What's that? No one was really waiting? No matter, I enjoy talking to myself anyway.
Anyway, nestled in amongst the random Cherished Teddies figurines and Precious Moments statuettes in the random housewares section, I came across this little mystery:
Why yes, that is an autographed baseball and it was just sticking out like a sore thumb among the candle holders and porcelain crosses. Chances are that it's some minor league nobody, some little-leaguer working stroking his own ego, or someone trying to forge and make a quick buck, right? But, for $3, I was willing to take that risk and research a tiny bit.
After all, the stand itself is at least worth that price.
Thankfully, the mystery (potential) baseball player had pretty good penmanship and the first name seems like a pretty clear "Craig." Additionally, it also seems pretty easy to tell that their last name begins with a "G," no?
Here's a closer look, just in case:
Yea, I feel pretty confident in my deductions. What say you?
So, from here I did what any 21st century investigator would do - I turned to Google. Using the search engine, I typed in "Craig G baseball" just to see what might pop up. Here is what my computer screen spat back out at me:
Well, I have a few baseball players to chose from here. I would be ecstatic to unearth a Craig Kimbrel auto at a thrift shop; but that last name is nowhere close. In fact, it looks like the last letter in the last name could very easily be a "k."
That being the case, would narrow it down to only one name on that list:
Image courtesy of Chicago Fantasy Baseball Camp
Chicago's own, the "Little Hurt" himself - Craig Grabek. The 12-year veteran came up with the Southsiders in 1990 and stuck around through 1995 as a backup middle infielder. The most notable thing about his playing career that he hit his first major league home run off of Nolan Ryan, who then proceeded to plunk Grebeck in his ribs in his very next at-bat, breaking a rib.
Welcome to the Big Leagues kid!
But, seeing as he spent a good chunk of time in Chicago and his career wasn't particularly notable (wrong White Sox #14, dangit), it would make sense that a ball with his autograph on it might end up in a local thrift shop.
So, let's compare a known example of Craig's signature with my mystery ball then, shall we?
On the right, we have the only certified auto I can find of Grebeck, courtesy of 1996 Leaf Signature Series. The two autographs sure do look similar to me. However, the COMC watermark on the card sure does make it difficult to see clearly and the flourish on the "k" appears different.
Let's try another one. One sample is never enough to go on anyway.
Image courtesy of ioffer.com
Here's an in-person auto that, granted, could also be faked; but, I doubt that there is a master Craig Grebeck impersonator running around loose on the internet. I could be wrong though, I suppose.
Anyway, this signature appears to be almost identical - the only difference being the angle at which each item was signed; even the flourish on the "k" is there too. I don't know about you guy; but, I think we have a winner!
*Please tell me if I'm wrong here!*
The mystery baseball that I picked up at Savers for less than the cost of the stand it was in is actually that of a bonafide Major Leaguer! Granted, not a big name or star or whatever; however, a guy with a 12-year career is nothing to sneeze at either. How about them apples?
Of course, I immediately shuffled through my trade/dupe/junk box to see if I had a card of the guy. I was not disappointed:
It might be 1992 Donruss (blech), but it sure would look nice alongside that baseball. I think I might try and locate one of those stands that holds both a baseball and card so that when I show this find off to all of my friends, they can put a face along with the (semi-legible) name.
I'm pretty happy with my $3 purchase.
It really just goes to show you, you never know what you might find at a thrift store! Has anyone else found a similarly surprising item at a second-hand store? Perhaps something even better?