Garage sales are a great way to pick up used items for a good price, but sometimes there are priceless antiques hidden among the common items.
Bruce Scapecchi, a man from Des Moines, Iowa, was something of a connoisseur when it came to garage sales. He would visit them often when they were in abundance, usually during the summertime, when people were getting rid of their old items from spring cleaning.
“I go, in the summer, anywhere to 2 and 5,000 garage sales,” he told KCCI.
Some people shop for convenience, some ship for useful items. For Scapecchi, he was keeping his eyes out for any valuable items.
One day in 2013, Scapecchi was out looking for garage sales when he stumbled across Sue McEntee. She put out several items for sale, and among them were baseball bats underneath a ping pong table on the ground.
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“I saw a bunch of baseball bats under the table, mostly metal,” he said.
However, one baseball bat in particular caught his eye. It was different from the other baseball bats, and Scapecchi immediately recognized the unique grip of the bat, which belonged to one specific baseball player.
“The unique grip of the bat was Jackie Robinson’s style,” Scapecchi said.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson, or Jackie Robinson, was the first African American to play Major League Baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was considered one of the best baseball players of all time.
To be sure, Scapecchi used a known technique in order to verify what he thought he knew about the baseball bat.
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McEntee said Scapecchi asked her for a pencil.
“There’s an area where he rubbed a lead pencil,” McEntee told KCCI, “and if you’re out in the sun, you can see the name Jackie Robinson, and I was like, ‘Holy cow.'”
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McEntee had no clue that the bat belonged to Jackie Robinson. She said her children played with the baseball bat all the time in their backyard while growing up.
“So, it went from being on the ground under a table and being sold for $1 to in the house pretty quickly,” she said.
Although she didn’t know the history behind the bat, she said she wasn’t surprised that it would belong to the famous baseball player. It turned out that the McEntee family had some connection to Robinson.
Yesterday marked the beginning of what will be a year long celebration of Jackie's life & legacy. We will reflect on what the past 100 years would have been like without Jackie, while celebrating how far we've come because of his contributions.
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“My uncle, Joe Hatten, played for the Brooklyn Dodgers,” she told KCCI. “He was called Lefty Joe. He and Jackie played baseball together in the ’40s.”
McEntee told KCCI that her uncle was one of the few players who would room with the famous baseball player.
A baseball bat that belonged to the famous player could have been worth a lot of money as memorabilia, or for people who liked collecting antiques, but for McEntee, whose family had connections to the player, it was decided it would be best for them to keep it in the house. It made sense for them to keep it, since the baseball bat meant more to them than almost anyone else.
“We’re going to keep it,” McEntee said, “it’s not going anywhere.”