Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blog Bat Around #5

Of course, number five always reminds me of this. For the fifth Blog Bat Around, I would like to share the best experience I have ever had acquiring memorabilia.
If you have read this blog before, you probably are aware of my undying love for the San Diego Padres. The heart and soul of the Padres is Tony Gwynn. My collection is rather Tony-centric. Back in '99 when Tony was on "the road to 3000" hits, a local furniture store sponsored a mobile display of Gwynn-abilia. A semi-trailer was converted into a museum of all things Gwynn. Tony provided most of the displays: Gold Gloves, Silver bats, Game-used items of all types, and a cool display wall of hundreds of baseball cards.

The semi-trailer was stationed in the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium (formerly Jack Murphy Stadium) as Tony rapidly approached 3000 hits. On the first day of the display, I waited in line for an hour, and spent the next hour admiring (read: plotting how to steal) the amazing cache of memorabilia.

Emerging from the shrine, I was temporarily blinded by the bright afternoon sun. As my vision returned I was greeted by another amazing sight. At the exit of the trailer, a few tables and display cases were set up chock full of game-used Tony Gwynn gear. The proceeds from the sale would go to The Tony and Alicia Gwynn (TAG) Foundation.

I love helping a good charity, and TAG does some great work here in San Diego. Unfortunately, my charitability is severely limited by the size of my wallet. Seeing all the autographed jerseys and bats from my favorite player, and knowing I couldn't afford them was torture.

As I eyeballed a game-used, autographed uniform (complete with cleats,) I noticed that the woman behind the display was none other than Tony's Godmother. (How did I recognize Tony Gwynn's Godmother? Did I mention that I am a HUGE Tony Gwynn fan? These are the type of things an obsessive fan NEEDS to know.)

I weaved my way around my fellow window shoppers, and approached the kind-looking, smiling woman. I approached from her side and quietly said, "Your Tony's Godmother, aren't you?"
She quickly glanced my way with a puzzled look. Her confusion changed almost instantly into a feigned look of recognition. (I guess my Padres polo shirt must have made me look like an employee.) She greeted me warmly and asked if I needed help with anything. I told her that we had met once before, and asked her how she was doing. I was sure she didn't remember me. She said she had been well, and asked, like a long time friend, how my family was. We chatted for a while. The whole time I was stealing glances at all the amazing gear that was available in the cases and on the tables. She smiled and said, "What are you gonna get? Bat? Shirt?"

I laughed and told her I would love to get a bat, but I didn't have nearly enough money (they ranged from $600 to $1000!). What she said next still echoes in my mind and brings a smile to my face...
"Sweetheart, I know the owner. I can make you a deal."

I told her I would check to see what the ATM would give me and be right back. I sprinted across the parking lot to the ATM near the ticket windows. Crossing my fingers must have helped as I checked my balance. I had a whopping $190 and change in my account. I decided to leave myself a comfortable cushion, and withdrew $160.

Hoping that eight twenty dollar bills would be enough to get me a game-used, autographed ANYTHING, I hurried back to the sale. When I arrived (slightly out of breath) I told Tony's Godmother that, unfortunately, my $160 wouldn't be enough to buy a bat. She smiled, waved her hand toward the bats, and asked which one I wanted.

My jaw dropped to the floor! I think I asked, "Seriously?" at least a dozen times as I picked up and admired each bat. It wasn't an easy decision, but I couldn't have made a bad choice. In the end, I chose this one...

Tony's Godmother also threw in a pair of game-used, autographed batting gloves. A week later, I got the certificates of authenticity in the mail. They are the first Alicia Gwynn autographs in my collection. I love my autographed, game-used Tony Gwynn bat, and I love my fairy Godmother... err... Tony's Godmother.

Since I don't normally take photos for my blog, I decided to snap a few extras...

This is the display case my friends Jim and Barbara gave me for Christmas.

My super-disorganized Tony Gwynn shrine. It looks like there has been some non-Tony build up lately. I really need to clean up.

This is why my side of the closet seems so small... Thankfully, non-Padres cards go in the garage.

1 comment:

Goose Joak said...

What an awesome story. Wow. Very cool Travis!