When a story involving a visibly intoxicated Chuck Knoblauch hitting on women on a late-night Brooklyn subway ride surfaced yesterday, we were surprised and not surprised. Surprised because Knoblauch is about the most random former major leaguer imaginable—a good-to-very-good infielder who won four championships for the Twins and Yankees, then more or less disappeared after retiring in 2003. But not surprised because Knoblauch has made something of a habit of popping up when you least expect him.
There was Chuck pleading guilty to assaulting his common-law wife. There was Chuck discovering Twitter, a blandly bizarre feed alternating between terse replies to fans and pleas for more followers. There was Chuck ranting about his estranged wife. There was Chuck getting named as an HGH user in the Roger Clemens trial. And, most recently, there was Chuck swigging not-Coke out of a Coke bottle and wearing chef's pants on the G train. It just felt right, you know?
The Knoblauch team has gone on the offensive. Louis Gregory, Knoblauch's "social media adviser," told New York that there's no way it could have been him on the G train. "Chuck is in Houston," Gregory wrote. "Not him."
But was he in Houston? Knoblauch's Twitter feed had gone dark for the week before Monday, so that's no help. And then there's a series of emails we received this morning from someone who would only identify themselves as "a good friend of him and his whole family."
Good morning. I was sent your story this morning, regarding Chuck Knoblauch? Why do you find it important to write stories that are not validated and have no truth. Chuck Knoblauch is in Houston, Texas and has been here for weeks. This is a total untruth and I would hope you would print a retraction. Why do journalists like you not have an inch of thought about others and the destruction you do to their lives. Awful.
We followed up with a few questions. How do you know Chuck? When's the last time you saw him in Houston? Is it possible he was traveling this weekend?
They are all in Houston and only traveled to Austin over the weekend for his nieces graduation.
The plot thickens. At least one "good friend" of Chuck's admits he wasn't in Houston over the weekend, as he has repeatedly claimed. But if he wasn't there, was he in Austin? Brooklyn? Somewhere else?
It wasn't long before another thread raveled. Two separate people reached out to us on Twitter, claiming that they are in a fantasy baseball league with Knoblauch. They both attached screenshots asserting that Knoblauch couldn't have been drunk and in New York because he was setting his fantasy team that night. (Knoblauch's given name is Edward, and the fact that he named his team "KnobJobs" is proof enough for us.) The timestamp on that last login is just before one in the morning, New York time, roughly three hours after the events of the Queens-bound G train. So that's not particularly proof of anything—it may even hurt his story, considering the fact that 70 percent of fantasy users set their lineups from their phones while drunk.
Erin, the woman who wrote up the encounter for her blog, tells us she's not a sports fan and has no reason to lie. She'd never heard of Knoblauch before the run-in, and points out that even if she'd known who he was, the guy in the subway looked absolutely nothing like Knoblauch in his playing days. "He did, however, look exactly like the Chuck from the 2009 mugshot."
Which leads us to a third, more sinister possibility. Could there be a fake Chuck Knoblauch running around—a Knoblauchalike? It wouldn't be the first time. Men impersonating Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Young, and Joba Chamberlain have all run afoul of the law in recent years. Mayhaps there's a man prowling the outer boroughs, not looking for money or respect like the other athlete impersonators, but trying to use his status to pick up women on the subway. Maybe it was a fake Chuck Knoblauch who was once spotted at a bar on the Bowery, screaming, "I'm fucking Chuck Knoblauch."
What we have are a bunch of puzzle pieces that may not belong to the same puzzle. Chuck Knoblauch's lost weekend is a rabbit hole than none of us is equipped to explore. But we'll try. Did you see Chuck Knoblauch this past week, whether in Texas or New York or Ulaanbaatar? Have you ever seen Chuck Knoblauch? Please share your stories with us, and help us tackle the greatest mystery of our time.