A former Yankee farmhand has consigned the jersey he was assigned during the late 1960s--one that still carried a familiar number on the back.
A Mickey Mantle tagged road flannel jersey dating from the 1966 season has been consigned to Heritage Auctions' next catalog sale.
As was the typical custom for decades, the jersey was handed down to a Yankees' minor league team after being created for use in New York by Wilson Sporting Goods. However, it was apparently never altered by the Oneonta Yankees as was often the case with shirts given to farm clubs.
While the Yankees had begun their post-glory year decline in '66, any Mantle jersey commands big bucks at auction, thanks to nearly insatiable demand from collectors, Mantle fanatics and even investors. The 43 year-old jersey dates from the latter stages of Mantle's career, which ended early in the team's 1969 spring training camp.
“Perhaps even more important than its historical positioning is the jersey's rare status as 100% original and unaltered,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Collectibles at Heritage. The former Oneonta Yankees minor leaguer who was issued the flannel treasure is the consignor, having saved the jersey as a baseball treasure.
Described by Heritage as being in "amazing" condition, the original navy felt ‘New York’ on the chest and Mantle's famous number 7 are intact. It contains a few small rust spots at the shoulders and chest. The original embroidered swatch applied within the collar, reading "Mantle - 1966 - 42" remains in place as do all of the jersey's original buttons. A "Wilson [size] 42" label appears in the left lower front tail, notated with a "66" in black marker to indicate the year of issue.
It's not certain how much of the wear is attributed to Mantle and how much to the unnamed Oneonta player. "Wear is very strong, though we admit that a portion of this use could be attributed to the jersey's second owner," Heritage states in its online auction listing. The jersey's letter of authentication was provided by Lou Lampson.
“This is clearly a cornerstone piece of memorabilia for any serious collection,” said Ivy. “For a sports fan, and a Yankees devotee in particular, this is akin to winning the lottery,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Collectibles at Heritage, “only much better.”
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