The jersey worn by New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle when he drilled the next-to-last home run of his extraordinary career could bring $1,000,000 or more in Heritage Auctions
' Summer Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction Aug. 29-30.
Mantle's bomb into the upper deck of Detroit's Tiger Stadium was remarkable for more than the fact that it was the next-to-last round-tripper 52 years after his career ended, his 536 homers still rank 18th in the history of the game of his Hall of Fame career.
Wearing the offered 1968 Mickey Mantle Game Worn & Signed New York Yankees Jersey Attributed to 535th Home Run, MEARS A10 (estimate: $1,000,000+), Mantle hit his shot off of Detroit ace Denny McLain, the 24-year-old fireballer who was putting the finishing touches on one of the finest seasons in baseball history. McLain already had won his 30th game of the season no pitcher has reached that plateau in the 52 years since and was cruising along with a five-run lead Sept. 19, 1968, in the final game of the three-game series, a meaningless game that surely was Mantle's last in the Motor City.
As the Yankee legend strode to the plate, Mantle thought he overheard McLain talking to catcher Jim Price about serving up an easy pitch for Mantle to hit out of the ballpark. So unsure was Mantle that he didn't swing at the first pitch, and fouled off the second. Certain that he was being served a pitch he could hit, Mantle waited through two more offerings before blasting McLain's pitch that came to be referred to as "the Gift" into the upper deck, breaking his tie with Jimmie Foxx on the all-time home runs list.
"This jersey is doubly important," Heritage Auctions Vice President Dan Imler said. "Mickey Mantle was one of the greatest players of all time, the face of the Yankees of that era, and his career was winding down.
"But he also hit that home run off of one of the greatest pitchers of the era, and McLain's gesture of sportsmanship reflected his understanding of Mantle's place in baseball history. It was an extraordinary act of sportsmanship, an homage to one of the greatest to ever play the game."
The historic road grey flannel jersey was identified by Mantle, who gave it to his friend, Tom Catal, the former president of the Mickey Mantle Museum in Cooperstown, New York, who has provided some of the most significant Mantle memorabilia ever to reach the collecting hobby. Catal's handwritten letter of provenance chronicles his friendship with Mantle, who inscribed the jersey to his friend: "To Tom, A Great Friend Always, 'The Mick.'"
This extraordinary jersey is one of 20 lots of Mantle memorabilia in the auction. Other highlights from the Yankee legend include, but are not limited to:
A 1958 Mickey Mantle World Series Game Used & Signed Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10 (estimate: $300,000+)
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Signed #311 PSA VG-EX 4, Auto 9 (estimate: $100,000+)
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA EX-MT 6 (estimate: $80,000+)
A 1966 Mickey Mantle Game Worn New York Yankees Jersey, MEARS Authentic (estimate: $80,000+)