If you absolutely, positively, can't wait to spend $180 for your authentic Orioles Sammy Sosa No. 21 jersey - and it appears from an unscientific sampling yesterday that you have lots of company - fear not.
Majestic Athletic, the official supplier of uniforms to all 30 major league teams, began production at 8 yesterday morning. With any luck, you'll be able to wear that Sosa jersey to work early next week.
Chuck Strom, senior brand manager for Major League Baseball apparel at Majestic, said the family-owned company couldn't start making Sosa Orioles jerseys until the deal was official.
"Once he wore No. 21 at the press conference [Wednesday] night, we had already done all the films, we had all the twill cut for jerseys," Strom said. "We'll have jerseys in the marketplace probably by this weekend, Monday at the latest.
"We have authentic Orioles jerseys in stock that are blank, so it really is just a matter of sewing down the letters and numbers. But it is still labor intensive."
Once done, the jerseys won't have far to go. Majestic is in Bangor, Pa., about 90 miles north of Philadelphia. All the company's authentic jerseys are made domestically.
Howie Lewis, assistant manager of the Stadium Sports store in the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace, said that between people stopping in and phone calls, he had fielded about 30 requests for Sosa jerseys - before noon yesterday.
"Everybody's excited about it," said Lewis, who moved to Baltimore from New York in 1988 and remains a Yankees fan. "It will help."
The signing of the power-hitting right fielder has also helped the Orioles' ticket sales.
Last weekend, when news of the trade hit the newspapers, the team sold about 5,000 tickets, the equivalent of about 62 season tickets, according to club spokesman Bill Stetka. By comparison, the Orioles sold about 2,500 tickets over the weekend of their FanFest, Jan. 8-9.
"I can tell you I've seen a lot more traffic through the lobby and into the sales department," said Stetka, who added that some of the requests are for seats in right field.
"There's no question that this has created a spike. And when you can get the coverage that we've gotten four days before the Super Bowl, that's pretty incredible," he added.
"It's been a phenomenon that we haven't seen in a long time. This is a special guy. He carries a cachet that few guys do."