I nearly subtitled this “a meditation on being white and 12 in suburban Ohio,” but I feel like that’s already heavily implied by the title. The year was 1992. I was a sixth grader. I spent many days after school hanging out with the Gatten twins at their house, listening to music, playing Sega Genesis, and playing one on one on the Nerf Basketball Hoop in their bedroom.
1992 was the year the world was introduced to Kris Kross. By all appearances, Chris and Chris (Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac) were about the same age as us, and we were super into them. They were the hip hop side of the kids performing adult music coin along with Another Bad Creation. It was impossible to dislike “Jump,” but even more exciting than the music was the fact that they wore their clothes backwards! How incredibly cool and inconvenient! Did we try to emulate them? You know we did! It was clearly a terrible idea, and at that point in time most of us were not wearing baggy enough clothing to effectively pull this off. To be frank, it was rude of Kris Kross to introduce this in a pre-Jnco world. Five years made all the difference in the world when it came to crotch and leg room. By senior year in high school I was toting around enough denim to clothe a family of four*.
The item most often exhibited being worn backwards, and the one that appeared on the cover of Kris Kross’s 1992 album Totally Krossed Out, was the Starter Pinstripe Baseball Jersey. Maybe part of this is jealousy talking because I never owned one due to them being very expensive, but in my eyes these jerseys were ugly as hell. Apart from the colors and logos being team specific, all of the jerseys looked the same, and with all sports being represented they came off as generic. Most people owned the cool schools and teams at the time: Raiders, Hurricanes, Knicks, Bulls, plus the Sharks and Marlins since they were new. I don’t think I ever saw anybody wearing the logo of one of the Ohio teams in this design. Chris and Chris sported Yankees and Knicks ones on the cover. This isn’t the first time that I’ve brought up Starter on this website, and it certainly won’t be the last. It’s difficult to overstate just how important that brand was to sports and culture in the 1990s. Also, poor Apex. You never had a chance.
If you look them up on eBay, the Starter jerseys sell for around $120 now regardless of the team you’re seeking. I still think they’re super ugly and cheap looking, or at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself since I didn’t get to own one. We moved on pretty quickly from Kris Kross, and Mac Daddy passed away in 2013, but “Jump” and “Warm it Up” don’t get revisited enough when people are exploring 90s songs. Both are still a lot of fun, and the perfect soundtrack to a Nerf Basketball Game. I think I could still take either one of the Gattens. I even have a hoop at home to practice on.
*I feel like it is important to note that I have never owned a pair of JNCOs. I wore Levis and American Eagle, but in the late 1990s they were also baggy as hell. It was the style at the time (insert Grandpa Simpson onion on a belt Gif).
Did you own Starter gear? Did you wear it while playing Nerf basketball against identical twins in northern Ohio? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.