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By TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer on May 21, 2014
Tulsan and former University of Tulsa baseball player Wayne Bradshaw sits wearing the letterman’s jacket lost by his son years ago before being found earlier this year by his daughter at I-44 Antique and Collectibles Mall. The jacket on the left is a replica of the jacket his son bought. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa WorldTU grad's daughter finds his long-lost baseball letterman's jacket at antiques shop
If not for baseball, Wayne Bradshaw probably wouldn't have finished college.
“I was always a semester behind in tuition,” he said. “It was a real struggle financially.”
After earning a half scholarship as a walk-on with the baseball team, though, the University of Tulsa student was able to hang in.
“It made all the difference,” he said. “Through that and jobs I worked, I was able to stay in school.”
As a result, the baseball letterman’s jacket that Bradshaw received at TU was more than a jacket to him: It represented how far he had come and what he had achieved.
“I was so proud when I got that jacket. I think I might’ve even worn it in the summer,” said Bradshaw, who graduated from TU in 1965.
This past weekend, all those feelings came rushing back when, for the first time in nearly 40 years, the Tulsan laid eyes on his beloved letterman’s jacket.
After the jacket had been missing for several years, it turned up in a local antiques store, where Bradshaw’s daughter, Tina Miller, discovered it while browsing.
“I didn’t think it was real at first,” Bradshaw said of the jacket, which is red with white sleeves and a blue “TU” on the front.
He said he figured the odds were a “billion to one” that it would ever be found.
“It’s a little snug, but still fits,” he laughed.
For the longest time, Bradshaw — who with his wife, Linda, owns Tulsa World of Gymnastics — had no idea what had happened; he just knew that one day the jacket was gone. He assumed it was lost for good.
But a couple of years ago he found out the real story:
As a Father’s Day gift, Bradshaw’s son, Ron, presented him a replica of the jacket that he had had made and revealed that he was to blame for the original’s loss.
He had worn it to a friend’s house and left it, he said. From there, it had disappeared. He had felt bad about it for years.
Although his father didn’t hold it against him, Ron, who lives in St. Louis, was excited when his sister told him the news, needless to say.
Miller, who found the jacket at I-44 Antique and Collectibles Mall, still has trouble believing it herself. She enjoys browsing for antiques, she said, but never expected anything like this.
“I was stunned. What are the odds?” Miller said of her reaction.
“I really don’t know why I picked it up. I think it kind of found me.”
With “WBradshaw” embroidered in gold on the inside, she knew immediately what she was looking at.
As she paid for the jacket, she added, the clerk and fellow customers reacted with excitement to her story.
Miller was going to save it for Father’s Day, but she was too excited to wait and presented it to Bradshaw on Sunday at his home.
For Bradshaw, it’s become a year of milestones. Not only is the long-lost jacket back, but he and his wife, who began dating at Rogers High School, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on June 1.
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