ALWAYS ASK FOR IDENTIFICATION…
…Or you could face the ordeal that Kalen Plew endured.
Kalen is a 14-year-old kid from Gurnee, Illinois, who, with his father and another person, attended the Winter Classic game at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day.
With the Detroit victory nearing a close, Kalen left the group’s upper deck seats to venture down to the Red Wings’ exit, to slap fives with some Wings players. He got more than he bargained for…in a good way. Detroit player Henrik Zetterberg, rather than high-fiving Kalen, gave him the stick he used in the game.
Kalen then left the park and waited for the rest of his party. This time, Kalen again got more than he bargained for, but in a decidedly bad way. A man in a Winter Classic jacket confronted Kalen, and claimed he was a security officer. He told Kalen that he could not carry the stick without adult supervision, and, with Kalen’s father, Marc, yet to emerge from the stadium, confiscated the stick. By the time Marc emerged, Kalen was in tears, his prized souvenir gone.
The story does have a happy ending, though that took a week or so to be realized. The fake security guard, an eBay seller, went back into Wrigley Field to use the restroom. A fan in the men’s room asked him about the stick, and, after being told he was going to put the stick up on eBay, offered the fake cop $100. Sold, American.
The buyer, a North Carolina dentist named Robert Pappert, bought the stick for his wife, a huge Zetterberg fan. They were planning to make a display for it in their home, when news reports of the strongarm theft reached him. Both he and the Mrs. decided that returning the stick to it’s rightful owner was the route to go. The stick was received by the Plews, and, to their credit, the Red Wings, informed of the fake cop and his fake story, were prepared to send Kalen another player stick as a replacement.
Sad to say, this isn’t the first time someone has taken advantage of a youth at Wrigley Field to get a game-used item…just the first time it happened at an NHL game at Wrigley Field.
Over the years, numerous times kids in the bleachers who caught a visiting team home run ball have been reduced to sobs and even fleeing the park when some bleacher drunk would snatch the ball out of their hands in order to “throw it back”…the most obnoxious fan policy in baseball today.
Then, more recently (since the bleachers have gotten too expensive for most kids), an active Ballhawk, who does not practice this currently, would, last decade, position himself by the Cubs bullpen if a visiting player’s circuit clout was thrown back in left field. The ball, when this happens, is retrieved by a member of the Cubs bullpen or a security guard, and one of the players gives the rejected home run to a kid seated in the box seats.
Once this took place, this still-active Wrigley shagger would race down congratulate the kid, and ask to see the ball. When the kid handed it to him, he would employ sleight-of-hand to hide the home run ball and hand back to the kid a meaningless BP baseball in its place. The kids weren’t observant enough to spot the switcheroo, and any accompanying adults were normally too busy drinking beer and/or watching the game to notice the trickery. All of the above is sad commentary, but it’s true. Readers, keep your eyes on your kids when you attend a sporting event together to make sure that they, too, aren’t relieved of their fairly obtained baseballs, bats, sticks, or whatever by despicable and deceptive adults who would take advantage of them.
January 22, starting at 8PM CST, is closing time for the auction of Winter Classic game-worn sweaters of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. All jerseys are registered in the MeiGray database. Ending times are staggered a few minutes apart for each jersey, with the Wings wearables going first, and the Indian Head gamers starting to go off the boards at 8:50 PM CST.
Also, small groups of game-worn MLB jerseys from Texas, Detroit and Atlanta will be ending shortly on MLB.com. The Rangers gamers close on January 18th; the Tigers goodies end the day after, and the Braves baubles close the day after that.
Also of note: the auction site has a number of Buy It Now game-used 2006 World Baseball Classic jerseys starting at only $125 each.
MISCELLANEOUS JERSEY NOTES
The blue TBTC jerseys that the Cleveland Cavaliers introduced on January 7 were worn again in their next game on the 9th.
Also, for their final 2008 home game (December 20), the Dallas Cowboys, clad in their good-luck white unies, wore a Farewell to Texas Stadium patch. I’m not sure if any of the same jersey were used, sans patch, in their season-ending game in Philadelphia on December 28th, as they wore white in Philadelphia, also.
Finally, trolling the Internet for images produced something I had not seen before. A 1980 Topps card of backup Braves catcher Joe Nolan showed Joe in a batting pose in spring training wearing the red Wilson BP shirts that the Braves broke out that year. Unlike the norm, however, these spring BPs were without a NOB, although the picture showed that room for a NOB was provided. Did the Braves add the NOBs once the season started? It would be likely, but still nice to actually confirm.
Frank Williams, a pitcher for San Francisco, Cincinnati and Detroit from 1984-89, died at age 50 on January 9. Living on the streets and occasionally holding court for fans at an area card shop, Williams had a heart attack and was in a coma for two weeks before he passed away.
Also, longtime MLB coach and manager Preston Gomez died from complications related to an auto accident late last year. He was 85. Gomez was the first manager in San Diego Padres history, and also skippered the Astros and Cubs.
COMMIT TO THE INDIAN…GO, BLACKHAWKS!!