The Early Years of The Shirt

Author: The Shirt Committee 2014

We’re proud to be celebrating The Shirt Project’s 25th anniversary this year. A lot has changed at Notre Dame since then, but The Shirt has maintained its status as a fixture among the student body since its introduction. In fact, it seems like The Shirt was so eagerly sought, some salesmen were upping their own profits. I wonder if the black-market deals were taking place in that new classroom building, the grand DeBartolo Hall…

John Hosinski ’96, a history graduate, former resident of Grace Hall and uncle to a current member of The Shirt Project Executive Committee, wrote to us about his experience with some of the first Shirts ever made:

“I had the shirt before it was The Shirt. My first ever ND football game at Notre Dame Stadium was in October 1990 versus Miami. Dad scored Miami tickets in the lottery and we drove up. I was a high school sophomore at the time and I bought a load of souvenirs, one of them the blue post-game ND-Miami shirts with the score 29-20 printed on the front. I loved that shirt. I wore it constantly and though I still had it when I went to college, I don't think I left ND with it. I'm sure it eventually disintegrated in a Grace Hall coin-op washing machine.

“By the time I got on to campus in September 1992, The Shirt was established. Everyone had that nuclear blue version with Irish ‘91 on the front. And everyone wore The Shirt whenever.  We were far less fashion-conscious back then (or maybe just I was), but you could wear The Shirt out, to class, to Mass, wherever.  No one would ever judge your choice of wearing The Shirt for any occasion. I typically wore it either under my unbuttoned flannel shirt or, perhaps, with my flannel shirt tied around my waist. It was the heyday of Grunge Rock. Flannel and The Shirt was my Gen-X uniform.

“Everyone had to get The Shirt, and it quickly became apparent that you could distinguish upperclassmen by which version(s) of The Shirt they had. ("Wait, she's a junior? I thought she was our year?" "Well, I don't know for sure, but she has the '91 Shirt.") Thus my possession of that 1990 shirt from the Miami game raised a number of questions ("Wait, what are YOU doing with THAT shirt!") and eventually became instant Quad Cred, as if I were some kind of underclassmen who knew things, had been around, you know.

“Every class probably thinks its four Shirts were the best and that's certainly true with me and I'm sure most of my friends would agree. The 1993 Shirt was pretty basic, but I wore that one for a very long time. (That was, of course, the year that the team was really good…and I'll just stop there before I start getting too worked up over it.)”

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Originally published by The Shirt Committee 2014 at on March 07, 2014.