Adam Eaton is a 23-year-old outfielder prospect for the Diamondbacks.
Adam Eaton is also a 34-year-old former big-league pitcher, last seen on the Stew being booed by Phillies fans as he picked up his World Series ring.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the younger Eaton is often confused for the older one. Fans send him the wrong baseball cards to sign. They ask how his arm is feeling.
There are also some brief privileges that sharing a name can have. For example, Arizona's Adam Eaton was sitting in the clubhouse earlier this spring when he was handed six checks from the union's licensing program worth at least $20,000 apiece.
Only problem? The money had reached the wrong Adam Eaton.
Our pal Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has the story:
Eaton couldn't believe his eyes. The checks were from MLB's licensing department, but what had he done, he wondered, to deserve this kind of cash? A 19th-round pick in the 2010 draft, Eaton hasn't played above Double-A. And as a minor leaguer, he isn't even a part of the players' association.
Teammate Cody Ransom happened to see Eaton flipping through the checks and realized what had happened. We'll let Eaton tell the story:
"Cody's like, 'Those aren't yours,'" Eaton recalled. "I'm like, 'What do you mean they aren't mine? They're in my name.' He goes, 'That's the other Adam Eaton. Do you live there?' It had the address on the front. 'No.' I go, 'Do I have to give them back?' He's like, 'Yeah. You have to give them back.' I thought it over and I'm like, 'Yeah, I've got to give them back.'"
Arizona's Adam Eaton said he was "on top of the world for a good 30 seconds" and it really makes you wonder what went through his mind after that. Did he try and rationalize a scenario in which he could've kept the mixup going? (If he didn't, I just did for him while writing this post. Verdict: He might have gotten away with it at first, but things would have ended badly if the "old" Adam Eaton inquired about the missing payments.)
The story actually reminds me of one of my favorite pre-Stew oddities. In 2003, a Hartford, Conn., newspaper carrier named Mark Guthrie received a direct deposit worth $301,000. The payment belonged to another Mark Guthrie, a Chicago Cubs pitcher and fellow Tribune Co. employee. Guthrie initially returned most, but not all of the money as he wanted to check with his accountant. (He had this concern that, you know, the mixup could bump him into a higher tax bracket.) The Cubs responded by suing him for the rest of the money, but the case was eventually settled.
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