Bonds jersey recalls glorious failure of Turn Ahead the Clock Night

Hang time

I often have my packages delivered to my parents’ house since I live in an apartment, and when my father recently dropped off a delivery I had been eagerly awaiting, I immediately tore it open and pulled out a jersey I would consider a holy grail.

My dad took one look at my new Barry Bonds “Turn Ahead the Clock” jersey and said, “Son, that’s the ugliest jersey I’ve ever seen.”

I couldn’t quite argue. Beauty is most certainly in the eye of the beholder, and yet even I had to admit this thing was hideous.

Hideous like a fox.

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One idea that was pretty much universally panned at the time was 1999’s “Turn Ahead the Clock Night,” which was basically the redheaded stepchild of “Turn Back the Clock Night.” Instead of wearing throwback jerseys, 22 teams wore jerseys intended to represent what jerseys of the year 2021 might look like.

Horrible/beautifulThe game I remember featured my beloved Mercury Mets, wearing jerseys and hats conveying that they would someday vacate the Flushing Chop Shops to call the first planet from the sun home. I recall Orel Hershiser starting for the Mets and looking positively ridiculous — “We should have had a big top,” was his assessment. Of course, opposing pitcher Kris Benson looked only slightly more awkward than usual.

It was a horrible failure, but at least it was a non-memorable one. Today, the baseball fanatics I work with mostly don’t remember TATCN, or have only some vague recollection of it.

By the time I realized a couple weeks later that I desperately wanted Mercury Mets stuff out of sheer irony, there was disappointingly — and understandably –none of it out there.

Infamous collection Every once in a while, I’ll snoop around on eBay in the hopes that someone would put up a Mercury Mets shirt, jersey, hat — whatever. And yet, even a site from which I purchased a LeBron James high school football jersey generally eschews Mercury Mets stuff.

But recently, when I randomly came across a Barry Bonds TATCN jersey in my size, I was determined to outbid all comers for it — which wasn’t hard, since I was the only bidder.

To explain, I’ve become something of a Bonds apologist in recent years, which is weird, since I used to despise him for being a horrible malcontent and diva with the lounge chairs in the clubhouse and all that. I have a pretty extensive collection of Bonds jerseys — my favorite is Arizona State — and an enormous “Vote Bonds” sign from the 2007 All-Star Game, which will come in handy when he’s up for Hall of Fame induction.

Here's another hitI’ll admit to being a contrarian about this. Bonds has become a poster child for doing steroids and lying about it, but literally almost everyone else was unchecked with that too, including patron saint Andy Pettitte, who everyone gushed over when he retired for being so “honest.”

In addition, I have a proclivity for collecting jerseys of the best athletes — Jordan, Pujols, Marino — because of the cool factor of them being the absolute best at what they do. I look up to that trait, and strive for that in my own career.

For all his personality quirks, so to speak, Barry Bonds is hands-down the greatest hitter I’ve ever seen. I used to drop everything to watch him hit. Even watching him work out a walk was awesome.

And he was the epitome of cool, too. Pictured at right, Bonds is hands-down the only guy who can pull off this look. Why? Because like the Honey Badger, Barry Bonds doesn’t give a damn.

As for the jersey, it’s in relatively good shape for being 12 years old — it does have a couple of random stains that I think can be removed. It features a huge off-kilter Giants logo on the front, and Bonds’ name running vertically next to his No. 25 in a weird font on the back.

Look at this thing

One design flaw is that the black shoulders of the sleeveless jersey extend out horizontally, almost looking like shoulder pads, as if this jersey needed to look more absurd.

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I’d always liked to think that Turn Ahead the Clock was hatched in some MLB boardroom by a group of executives that probably thought this would be a big-time hit, that kids everywhere would irrationally want this stuff. Maybe it’d be an annual thing. They all slapped each other on the backs, and then watched in horror as the project looked dreadful in execution.

Of course, after a quick Google search, the real story turned out that the Mariners did it once in 1998, it was a moderate success, and MLB glommed on and subsequently pitched it to Century 21 as an ill-conceived league-wide sponsored event that quickly became a fiasco.

As time goes on and the constant Big Brother of Twitter, Tumblr and Gawker-esque sites force people to become more and more politically correct, you just don’t have enough functional craziness anymore, in sports or in anything else.

Sweet musicI delve into nostalgia more and more on this site because I remember a more laid-back time, when — for example — teams or leagues could come up with a totally wackjob idea without fearing the condescending and scornful eye of the Internet.

Once in a while, something sneaks through — like that weird robot at Citizens Bank Park which was booed by Philly fans, who remain a constant caricature of themselves. But for the most part, leagues and teams play it safe and boring with generic Thunderstix and such, lest some guy on some blog — yes, I realize the hypocrisy here — criticize them for having an original thought.

That’s why an article such as this one on Score’s Dream Team cards — which I adored as a kid — is so refreshing. Looking at that weird card of a sheepish Frank Viola gripping an apple, it’s less “What were they thinking?” and more “Why won’t someone go through with this today?”

Turn Ahead the Clock Night wasn’t on the level of Disco Demolition Night, in terms of no wanton destruction. It wasn’t like the Reggie Bar — or for that matter Springfield Isotopes Whitey Whacker Night — in terms of people throwing stuff on the field. It was just generally acknowledged as a horrible concept, swept under the rug real fast, and that was the end of it.

Personally? Obviously, I loved it.

I view it as akin to my love of movies that are so terrible, they’re awesome — and you can take that from the owner of this film.

When I wear that horrible Bonds jersey this summer, I’ll be paying tribute to one of the sketchiest dudes ever, who happened to be one of the top five greatest hitters of all time.

And while attempting to embrace how ridiculous I’ll look, I’ll no doubt be thinking back to a time when sports seemed a whole lot more fun than it is now, simply because you didn’t have to be quite as afraid to fail in fantastical fashion.

Esoteric

9 Comments

  1. I am a big fan of the weird jerseys lol. Fortunate to have found a TATC Anaheim Angels jersey and then watch it for 2 years on eBay before I purchased it, I too was the only bidder. Now if only the Los Angeles Kings ” burger king” jersey was as easy to find and purchase.

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