The Nats' Suit-and-Tie Drive
When Nats first-base coach Marquis Grissom arrived in the majors, he weighed 175 pounds. When he retired, he weighed 200 or 205. Now, he's up to around 225 pounds, and the 175-pound Grissom isn't walking through that door any time soon.
Those 50 bonus pounds he picked up along the way have led to some interesting alterations to his wardrobe. Like, when Grissom goes to formal events now, he drapes his suit coat stylishly over his arm and carries it around with him.
"Because I'm too [dang] big," he explained.
And so Grissom has three or four suits here in D.C., and 30 or 40 suits that no longer fit him back in Atlanta. When the Nats visit there on their upcoming trip to face the Braves, Grissom is going to grab several of the extras and deliver them to Rob McDonald, the team's director of travel, who came up with the idea to collect unused suits from Nats' players, coaches and front-office folks and give them to charity.
"I dressed nice when I was playing; I'm not playing now, I'm coaching, and things are different," Grissom said, of his own wardrobe. "I don't need all the fancy clothes, I don't need the fancy cars, I don't need the fancy house. You kind of want to sit back and relax, get out from the spotlight, fish and golf and have picnics in the park, go camping and all that stuff."
And he apparently doesn't wear suits when he has picnics in the park. This was exactly McDonald's idea; with a manager who requires suits on travel days and a roster of guys who show up with new clothes every spring, there have got to be some extra suits laying around that could be given to charity. Thing is, the Nats have a bunch of 22-year old kids on their team, without any middle-aged-added weight, and without a backlog of unused formalwear from earlier in their careers.
"That's the problem, we're such a young team, it's gonna be hard to get a real big haul," agreed McDonald, who hopes the program grows each year. "The guys who are the veteran guys on the team, they're gonna bring theirs. And some of the rookies want to look in the box and see what they can pull out of there, because they just don't have a lot of suits to wear. You're talking about guys that come up from Double A and are looking at stuff and saying, 'Hey, I'll take this suit.' "
And the program, needless to say, wasn't intended as a regressive tax inside the clubhouse. But some front-office members have donated suits, and Ryan Zimmerman's tailor has donated a suit, and at tomorrow night's Red Sox game, fans are being asked to bring "new and gently worn" ties that will also be donated to Career Gear, the non-profit that works with "disconnected and underserved men" in the D.C. area and that is also on the receiving end of McDonald's suit drive.
Drop off your ties at the center-field gates, between 4:30 and the fourth inning. And yes, McDonald has also taken the tie request to his players and front-office folks, to "anyone who wants to part with some of those ugly ties," he said. Then he reconsidered.
"That's hard to say, because you don't want to say donate these ugly ties to a cause. Moreso stuff that guys aren't really wearing."
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