“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.”
These words are the opening dialog to the literary masterpiece Moby Dick. The Herman Melville novel was first published in 1851 and according to every English and Literature teacher I ever had it is considered of the great American novels. The story on its surface is about a man in search of a whale. Not just any whale, but a white whale. I’ve been “forced” to read this book on numerous occasions throughout my education. Each time the teacher would tell us about the complex themes, metaphors, and stylized language. To me, it was just the story of a guy looking for a fish; I mean mammal.
As I’ve grown older though I have realized that Captain Ahab was not just fishing, I mean whaling, he was in search for that which is beyond his reach. It was the quest that drove Ahab not the reward. Of course the reward was pretty sweet too. I mean who wouldn’t want to be the guy with a stuffed white whale hanging above his mantle?
Like Ahab we each have our own quests that lead us in our lives. For most including myself, those quests are not based on revenge seeking out the fish, I mean mammal, that chewed off my leg but left me with that cool fake leg made out of a whale’s jawbone. Instead these quests consume us and drive us to at times the edges of our sanity. I find myself on such a quest.
This journey began on July 5 of this year. The Arizona Diamondbacks were freshly back from a trip to New York City and began a ten-game home stand. It was not just the return of baseball; it was the beginning of a community healing process. The Diamondbacks began with what was to be a tribute to the fallen fire fighters in Yarnell Arizona who lost their lives battling a raging brush fire.
One of the ways the Diamondbacks would pay tribute to the fire fighters was by wearing black jerseys. Normally that is not a big deal. The Diamondbacks generally wear a black alternative jersey every Saturday night with a Sedona Red “A” logo on the left breast. What I had not anticipated was that the team would have designed a new black jersey just for this home stand.
Instead of the “A” emblazoned on the front these black jerseys had the word Arizona. For those who are baseball jersey fashionistas that last sentence jumped out at you. The Diamondbacks have only one jersey with the word “Arizona” and that is the gray road jersey.
Much like Ahab’s trophy room my closet at home is filled with the bounty of jersey-ing (which is the baseball fan’s equivalent of whaling). Over the years I have collected one of every jersey the Diamondbacks have worn on the field. By the way I told my wife that if I ever lose a leg during a jersey-ing voyage I would like my fake leg to be carved from a Louisville Slugger bat with pieces of Diamondbacks jersey for flare.
One look at these tribute jerseys and I was hooked. I had a new quest and like Ahab I was singled-minded in my search. I rushed to the Team Shop with credit card in hand. The kids may have to live on the scraps of ballpark food for a couple of weeks while I hunted Moby Jersey.
Much to my surprise the Team Shop didn’t have any of the jerseys. I thought this would have been a perfect marketing tool for the Diamondbacks to sell jerseys with a portion of the proceeds to go to the families of the victims of this devastating fire.
Instead I was told that the jerseys that were worn on the field would be auctioned off. I have to admit; game worn merchandise is not something that interests me. I don’t buy a jersey to hang it on a wall; I buy it because I support the team and because a guy can never have enough jerseys. I proudly wear each jersey (even the dreaded Turn Ahead the Clock jersey from 1999).
So while I don’t care about game used, if the auction was the only way those jerseys could be had, I would have to take my crew into the rough waters of MLB online auctions. Much like the ship Pequod in Moby Dick I was confident in its seaworthiness but underestimated the waves that Moby Jersey would produce. Those jerseys quickly went well beyond my budget.
I had yet another problem beyond just the price. I couldn’t find any of the players who were my size. Normally I wear a 42 but since jersey sizes are 40 and 44 I end up going with one slightly bigger. But most of the players jerseys were 48-58 meaning they would fit me similar to wearing a coat made from a white sperm whale.
The auctions came and went and I stood in front of my computer holding a harpoon wondering what just happened. I had stared Moby Jersey right in the buttonhole and I blinked and she be gone. I let out a yell of anguish, which brought my wife running from the galley. She calmly said, “Moby Jersey seeks thee not, It is thee, thee, that madly seekest him!” Great, my wife is channeling Starbuck and I don’t mean the guy from Battlestar Galactica.
So now I sail on the seven seas of the Internet in search of the elusive Diamondbacks black Yarnell tribute jersey in a size 44. I may never find her, she may be just a myth but I shall continue searching until my boat is destroyed and I am cast adrift. That fish shall be mine! I mean mammal. I mean jersey.