Note: This is a guest post from Nate Dunlevy
My best friend and I just spent dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars to recreate a AAA baseball jersey from 1986 for a player with 81 career major-league at bats.
Context may be required.
Late 80s Indianapolis was a haven for boys who loved minor-league baseball. In between delivering papers and playing “Got it, got it, need it” with our stash of wood-paneled Topps, we went to games and cheered the future stars of the bigs. They never stayed long, especially not the great ones, but even as the roster turned over every few months, there was one constant. The brightest baseball star in town was Anthony “Razor” Shines.
We weren’t old enough to shave, but we all knew Razor. The venerable infielder played part of nine seasons at Bush Stadium, racking up more than 2,500 at bats for the Indians. Whether it was his name, his smile, or his longevity, he became a fixture on the best team in minor league baseball. Shines was so popular, he even had a Pepsi commercial that played locally.
No trip to the game was complete without shouting in unison, “Raaaaaazor” with every trip to the plate. My first game, he was there. All through Little League and adolescence, Shines was there. Eventually, we learned to drive and took ourselves and eventually even girlfriends (once or twice) to the games, and Razor was still always there. He spent nine seasons with the Indians, and we grew up from 9 to 18 during the span.
On the night of his last professional game, we were there. We yelled “Raaaaazor!” one last time. We were not yet grown men, but we were close enough to it, maybe even closer than we are now.
To this day, if anyone says the word “razor”, I hear it in my head the way the PA blared it in 1989. Chad and I reminisced about him often, and I mentioned one day that I was trolling the internet for a throwback jersey from the late-80s Indians because, of course I was. He laughed and said that he had a whole folder made up from when he tried to figure out how to do a custom version.
Realization and nostalgia swept over me in waves. This white whale of mine, an authentic-enough Razor Shines jersey was possible. I didn’t marvel that my friend was also obsessed with finding or creating a Shines jersey. Of course he was.
From then on, nothing would stand in my way. I scoured the internet for the right custom-jersey partner. Eventually, I made way to winning-streak.com and harassed their employees with emails and phone calls. After at least 50 communications including sample jerseys sent to my house, I was finally convinced they were the ones to bring my vision to fruition.
I had a friend recreate the Indians’ logo and font from online sources and sent them off to the good folks in St. Louis, like a prayer into the void. The only catch was that the smallest run I could request was six jerseys. I had to find other people just as insane about Razor Shines as Chad and I were. In less than an hour, Facebook raced to my rescue. Friends and acquaintances grilled me with questions about the authenticity and quality of the jerseys. Razor Shines’ fans are a discriminating bunch, but the promise of a Shines jersey was too much for them resist. With four other commitments to buy in place, I placed the order and hoped that we had nailed all the details.
When the jerseys finally arrived, they were glorious. Part dare, part obsession, the finished product evoked memories of a time when playing minor-league ball in a dilapidated soon-to-be junkyard was everything I could ever have wanted.
Many great players have come through Indianapolis over the years. Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew. Ken Griffey and George Foster. Randy Johnson and Andrew McCutchen. But to children of the 80s, it will always be Razor who shines brightest.
ABOUT NATE DUNLEVY: Nate Dunlevy is the author of Blue Blood – The Story of the Indianapolis Colts and Invincible, Indiana a novel about basketball and small-town Indiana. His work can occasionally be found at ColtsAuthority.com and his books can be found at MadisonHousePublishing.com. He tweets @natedunlevy
PHOTO CREDIT: Bob Busser. You can find Bob’s photographs of ballparks old and new at www.ballparks.smugmug.com. He also is the administrator of the Ballparks, Stadiums_and_Arenas_of_the_past_and_present Facebook group.