Thrift Treasures 116: Is that OJ Simpson … and Jose Canseco?!

True story: I woke the other day thinking about two retired athletes, OJ Simpson and Jose Canseco.

I can’t say for sure why I had those two guys on my brain, but their names were in my head. As it turned out, it was an omen.

I was out and about running errands and checking thrift stores along the way. I kept running into the same shoppers because unlike 15-20 years ago, everyone now knows about the flip game. This of course is disheartening because I figured they were all looking for the same stuff as me. But this doesn’t stop me from checking because I figure my skills are far superior to these other guys given my track record.

And so I scoured the shelves at one store and plucked from the depths of the toy section, filled with plush no less, a bag of toy cars that also contained a familiar sight: a baseball.

I grabbed the bag and there it was, on the sweet spot, a familiar scribble that passed the eye test as being that of Jose Canseco, Mr. 40-40. The signature was on a Rawlings American League Bobby Brown Baseball, which was produced through the strike-shortened 1994 season.

I flipped the bag over and found a price tag stating $3.99. This was a no-brainer.

So I shot a photo over to my friend, who is a Jose Canseco collector, and he was uncertain of the signature’s legitimacy. He said the auto looked rushed, but didn’t immediately trash it.

He could be right.

Or … he could be wrong.

We joked about it, and I bought the ball anyway. Why? Because the ball itself is worth $3.99 to me even for nostalgia purposes.

I’ve compared the signature to others and while it does pass the eye test, it’s not implausible that this is a fake.

Now, you might be asking who would be faking a Canseco auto. What you have to realize is that he was a huge deal in the 1980s and early 1990s and he wasn’t as accessible as he appears to be now. Also, his auto was pricey. Now couple this with the fact that this is a ball from that era in which he was a hot commodity and you’ve got to start wondering if it’s real or not. I mean, it’s not like all autographed balls found in thrift stores are iron clad authentic like this Pete Rose or Julio Franco signed balls I unearthed. (Side note: I thought I documented the Rose discovery here but can’t find it … maybe it was during a time I stopped writing. I go it for like $5.)

So, what about OJ Simpson you ask?

Well, an hour or two later I wandered into another thrift store and in a showcase behind another showcase I could see two football cards in screw down cases, one of which I immediately recognized as a 1970 Topps OJ Simpson rookie. I caught the attention of an employee so they could show me the cards.

He grabbed them from the showcase and laid them in front of me. In addition to the Simpson Card was a 1973 Topps Al Cowlings rookies card. I giggled because you know someone bought these two simply because of the infamous 1994 Bronco Chase. I took a deep breath before flipping the cards over to see the price tag.

The Cowlings was priced at $4.99. I knew this was a bad sign. So I slowly turned over the Simpson and nearly lost it when I saw a $149.99 price tag. I glanced quickly at the front to get a gander at condition and there was a giant crease across the middle. I handed the cards back to the clerk and thanked him and walked away. Then I realized 10 minutes later that I should have taken a photo. I went back after checking the store and no one was around to help so I took this image.

Needless to say the only item purchased on this day was the Jose Canseco autographed baseball … or does that say Jim?

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $3.99

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

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