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1970s Mickey Mantle New York Yankees Home Coach's Jersey or Salesman's Sample
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $705
This fascinating Mickey Mantle jersey is accompanied a rare provenance dating back over thirty years, and is also accompanied by a degree of uncertainty in terms of defining exactly what it is. It may be a New York Yankees home jersey worn by Mickey Mantle in the 1970s during spring training or at an Old Timers' Day (or some other promotional) event. It may be a salesman's sample. Unfortunately, we will never know for certain. The best we can do is relate all of the facts we do know about it and leave each collector to decide on his own how to best categorize it. To start, this jersey originates from the collection of well-known card collector Charlie Conlon and was one of a small number of non card-related items found among his many items. We know with certainty, from the paperwork which accompanies, that Charlie purchased it, along with a Ruth baseball, in 1987 from a gentleman named David Wilson. The price for both items was $1,000. At the time of the sale, Wilson provided Conlon with a receipt/inventory list from the gentleman he purchased it from in 1978, well-known collector of long ago Charles Wendell. It was one of many baseball jerseys and hats being sold by Wendell at the time, and was listed by him as a 1970s coach's shirt used by Mantle in the spring. Wendell's price for the jersey was all of $125 which, interestingly, was less than he was asking for a game-used Larry Bowa ($175) or Steve Yeager jersey ($165). An examination of the jersey by MEARS indicates that it is not a standard Yankees team-issued jersey, as the tagging is different than team-issued exemplars from the era. However, this is not a retail jersey either. It is a vintage New York Yankees jersey, with its original number still intact, displaying the proper style Wilson tag in the collar. It could not have been purchased in any store at the time. The white knit pinstripe jersey features the Yankees "NY" logo on the left breast and the number "7" on the reverse, both of which are appliquéd in faded navy tackle twill. The only tagging on the garment is a "Wilson 44" label located in the collar. A Yankees team-issued jersey from this era would also include a swatch tag in the collar listing the player, year, and set number. There is no evidence of such a tag having been removed. As MEARS notes in its letter, that anomaly might possibly be explained if the jersey were issued in spring training or for an Old Timers' Day event. It's also possible that Mantle used this jersey for a non-Yankees event. There were many occasions during this time period when Mantle would be in need of a Yankees jersey, including at his fantasy camp or possibly at some of his many public appearances. This jersey is certainly consistent with any of those uses as well. Lastly, we can not rule out the fact that the jersey may have simply been used as a salesman's sample. Mantle's star power never waned following his retirement and this jersey would have been ideal for use by Wilson's sales force to promote its uniform line. Based upon all of the information provided and the present anomalies, MEARS has simply designated this jersey as Authentic, with no grade being assigned to it. We think it is likely Mantle wore this jersey in spring training, and believe this to be the case in part because of the known history of the jersey, and the fact that there was very little economic incentive for anyone to misrepresent this jersey in the 1970s. Perhaps this jersey will someday be photomatched. As we stated at the beginning, we may never know the complete history with certainty, but it is without question a unique and fascinating 1970s Mantle jersey, one that has a documented history dating back to the late 1970s, and one that has merit, yet provides a relatively affordable alternative to Mantle jerseys dating from his playing days. LOA from Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $705
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