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Lot # 1444 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1967 Mickey Mantle New York Yankees Home Uniform (Jersey and Pants): School Charity Auction Gift From George Steinbrenner!

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $8,887.50

1967 Mickey Mantle New York Yankees home uniform (jersey and pants) manufactured by Rawlings as a salesman's sample. When we were first contacted about this jersey we were, naturally, excited at the prospect of offering a game-used Mickey Mantle home jersey. We were even more jubilant when we learned of its unique provenance: This uniform was purchased by our consignor in either 1975 or 1976 at a charity auction conducted by Lake Ridge Academy (located in North Ridgeville, Ohio), which was not only the school that his children attended, but the school also attended by the children of his neighbor and friend, George Steinbrenner. As our consignor notes in his accompanying letter of provenance, he believes the uniform was obtained from the Yankees with the assistance of Del Bethel, who was the school's athletic director at the time. Bethel was a promising pitching prospect in 1951 with the Giants (Steinbrenner once remarked that Bethel "had the best fast ball I had ever seen") but his Major League career ended before it began as a result of injuries he sustained in combat during the Korean War. (While not stated in our consignor's letter, because he was not privy to all the details at the time and also does not remember all of the details after nearly forty years, it is a virtual certainty that this uniform was provided to the school through the personal generosity of George Steinbrenner, who in addition to being a school parent was also the owner of the Yankees at the time, and our communications with the school also strongly suggest that this was the case.) Our consignor concludes his letter by attesting that the uniform "has been in my possession for the entire time."

When we received the jersey we were struck by a few anomalies, including the fact that Mantle's name was not sewn in the jersey, either in the collar or the tail. It also did not seem to match the manufacturer's markings on other known 1967 New York Yankees jerseys we had seen. After submitting the jersey to MEARS for evaluation we finally had an answer to our questions. The jersey was not a regular season team-issued jersey, but instead a salesman's sample manufactured by Rawlings. When sporting-goods companies, such as Rawlings, attempted to contract for the production of a team's uniforms, they would normally produce a garment to be used as a representative sample of the quality of their work. Naturally, the sample made was often for the team's top player, who, for the Yankees at the time, was Mickey Mantle. As MEARS notes in its accompanying letter, Rawlings was replaced as the maker of Yankees uniforms in the early 1960s. This sample was obviously produced to help regain the contract. As such, it would have naturally been left with the Yankees at the time.

While we have no direct knowledge of what happened to this jersey after it was given to the Yankees by a Rawlings salesman, we do have a theory which, we believe, may be supported by photographic evidence. After the uniform was left with the Yankees in 1967 (Rawlings did not secure the rights to produce the club's uniforms), it most likely ended up with longtime clubhouse man Pete Sheehy, who simply put it in his inventory. Mantle played two more seasons before retiring just prior to spring training in 1969. On June 8, 1969, the Yankees once again honored their retired star by holding the second Mickey Mantle Day in four years. This time, the event was to specifically retire Mantle's number "7." Prior to the ceremonies, the New York Daily News published a staged clubhouse photo of Pete Sheehy placing Mantle's jersey into a storage trunk one last time as Mantle solemnly looks on behind him. What is remarkable about this photo is that, based upon the placement of the number "7" on the reverse, in relation to the pinstripes, it appears to be an exact photo match to the jersey offered here! (A print of that photo, purchased directly from the Daily News, accompanies the uniform.) Since Mantle retired on March 1, 1969, right before spring training, Sheehy probably didn't have any real Mantle jerseys lying around for the photo (the Yankees, like most clubs, routinely sent their previous year's uniforms to a minor-league affiliate for use during the current year). The only jersey he could find for the staged photo featuring Sheehy packing away Mantle's jersey with Mantle looking on was probably this salesman's sample. After the photo, it probably went right back on a shelf until about six years later, when Steinbrenner asked Sheehy for something special to donate for his children's school charity auction. While this does involve some speculation, we cannot dismiss how perfectly the offered jersey matches the jersey pictured in the Daily News photo, and this explanation for how and why this is the case is extremely plausible.

Regardless of the validity of our conjectures, this uniform is a substantial garment, made to exact Major League specifications by Rawlings. As expressly noted by Dave Grob of MEARS in his concluding statement, "The uniform does however have a value that far exceeds that which would be associated with a faked or contrived Mantle [jersey] from this period." Both the jersey and pants remain in immaculate condition, displaying no use. The white pinstripe flannel jersey features the Yankees "NY" logo on the left breast and the number "7" on the reverse, both of which are appliquéd in navy felt. A "Rawlings" label appears on the left tail, below which are a wash tag and a flag tag reading "Set 1 1967." Located in the waistband of the matching pants are a "Rawlings" label, an adjacent wash tag, and a white strip tag, chain-stitched in black, that displays the player's name, uniform number, year, set number, size, and inseam measurement ("Mantle 7 67 Set 1 34 25"). The appeal of this jersey, of course, is the fact that because it is a salesman's sample it is actually within the budget of many collectors (as opposed to a game-worn Mantle jersey, which often sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars). Also, if our beliefs are correct, and this is the jersey held by Sheehy in the accompanying photo, it at least has an association to Mantle that is not normally found with salesman's samples for other players. Finally, its aesthetic appeal is nothing short of spectacular, and it is sure to capture the attention of anyone who sees it. LOA from Troy Kinunen and Dave Grob/MEARS. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $8,887.50

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