What is it about yard sales that Americans love so much? Is it the fact that you can get a glimpse into the home owner’s life and see what they have? Or could it be the hope that you might find something really valuable, by accident? That’s exactly what happened to Bruce Scapecchi. The yard sale lover thought he was looking through an ordinary run of the mill garage sale. But he ended up finding something that was too valuable to sell. See what he ended up doing.
A Typical Yard Sale
Bruce Scapecchi is a man who loves yard sales. He’s browsed through countless sales throughout his life. Sometimes buying items, sometimes just perusing. He said, “I go in the summer, anywhere between 2,000 to 5,000 garage sales.”
But one day, Bruce’s avid yard sale hunting finally paid off. He bought an item that ended up being worth a very pretty penny.
Patience Is a Virtue, and It Paid Off
Bruce had his own method for looking through yard sales. He wouldn’t just pick anything up. And a lot of the time, he would leave without buying anything.
Even without buying anything, Bruce still enjoyed going. Bruce liked finding good items at yard sales because he would resell them at auctions. So he became patient in his process.
And it paid off!
One Man’s Trash, Another Man’s Treasure
In early 2018, a woman named Sue McEntee scattered her lawn with tons of items that she wanted to get rid of. Like many who grow tired of their old “junk”, Sue decided to throw a yard sale.
She wanted to raise some money and thought maybe others would get more use out of her stuff. But one item she put up for sale would end up being a major regret.
You Never Really Know
When you buy an item from a garage sale, you never really know if it’s worth anything. You can only check it out once you buy it and either check online or get it appraised.
Bruce always had a feeling that one day he would land on something huge. And he certainly did.
Can you guess what it was?
Just Collecting Dust
You can say that Sue was organized. She laid out everything into separate categories. It was a lot easier to keep track of and this way she could help people find things.
She saw her kids’ old baseball bats, figured they were just collecting dust, and put spread them out under a table. Little did she know what this moment would create in the future.
A Seemingly Worn Out Bat
The bat was physically worn out, as Sue’s family had used it for years. The kids played with it from time to time and it got some wear and tear.
Bruce saw this bat among the others lying on the ground. And his yard sale nose starts sniffing. He knew something was special about this bat.
And what he did might surprise you.
He Just Knew
From afar, Bruce could tell something was different about it. He knew it was valuable. He had to decide whether or not to reveal his instincts about it or to buy it for cheap and see later before someone else might buy it.
Bruce decided to pull Sue aside and tried to explain the significance of this bat, but she didn’t really understand why he had to pull her aside to tell her.
You Can’t Blame Her
Bruce wanted to make sure that the bat didn’t have some sentimental value to the family before purchasing it. So he took the chance of asking her.
But Sue had no idea what made the bat so special. She just wanted to clear up space in her basement from all the kids’ stuff. Can you blame her?
He Seemed a Bit Strange
Sue didn’t see the bat’s significance, but Bruce went into detail about the bat’s history and why he thought she should know about it. Sue thought he was strange at first, but she would later understand Bruce’s demeanor.
Bruce seemed strange, sure, but he was just showing her that he was confident that this bat had meaning.
“It’s a Bat!”
When Bruce asked Sue if she knew anything else about this bat, she bluntly said: “It’s a bat!” Then, he told her, “I think you might have something here.”
Being an avid yard sale hunter, Bruce knew what he had to do to determine whether or not the significant bat had any monetary value.
And the value was high!
Looking for Clues
There are different tactics that antique owners use to determine an item’s value. One of them is to look for a clue that signifies its origin. It could be a symbol or a mark.
This is what Bruce looked for when he saw that bat. So what was the clue? It was the bat’s grip. Funnily enough, Sue just figured that it was messed up due to her kids’ use of it.
A Famous Baseball Player
Bruce told Sue that the grip on this bat was noteworthy because the wrapping on the grip is similar to how Jackie Robinson, the famous baseball player, formed his grip.
Sue had no idea that she was holding on to the bat of a baseball legend. She thought it was an old beaten up bat.
Was she going to sell it or keep it?
Testing it Out
Scapecchi asked Sue to bring him a pencil. He wanted to confirm his suspicions that the bat belonged to Robinson. “I went in the house and got a pencil and came back out.”
“There’s an area on the bat where he rubbed a pencil against, and if you’re out in the sun you can see the name ‘Jackie Robinson.’ And I was like, ‘Holy cow!’”
Jackie Robinson, One of the Greats
Jackie Robinson was a revolutionary baseball player in the 1940s. He was born in 1919, in an era when baseball leagues were still segregated.
Robison made history as the first black player on a major league team when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson beats the odds and showed the world his athletic talent on the field.
Thanks to His Brother
One of the most famous baseball players in history actually didn’t intend on becoming one at all. Robinson’s brother was also an athlete and he urged Jackie to play baseball in high school.
Jackie Robinson Foundation
He gave in and listened to his brother, soon realizing that he was multi-talented in track, football, basketball, and baseball. He went from the high school field to the college field, playing for Pasadena Junior College.
History in the Making
Jackie Robinson was making history at UCLA as a star athlete, being one of the first players ever to earn a varsity letter in four sports. He almost didn’t consider baseball as a career.
Out of all four sports he played, baseball was actually the one he played the worst. But amazingly, he drafted by the Kansas City Monarchs.
Went on to the Dodgers
Although Jackie played well for the Monarchs team, he felt that the league was disorganized, and left too much to gambling. It also didn’t help that he was separated from his wife for a long time.
After signing with the Dodgers, Robinson played with them for 10 years before retiring. He received a bunch of honors, especially after he helped the Dodgers win the 1955 World Series.
Breaking Records, Even After His Death
Even after Robinson’s death, the Major Leagues retired his number, 42, from every team. And not only was he the first player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, but he was also the first black player to get into the Hall of Fame.
Bruce, seeing the bat at the yard sale, knew the importance of it. And wanted Sue to know. So the question now was…will she sell it or trust what this stranger is telling her and keep it?
She Decided to Keep It
Bruce knew he did the right thing by telling Sue about the bat, as she ended up choosing to keep it. And she even included it in the exhibition of the African American baseball players.
The exhibition’s curator, Jim Beatty, heard about the discovery and called Sue. Turns out that this bat is considered to be an actual artifact.
A Newfound Respect
Sue was stunned by the discovery and had a new feeling of respect for the bat which was lying around in her home. A few minutes before Bruce came into her life, she was ready to sell it for a few bucks!
She was ready to sell it for $1. As she said in an interview, “So [the bat] went from being on the ground, under a table, ready to be sold for $1, to in the house very quickly!”
There’s More to the Story
After this discovery, Sue did some digging into her family history. She wanted to know how this bat landed in her home! She ended up finding out stuff she never even knew.
She discovered that her uncle and Jackie Robinson were best friends, and the bat became a family heirloom. Her uncle was Joe Hatten, a former player of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Her Uncle, the Baseball Player
“My uncle, Joe Hatten, played for the Brooklyn Dodgers,” Sue stated. “He was a left-handed pitcher – they called him ‘Lefty Joe’ – and he and Jackie played baseball together in the ’40s.”
When asked about the bat, she said, “We’re going to keep it. I mean, the stories with my uncle and [Robinson]. Yeah, it’s not going anywhere.”
A Charitable Person
Sue has always been one for giving back. She is the executive of a nonprofit organization. Once she was old enough to start working with the community, she never turned back.
In her organization, she receives donations from different organizations and then given to the elderly. She works hard at helping the retired community by keeping them in good shape and health.
Memorialized in a Film
Jackie Robinson’s life was turned into a movie called 42. The 2013 film starred Chadwick Boseman, who has recently been seen as the title character in Black Panther, as Jackie.
The Fine Art Diner
The film about Robinson helped drive interest to the exhibit at the Great Plains Black History Museum.
Garage Sale Finds
You might want to check out the next garage sale you see in your neighborhood this weekend after reading this story. And even more so after we show you this amazing garage sale finds.
The Wall Street Journal
This is Floyd Landis’ bicycle, a Tour de France winner from 2006. Greg Estes of Kentucky found this bike was worth $8,000. The bike had been blown off the vehicle that was taking it to an event in 2008. Someone found it by the side of the road and put it in a garage sale, hoping to make some cash.
The Declaration of Independence Worth $477,000
Okay, not the actual one, but it was a version of it. A man bought what he thought was a cool, half-damaged copy of the Declaration of Independence at a garage sale. He stashed it in his garage for years.
He then got engaged, and he and his fiancé cleared out the garage one day. He gives the copy of the Declaration to a thrift store. A week later, he found out that it was one of only 200 official copies commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820. It sold for $477,000 in 2007.
A Rare Velvet Underground Disc Worth $25,000
In 2004, Warren Hill, an avid record collector, found a plain acetate in a cardboard sleeve with the words “Velvet Underground” written on it. He paid a dollar for it. An acetate disc is a type of record that recorded different mixes and copies and were given to DJs.
His 75-cent investment ended up earning him $24,999.25 after it was discovered to be a demo of the Velvet Underground’s first album ever made. It was rejected by Columbia Records.
A Mini LeBron James Jersey Diamond Pendant Worth $10,000
Vaneisha Robinson spent $5 for some bling when she found a LeBron pendant at a garage sale a few years ago. Out of curiosity, she got it appraised and found out it was 14-karat gold covered in two carats of real diamonds.
NY Daily News
The pendant used to belong to Maverick Carter who was the head of LeBron’s marketing company. It was worth $10,000.
A Vince Lombardi Sweater Worth $43,020
Sean and Rikki McEvoy bought this West Point sweater from a thrift store for a measly 58 cents. They had no idea that it once belonged to football coaching legend, Vince Lombardi.
Rikki saw a documentary about Coach Lombardi and noticed that there was a ‘Lombardi’ nametag stitched into the sweater. The Heritage Auction House in Dallas, Texas later confirmed that it was indeed his. They appraised the sweater at about $20,000. It then went on auction in 2015 in New York City and sold for $43,020.
Frankenstein Movie Poster From 1931 Sold for $358,500
This Frankenstein movie poster if from the original 1931 film. It was essentially forgotten until the early 1970’s when it was found in the projection booth of a remolded theatre.
The poster was appraised for $100,000-$200,000. But the Heritage Auction House in Dallas sold it for $358,500.