Mickey Mantle Last Home-Run Ball (1973 Old-Timers' Day) - Signed by Mantle and Whitey Ford

Sold For: $8,295

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 1107

Item Year: 1973

Category: Post-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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This official American League (Cronin) ball is purported to be the very ball that Mickey Mantle hit for a home run in the New York Yankees Old-Timers' Day game on August 11, 1973. Signed by Mantle and Whitey Ford in blue ink. While no documentation accompanies the ball, its provenance is made explicit by the handwritten blue-ink notation on the side panel that reads "Mickey Mantle's 537th Home Run - Yankee Stadium Aug. 11, 1973 - Oldtimers' Day." The name of a woman, "Joni Cambart," is scripted in blue ink on a side panel. This ball was purchased by our consignor at public auction in 1991. According to the original Lelands catalog listing (which accompanies the ball), this ball was caught by Joni Cambart and afterwards "The ball rested in a sports bar near Yankee Stadium for many years." (We have been unable to verify any of that information, but have no reason to believe this information is not accurate.) It should be noted that at the time of its purchase, the ball was not signed by either Mantle or Ford. Those signatures were later obtained by our consignor, who vividly recalled the occasion. He took this ball to a local signing show that Mantle was attending and as he remembers, Mantle seemed to be in a foul mood that day, barely smiling or talking to the patrons. However, when our consignor handed him this ball to sign, Mantle read the notation and got very excited. Mantle wasn't able to confirm the ball's provenance, but said that he always got a kick out of that home run because he hit it off of his good friend Whitey Ford. Upon hearing that, our consignor then dutifully had Ford sign it as well. Both signatures, Mantle on the sweet spot and Ford on the panel directly above, have been flawlessly scripted and grade "10." Mantle's home run in that Old-Timers' Day game marked his final home run at the original Yankee Stadium and the 537th of his career. Interestingly, a clip of Mantle hitting that very home run off of Whitey Ford can be found on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9fNcMLaW_A). Unfortunately, the video quality is less than perfect, so it is impossible to tell whether a man or a woman caught the ball. Accompanying the ball, and perfect for display with it, is a ticket stub (Ex) from the game that was later obtained by our consignor. This is one of the most interesting Mantle signed balls we have ever handled, not to mention an outstanding conversation piece. LOA from James Spence/JSA (for the signatures only). Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $8,295

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