One man is famous. The other is infamous.
Serial killer John Wayne Gacy had already been sentenced to die by the time Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. first stepped into a major league batter’s box in 1981. When Gacy was executed in 1994., Ripken was busy racking up another Silver Slugger and Gold Glove and finishing 12th in American League MVP voting.
By all accounts, the serial killer and the iron man shortstop never crossed paths during their very, very, very different lives.
So, then how the heck did both guys appear to wind up signing a piece of art Gacy painted while on Death Row?
Deadspin first reported on the “unique” painting, which was listed for sale on Keep Shooting for $9,999.95 as of Friday morning.
The tale begins when Brian Platt, a Pennsylvania businessman, acquired a Gacy painting of an Oriole (the bird) from a Florida estate auction about five years ago. It was only after a conversation with his lawyer that Platt learned the Gacy painting was also apparently signed by Ripken.
“One of the original John Wayne Gacy paintings that survives today is this painting of an Oriole. This painting was purchased directly by the original owner from John Wayne Gacy while he was on Death Row,” the description reads. “Once in his possession, the original owner took it upon himself to seek out Baltimore Oriole legend Cal Ripken Jr to have him autograph this truly remarkable artifact. The result is what you see pictured, an original acrylic painting of an Oriole by John Wayne Gacy, which prominently features the autograph of Cal Ripken Jr at top in blue. The Cal Ripken Jr autograph was obtained by the original owner at the Baltimore Orioles Spring Training home in Miami, Flordia and was later sold directly to our managing director.”
Platt told Deadspin that the mysterious collector who originally owned the painting, “Sunny Slim,” was a “wise guy” hell-bent on getting a Baltimore Orioles player to sign the painting.
John Maroon, a spokesman for Ripken, told Deadspin that the former Orioles legend “doesn’t remember signing” or seeing the painting. However, Maroon said Ripken couldn’t say for sure it’s not his signature.
“In the rope line people shove things in his face all the time. The joke in Baltimore is if you don’t have an autograph from Cal Ripken, you haven’t tried,” Maroon said.