If This Shirt Could Talk



This post is a departure from the norm, whatever that is. If we both make it that long, August of this year will mark 25 years I have owned this shirt. How do I know? I bought the shirt in Montreal while on a road trip with the San Diego Padres in 1998.

I did not make many road trips with the team, but this trip–three games in New York against the Mets and four games in Montreal against the Expos–took place around the July 31st trade deadline. Padres’ General Manager Kevin Towers thought it would be best if he stayed in San Diego in case any trade talks heated up so, basically, I went on the trip in his place.

When we arrived in Montreal, I realized I did not have enough shirts for the trip so I went to a store close to the hotel and bought this Tommy Hilfiger shirt. In those days, I would never wear a shirt twice without washing it. These days, I am not such a stickler.

The trip was hardly a smooth one. Although the Padres had a double-digit game lead in the National League West, they/we lost two of three games to the Mets and only split the four games with the Expos, a team that finished with a won-lost record of 65-97.

That was hardly the worst of it. After the last game against the Mets, the bus driver got lost on the way from Shea Stadium in Queens to Newark Airport. We wound up driving around in the Bronx. We even drove by Yankee Stadium twice. I am not a believer in omens, but a feeling came over me that we would be back at The House That Ruth Built. In fact, we were as we won the National League championship and played the Yankees in the World Series in October.

When we arrived in Montreal at about 3 AM, the bus driver got lost and could not find our hotel. Our traveling secretary asked the bus driver to call his dispatcher and get directions. He refused to do so. I’m not sure why he pulled the bus over, but when he did I thought our traveling secretary was going to attack the bus driver.

Most of us got out of the bus. We then saw a young man walking, apparently at the end of a long shift at a restaurant, and the players mobbed him to get directions to the hotel. They also gave him a lot of money; about $1,000 if I remember correctly. As it turned out the bus driver had pulled over just three or four blocks from the hotel.

The day after I had purchased the shirt, I wore it when I went to the movies in the afternoon with Jerry Coleman–long-time Yankees infielder and long-time Padres broadcaster–and Ted Leitner, long-time San Diego broadcaster. We decided to see Steven Spielberg’s newest film, Saving Private Ryan.

The three of us were emotionally affected by the movie to a place beyond crying. I think Coleman, who had been a Marine Corps pilot both in World War II and the Korean War, was moved to a emotional state he had never before experienced. The three of us had to sit in the theater for 10-15 minutes after the film ended in order to compose ourselves.

After the series ended in Montreal we boarded the plane to San Diego, which would have to make a stop in Kansas City. While there, police apprehended two criminals in the airport and we had to leave the boarding area for quite some time.

On our approach to North Island Naval Air Station, we were too late to land at San Diego’s commercial airport that I will not refer to by name since it’s named after an ardent Nazi sympathizer, we had a very low ceiling and turbulence. I thought Tony Gwynn, who did not like to fly anyway, was going to pass out. We actually landed twice as the plane bounced after the first touchdown.

My wonderful wife also had a role, via a phone call, in this road trip although we were not yet married or even engaged. In order to spare her embarrassment, I will refrain from sharing the details.

The next time I accompanied the team on a road trip, to Houston for the National League Division Series playoff, I received dirty looks from a few players. “Oh no, we’re doomed” one of them said to me, only partly in jest, I think. Some baseball players are very superstitious.


I don’t know why I was compelled to write about this today, but I have had the idea to write about the shirt and the road trip where I purchased it for quite some time. I hope you enjoyed the post.





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PS, for reasons that will be apparent I will not be writing/publishing tomorrow’s entry until late in the day.



8 thoughts on “If This Shirt Could Talk

  1. Thanks for sharing your memories; it was interesting reading. Working road trips are full of unexpected events, sometimes I catch myself reminiscing about my share of those trips.


  2. Traveling can present all form of challenges, as we all have found. I’ll see your shirt story and raise you with a shoe story.

    In 2007, I flew to Minneapolis for a meeting for a several million dollar project with a Fortune 500 company. When I fly I always dress comfortable because I learned that delays and changes happen often. Therefore I wear tennis shoes and pack my dress shoes. Landed, got my rental and headed for the hotel at around 9 pm. Upon unpacking my bag, I discovered I had packed 1 black shoe and 1 brown shoe and they were both for my left foot. How? It was typically only for meetings like that, that I wore dress shoes. Then I would always clean my shoes and then wrap each one in a plastic bag to keep them ready for my next use. I would always, I thought, keep them organized as a pair. Obviously that didn’t happen in that instance. Packing at the last minute in a hurry didn’t help either.

    Every try to find a place to buy shoes at 9pm? Or at 7am? Not likely to happen anywhere. Ended up in the meeting wearing my tennis shoes, which fortunately were a light brown color and not the bright white and orange pair I often wore at the time. Only one person commented on my shoe choice, and they saw the humor of the situation when I explained why.

    Over the years there have many other similar instances, as will happen when you are on the road 150-250 days a year, and each time I learned something. Sometimes I even remembered what I had learned (eyes rolling emoji here).


  3. My one story about traveling and going to a movie. When my son was a junior in high school he had a desire to attend the USAF Academy and had a good shot at being selected with his AFJROTC classes and grades. He, my wife and I took a trip to Colorado Springs to visit the Academy so he could get a look at the campus and get a tour. While we were there we decided to take in an evening movie. Our choice was another Steven Spielberg movie, “Schindler’s List”. If you are not moved by that movie, you have no heart. Some stupid people will call it fiction. I call it a truthful recording of history.


    1. Thanks for sharing, Philip. What people may not know is that Spielberg did not take a penny for Schindler’s List, calling any payment for the film “blood money.”


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