More Than Warmth

I was walking across the green, searching the recesses of my mind for a topic to write one thousand words on, when it dawned on me that the weather had warmed up.   The sun, albeit somewhat weakly, was shining.  It felt like early Spring, when it’s too cold for baseball but you can tell that it won’t be for much longer.

In other words, it was Mets jacket weather.

Not that I really need an excuse to bring out a Mets jacket, of course.  Since around Christmas 2004, I’ve worn one any time it’s been near possible.  But the fact that Mets attire is once again convenient to the weather is more than a springboard of childhood Mets jacket memories: it’s a sign, both metaphorically and literally, that the season is on its way.

On Christmas day 2004, I unwrapped my first Mets jacket, a present from my grandmother.  It was too big, but my mom said I’d grow into it.  I loved it either way.  It became my primary jacket, and kept the role for the next six years, give or take.  Interestingly, at least as far as jackets go, its retirement was as memorable as its debut.

I remember quite vividly the last time I wore my first Mets jacket. September 28th, 2011.  Closing Day.  And, far more importantly in my 14 year old mind, the final day of the Jose Reyes era, although that part wasn’t official yet.

At home that morning, I threw on every piece of Mets gear I could before leaving for school.  Once the game had started, I followed it as it progressed.  I watched in semi-disbelief as Reyes bunted for a hit and was immediately removed.  I kept listening, and as school ended, I walked home and listened on the radio as the Mets put the game away.

It was your classic 2011 Mets game.  They scored in the fourth when Nick Evans drove in Willie Harris, and again in the fifth when Mike Baxter homered to drive in Josh Satin.  Meanwhile, after allowing a single in the first and a double in the second, Miguel Batista pitched seven no-hit innings to seal the win, and I went into the offseason as happy as a 2011 Mets fan could be.

Mike Baxter?  Ronnie Paulino?  Jason Pridie?  Ah, those were the days.

That jacket is in the front closet now, waiting for my brother to grow into it and claim it as his own.  Over the 2011-12 offseason, I would replace the original jacket with a new, updated model.  It may not have been the best move: the new jacket, although I didn’t know it at the time, was a remnant of the early 2000s, the black uniform era.  It’s symbolic of the Mets big-spending-without-championships era, when the Mets tried and failed to look and play like the Yankees.  Among uniform obsessives, and you know who you are, it’s been derided to no end.

I wore it today, when I saw that the sun had come out.  I don’t mind the color implications, so long as it’s got “Mets” in orange and blue across the front.

The new jacket wasn’t as warm as the first, so it couldn’t be the default.  No matter, though; it became my summer garment of choice, a perfect jacket for mild weather, and an absolute necessity when I was rushing to a game and there was rain in the forecast.

And even further, as I grew older and made Mets fandom my full-time occupation, I decided that one Mets jacket might not suffice.

I first supplemented my collection in September 2012, as R.A. Dickey was making his way toward 20 wins.  It was the Mets-iest garment I’d ever owned, to that point – a blue-bodied, white-sleeved varsity jacket with championship years and patches embroidered on the arms, and a garishly huge Mets logo displayed across almost the entire back.  My mother was afraid I would be mocked, but ultimately, no one minded much.  Quickly, I had a new jacket of choice, only this time, it was even better: this time, my jacket was, simultaneously, a ringing proclamation of Mets fandom and a connection to Mets history.  In the old-fashioned ribbed knit collar, I felt like I wouldn’t have been out of place as a Mets fan walking the streets of New York in 1986, or 1969.

However, that jacket didn’t age well, although I still don it occasionally, so in December 2014, I made the final – for now – addition to my collection, one that was eye-catching even for me.  GIII had recently re-released the classic starter jacket, and as far as the Mets model went, I was hooked on sight.  It’s a classic piece of clothing, and among Mets fans, a description is hardly necessary: the blue satin coloring, the buttons down the front, the soft orange lining and knit collar make it nothing less than an icon.  While I don’t intend to advertise anything here, this was a living piece of Mets history, even if, strictly speaking, it had been part of a rerelease, and was no more authentically retro than any previous incarnations of my primary Mets jacket.

And so, today, I had a choice of three jackets in which to brave the rising sun.  Well, five if you include non-Mets jackets, which, on the first warm day of the year, I do not, so the choice was three.  The fact that dorm rooms only have so much closet space, which necessitated leaving one of my jackets at home, brought my choice down to two.  But still, being uncertain which Mets jacket to wear, like too much competition for middle infield spots, is a good problem to have.

And although this is a Mets fan’s response to a certain event, it’s certainly not an event that’s inaccessible to the general public.  It’s the impending onset of Spring.  Everyone loves Spring.  Some celebrate by looking for robins, others by tossing a football around outside, still others by realizing that whatever some crazy, optimistic to the point of delusion Mets fan says, February first is not the start of spring, and that winter will, in all likelihood, make one or two more unpleasant comebacks before retiring for good.

I don’t care.  I don’t listen to them; I’m a Mets fan coming off a World Series run, and given our luck – well, combined with global climate change – anything is possible, both meteorologically and in terms of baseball.  So yes, the Mets jacket is coming out on February first.  Spring may not be here, but today, it’s close enough, and as far as I can see, there’s no reason not to pretend otherwise.

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