MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The story of what appears to be a soiled jersey started 25 years ago and ended in the same place where it started: the Metrodome, where the Twins were crowned world champions.
To the hitting coach, Tony Oliva, the stained and spotted jersey is a bittersweet reminder of that historic day.
Thirteen years ago, Oliva’s red number six caught Marcie Petrie’s eye in a Texas memorabilia store.
“I flipped it around and sure enough it was a Twins jersey,” she recalled. “But it was stained. I couldn’t figure out how it had these tan stains on it.”
A Minneapolis dealer sold the jersey to the Texas store, but Petrie knew its true value was worth more than the $150 she paid.
“I didn’t think it was real. I was like: ‘How could anybody let this go?'” She asked herself. “How could Tony let this go?”
That is the curveball Petrie didn’t see coming. She brought the jersey to TwinsFest 2004 to get it signed by the man who once wore it.
“He looked at it kind of quizzically, and he goes ‘I know this is my jersey, but why is it so dirty?'” Petrie said.
When Petrie bought the jersey, the store owner explained those tan and brown spots were remnants from the champagne saturated celebration in the locker room from the 1987 World Series.
“Tony looked me in the eye and goes ‘Come to think of it, I never got my jersey back that night,’” Petrie said.
Oliva said he brought the jersey to the Metrodome the day after the victory to get it washed. The club house manager told him it somehow disappeared.
Just to be sure, he checked the inside collar. Blue stitched numbers confirmed what he already assumed – it was his missing uniform.
“I go, ‘Oh my god, it’s really real! It’s really real!” Petrie exclaimed.
It wasn’t until this past weekend — at TwinsFest 2012 — that Petrie decided what she would do with the jersey.
“As soon as I walked up, Tony saw the jersey and he goes, ‘I remember that!’ And I said ‘Tony, this is rightfully yours’ and I handed it to him,” Petrie said.
Oliva accepted it, and promised this lifelong fan something in exchange the next day. He spend the rest of the evening proudly showing off the 25-year-old jersey he wore the night the Twins won their first world championship.
The next day, Oliva explained he didn’t need the jersey; he has the memories.
“She wants to give it to me, but I’m not going to take it,” Oliva said as he smiled at the crowd quickly assembling around him.
Tears welling up in her eyes, Petrie said, “He told me, I can’t, I can’t take it from you. I see how excited you are about the Twins.”
Handing Petrie the once lost jersey, Oliva said, “She makes me cry, when I see her cry. This is your shirt now.”
Overwhelmed with emotion, Petrie smiled and hugged her longtime baseball hero. Petrie said she’s not sure the jersey is rightfully hers, and she thinks one day she may donate or loan it to the Twins.