Have you ever dreamed of owning a kitschy 1970s-style MLB bullpen buggy? The kind with the baseball-shaped body and the giant team cap on top?
For the right price -- estimated at between $20,000 and $30,000 -- those dreams could come true on April 1, when Sotheby's will be auctioning off a vintage New York Mets bullpen cart.
But one man has already lived that dream. His name is Jamie Scott, and he's the guy selling the cart. Scott, who lives on Long Island, is a 51-year-old hedge fund recruiter and lifelong Mets fan. He recently spoke with ESPN.com about the bullpen cart, how he came to own it and why he's decided to sell it.
ESPN.com: When and how did the bullpen cart become available, and how did you acquire it?
Jamie Scott: The Mets had two of them -- one for the home bullpen and one for the road. At some point, I'm not sure when, one of those carts was badly damaged in a construction accident at Shea Stadium. The other one ended up with [former Mets co-owner] Nelson Doubleday, and he had kept it at this mechanic's shop in Locust Valley [the next town over from Bayville, where Scott lives].
It sat there for I don't know how long -- years. And I saw it there, and I said many times to the mechanic who owned the shop, "You know, I really want to own that cart." I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
Then one day I get a phone call, and the mechanic tells me, "We just agreed to sell the cart to a collector -- he's on his way here. But then I remembered that you always wanted it. So if you come up here with cash and give it to me before he gets here, you can have it."
ESPN.com: What year was this?
Scott: I think 2002.
ESPN.com: And how much did you pay for it?
Scott: I don't want to say.
ESPN.com: But whatever the price was, you showed up with the cash and got the cart?
ESPN.com: And what about the other guy, the collector who thought he had a deal?
Scott: I have no idea what happened to him. After I paid the cash, we actually moved it around the corner, so it wouldn't still be there when that guy showed up. Then we came back for it later with a flatbed truck to take it away.
ESPN.com: Who made these things? Is there a manufacturer listed anywhere on it?
Scott: Cushman. Their marketing plan back at the time was to provide two of these to each National League team.
ESPN.com: When was it made, and when was it in use at Shea Stadium?
Scott: Unfortunately, nobody has kept good records on that. But I believe it was running from the late 1960s through the late 1970s.
ESPN.com: When you acquired it, was it in good working order, or did you have to repair anything, or what?
Scott: Think about it: Anything that's that old, especially a little golf cart with this massive, heavy fiberglass ball and hat on it, when you start it up it's going to go [makes an unpleasant sound of a car straining to start]. But it runs.
ESPN.com: Did you have any specific plans of what you were going to do with it?
Scott: I'm a big sports guy, and I have lots of Mets memorabilia -- signed hats, gloves, bats, you name it. So this was sort of the ultimate prize.
ESPN.com: What did you do with it? Like, did you use it as a golf cart, or did you let your kids drive it on your lawn, or what?
Scott: When I first got it, my kids were very young, and we'd put all the neighborhood kids in it -- like, eight or 10 of 'em -- and drive up and down the street. All the kids loved it, and they all became Mets fans. We'd also drive it every year in the local Memorial Day parade, and we'd use it for fundraisers, that kind of thing.
ESPN.com: And where did you keep it? In your garage?
Scott: In my little one-car garage.
ESPN.com: Did you ever bring it to the ballpark?
Scott: Oh, lots of times. The Mets' marketing department knew I had it and often asked to use it for commercials and events. And when the Mets were in playoffs against the Dodgers in 2006, we had it transported to Shea and started driving it around the parking lot. People were going absolutely ballistic. People wanting to jump on board, wanting their picture taken. The security people actually ushered us into the secure zone where fans aren't supposed to go. They didn't know; they figured we were associated with the team. It was crazy.
ESPN.com: Did anyone ever ask to use it for non-sports purposes?
Scott: Yeah. You can see it in a music video for a song called "Paging Hiawatha."
ESPN.com: Does it take regular gasoline?
Scott: No. It runs on six 12-volt batteries. They're in this charging box, and you just plug it in to charge them.
ESPN.com: Is it actually legal to drive the cart on a public street? Does it have a license plate?
Scott: No, but we'd just take it out on the street anyway. And everyone always had something to say when they saw it. People would roll down their windows and say either "Go Mets" or "F--- the Mets," or sometimes "Go Yankees" or "F--- the Yankees."
ESPN.com: How fast can it go?
Scott: If you're going downhill, maybe with a steady wind behind you, you could probably get it up to 5 or 6 miles an hour.
ESPN.com: Have you had people offer to buy it from you over the years?
Scott: After Tug McGraw died in 2004, I put it on eBay, just so the world would know that it's out there. We listed it for a million dollars. I got hundreds of messages and responses -- people saying, "This is great, just give me a couple of weeks to refinance the house," that kind of thing. And then there were the people who said, "You dirty, filthy animal, trying to capitalize on Tug McGraw's death." It was amazing.
ESPN.com: So, obviously, nobody came up with the million dollars back then. Why have you chosen to sell it now?
Scott: My kids are older now and we're not using it as much as we used to. So it sits there filling up my one-car garage. We're sort of done with it. We've really enjoyed our relationship with it, and we think it's time to let someone else have that kind of relationship.
ESPN.com: You mentioned that the Mets know you have it. Have they expressed any interest in acquiring it? It seems like something they could put in the team Hall of Fame or in the Citi Field rotunda.
Scott: That's what I thought, too. This really belongs with them. So I called [Mets owner] Fred Wilpon's office, and of course they wouldn't put me through to him, so I explained the situation and asked if they could give me his email address. They said sure, so I sent him an email. Never got a response. I also left a message with Dave Katz [son of Wilpon partner Saul Katz], because his kid played for the soccer team that I started in our town. Never heard back from him either.
ESPN.com: Are you disappointed by that?
Scott: Definitely. It's not even a money issue -- I don't really care about that. It's that they apparently don't care about their own heritage. I just don't get that.
ESPN.com: How did you end up choosing to go with Sotheby's?
Scott: They're the best, the very best.
ESPN.com: What was their response when you got in touch with them?
Scott: They were over the moon. At first I thought maybe that's just how they respond to everybody, because they need to keep bringing in product to auction. But they kept saying how great the cart is. They were so excited about it that they put it in their lobby, and it attracted so much attention that they had to rope it off.
ESPN.com: Had they ever sold one of these before?
ESPN.com: I see they've estimated the sale price in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. What did you think when they came up with that?
Scott: I thought it was way too low -- I thought it'd be closer to $100,000. But honestly, I really don't care that much about the money. I wish somehow the Mets would show up and white-knight it out of there and put it where it belongs -- not in a garage, like mine.
ESPN.com: Do you know of anyone who's planning to bid? Maybe that collector who lost out on it years ago when you got it?
Scott: I have no idea. But Sotheby's indicated to me that they're expecting some celebrities to be on hand, so maybe they'll be bidding. They've been very coy about who those people might be, though.
ESPN.com: Will you be there yourself when the auction takes place?
Scott: Oh, you bet. We're going to spend the night in the city, the whole bit. We're going to pretend we're "Sotheby's people" for the night.
ESPN.com: I see the auction is slated to take place on April Fool's Day. Should we read anything into that?
Scott: [Laughs.] I guess if you'd like to. But there are more than 80 other items up for bid that day, so it's not just the cart.