Thrift Treasures XLIX: USA! USA! USA! (Team USA Jersey signed by entire 1997 Collegiate Team)

If you follow me on Twitter, this might seem a tad redundant as I actually bought this item several months ago.  But it dawned on me last week when I was cleaning up that I never formally posted about this item here.

And so, my friends, on this Patriotic day I bring to you one of the coolest items I’ve ever found at a thrift store:  A Team USA baseball jersey signed by the 1997 US Collegiate Team.  It might not be the most expensive item I’ve unearthed or even the one with the most history.  But this is definitely a unique piece that one would not expect to see at a second-hand store.

The story goes like this:  I’m shopping at Goodwill, looking through some stuff and then come to an area near the register.  I look up and on the wall behind the clerk is this massive framed Team USA jersey.

My jaw hits the floor.  Crazy thoughts go through my head. Then I rudely interrupt the transaction occurring in front of me: “Hey, is that for sale?”

Clerk finishes her transaction, takes a look at it and says that she does not see a price on it … however she will get a manager.

By this time I’m getting worked up because I figure my stare has got to be burning a hole through the item –it’s pretty damn obvious that I want this thing.  I know they’re going to make me pay through the nose.  And the only two signatures I can instantly make out for sure are Brian Roberts and local product Pat Burrell.

The manager gets to the register, and converses with the clerk.  I can hear the manager say that the item has been there a while, but she’s also trying to determine how much I’ll actually pay.  It’s just like poker.  Just like it, I tell ya.

Then she throws a number at me.

“How about $199,” she says.

I am instantly taken aback.  I mean, I was a Goodwill, right?

I do the scratching my chin bit, raise my eyebrows and scrunch my nose as if my interest has waned.  In my mind I was thinking that I could not seriously justify to my wife bringing this massive thing home and spend a good chunk of change in doing so.

The manager can tell I’ve reached my tipping point.  Then she mutters some nonsense about how this item is half off today, so it can be mine for $99.

I paused for a split second and then sealed the deal figuring that this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments.

“I’ll take it,” I say with a giant smile.

They get some hefty guys from the warehouse to remove it from it wall mounts and set it down next to me at the register.  I then spend 5 minutes trying to get this thing into my Toyota without damaging it.

Fun story for sure.  But now let’s examine this beauty.

This appears to be a team-issued jersey with a jock tag on the INSIDE of the jersey near the rear tail.  You can kind of see it when the piece of tilted at an angle.  There’s also the customary Velcro patch near the USA crest between the buttons. So the quality of the jersey in and of itself is top notch.

In the crest patch, within the letter “U” in USA, you can see the piece s titled “1997 BB USA Team 7/1/97.”  Not sure of the significance of that date.  It could simply be the day that this item was signed.

And now we count the signatures.  I see 1… 2… 3… 4… ah … I’ll just tell you!

There are 30! THIRTY!

They are as follows, starting on the left side of your screen, from the top:

-Eric Munson, catcher

-Adam Pettyjohn, pitcher

-Jeff Austin, pitcher

-Eric Valent, outfielder

-Bubba Crosby, outfielder

-Brian Roberts, second basemen

-Zack Sorenson, infielder

-Mike Fischer, pitcher

-Greg Kubes, pitcher

-Monty Ward, pitcher

-Pat McMahon, assistant coach

-Bob Whalen, business manager

-Larry Hays, assistant coach

-Jason Tyner, outfielder

-Brian Oliver, infielder

-David Matranga, intfielder

-Robbie Morrison, pitcher

… and now the right side of your screen, from top:

-Adam Everett, infielder

-Josh Bard, catcher

-Ryan Mottl, pitcher

-Jason Jennings, pitcher

Undetermined –

-Chris McGruder, outfielder

-Bob Milano, head coach

-Michael Fiore, general manager

-Pat Burrell, outfielder

-Jason Hill, catcher

-Chuck Crowder, pitcher

-Casey Fossum, pitcher

What’s bugging me is that I cannot seem to make out this signature.

It shouldn’t be that hard considering that it has jersey #34 written there.  But I’ve been trying to match it up to someone on this roster and I am not sure.  And by my account, the only people in uniform whose signatures are not on this jersey are outfielder Jody Gerut and assistant coach Mike Gillespie.

Gerut would seem mostly likely as every other player has signed this piece.  But his certified card signatures do not look like this.  As for Gillespie … no clue what his autograph looks like.

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE.

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