Candid memories of unexposed closet

October 03, 1994|By PHIL JACKMAN

Everybody has a deep but not necessarily dark secret fantasy they carry with them, sometimes for a lifetime, sometimes for a shorter period like 15 minutes.

For instance, after an eon in the newspaper business, not once have I aspired to be a publisher/CEO, editor or anything else that isn't accompanied by an expense account.

Play big-league ball? Sure, but only if you cut that season down to a manageable 120 games, including the postseason. Same goes for managing. I'd do it for one season at a time, same as Smokey Alston did with the Dodgers. With Peter Angelos, I'd play it one homestand or road trip at a time.

Movies? Naw. Climb Mount Everest? Now you're talking.

But for the past several years, I've had this thing about a feature in this paper, "Candid Closet."

Once, back in the days when society columnist Sylvia Badger was the "Closeteer" for The Evening Sun, she ran into a losing streak and had subjects back off from their commitment or simply position themselves a couple of miles away from the nearest telephone.

I informed Sylvia, "I'm ready in a pinch." She was reminded weekly for about two years but never had need to go to the bullpen. Pity.

Well, the plain fact is I've found my notes from those bygone days and, since my sartorial situation hasn't changed appreciably since grade school, much less the past few years, here goes.

First off, as any male who is the product of a totally female household knows, there's no such thing as having a closet. One drawer out of the two dressers in the bedroom is all that can be hoped for if you hold as firmly as the Russians did at Leningrad.

Now that the girls have fled home and hearth, a closet has become available 18 paces and 13 steps upward from where dressing is usually staged. After years of collecting, there are nine sports coats and four suits, half of the latter falling into the category of pre-Elizabethan.

The coats are too big, too small, too itchy or "just don't hang right," according to the lead critic in the house. Does corduroy, pants or coat, ever really fit? But, of course, nothing ever is discarded. Just drop a few pounds and . . .

Brown, gray, black -- wow, what depressing colors! Imagine a tan suit and a blue blazer qualifying as a wild splash of color. And then there's the horseblanket-like checkered jacket I featured when I was a weekend sportscaster 20 years ago. There's at least a 10 percent chance it'll be back in vogue before the century expires -- the coat, not the TV career.

Now comes the items that make me me. Get ready. A nice jacket commemorating the Washington Senators' victory in the 1924 World Series. A Chicago Cubs-Wrigley Field pullover. An authentic White Sox jersey. Jackets touting the Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns bout in 1981, the Leonard-Marvin Hagler debacle in 1989. All much too expensive to wear for fear that they might wear out.

A 100th anniversary of baseball shirt handed to me personally in the game's winter meeting in Hawaii in 1971 by then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Not really expensive, but certainly a collector's item someday. But wait, you're not a collector. Doesn't matter, back in the cellophane wrap.

T-shirts. Seriously, who's going to wear something commemorating Notre Dame's national championship on the gridiron in 1923, the last NBA title of the Boston Celtics or the last time the Red Sox took it all in 1918?

Mint condition T's from Wimbledon, the New York City Marathon, five defunct major-league franchises -- Braves, Browns, Dodgers, Giants, Senators -- and a classic Ballparks of the American League with terrific shots of 14 ballparks on the back.

Hey, it's not all sports, a beautiful "My Ship Came In -- 1620" and a shot of the Mayflower and "Mickey [Mouse] Goes Dread" from Jamaica breaking the monotony. Who wouldn't want a 50 percent cotton, 50 percent wool sweater of the Denver Broncos? So it's XXXL, who could pass on that $10 price tag?

Hats, but of course. Scores of colleges are represented and there are a half-dozen big-league caps, but the favorite, an authentic St. Louis Cardinals cap of the 1930s, is unwearable. Why would anybody produce a size 8?

Fact is, it gets so it has been so long since having access to a closet, one tends to forget that it's for the purpose of hanging up clothes that are worn daily. For that, we head 13 stairs down and seven paces over to where stuff has been hanging on water pipes for years.

Size 34 pants. No way. Lots of preppy stuff that never looked that way when finally worn. Who in their right mind would get rid of a perfectly good Army field jacket? Shoes, boots, sneakers, etc., that never get thrown out.

Now I understand why I was never called upon for "Candid Closet." Still, fantasies die hard.

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