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1989 "500 Home Run Club" Photo - Signed By Mantle with Good-Humored Insult to Fellow 500 HR Club Members
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $600
Presented is definitely the most unusual 500 Home Run Club Mickey Mantle signed item we have ever seen, and one that is accompanied by an amusing story! This famous 1989 large-format photograph (20 x 16 inches) of the eleven then-living members of baseball's elite 500 Home Run Club is signed by Mickey Mantle and inscribed with a funny "off-color" remark in the upper left corner: "I was the Greatest! The rest of these guys suck. Mick." Both the text and signature grade "10." Please note that the other apparent Mantle "full-name signature" which appears below is not actually a Mantle signature, but is closely related to the story of the photo and is part of a notation written by Bill Hongach. Hongach was one of the promoters of the first-ever 500 Home Run Club signing show, held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1989. The concept of creating these signed photos for sale and arranging for their signing was one of his many contributions to the project. Five-hundred 20 x 16-inch prints were made of this image, which were later signed by all eleven members and eventually sold.
When the photos were signed, Bill Hongach naturally had to provide direction to the signers so that the photos would be signed properly. Mantle was one of the first signers, and Hongach used an extra (slightly damaged) photo that the printing company affixed to the top of the bound-and-sealed package of 500 prints ordered (so that the contents of the package were easily identified) to provide a guide for Mantle. In blue Sharpie, Hongach wrote at the base of Mantle's feet the notations "Sign Here - Mickey Mantle." Sometime while Mantle was signing the 500 photographs as instructed, he also took the time to sign the extra photo with instructions as seen here, as a joke to make his good friend Bill Hongach laugh. It worked! And it has been saved as a special treasured keepsake ever since.
This piece has been consigned directly by Hongach, who has kept it since the day of Mantle's signing in 1989. Included with the photo is a copy of Hongach's book, The Dark Sides of Baseball (self-published in 2013), which details his life and career in the hobby, and provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes history of the first 500 Home Run Club show in 1989. The photo displays large chips in three of the four corners (upper right and left; lower right), a small abrasion along the base, and remnants of both tape and adhesive residue along the borders (resulting from its having been affixed to the top of the bound and sealed package of 500 photos). Technically in Good condition, but nearly all of the flaws are relegated to the corners and edges (most can be matted out), and the central image area presents as Excellent. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $200. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $600
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