Who hasn’t watched any of these TV reality shows where the people go from garage sales to flea markets, trying to discover the next hidden treasure? And how many stories haven’t you heard about people just wondering around an antique bazaar with old “disregarded” items, only to come across a hidden gem?
Well, if you thought that these stories can only come true on tv, you were wrong! Our story is about this exact turn of luck that could make someone with an experienced “eye”, gain a lot of money. If only that someone wasn’t as selfless as the man in our story.
Bruce Scapecchi, of Des Moines, loves garage sales, as he explained to KCCI, “I go, in the summer, anywhere to 2 and 5,000 garage sales”. So, we would assume that due to his experience he can be considered a veteran in these bargain hunts!
One day in the summer of 2013, he arrived in a suburban neighborhood at the garage sale, organized by Sue McEntee. As he was browsing, his eyes caught something promising lying under a ping pong table. There among a number of aluminum baseball bats, there was a piece of wood, an old-school baseball bat!
Scapecchi, due to his experience, knew that this might as well be nothing significant, but something draws him to this particular bat. As he said to the KCCI, “I saw a bunch of baseball bats under the table, mostly metal”, but the grip of that bat was vaguely familiar.
Quickly, he approached McEntee and asked her how much was the wooden bat. The woman replied by saying that it could be his for a dollar. Then Scapecchi asked her if she knew what she had in her hands. The woman not knowing where this was going, she said that it was nothing special but an old baseball bat.
Now, an experienced and a bit more selfish treasure hunter, looking to make a profit, he would probably take advantage of the woman’s lack of knowledge in sports history and memorabilia. Without a second thought, he would have bought the precious finding from the woman for a dollar and kept his mouth closed.
However, McEntee was lucky that the man opposite her was Bruce Scapecchi, who without any hesitation informed her that this was no ordinary old bat. He asked the woman to bring him a pencil, which she did as she was now quite intrigued herself.
Scapecchi rubbed the graphite from the pencil on a particular spot on the bat, revealing an engraving carved into the wood. Finally, they had the name of the original owner of the bat.
And, you wouldn’t believe who was it! Scapecchi had recognized the name much before the pencil test, but he had to be sure. As he later explained, “The unique grip of the bat was Jackie Robinson’s style.” And how right he was! The bat had belonged to Jackie Robinson, who was in fact the first African American to break the color line and join the Major League Baseball back in 1947.
But how did Jackie Robinson’s baseball end up within a pile of thrown baseball bats at a garage sale? Well, this was answered by McEntee herself, “My Uncle Joe Hatten played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was called Lefty Joe. He played baseball in the ’40s with him (Jackie),”.
What a coincidence! McEntee’s uncle was no other than Joe Hatten, a Brooklyn Dodgers’ player back in 1947 who often used to bunk with Jackie.
So, probably at some point her uncle took or was given the bat that later came to her possession. What an amazing story that even left Scapecchi speechless! Thanks to him the bat was saved and it’s gonna stay with McEntee’s family.
This kind of incredible story can happen to anyone, so next time you visit a yard or garage sale, keep your eyes open for the big next finding.
If you would like to hear the story from the people directly involved, check out the video below.
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