For nearly three decades, one Valley woman has customized in-game jerseys for the biggest of sports teams and the greatest of players.
Patsy Elmer started Big Time Jerseys in 2008, but has been a seamstress for sports teams and figures since the 1990s. She and her team print and stitch names and numbers of jerseys for the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Rattlers, San Jose Sharks, and one of her most loyal customers, Wayne Gretzky.
"It’s gratifying. It makes me feel absolutely wonderful to know that these teams want to bring their jerseys and have them done by us," said Elmer.
The jerseys worn by Phoenix Suns players in the first round of the playoffs went through Elmer's business, which is based in the front of her house.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Elmer and her team put their talents to work for the community.
"We pivoted, like many others who know how to sew, into making masks," said Elmer. "Giving them to hospitals, the Navajo Nation, family friends. They were useful and helped prevent the spread of COVID."
During the pandemic, the Phoenix Suns donated old warm-up jerseys to Elmer helping her with fabric for the about 10,000 masks she and her team sewed.
There's no wasted space in her home, aka business headquarters, with piles and racks and stacks of blank jerseys and loose numbers and letters, just waiting to be assembled. On the walls, dated photos of Elmer with sports celebrities and athletes. Her favorite athlete and jersey are the same, representing an icon in Valley sports.
"If I had today my favorite player of all time for the Suns, I would have to say it’s the Gorilla," said Elmer.
And yes, she customizes the Phoenix Suns Gorilla's jersey.