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1968 Mickey Mantle New York Yankees Game-Used Cap
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $7,638
Outstanding Mickey Mantle New York Yankees cap with impeccable provenance. We have known of this cap for the past twenty years. Rarely is any cap, let alone one of Mickey Mantle's, accompanied by such ideal provenance. This cap originates directly from the personal collection of Joe Reichler, who worked in the office of the commissioner of baseball as director of publicity, was an assistant to Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, and prior to that senior baseball writer for the Associated Press for forty years. He was elected a member of the sportswriters section of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 and today is perhaps best known for his role as the editor of The Baseball Encyclopedia. Reichler was personally given this cap by Mickey Mantle, and he then gave it as a gift to the son of a close family friend. Ideally, Reichler provided the youngster (our consignor) with a detailed letter (which has a few creases simply because it has been stored in the cap all these years) explaining where and when he acquired the cap. The letter, dated 9/20/86 and typed on official "Baseball - Office of the Commissioner" letterhead, reads in full:
For Michael, You are now the proud owner of a New York Yankees baseball cap that was given to me by Mickey Mantle in the spring of 1968. He gave it to me the morning the Yankees broke training camp to come north for the regular season. I recently found it in Paul's room and thought you might enjoy having it. - Joe Reichler [signed]. (Paul is Reichler's son.)
In addition to, and independent of, being accompanied by the provenance and letter, the cap has been extensively researched by MEARS. The cap's physical characteristics are consistent with that of a Mickey Mantle game-used cap. The navy pro-model cap features a white "NY" logo embroidered on the front and a "New Era" label on the interior leather headband. No size tag is present. The name "Mickey Mantle" is written in vintage black ink on the front of the headband. Although not known for certain, it is probable that Mantle's name was written by Reichler (or his son) shortly after he received it. The number "7" is written on the underside of the brim in vintage blue ink, which has then been gone over in black marker (traces of the original ink "7" are clearly visible). As MEARS notes in its accompanying LOA, New Era was an established supplier of New York Yankee caps during the mid to late 1960s and the style of manufacturer's label seen here is consistent with that time period. Furthermore, MEARS estimates the size of this cap to be between 7 1/4 and 73/8, which, as expected, is the very same range as that of the few other known-to-be-authentic Mantle caps it has examined. The cap displays moderate to heavy wear including a crack in the brim, light soiling and minor tears to the headband, and soiling to the underside of the brim. Reichler didn't know it at the time, but 1968 marked Mantle's final season in pinstripes. His advancing age and years of injury had finally taken their toll on the famed slugger and he officially retired the following spring. One of the most popular players in history, Mantle is a member of baseball's elite "500 Home Run Club" and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974 in his first year of eligibility. It is always difficult to conclusively attribute a game-used cap to a particular player given the fact that, unlike jerseys, caps were usually never issued with the player's name stitched inside (the exception being caps from a much earlier era). Normally the best a collector can hope for with regard to identification is a vintage number written on the underside of the brim. For that reason, a cap such as this, which is accompanied by such strong provenance from a respected source (along with all of the other positive attributes), truly distinguishes it from those lesser examples that proliferate in the hobby. This is one of the finest Mantle caps we have ever offered and the fact that it dates from his final season only adds to its great significance. LOA from Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $7,638
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