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Baseball Signed by Mickey Mantle and All Six of His Pallbearers - Stan Bahnsen Provenance
Starting Bid - $500.00 , Sold For - $2,937.50
In terms of both rarity and provenance, and among items that exist largely and by chance exist and tell a unique story, few Mickey Mantle signed items can compare with this offered gem: an official American League (Brown) ball signed in blue ink by Mantle and also signed by all six former teammates who later served as the pallbearers at his funeral (Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Bobby Murcer, Hank Bauer, Moose Skowron, and Johnny Blanchard). Mantle's signature graces the sweet spot (grading "10") while those of Ford ("6/7") and Berra ("9") appear individually on the south and west panels, respectively. The signatures of Bauer ("6/7") and Skowron ("9/10") sit together on the east panel, while the north panel displays the signatures of Blanchard ("9") and Murcer ("9"). This ball has been consigned directly by Stan Bahnsen, a former New Yankees pitcher and teammate of Mantle; the circumstances of how he acquired it are detailed in his accompanying LOA. Interestingly, this ball was first signed by Mantle on his last day in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium in 1994, and it was only by chance that it was then signed by five of his six pallbearers. After Mantle's passing, Stan Bahnsen could not help noticing this, and later asked Bobby Murcer to add his signature. Bahnsen writes in part:
In 1994 after my playing days were long over I was invited to Yankee Stadium for their annual Old Timers Day Festivities. I brought a few baseballs with me to have signed by various players for my own personal collection. At that time we had no idea that this would be Mickey Mantle's last on-field appearance with his teammates. I had Mickey sign a few baseballs for me. In the Yankee locker room I was sitting by Moose Skowron, Hank Bauer and Johnny Blanchard. As we talked, Whitey Ford came over to talk to us. At that time I thought this would be a good time to get their autographs on a couple of baseballs that Mickey had signed, and they all gladly signed them. I mentioned to Hank Bauer that I wished Yogi Berra had been there so I could get him on the balls, too. At that time Yogi Berra and Mr. Steinbrenner were not speaking but Hank said to bring the 2 balls to the Mantle/Ford Fantasy Camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida that fall because Yogi would be there. So I took the balls with me to the Fantasy Camp. I was helping Mickey and Whitey out at the camp because my arm was still fairly sound and I could throw to the Fantasy Camp participants. Yogi was there and he signed both baseballs for me. I put the baseballs away in a case that I have with other baseballs in my collection from different players. The next year (1995) sadly Mickey became quite ill and died. I was at the Old-Timers game that year, too, and they had a very moving tribute to him on the scoreboard. It was quite emotional to us all because of the great down-to-earth guy Mickey Mantle was, especially to his teammates. A few years later I was looking through my collection and ran across the two baseballs and at that time I realized that the balls that I had signed in 1994 were probably in a group of the last balls that Mickey ever signed in Yankee Stadium which also was his last appearance at Yankee Stadium. At that time I also realized, ironically, that they included all of his pall bearers except Bobby Murcer. Bobby and I came up through the minor leagues together so the next time I saw Bobby I had him sign them. It seemed strange to me that by sheer coincidence, I had two very unique items from Yankee history. I donated one ball to a charity a few years ago and it raised a great deal of money for the charity. I am willing to offer this ball with the thought that it will give some Yankee fan a great deal of pleasure because of the unusual story surrounding the ball as to how it came to be, and its unique place in the time-line of the history of the New York Yankees. As Bahnsen states in his letter, this is one of only two such balls in his collection that featured these seven specific signatures and we are unaware of any additional examples circulating within the hobby. Today, another example of such a ball would be especially unlikely given the fact that Bauer passed away in 2007. Presently, the only way one could even attempt to replicate this ball is by starting with one signed by just Mantle and Bauer (of which, we would imagine, there are very few). The story accompanying this ball and the fact that all of the signatures were obtained personally by Bahnsen only adds to its intrigue. This is a truly fascinating and virtually unique Yankees signed baseball commemorating the passing of one of the club's most beloved players. The ball displays a few very small areas of light age toning and is otherwise in Near Mint condition. Together with a typed-signed LOA from Stan Bahnsen which is ideal for display with the ball. Additional LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate (Open) . SOLD FOR $2,937.50
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