Two recent sales demonstrate how baseball icon Mickey Mantle (1931- 1995) has remained an all-star. Mantle played for the New York Yankees his entire career and is considered one of the greatest players, especially the greatest switch hitter, in baseball history.
Mantle retired in 1968 after 16 seasons with the Yankees, and recently the last jersey he wore came up at auction- for the third time. The first time it crossed the auction block was in 2017 when it sold for $486K, then again in 2020, when it sold for $850K. Last week’s hammer price set a record for one of his jerseys.
Worn by Mantle during his last games, the jersey is part of the legendary story of Mantle’s 535th home run. While playing the Detroit Tigers, Denny McLain, the Tigers’ pitcher, threw a ‘practice fastball’ to Mantle, enabling him to hit a homerun and supersede Jimmie Fox on the homerun list. If you are wondering why McLain was so generous, the Tigers had already secured the American League pennant. So it was no big deal for him to throw Mantle a ‘gift.’ In total, Mantle hit 536 career home runs, making him 18th on the list for most home runs in a career.
After Mantle retired, he gifted the jersey to Tom Catal, the president of the Mickey Mantle Museum, inscribing it, “To Tom, A Great Friend Always, The Mick.” With the impeccable provenance and estimated to bring more than $1M, the jersey certainly exceeded expectations when it hammered down for $1.825M ($2.19M w/p) – a new record for a Mantle jersey. Previously, the record was $1.32M set in 2018.
This week on OpenSeas, a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card that Topps created as an NFT was auctioned. It is a first edition of the ‘Topps Timeless Series.’ The card is officially licensed by MLB and was sold in cooperation with the Mantle estate. It is worth noting that the physical card is one of the most sought-after collectibles can range in price from $30k to $250k depending on the condition, although in early 2021 an example that was graded Mint 9 sold for a record breaking $5.2M. The NFT sold for $471K (175 ETH) and the lucky buyer will also have the opportunity to meet and interview Mantle’s sons Danny and David.