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Lot # 1378 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1960s Signed New York Yankees Cap Attributed to Mickey Mantle

Starting Bid - $2,500.00 , Sold For - $7,050.00

Offered here is a Mickey Mantle New York Yankees cap that is accompanied by both a very rare, strong line of provenance and a classic Mantle story. This cap originates from the personal collection of Paul Hill, a legendary hobby pioneer in the field of game-used garments, who received it directly from Yankees mound ace Allie Reynolds, a teammate of Mantle's for many years. The navy blue cap, which dates to the late 1960s, features the club's distinctive "NY" logo embroidered in white on the front. A "Tim McAuliffe" label is situated along the rear of the headband. The headband is torn and tattered, but the size ("7 3/8") and approximately half of the "KM Pro" logo located upon it are still visible. Mantle's number "7" appears in faded black marker on the underside of the brim. Mantle has also signed the cap in blue ink on the underside of the brim, but the signature is incomplete due to the tearing of the fabric; and therein lies the story. The cap is accompanied by a letter from a former owner, Bob Kirk (who was also one of the pioneers of cap and uniform collecting and a contemporary of Paul Hill), which details its history and also explains the damage to the brim. According to his written testimony, which accompanies, he acquired this cap from Paul Hill in the late 1970s through a trade. A few years later he decided to bring the cap to a local card show at which Mantle was appearing to have him sign it. Mantle was very happy to oblige, but he was unaware that the cardboard housed within the brim was brittle with age. Unfortunately, Mantle's pen was running out of ink, which forced him to apply greater pressure when signing it, resulting in his completely breaking the cardboard. The broken cardboard in turn ripped the fabric, thereby accounting for its less than ideal condition today. Although both portions of Mantle's signature are affected, his last name is in lesser condition due to a larger loss of fabric. Despite the damage, Mantle's signature is still recognizable and a sufficient portion remained for it to be authenticated by James Spence Authentication. Paul Hill was one of the best-known collectors of game-used equipment prior to the hobby becoming "big business" in the early 1980s. The most important aspect of his collection was the fact that everything he acquired originated directly from players or their families. Bob Kirk was also one of the great early memorabilia collectors. As historians of memorabilia collecting will unanimously verify, so many of the authentic early jerseys and caps in the hobby originate from the collections of these two hobby pioneers. As mentioned previously, Hill acquired this cap from Allie Reynolds, who was a teammate of Mantle's from 1951 through 1954. This cap dates from later in Mantle's career (late 1960s) as it was actually a gift at that time to Reynolds for his son. The line of provenance of this cap is impeccable.

Mantle uniforms command six figures, and while game-used bats are far more reasonably valued (though still usually tens of thousands of dollars), there are many more surviving Mantle bats than Mantle caps. A cap, not unlike a jersey, is a personal memento that retains something of the aura of a player. Fans can relate to baseball players in a manner that is more immediate than football players, precisely because they look a lot like "regular people" and their faces are not hidden under the armor of a helmet: you can recognize them. And when a fan pictures a baseball icon, such as Mickey Mantle, on the field, the player's face is almost always framed by his cap. A cap, of course, is not a jersey, and it's not as expensive as a jersey, but in many ways it is just as personal, and just as significant as an on-the-field symbol representing the player. For Mantle, we believe a cap is also an even rarer game-worn item than a jersey.

Authentic Mickey Mantle caps from his playing days are extremely rare. The only other example that Robert Edward Auctions has ever offered originated directly from the Yankees longtime equipment manager Pete Sheehy and sold for $52,875 in REA's April 2007 auction (lot #1277), setting an auction record for any postwar cap. This cap does have the condition problems noted, and because of this will no doubt sell for a far more modest sum. Yet, it is still a real Mantle cap that displays beautifully and would be a worthy addition to any museum or Hall of Fame caliber collection. This is an exceptional Mantle cap with respect to provenance, and while we assume that the brim can be professionally restored/repaired, the fact that its less-than-stellar condition can be directly attributed to Mantle's handling of it, in our opinion, at least to some degree also adds to its appeal. If the cap has to have any damage at all, at least this damage was done by Mantle himself, which gives this cap a unique distinction and story. LOAs from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS and James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $7,050.00


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