Braves fans eager to commemorate Jason Heyward’s major league debut bought up more than 500 new T-shirts and jerseys bearing his name during Monday’s opener against the Cubs at Turner Field.
That’s saying something, since the Heyward apparel didn’t go on sale until the fifth inning.
By players’ association rule, a player’s apparel cannot be sold until he’s played in a major league game, and a game is not official until the fifth inning.
So that’s why Gavin Mikulak, 21, of Marietta, didn’t try on his new Heyward jersey for size, so much as just yell out “adult medium” through a crowd of people to Braves Clubhouse Store clerks, who were handing out the new jerseys from a back storage room.
Racks? What time for racks?
“It was awesome,” said Mikulak. “I was so excited to get one.”
He was so excited that he wore the new home white Heyward No. 22 jersey, with the tag still on, over another dark blue Braves jersey he had worn to the game, despite temperatures Monday afternoon in the high 80s.
Mikulak, who graduated from Lassiter High and attends the Art Institute of Atlanta, said he was in line for a beer when Heyward hit his first-inning home run off Carlos Zambrano, so he had to scamper to a concourse TV to see a replay.
But he was better prepared when it came time to buy the jersey. He headed out to the store in the outfield plaza in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Mikulak said he paid $130 for the jersey, not including tax. His was one of 108 Heyward jerseys sold Monday at Turner Field. Fans bought up 433 Heyward T-shirts.
Mikulak said he was at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium when Andruw Jones hit his first home run in 1996 and at Turner Field when Jeff Francoeur hit his first homer the day he was called up in July of 2005. But Monday was extra special, he said, because he played against Heyward in the East Cobb baseball program.
“Heyward pitched in high school some,” Mikulak said. “He actually struck me out a couple times. It was pretty intense. It was weird to think I’m 21, about to be 22, and he’s only 20 years old, playing for the Atlanta Braves. I’m happy for him.”