When I’m not writing about sports collectibles, my other job has me write about video game news and history. Currently, I’m working on a piece documenting the history of EA Sports, pretty much the biggest and most sought after brand for sports video games in the entire industry. And in my research, I came across a game last week called Earl Weaver Baseball, which, naturally, led me to discover the man himself: Earl Weaver.
Weaver, it turns out, is a Hall of Fame baseball manager from the ‘80s who led his Orioles to six Eastern Division titles, four American League pennants, and one World Series win. And in addition to being known for his strategic smarts in the dugout, he’s also infamous for riling up umpires and getting kicked out of games. Simply put, Earl Weaver is baseball.
So, call it synchronicity, coincidence, or fate—the other day a friend of mine who knows I write about collectibles sent me a link to a story on Big League Stew, in which, about a year ago, a collector named Ben Aguirre came across a pretty miraculous find at a thrift store in San Francisco: two game-worn Orioles jerseys, one of which having once belonged to Weaver himself. And the reason Aguirre knew it was the real deal is tied to Weaver’s personality. Apparently, because he smoked like a chimney, the skipper actually had a special inside pocket sewn into his jerseys to hold his packs of cigarettes.
And Aguirre paid only three bucks for each one. That’s six dollars for two authentic, game-worn jerseys from a Hall of Fame-inducted, World Series-winning Major League baseball coach. That’s incredible. I need to start scoping out more thrift shops.
Anyway, Aguirre knew what he had was special. Noting that this past weekend’s annual Sports Collector Convention was being held in Baltimore—the city where Weaver made his legend—and with Weaver scheduled to appear at the convention, the collector saved his money and booked a flight out east–and made sure to bring a pen.
Aguirre wrote about his meeting with Weaver at the convention on the website of Beckett Media, to which he’s a frequent contributor:
“‘Does it have the pocket for my cigarettes?’ Weaver said Saturday at the National Sports Collectors Convention as he handled the jersey, placing his right middle and index fingers over the area where the chain-smoking skipper kept his pack. ‘Oh… yeah.’”
Weaver confirmed that Aguirre had the real deal, and even signed the jersey, making the collector’s crazy-good find even better…which, I guess, is crazier-good. This story just goes to prove that sometimes the best finds come in the most unexpected places. While Aguirre writes that he typically scoped out thrift stores for the very purpose of trying to find hidden sports collectibles, he definitely didn’t expect to find two game-worn Orioles jerseys (in San Francisco, no less). If nothing else, the best lesson you can get is this: look in your local thrift store. Every day.
I’m still hoping for that legendary box of Keith Hernandez’s mustache clippings. Okay, no such box exists. Yet.