The One Baseball Hall of Fame Item Too Creepy for Cooperstown
Wait... Serial killer John Wayne Gacy has ties to Cooperstown? Sort of.
My girlfriend and I recently attended the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Why? Because we both have a rather bizarre -- and perhaps unhealthy? -- fascination with serial killers, and we heard they had Ted Bundy's murder car.
They do. Here it is:
But that wasn't the thing I found most interesting at the museum.
Alcatraz East is an impressive and varied collection of crime-related items. There's sections dedicated to medieval torture, high seas pirates, Wild West robberies, the Mafia... there's a little bit of everything in there, all housed within a gaudy building facsimiled after Alcatraz prison in San Francisco.
There's a small section of the museum dedicated to "prison art," and I found one piece particularly interesting. It was a Baseball Hall of Fame "logo" painting that was actually signed by more than 3 dozen Baseball Hall of Famers - including Yankees legends Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and even President Nixon - but the painting's artist? None other than serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
How could something so bizarre even come to be?
According to the museum placard, after the painting's completion, it was obtained by an independent art dealer named Stephen Koschal, who then obtained the signatures over time without telling the athletes who the artist was. So everyone who signed the painting did so blissfully unaware of the artist's "unsavory" background.
None of the individuals who signed the painting were aware of the artist's serial killer identity.
Honestly, it's not all that surprising. Athletes are so used to slapping their signatures on anything put in front of them. And the "J.W. Gacy" signature doesn't immediately stand out -- unless you have an unhealthy fascination like I do.
This is one dark and grisly item you won't find in Cooperstown any time soon. If you want to see it, you'll have to go to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.