He was the right guy, in the right place at the right time.
Sonora, California collector Mark "Sparky" Davis was sitting at his computer late on the evening of September 16, redeeming several Topps Million Card Giveaway code cards when the screen flashed back three words that made his heart skip a few beats: "Mickey Mantle 1952".
Davis, a collector of both vintage and current cards, had earned the pull of the year...one that tied the hobby's past to its present.
His purchase of 2010 baseball cards had made him the lucky winner of one of the hobby's holy grail cards, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle.
"I couldn't believe it at first," Davis told Sports Collectors Daily. "Obviously I was overwhelmed by my good fortune but had no one to tell at that time of night. After several minutes of staring at the Mantle on my screen I called my girlfriend and explained to her what had happened."
One in every six packs of 2010 Topps contains a contest card. Each one is a winner, with cards from 1952 to the very recent past included in the giveaway. Collectors can keep the cards in their online portfolio until next February or pay a shipping fee and have them mailed immediately.
The Mantle card was one of three Topps claims to have purchased to give away to collectors during its Million Card Giveaway. Davis' card is the first known copy to have been pulled. Its condition isn't known, but even lower to medium grades, the card sells for several thousand dollars. A PSA 8.5 copy sold for $154,700 in August.
"I went back to the card shop and told Bill, the owner, about the miracle pull of the Mantle. Of course he was blown away by the news and we both agreed to keep it to ourselves until I could confirm the redemption with Topps."
After a call to the Topps customer service department, Davis learned his redemption was legitimate. He's stayed in contact with company representatives and is waiting to hear more about his card.
The pull may have been lucky, but you can't argue that Davis didn't earn his shot at the Mantle card. He's been a very loyal customer of Topps over the years and especially during this year's promotion.
"I've purchased two jumbo boxes and eight hobby boxes at B.J.'s," he said. "I've also purchased retail rack packs, blaster boxes, and individual packs at our local Walmart."
Having the opportunity to land one of the hobby's premier cards is a thrill, but for the restaurant manager, choosing whether to keep the card or sell it will be like picking between two world class menu items.
"I have not decided whether I will sell the card or not," Davis explained. "I'm a long time collector, and understand the importance of the 1952 Topps Baseball card set. I am going to take this miracle one day at a time, and try to enjoy it to the fullest."