Welcome to The Vault, the weekly blog post that takes a look back at some of the best (and worst) jerseys throughout sports history. Each week, a classic set of threads each from the sports of football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer will be revisited.
All submissions are welcome by messaging @tftb_smalls on Instagram.
Football: University of Pittsburgh WR Larry Fitzgerald
Our football entry this week belonged to none other than the legendary Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. While in college, Fitz set the all-time receiving touchdown record (34) in just two seasons in the Steel City. He had over 1,000 receiving yards in both 2002 and 2003 (1,005 and 1,672, respectively) and led all of Division I football in 2003 with 22 receiving touchdowns. Fitzgerald was just barely beat in the 2003 Heisman race by Oklahoma’s Jason White after securing both the 2003 Walter Camp Award and 2003 Biletnikoff Award (nation’s best wide receiver). In 2013, the University of Pittsburgh retired his #1 jersey after being the first player in school history with back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. While I’m a die-hard Nittany Lion fan and I want to puke in my mouth every time I see the old Panther logo that looks like something you’d see on Reddit’s Bad Taxidermy page, I still have to respect greatness. It’s a classic jersey, and I can at least kind of respect anyone who wears it. (Submitted by TFTB’s own Benny Buckets)
Basketball: Utah Jazz PG John Stockton
This week’s basketball jersey belongs to the guy who is considered one of the best NBA point guards of all time, John Stockton. After spending 18 years in the league, he racked up an incredible 15,806 career assists and 3,265 career steals. Once Stockton was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1984, the team never failed to make the playoffs while he was on the roster. While he wasn’t necessarily the flashiest player ever, he was a general on the court. He was also known for being gritty, often defending players that were much bigger than he was. His long-time teammate Karl Malone was quoted saying, “There absolutely, positively, will never ever be another John Stockton – ever.” Because he is one of the best point guards to ever do it, and because the unique Jazz jerseys from the 90’s are iconic in the basketball world, Stockton’s jersey is this week’s basketball entry.
(Submitted by TFTB’s own Benny Buckets)
Hockey: University of North Dakota LW Zach Parise
I decided to go for a college jersey for this week’s hockey entry and ended up picking Zach Parise’s sweater from his University of North Dakota days. In Parise’s first game at UND, he scored a hat trick, becoming only the second freshman to do so since 1988. After his freshman season (2002-2003), he was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist, which goes to the best NCAA hockey player each year. Parise entered the 2003 NHL Draft, where he was selected by the New Jersey Devils with the 17th overall pick. Once he was drafted, he did return to UND for his sophomore season, where he helped the Sioux win the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA regular season champions. Parise is still in the NHL, and has played for both the New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild. He was even named an alternate captain for the 2010 US Men’s Olympic hockey team, which lost to Canada in the final. I think college hockey jerseys are some the coolest out there (especially since you hardly ever see them), and this UND Parise jersey is just sick.
Baseball: 1999 Pittsburgh Pirates “Turn Ahead the Clock” Uniforms
Okay, so it’s time for the latest “Ugliest Jersey of the Week” pick, and boy, this one is a doozy. In 1999, 22 MLB teams decided to wear their “Turn Ahead the Clock” jerseys in an attempt to display what they thought baseball jerseys would look like at some point in the future. The result was both hilarious and heinous. While all of the teams’ renderings were bad, I truly believe the Pittsburgh Pirates edition was the worst of them all. These were so bad that, as far as I can tell, you literally cannot find a way to purchase one today. Not only were they possibly the worst baseball uniforms of all time, they also came during the franchise’s 20-year streak of losing seasons, which is incredible by itself. If someone somewhere actually still has one of these jerseys, may God have mercy on your soul, because this jersey exemplifies one of the worst runs in sports history. Despite this jersey being as bad as it is, I can’t look away. It’s stunningly horrible.
Soccer: Everton F Wayne Rooney
Our last entry this week comes from one of my personal favorite players of all time, Wayne Rooney. I absolutely loved watching Rooney at Manchester United growing up. Rooney joined the Everton youth academy at age 9, and eventually made his professional debut in 2002 at age 16. In his first Premier League start, he logged an assist and became the second-youngest player to play on the first team. His first two goals came in October 2002 when he scored two goals in the second round of the League Cup, making him the youngest player in Everton history to score a goal. He was later transferred to Manchester United in a deal that included the highest transfer fee ever paid for a player under 20 years old. He later went on to have a very successful career with Manchester United and the English national team, and is currently the top goal-scorer for both. By the time he left the Premier League in 2018, he had scored 208 goals in 491 Premier League appearances. While he is probably most known for his time with Machester United, his 2002 Everton jersey is a rare sight, which is why it is included as this week’s soccer kit.
If you have any jerseys that you’d like to see on the Vault, please feel free to message @tftb_smalls on Instagram. Input is always welcome.