) to put your name and number on a home white in the usual sizes of 40, 44, 48, and 52. Sans the name and number, you can get an authentic home white or spring training jersey in sizes the usual sizes for $270. You can get various jerseys with for certain players, for example, you pay $350 for a home white with Jackie Robinson’s number on the back in all sizes up to 60.
But in a weird twist that sparked this essay, the only authentic gray jersey on sale at all is for $330. It’s not a blank, it’s for departed-Dodger, now-Cub Cody Bellinger ... in size 52 only. So if you want a stinger for this essay, Cody Bellinger fans of slightly big and tall proportions with discretionary income, your time has come!
I have seen no indication that there is a shortage, but the current selection for this time of year is just a bit odd and after a bit of amateur investigation, I felt the situation was worth a chuckle and few minutes of your time.