The new baseball world champions, the Arizona \"Diamond Backs\", are always on the news, specially since they won the 2001 world baseball championship over the New York Yankees.
I live in Arizona and some days ago, watching the local news on TV, I heard about the \"bubble gum case\".
Apparently a fan managed to pick a chewed gum that baseball star Luis González [Gonzo] had just discarded.
The \"fortunate\" owner of the chewed gum rushed to e-bay to put it up for auction. There were several potential buyers offering big bucks on the chewed gum, until...
By Paola Boivin
The Arizona Republic
April 10, 2002
The bizarre tale of Luis Gonzalez\'s chewed gum got messier Tuesday when the owner of a security firm cast doubt on the authenticity of the suddenly hot collectible.
Tom Vigilante, owner of the Valley-based company that provides security for spring training games at Tucson Electric Park, said a security guard for his firm has signed a statement disputing Jason Gabbert\'s account of how the gum was collected.
\"I just don\'t want to see anybody get hurt,\" said Vigilante, who owns VSS Security Services. \"If there\'s reasonable doubt, I think people should know.\"
Gabbert has received national attention since putting up for auction a piece of chewed gum he said Gonzalez discarded during a March 7 spring training game. Gabbert, a former Valley resident who owns Lakeside Sports in Wood Lake, Minn., told The Arizona Republic last week that he saw Gonzalez spit out the gum after running to first base and asked a security guard to retrieve it after the game.
\"He didn\'t want to at first but then he got it for me,\" Gabbert said.
But in the statement, the guard, known as Ponytail John by his colleagues, said he told Gabbert, \"No, sorry.\" He then said Gabbert \"looked for such gum\" on the field, found some and said \"this will do\" after grabbing it with some tissue.
Bidding for the gum, which is available on Gabbert\'s Web site, reached $3,275 when Topps Co., manufacturer of the gum, jumped into the competition, saying it would like to assist the charity involved. Gabbert said proceeds of the auction would benefit the athletic department of Lakeview High School, a small high school in rural Minnesota.
Gabbert insisted Tuesday that the gum is legitimate and suggested DNA tests.
\"Actually, the guard just kicked it over to me, so, OK, he didn\'t hand it to me, but that doesn\'t mean it\'s not (authentic),\" Gabbert said.
The statement from the security guard said he didn\'t assist the collector.
\"Then they\'re lying,\" Gabbert said.
Skeptics may question Gabbert\'s credibility because of a forgery conviction in North Dakota in 1993 after he opened a bank account in the name of major league pitcher Aaron Sele.
When Gabbert said he had a Washington state driver\'s permit under Sele\'s name, police checked the motor vehicle registrations and found Sele\'s valid license describing him as 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. At the time, police said Gabbert was 5 feet 9 inches, 150 pounds.
In 1997 while living in Chandler, he was convicted for making counterfeit driver\'s licenses and possessing credit cards that were not in his name.
Meanwhile, Lakeview Principal David Fjeldheim said he has not spoken to Gabbert about the auction proceeds but received an e-mail from him.
The Diamondbacks, who have a copy of the security guard\'s statement, are bewildered by the twists the story has taken but are doing their best to stay out of it.
\"It\'s so bizarre,\" said Scott Brubaker, senior vice president of sales and marketing. \"I guess we\'re watching with as much interest as general fans and shaking our heads at what\'s happening.\"