Imagine, walking through a flea market held at an abandoned drive-in theater. There are loads of tools to the left, tons of kids clothing to the right. Behind you are some sketchy electronics that likely were stolen from someone’s car. And then, in front of you, beneath the rubble of “junk” is a wooden gem, staring at you.
Any time I see a full-size baseball bat, I stop to see what the deal is. Is it softball bat? A store-sold player issue? Some generic piece of wood fashioned into a baseball bat? Regardless, I stop to look. And 99 percent of the time I keep moving.
But recently, while inspecting a piece of wood buried beneath the junk, I uncovered a game-used bat of Major League veteran (now retired) Mike Aldrete.
Yeah, I know, you’re rolling your eyes. It’s Mike Aldrete. Not exactly someone who you’d expect me to be writing about. But understand that we’re talking about a game-used bat used in a Major League Baseball game. And it cost $5.
The first thing that caught my attention was the bat knob. It has the number “43” and “T153” written in ink, which I assumed was a player number and the model number. Then I saw the handle was taped with batting tape, and lastly I saw the barrel, which had Aldrete’s name and the team he was playing for at the time, the Cleveland Indians.
A little research shows that Aldrete played for the Indians for one season: 1991.
And here is where things get even cooler.
Do a quick internet search for “Mike Aldrete” and “Indians” and what pops up? Two images: Aldrete’s 1992 Donruss and 1992 Fleer cards. Now look closely.
Something there look familiar?
While I can’t say for sure that the bat I found at the flea market is the same bat used in the images shown on the cards, let’s consider a few things:
The bat was found in Santa Cruz, California. Aldrete lives in Carmel, California.
The images shown on the 1992 Donruss and 1992 Fleer card were either shot by the same photographer or by two photographers in the same photographer well, while covering an OAKLAND ATHLETICS, which is like 60 miles north of Santa Cruz, Calif.
The numbers written on the bat knob look almost identical to that of the one used by Aldrete on the cards.
The tape job on my bat look almost identical to the one used by Aldrete on the cards.
That’s the extent of the evidence I have to this point. We can’t see the barrel of Aldrete’s bat to see if there are any other distinguishing characteristics. And best I checked on AP Photos and Getty Images, there are no other images of Aldrete at the A’s game shown on the cards.
While the actual link between the bat and the two cards is merely speculative and circumstantial at this point, it’s still a neat story and a possibility.
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