Three years ago, Jordan Obarr got his first Nats jersey. It was a Jayson Werth model that he picked up for free just by entering Nationals Park, as part of a sponsored giveaway. It wasn’t a fancy model, in other words. You can find a similar one on eBay for about $15.
But that didn’t matter to Jordan, who treasured that first jersey.
“My kid wears this thing to school every other day during baseball season; he loves that thing,” Jordan’s father, Joey, told me this week. “That was the first one he got, the only jersey he had, so he wore it all the time.”
Jordan also has a good deal of confidence when it comes to pro athletes. He went to Redskins training camp in Richmond this summer, pledging to get Robert Griffin III’s autograph and succeeding. So last Friday night, before his first trip to NatsFest, Jordan packed up his Werth jersey and told his parents he would get it signed the following day. Joey — who didn’t have vouchers for autographs and wasn’t planning on acquiring any — tried to warn his son it might not be that easy.
“I’m trying to temper his expectations – you know: ‘Dude, it might not happen. You might not be able to meet him,’ ” the father recalled.
But Jordan was convinced. Sure enough, the 10-year old and his two younger brothers got prime seats during a kids Q&A session, an event that included questions about Batman and “Duck Dynasty” and facial hair. The Obarr boys got to interact with the players; 6-year old Gavin showed off his Drew Storen baseball card to Werth, who had publicly doubted Storen’s claim to be a switch-hitter but backed down in the face of Gavin’s evidence. And when it was Gavin’s turn to ask a question, he pulled a clever move for a 6-year-old, asking Storen if he might autograph the card. The reliever did.
Jordan’s no dummy, so when he got a turn he mimicked his younger brother, asking Werth to autograph his treasured jersey. Werth looked to the on-stage handler, who told him no, that this wasn’t going to become a straight-up autograph session, phrased in the form of a question. But Werth overruled the handler and signed the jersey.
“The joy on his face, it was crazy,” Joey said.
As it turns out, Post photographer Linda Davidson was there to capture that exact moment, asking the family for permission to use Jordan’s image, seen above. They didn’t know if anything would come of it, until dad got a Facebook message the next day: “Hey, I think I saw your son in The Washington Post.”
And oh, this cruel world was being cruel yet again. Because it turned out that, as the family enjoyed the rest of their Saturday afternoon, Jordan somehow misplaced his prized — and now autographed — jersey. The parents retraced their steps, they searched under bleachers and at information desks, but they came up empty. That wasn’t how Jordan’s plan was supposed to unfold.
“Oh, dude, he was crushed,” Joey told me.
And now, not only was the jersey missing, but hundreds of thousands of people had a newspaper with an image of Jordan receiving that vanished memento.
Now, this isn’t a tragedy. Jordan has another (blank) jersey, which is already covered with other autographs he obtained at NatsFest. And obviously a giveaway item is not meant to break hearts, 10-year-old or otherwise.
Still, because of this tale’s connection to The Post, I thought I would throw it out to the public: Did anyone accidentally leave NatsFest with a signed Jayson Werth jersey on Saturday? If so, by speaking up, you could probably make a 10-year old kid from Chesapeake Beach pretty happy.
(And also, this happened.)
— Ryan Eades (@ryan2499) January 28, 2014