Most Saturday mornings I play a friendly game of pick-up hockey at The Rinks Huntington Beach – a roller hockey rink owned and operated by the Anaheim Ducks. I’ve written about it before in this space, but something pretty cool and unique happened this morning – Throwback Sweater Saturday.
I guess some of us were feeling nostalgic, and so on this Saturday we decided to all wear some of our old (and likely now significantly smaller) hockey jerseys. Most hockey players hold onto the various sweaters they accrue over the years, and the guys who participated in the inaugural Throwback Sweater Saturday are no different. I know that I, myself, still have almost every jersey I ever wore from the age of 10 through graduating from high school.
Hanging in my closet, there are several incarnations of Bulldogs jerseys (the team I played on from Squirt through the beginning of Bantam). There’s my middle school jersey (the Ensign Seabees), and my home and away high school jerseys (Newport Harbor High School Sailors). There’s the jersey for the first club team I ever played for (The Grizzlies) and the very last one I played for before leaving for college (The Thrashers).
And then there’s my Anaheim Bullfrogs jersey (not to be confused with the above-mentioned Bulldogs). Ah yes, the Anaheim Bullfrogs – the kings of the RHI, and my hometown team. I spent many a summer day at The Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (R.I.P.) taking in Bullfrogs games. I was a huge fan – in fact, I have a piece of writing from roughly 5th grade, wherein I identify my career goal as playing professional roller hockey for the Bullfrogs, with my heroes Joe Cook, Victor Gervais, and Rob Laurie. I wanted to win The Murphy Cup with the Bullfrogs – sadly the RHI folded before I was even in middle school, and its predecessor the MLRH (Major League Roller Hockey) didn’t last much longer – though, it’s recently made a bit of a comeback.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when I found a junior-sized Anaheim Bullfrogs jersey in one of the local hockey stores. I begged my parents to buy it for me, and eventually they did. And I wore it to all the Bullfrogs games I went to from then on out, until there were no more Bullfrogs games to go to. I even wore it to a few of my own team practices here and there. (Note: The Bullfrogs are indeed one of the teams in the new MLRH, but it’s not quite the same, obviously.)
And gradually, over time, as we all have a tendency to do with things that we treasure, I forgot about the jersey. Sure, I’d see it every once in a while, while cleaning out my closet, but for the most part, it was out of sight, out of mind… Until last Sunday, when I had some of the Saturday morning pick-up regulars over for a little BBQ and NHL 12 tournament. At one point, the topic of old jerseys came up, and knowing that I had an old school Bullfrogs jersey hanging up in the closet, I just had to pull it out and show them.
Their immediate response: “Dude, you have to wear that at pick-up next week.”
I wasn’t even sure it would still fit. But wear it I did, this Saturday morning, and it fit like a glove. (This is probably more an indicator of just how little I’ve grown over the years…*sad face*)
Although there weren’t as many skaters as usual this Saturday, there were still three other guys wearing some old jerseys. My friend Danny wore his very first hockey jersey (Garden Grove Christian School) – he was 9. I think his jersey was even tighter-fitting than mine.
Saturday morning ringleader Bill Crawford wore his home state University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux jersey. To be fair, he almost always wears that jersey, but we decided we’d let him slide – it is, after all technically now a throwback. Saturday morning regular Dan Koogle wore an awesome jersey for a team called The Wedding Crashers, with what appeared to be a hockey player checking a wedding cake. So damn cool (and quasi-ECHL-worthy).
The quality of the pick-up game may have been only average (just nine skaters – and two goalies!), but I think that Bill, Danny, and Dan would all agree that there was an added air of fun to the proceedings this morning. And hopefully this will be the start of a new Saturday morning tradition!
What’s your favorite old hockey jersey? Leave comments below, or hit me up on Twitter.