It has taken me so long to put this post together, mostly because I'm still nearly speechless at the most incredible gift I've ever been given, and the generosity of those who gave it to me. All these days later and I'm still having a hard time putting together the words to express what it means to me, but I'll do my best.
The seeds of the surprise were sown a couple weeks ago. Jbox confirmed my mailing address and told me to be on the lookout for a parcel in the post (those weren't his words; I just wanted to preemptively ruin your "package" jokes). A couple days later when he emailed me the postal tracking code, he asked me to make an unboxing video, using Dex's toy review of Bulls-Eye Baseball as an example.
Accordingly, I thought I'd be reviewing a game or toy, and had mentally prepared myself to be sure not to use any salty language. The surprise of what I actually received, however, led me to pepper my halting speech with the f-word. Oops! Here, see for yourself:
In case you don't know, Joey Cora is my favorite baseball player of all time, although you probably gathered that from my reaction. I own at least one of 99% of his cards, a double-digit total of copies of most of them, and a few autographed cards, but I never once thought I'd have anything of this magnitude in my possession. I had seen it listed on ebay in the past, and people would tweet me the link to the posting every now and then, but I always regarded it as akin to a copy of the Honus Wagner T206 card: an out-of-my-reach "Yeah, *laugh* that sure would be nice" fantasy piece. I had joked "If I had that, I'd wear it to the grocery store" and stuff like that, but not once did I ever actually think that opportunity would be a reality to me. I haven't worn it to the grocery store yet, but immediately after the end of that video I put it on along with an era-appropriate hat. Fortunately I was already wearing a none-too-baggy all-brown sweater, so the jersey fit nicely over it.
I tried to picture as much as possible, but my short little tyrannosaurus-like arm limited me to the angle favored by insecure teens in order to capture it all. Part of my hold-up was that I wanted to get someone to snap off a few pics of me wearing it, but I just don't have it in me to approach anyone, regardless of how well I know them, and say "Hey, wanna go back to my place and take pictures of me modeling vintage sportswear?" I did, however, lay the uniform out on the bed and take a number of photos. Before doing so, I had too shoo all three cats out of the bedroom. In an example of Alanis-irony, one of them is named Cora.
Shortly after unboxing and donning the uniform, and before taking it off, I gave my mother a phone call. This is significant for two reasons. Firstly, she's the second-biggest Joey Cora fan I know of. Secondly, I hadn't spoken to her for a couple of years. It was reminiscent of a similar phone call to her over four years ago which was also spurred by Joey Cora, but this one was exponentially more important. It wouldn't have been possible without Joey Cora, baseball in general, or, most importantly and saved for last for a reason, the amazing Gaslamp Ball core. Just thinking about jbox, Dex, and Jonny Dub conspiring to make the greatest gift anyone has ever gotten happen... I'm getting a little verklempt.
In the ensuing days I went through my Joey Cora cards from 1990 and '91 (the uniform is from 1990, as indicated on the jersey's tag, pictured above in the gallery, but that was the only year he wore number 5; he wore 4 in 1987 and '89, his other two seasons with the club) and I've found at least one that depicts him wearing the uniform in question, and a couple others I was unable to rule out. A closer look at those will wait for another day.
Although I wouldn't allow my aforementioned trio of cat roomies -- Cora, and twin kitties Tony and Toby -- to touch the uniform for fear of them shedding on it or snagging it with their claws, they didn't walk away empty