Chris Fevurly of Wichita, Kan. says he is appreciative, humbled and perhaps a little embarrassed at the attention he has received since word got out that a big-screen TV — and a big chunk of his Ken Griffey Jr. baseball card collection — were stolen from his house.
Some 500 Griffey cards, estimated to be valued at $1,200 — which doesn't begin to account for sentimentality — were burglarized while Fevurly was out of town in Arizona watching the Kansas State football team play in the Fiesta Bowl. His team lost, which was bad enough, but then Fevurly got home and noticed his TV wasn't there anymore. A little looking around revealed other things were missing.
The burglary story led the 10 o'clock newscast on the NBC station in Wichita on Sunday night. The police response has been earnest and optimistic. And he's received many messages from friends, acquaintances and even strangers with offers of hope, remembrances of Griffey and even cards to help replace what was stolen.
"I’m really overwhelmed, even humbled on a smaller scale," Fevurly told Big League Stew in a phone interview Monday. "I was kind of blown away by, even by friends offering to provide a TV, or whatever. I was getting instant messages from people saying, ‘Hey, I was a huge Ken Griffey Jr. fan’ and stuff like that. 'I can’t believe this happened.' I know there’s good people out there but I’m humbled by the idea that people are reaching out to me and talking to me about something that seems to minor with all of the stuff going on in the world."
Many of the cards were duplicates, but most of them he's had in his possession for more than 20 years. They were a huge part of his childhood. Memories of opening packs and boxes are still fresh in his mind. Fevurly said he was 11 years old when Griffey broke into the majors in 1989, and it was love at first sight.
The way Griffey swung the bat, the way he played center field, even the way he wore his cap — sometimes backward, of course, which always used to bother the stuffed shirts. Feverly admired it all, which is why he started collecting Griffey's baseball cards. Though he grew up enjoying the local-ish Kansas City Royals, and is a fan of the Boston Red Sox who has made the past three opening days at Fenway Park, Fevurly's truest baseball love is Griffey.
"It’s my guy," Fevurly said. "He was ‘The Kid.’ He was young, he was exciting. He could cover so much ground out in center field. I think everybody knows that swing should be trademarked. There was no sweeter swing in baseball. I remember the ’93 Home Run Derby, I got so excited watching him because he had his hat on backward and just seemed so loose when everyone else seemed so tense. He was able to do it by having fun. He was ‘The Kid.’ "
Fevurly has two kids, including a six-year-old boy who just started to collect cards himself. The collection definitely was something he wanted to pass on to his children. And he still can — thieves didn't get all of Fevurly's Griffey cards. Even some prized rookie cards — juxtaposed with his Starting Lineup figurines — were out in the open. But the thieves took enough for it to be upsetting. Fevurly is trying to think positively about the situation — even when it comes to the thieves.
"The way I look at it, maybe they think they needed it more than I did," Fevurly said. "They’re in a lot worse place than I’m at. I’ll just do my best to recoup what I can. I’ll have to save a little money to get the TV the way I had it. It’s going to take a lot of work to get that collection back to the way it was."
Fevurly is active on Twitter and Facebook and said he's "not naive" to the possibility that his activity on social media might have alerted the thieves that he wasn't home. But he really doesn't want to consider that he might know who stole from him. Besides, police say there was another burglary in his neighborhood the same night. Perhaps there's a connection.
"I don’t make a lot of money," said Fevurly, who works for Cox Communications. "I don’t think that someone’s going to come to my house … I wouldn’t think I’d be a target for something like that."
Fevurly said police are hopeful that whoever took the cards will try to sell them at a nearby card shop or pawn shop. There aren't many sports memorabilia shops in Wichita, Fevurly said, and the attention from the case might make the Griffey collection too hot to move. He also said friends are staking out eBay for him.