RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA  (CBSLA.com)  —  A former major league baseball player’s championship came very close to becoming melted-down gold.

The owner of a local gold buying company said one of his employees purchased the 1987 National League Championship ring that belonged to former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Greg Mathews, now retired and living in Los Angeles.

Another of the owner’s employees recognized the ring for what it was — a big deal.

They were able to contact Matthews, 52,  to let him know his ring was in their possession. He, in turn, told them the ring had been inside his car when it was stolen — at a Walmart in Carlsbad — two weeks ago.

CBS2’s Stacey Butler spoke to Cesar Myer Friday, owner of Crown Gold Exchange.

“It just didn’t look right,” said Myer,

A seller waled into the store and said she had a class ring she wanted to sell. The clerk purchased it for $540 cash.

On closer inspection, this was no class ring.

“It said National League championship series, it said world series on the side, it had a name, it had a jersey number on it,” Myer says.

He became suspicious.

“I’m like this might not be something that someone wants to melt down. It was ready to melt.”

He Googled the name Greg Mathews — he pitched for the Cardinals (and later the Phillies). The year matched.

“I found some contact info for him. I sent him a pic and said is this ring yours?,” Myer said.

He says Mathews didn’t reply immediately perhaps wondering if he was being scammed, or worse.

“I think he was a little worried about who it was, he thought it was a ransom at first,” Myer said.

When he called back, he related how the ring left his possession.

“He said it’s funny that you said that, that you mentioned this to me because my car was actually stolen two weeks ago, and they haven’t had any leads,” Myer said.

Myer turned the ring over to police a long with a receipt from the woman who sold it.

She has been identified as 21-year-old Deanna Perez. The receipt had an unmistakable trail for detectives — her home address, her phone number, signature, copy of her valid ID — even her fingerprint.

Carlsbad Police confirmed to Butler they have arrested Perez along with her alleged accomplice, 20-year-old Jose Dominguez.

“The police said that without our information [the case] would have gone cold. And they would have had to give up the case. They had already been looking for the car for two weeks,” Myer said.

Mathews declined an interview but he thanks Myer for taking care of his ring.

“He was very thankful. He said the ring means a lot to him and he thankful we were able to recover it,” says Myer.

Dominguez has been arrested on suspicion of auto theft, burglary, possession of narcotics and stolen property. Perez faces charges of burglary and possession of stolen property.

While lefty hurler Mathews pitched for St. Louis and Philadelphia, he has many Southland ties. He graduated from Savanna High School in Anaheim, California and of California State University, Fullerton.

Mathews, at the age of 25 in 1987, started two games for the Cardinals in the champion series, winning one and getting a no decision in the other. The Cardinals faced the Minnesota Twins in the World Series with the Twins winning four games to three. For more about Greg Mathews and his pro baseball career, click here.


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