More than five years of attempts to preserve the endangered Nomar Garciaparra Cubs jersey have come up short, it was learned early Sunday. The last known Garciaparra No. 5 met its end when its caretaker, 31-year-old Phil Hurley of Des Plaines had much of his wardrobe set aflame by his ex-girlfriend during an epic fight that subsequently ended the couple’s relationship.
“It was heinous and unforgivable,” said Hurley. “I mean, burn my orange Urlacher if you want to make some kind of statement. Everyone’s got one of those. But my Nomar? What did it ever do to her?”
Hurley may not be the one taking the loss the hardest. Melissa Ulmeyer, founder and director of the Fad Uniform Upkeep Coalition (FUUKC) has dedicated herself to the preservation of the three breeds of Chicago Garciaparra jerseys since the former Cubs infielder left via free agency following the 2005 season.
“We lost the last home pinstripe in 2009 to an infestation of silverfish in our office,” a visibly dejected Ulmeyer said. “The last road gray we know of was fatally spray painted with the word ‘gay’ by a White Sox fan at the final South Side Irish Parade. Mr. Hurley’s alternate blue jersey was the last in captivity that we know of.”
Rumors within the jersey collector community say that at least one Garciaparra jersey still exists in the wild, most likely among Chicago’s homeless community, but there has yet to be confirmation.
“It’s a sad day for sure,” said Ulmeyer. “But it won’t stop our mission. There are still Albert Belle and Brian Cox jerseys and many other impulse buys out there that need us. We will keep fighting.”
By Tim Baffoe