Treasure in Laundry

Jerry Seinfeld has a very famous routine about the irrational nature of team loyalty in sports.  I love the Green Bay Packers, but what am I really rooting for?  Seinfeld points out that I’m not really rooting for any of the players because they change teams with frequency.  What I’m really rooting for, Seinfeld contends, is laundry.  “I want my team’s clothes to beat the clothes from another city.”  If a player wears a Packers uniform, I love him.  If he signs with another team and comes back to Green Bay, I boo him because he’s now wearing a different shirt!  As Seinfeld says: “Laundry.  We’re rooting, screaming about laundry!”

Despite Seinfeld’s mockery, sports laundry is very important to me.  I love the green and gold uniforms of the Green Bay Packers but my greatest sports laundry weakness is hockey sweaters (true hockey fans refer to hockey jerseys as “sweaters” since the original uniforms were essentially sweaters).   My mother purchased my first hockey sweater for me when I was in Sixth Grade at Pacific Grove Middle School.  This was one year prior to the formation of the San Jose Sharks and I picked the New York Rangers as my favorite hockey team (I still like the Rangers, but the Sharks have emerged as my number one hockey team now).  I wore my Rangers sweater almost every day.  I had visions of collecting a hockey sweater from every team in the NHL.

While I do not have a hockey sweater for every team in the NHL, I do have enough hockey sweaters to wear a different one every day of the month.  I have sweaters from current teams such as the Sharks, Rangers, and Red Wings but my true passion is collecting sweaters of defunct hockey teams such as the Quebec Nordiques, the Hartford Whalers, and the Oakland Seals.  My favorite hockey sweaters include a replica gold University of Minnesota Women’s Golden Gophers alternate sweater (one I had to campaign the manufacturer and the school to reproduce) featuring the legendary Amanda Kessel’s number 8, and a replica U.S. Olympic hockey sweater signed by two-time U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Silver medalist Kelli Stack.

My wife tries to limit my hockey sweater purchases.  My defense is that at least I’m not buying game-worn sweaters which are three to four times as expensive or even more.  However, a few recent articles in the news make it seem that spending more for game-used items might make economic sense in the long run.  

Various media outlets, including SB Nation, reported that a couple purchased a vintage West Point sweater at a Goodwill store in the North Carolina mountains for 58 cents.  It turns out that the sweater belonged to legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi when he was an assistant coach at West Point.  The sweater recently sold at an auction house for over $43,000. 

In a similar story, a recent piece from Antiques Roadshow  featured a Chicago Blackhawks sweater from the 1938 season that was worn by Virgil Johnson and is currently owned by his grandson.  The sweater is estimated to be worth as much as $10,000.  

Unlike the many people who likely discarded the Lombardi West Point sweater over the years, at least Virgil Johnson’s family realized that the Blackhawks sweater might have some value and chose to keep it.  How many family members have unwittingly discarded West Point sweaters, Blackhawks sweaters, and other items of tangible personal property from a decedent’s estate?  

These stories serve to demonstrate the importance of detailing any item of tangible personal property you think might have unique value that is not obvious on the surface.  Furthermore, in the administration and settlement of an estate, it is important to verify the value of items that might appear to be junk – there could be a hidden treasure!

Although none of my hockey sweaters are worth anything monetarily, I know that they would be equally valuable to my son as they are to me.  At four-years-old, he wonders why he doesn’t have 30-something hockey sweaters in his collection.  I told him that he needs to stop growing before he amasses his own hockey wardrobe, though he’s already up to six hockey sweaters by my last count!

(Recommended reading: The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, a legendary Canadian children’s story.)    

KRASA LAW is located at 704-D Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, California and Kyle may be reached at 831-920-0205831-920-0205.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information only.  Reading this article does not establish an attorney-client relationship.  Before acting on any of the information presented in this article, you should consult with a competent attorney who is licensed to practice law in your community.