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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Cliff Panezich: A fake sports memorabilia ringleader’s rise | Longform - SI.com

Although I don’t buy much stuff now, I do have quite a few autographs. Other than the ones I got myself, I always worry I’m getting fleeced when I buy something from a dealer.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 07, 2017 at 05:19 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: collectables, collecting

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   1. Omineca Greg Posted: November 09, 2017 at 11:48 AM (#5573502)
That was an interesting story, a trifle long but interesting nonetheless. It has a personal message for me, bringing back memories I haven't thought of in 30 years. You see, for a short time I was involved in counterfeit sports memorabilia.

My girlfriend, Sarah, hadn't been getting along too well with her parents, and convinced me that I should move out with her. I was young, and the implied promise of constant sex certainly made for a persuasive argument. However, Sarah had come from a wealthy background, and having no job skills or abilities, it has very difficult for my to keep her in the designer clothes and shoes to which she'd become accustomed. And our furniture had to be just so, and our apartment had to be in the right area; there's nothing wrong with wanting those things, it's just that it's tough to live like a wealthy person when you don't have any money, or even any real way of getting any. Sarah didn't seem to appreciate that.

So, I hit the pavement and started looking for a job. There were lots out there, but none that paid very well, and I was getting discouraged. Looking back in hindsight, obviously I would do things differently, but I was only 17, and I have to admit, blinded by lust. Only in middle age have I been able to look back in retrospect and see that the things that motivated me thirty years ago, are not the things that motivate me now. With luck, maybe I have another thirty years, and I sometimes sit and wonder what my future self will think of the man I am today. But we're getting off track, at 17 all I knew was that I had a blue blood girl, and all I could earn was a redneck paycheque.

Then I got the job offer.

I had seen the ad in the paper, and even by the standards of today, it was a fair bit of money, and certainly way more than anybody else had been offering me, so I went and checked it out. I was interviewed quickly, in fact all they did was hand me a sharpie, a signature to forge, and a blank page of paper.

"See if you can copy this. If you can, there's money in it for you."

This was a big opportunity for me, if I did alright, my problems would all be solved. I took the sharpie, and did my best.

My best turned out to be good enough. My "George Brett" looked almost the same as George's "George Brett"

"Good enough! Come back tomorrow, early. You've got the job."

I was elated. I was also naive, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was about to find out exactly what the glamorous life of crime was all about.

I showed up to work early, just like I'd been told. "Put these on" I was told tersely, and I was handed a pair of khakis. They weren't my size, I was really skinny back then, these pants hung off my body. I held them up awkwardly with one hand, as no belt seemed to be forthcoming. "Now, eat this."

In front of me was laid out a lobster dinner. I like seafood just fine, and as Sarah had needed some new pumps (she really had enough pairs of shoes already I thought) I had gone hungry last night, because I couldn't afford both new shoes and food, and it had been made quite clear to me that there really wasn't any choice in the matter. I was also dehydrated from all the hot, sweaty sex, so I was glad to see the pitcher of water that come with the meal. I wolfed down the lobster, and gulped down the water, and I was beginning to think that I had lucked into the easiest job in the World. There had to be a catch though...

"Now, take these." I was handed a small plate, where there was about a dozen capsules.

"Why?"

"You think we're feeding you that lobster for nothing? Take those laxatives and #### your pants. That's your job. Pants shitting."

I was tempted to leave, shitting your pants is no way to make a living, but between my hungry loins and the need for hard currency to keep them fed, I'm ashamed to admit, I took the pills and chased them with what was left of the water.

I sat around for a couple of hours, they had Colecovision, so that part wasn't too bad. At least it wasn't at first. Eventually, my stomach began to cramp up, I was doubled over in pain. And then I hopped up out of the fetal position I had curled into, and, well, not to put too a fine a point on it, I shat my pants. I was drenched with poop, the khakis were soaked down to the knees, and I was glad I had taken off my shoes, because otherwise I would have filled these up with poop too, and there was no way I could afford new shoes for both Sarah and me, and I didn't want to walk around barefoot all the time.

I peeled off the pants, the fabric clung to my skin like a wet t-shirt contest gone horribly wrong. They handed me a sharpie. "There sign that. Write George Brett on it. On the least poopy place." I found the least poopy place, which was the shin on the right leg, and scrawled George's signature on it. My handiwork was evaluated, "not bad, not bad...the signature, I'd say a C+, but the pants shitting was outstanding, full grade. I think you have a talent son."

The whole thing seemed stupid to me, "Who in the hell would buy this?" I blurted out (this time from my mouth).

"You leave that to me. Here, take this." He threw over a manilla envelope. I opened it up and peered inside. There was more money than I'd ever seen. I took it home, and told Sarah the whole story. She seemed a little grossed out by the whole thing, until I showed her the envelope full on money...

"You're all cleaned up, right?"

"Yeah, they have a shower down there, I'm all good."

\"#### me! #### me hard...then let's go shopping!"

I obliged.

By the time we got back from shopping, the envelope was almost empty. Shoes, dresses, purses, I'd never seen Sarah look so happy. I was kind of pissed off, I hadn't really worked hard for that money, but it had been so degrading, not to mention disgusting, and now all the money was already gone. I think Sarah could tell I was upset, because she grabbed me by my collar, kissed me on the cheek, and quietly sang into my ear...

Do that to me one more time
Once is never enough with a man like you
Do that to me one more time
I can never get enough of a man like you, oh


I'm not sure I mentioned this, because it's not something I like to go around saying, as it's not something I'm particularly proud of, but when I was 17...I was almost insatiable. Now if a woman tried that on me, I'd push her away and say, "Captain and Tennille suck, get off of me, you tasteless skank" but back then, wow, there was nothing that was too insipid to hear coming off her lips.

It feels good to confess these things.
   2. Omineca Greg Posted: November 09, 2017 at 11:48 AM (#5573503)
Well, I woke up the next morning, drained of almost all the fluids I had. I staggered out the door and made it to the bus just in time. When I walked in, my boss smiled broadly, and said, "I want you to see your handiwork", and he led me to a place on the wall, where proudly displayed in a glassed-in hardwood frame, were the pants that I had #### in. They were pressed neatly, they must have used some sort of drying gun like painters use to get all the moisture out, and there was a brass plaque off in the corner of the frame that read, "Authentic George 'I'm Good For That A Couple Times A Year' Brett Seafood Shitty Pants".

"One day he's going to be in the Hall of Fame, and these will be priceless."

"If you say so."

"I know so. This one's sold already, so you know what that means. You've got work to do."

Again with the lobster. Again with the water. Again with the laxative. Again with the Colecovision (except this time my score was higher). Again with the dramatic #### monsoon. Again with the envelope full of money. Again with Sarah's greedy glowing eyes. Again with her hard nude teenage body pressed up against me, her mouth begging. Again with the shopping spree. Again with the carnal, sleepless night.

Again and again. Day after day, night after night. Sarah was dressed to kill. When we went out, I could feel other men's eyes on her, and the way they looked at me contemptuously, like I wasn't fit to be sharing her bed; I was beginning to look rough. I'd gone from skinny to emaciated, I'd lost so much muscle mass in my arms from the constant diarrhea, that I could barely support my body when I was power-fuc...never mind. I wasn't at my best, OK?

It didn't feel right, in fact it felt wrong. I was helping to defraud people. I wasn't sure Sarah loved me, every once in awhile I'd be talking, and she would cut me off, and her eyes would be saying, "Shut up, you're here for the pants shitting". At least that's what I thought they were saying; it's kind of a specific phrase to get from just eye contact alone. It was all wrong...but it was all right.

I hope I'm not belabouring this too much. Maybe everyone here has had someone in their life who offered such sexual electricity, that you ended up in situations you would have tried to avoid otherwise. I mean, I'm not sure, but I think the "Counterfeiting Poopy Pants From Royals' Third Basemen" thing is specific to me, but perhaps you can relate to the situation nonetheless.

And then one day, it was finished.

I showed up for work, and my boss pulled me aside, "Greg, it looks like the collectable market for shitty pants is saturated."

"You told me you wanted them saturated!"

"No, the market is saturated, you did a great job with the pants, Greg. Here though, I've got a new job for you maybe, see how you do with this..."

Just like before, he handed me a sharpie, a blank sheet of paper, and a name to copy. I sized up the signature, looked down at the paper, and smoothly copied the autograph. "Dave Winfield"

"Perfect. You've got a talent Greg. Here, let's go to the back room."

He lead me into the poopatorium, but instead of a lobster dinner waiting, there were only three things.

A baseball.

And a seagull.

And a brass plaque...that read, "August 4th, 1983, Authentic Dave Winfield Exhibition Park Seagull."

"All you have to do Greg, is brain the seagull with this ball here, sign it, and you're back in the moolah." He waved an envelope positively bulging with cash. "OK, I'll leave you to it, then.", and he left the room.

The seagull was just laying there, it looked like he had been drugged. He stared up at me, his eyes glazed over, as if he was asking for help.

I had bad feelings about doing this.

When it was just me, no matter how degrading the pants shitting was, and the physical toll it was taking on me, it was only me I was affecting. Now I was being asked to pull another being into my decrepitude and my wanton, animal appetites.

I gazed at the seagull again. He looked pretty sick, I was wondering if he had been sedated into an inch of his life.

I felt like a creep as I picked up the ball. I didn't know if I could go through with it.

My thoughts went back to Sarah. She would be waiting at home for me, dressed in some luxurious silken lingerie, or maybe something even sexier, a leather corset, black stockings. "Sorry seagull, I've got priorities!", I hurled the ball with all my might, which at this point wasn't much, and released it with absolutely none of the grace or power of the future Hall of Famer I was to trying imitate.

The ball thudded uselessly, three feet short of the target. The gull squaked with all of his might, but his cry was quiet and forlorn. I picked up the ball. That pitiful squak had touched my heart. I had to get that thought out of there, so instead of the memory of the squak, I remembered the sounds Sarah made when I would touch her trembling body. The coos, the squeaks, the moans...the screams...

Once again, I rared back, standing much closer this time, and with all my strength, threw the ball. This time, my aim was true, and the ball hit the seagull square in the face. He let out the loudest squak he could make, it still wasn't much.

But my lifestyle had made me so weak, my throw had only injured him, and not even that severely. Now he was crying out in pain and discomfort.

I couldn't do it.

I couldn't do it anymore.

I grabbed the seagull gently, "Buddy, we've got to get you out of here..." I whispered into his ear. "If I leave without you, they'll just find somebody else to kill you. Sshhh. Sshhh. It's alright, it's OK" I petted his head as I tucked him under my arm, and stole quietly out of the poopatorium's back door.

As I rode the bus back home, I decided that if I was going to nurse this bird back to health, he was going to need a name. "Dave, I'll call you Dave. I'll never forget that, because it was a Dave that brought you into my life. I'll help you, and when you're better, I'll take you to the beach and let you go." Unfortunately, I thought that was going to take awhile. He looked unwell, he'd been sick looking before, but after being pegged with my throw, he looked like he was losing it. And I had no idea how Sarah was going to react, me bringing home a sick bird instead of an envelope of cash. but we were going to find out, because the bus was pulling away from the stop where I had gotten off, and I had started the short walk to our cozy lover's nest.

As I opened the door, Sarah greeted me in a bottomlees French maid outfit. As she twirled slowly, my eyes were glued to her glorious buttocks, and her slight puff of pubic hair, all trimmed and coiffed in the style of the late '80s. Dave let out a squak, and she stopped in mid-twirl.

"What the #### is that?" she asked incredulously.

"It's Dave. He's a rescue bird."

"OK, we can take him to the shelter, and then we can go shopping. After...", her finger traced her lips slowly.

"No, we can't take him to the shelter, he's too sick, they'll just put him down and no, we can't go shopping, I don't have any money..." and I told her the whole story.

Sarah's face showed a range of emotions, as if she was having a hard time deciding how to feel about the situation. After a minute or two, she took a step forward, pressed her half naked body against mine, leaned forward and softly sang into my ear...

Romance without finance
It's a nuisance
Baby, baby, you've got to give up that gold
You're so sweet, you're so fine
You ain't got no money
You can't be mine
It ain't no joke to be stone broke
Baby, I ain't lying.


...which is an old R&B record probably best known for being one of Charlie Parker's first recorded sessions, as a back-up player. Thus it is a thousand times hipper than Captain and Tennille. I didn't know she had it in her. A single tear was rolling down her cheek.

But just the one.

Still, it broke my heart. I turned away slowly and walked out of the apartment, Dave tucked under my arm, with just the clothes on my back. I didn't look back as I heard the door softly close, I walked on and out into the street.

I had nothing.

That was the first, and only, day, I ever stole. I went into the Safeway, and filled my pockets up with Kitten Chow from the bulk bins. I think the store detective saw me, in fact how could he not, me with a seagull under my arm, but he probably thought as long as I left with only the Kitten Chow, it was probably not worth engaging me. As I left the store and entered what was turning out to be a gorgeous Vancouver summer day, I was an almost broken man; I had nowhere to go, I had no money, no job. All I had was a sick bird. All of a sudden, I wanted to choke him, it was his fault, if I had just killed him like I was supposed to, I would have been laying with a beautiful woman, not a care in the World. I had traded a life that would be the envy of any man (er....most men...I had to admit the pooping part hadn't been so great) just to help a stupid bird.

But no, it wasn't his fault. It wasn't his fault I had thrown my hand in with a girl that kept me on a treadmill of depravity. It wasn't his fault I had no job skills but a steady hand and a sturdy colon. If I had stayed, how many birds would I have had to kill? Just to fill the curious market niche of sports memorabilia, where shitty pants were as valuable as silver, and a dead bird with his head stove in by a baseball was worth more than gold. I strolled down to the beach, I thought Dave might feel at home there.

I was sitting on a log at Jericho beach, watching the tide gently roll in. I was feeding Dave Kitten Chow from my hand. The sun on the water and the fresh salt air were improving my mood. Even Dave was looking slightly better, maybe the drugs were wearing off.

Then a hippie chick came by.

"What are you doing?" she asked quietly.

"Enjoying the sunshine. Feeling sorry for myself. Feeding my bird."

"That's your bird? I've never met anybody else who owned a seagull."

"His name's Dave. I don't own him, not really. I rescued him. Somebody was going to kill him."

"That's awful."

"It was."

"Do you do stuff like that often?"

"No. It's my first time."

"Do you like it?" she asked.

"I'm not sure. So far it's been rough."

"Are sick birds supposed to eat Kitten Chow."

"I don't think so, but it was the only thing I could...it's the only thing I have"

"You could buy birdseed."

"No, I can't. The Kitten Chow is the only thing I have."

"My mom has birdseed. I'm sure she'd share some with you."

"It's OK. I've got bigger problems than birdseed"

"Oh my God, have you not eaten today?"

"No, I was expecting a lobster dinner. Didn't happen."

"You know, lobsters don't like it when you put them in the boiling water. If you listen closely, you can hear them scream."

"This is the first day I've been listening for stuff like that. But I suppose you're right."

"Here, come to my place, I mean mine and my mom's. She'd like to meet a boy with a seagull. She likes things like that. And so do I." she smiled shyly.

And that's when I knew everything was going to be OK.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: November 09, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5573597)
Well, I'll bump this story up.
   4. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: November 09, 2017 at 02:31 PM (#5573616)
I have a story about phony sports memorabilia, but it cannot compete with Greg's on any level.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 09, 2017 at 02:47 PM (#5573631)
Man Greg, you're crazy :-) How did you even think of that stuff?
   6. Traderdave Posted: November 09, 2017 at 02:51 PM (#5573637)
I hope Brett himself reads this. I'm sure he'd get a laugh.
   7. SteveF Posted: November 09, 2017 at 03:13 PM (#5573667)
Felt a bit too shaggy dog to me. I mean, I guess YOU were OK, but what the hell happened to Dave? 4/10.
   8. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 09, 2017 at 03:42 PM (#5573691)
Hole.
Lee.
Cow.

+1
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 09, 2017 at 04:07 PM (#5573716)
Greg, you're a natural storyteller. And this one's for you, even if it was recorded 8 years after Charlie Parker left the scene. Just ignore the line about pool rooms and school rooms, that's nothing but propaganda.
   10. Sleepy's not going to blame himself Posted: November 09, 2017 at 05:33 PM (#5573795)
Mr. Fish is most astounded.
Mr. Fish is just aghast.
He is stone faced like a statue,
Then he blinks and speaks at last...


Sorry, had that stuck in my head for some reason.
   11. Hysterical & Useless Posted: November 09, 2017 at 05:44 PM (#5573804)
Oh! Gee!
Oh! Gee!
Oh! Gee!


Bring back the Primeys, rename them the Ohgees, and then retire them.
   12. Jack Keefe Posted: November 09, 2017 at 05:55 PM (#5573807)
For onct I am Speech Less Al.
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 09, 2017 at 06:49 PM (#5573821)
Sorry, OG, I'm afraid I'm going to have to put this one in the "unverified" column, at least until one of our fellow Primates admits to purchasing that distinctive George Brett memorabilia. Might not take long.
   14. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: November 09, 2017 at 07:43 PM (#5573838)
That was epic. Can we just pin this one to the top?
   15. PreservedFish Posted: November 09, 2017 at 08:35 PM (#5573859)
I still want an update on the first comment of Greg's that I ever noticed:

#10 on this thread
   16. Hysterical & Useless Posted: November 10, 2017 at 10:42 AM (#5574012)
Thanks for linking that, PF, I must've missed it when it was first posted. Wonder if I was on vacation then, if I'd been at work I'd have seen it for sure. Especially liked the Steely Dan bit.
   17. Omineca Greg Posted: November 13, 2017 at 09:38 AM (#5574868)
Thanks for your support, everybody. It means a lot to me.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 13, 2017 at 09:53 AM (#5574884)
Thanks for your support, everybody. It means a lot to me.

FWIW, I told my wife your story when we were out on a walk.** She loved it, and when I showed her the thread she thought it was a work of genius.

** One of the nice things about it is that it's surprisingly easy to remember the details after only reading it once.

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