My unhealthy obsession with sports memorabiliaFree Access



My name is Matt.

And I am an addict.

No, no, I’m not addicted to anything quite as harmful as illegal drugs or alcohol.

I’m addicted to shopping. For sports collectibles.

I would put myself up against anyone in Mariposa County in a contest for the biggest collection of obscure sports paraphernalia.

I probably have the largest collection of sports-themed T-shirts you could imagine.

But that’s not all. My bookcase is filled to capacity with books about sports, including biographies, almanacs and more.

But books aren’t really an odd thing to have.

Don’t get me started on some of my odd items. We’re talking some pretty rare stuff I’m in possession of.

My DVD collection, which I have to say is pretty impressive, consists of not only popular films that wouldn’t be unusual for someone to have in their home, but things like “1989 San Francisco 49ers team highlights.”

Or how about my 1994 49ers replica Super Bowl ring? Or one of my most treasured items, a USFL shirt. Remember the USFL? Greatest football league ever, despite its short existence.

Just yesterday, for $10, I purchased an Oakland Raiders mask, one that looks like it came straight from a “Mad Max” movie set.

Why did I feel the need to purchase the mask?

It just called to me.

Most of the items, I get from thrift stores and pawn shops, or sometimes eBay.

Have you ever seen “Field of Dreams”?

There’s a famous line in the movie that says, “If you build it, they will come.”

For me, that’s definitely true of thrift shops and pawn shops. If there’s one nearby, I’m stopping in.

I’ll walk into a Goodwill and breeze through the musky store straight to the clothing rack, where I will carefully and painstakingly slide through each T-shirt hanger in hopes of finding a gem.

I’ve found jerseys, retro team T-shirts and more, for just a few dollars.

The numbers on the jersey might be fading, and the fabric might be frayed, but for $3.29, I simply can’t pass up the deals.

I think there are a few reasons my obsession is so out of control:

1. I love sports.

2. There’s just something so appealing about these items. They’re things most people don’t have.

3. They often bring back memories from my childhood. I can’t tell you how many items I’ve found that bring a smile to my face because it reminds me of something from growing up.

4. For just a few dollars, it’s hard to pass up. It doesn’t really hurt my bank account much.

5. It’s like going on a literal treasure hunt.

For me, it really boils down to this: it’s about walking into a place like Pioneer Market with a Brett Favre Falcons jersey — bet you didn’t know Favre played for Atlanta — and people asking me about it. Or a die-hard sports junkie seeing the jersey and giving me a smirk and a knowing nod.

Now, excuse me while I get back to perusing eBay for some deals.

I think I hear a vintage Rich Gannon jersey calling my name.

Matt Johnson is assistant editor of the Mariposa Gazette and can be reached at

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