Mickey Mantle’s first roommate in professional baseball was a fellow teenager who enjoyed his claim to fame for decades. Bob Mallon, a pitcher on the Class D Independence (MO) Yankees, was already out of baseball when Mantle made his big league debut for the New York Yankees two years after the duo bunked together. Now, a couple of unique relics from that pairing of 70 years ago are about to hit the auction block.
Mallon’s family has consigned them to Mile High Card Company’s next auction, set to open September 23.
One item is a baseball carrying a printed signature from Mantle on an official 1949 Kansas-Oklahoma-Missour (KOM) League ball. According to Mallon, the ball was signed shortly after they were assigned as roommates. During a conversation about how they would enjoy the fame and fortune of one day wearing the pinstripes for the Bronx Bombers, Mantle grabbed a league ball, wrote his name on it and tossed it to Mallon, saying, “This is how I’m gonna sign it, Bob, how about you?” to which Mallon responded with a more traditional autograph, thus making it the first known ball Mickey Mantle signed as a professional.
That wasn’t the only signed Mantle ball Mallon hung onto, though. Also in the auction is the first known single-signed and dated Mantle ball, is a game-used orb from Mallon’s first career victory. Admiring his first prize as a pro, Mallon recalls that Mantle said to his roomie, “Toss me the ball, Bob, I’m gonna sign it for you.” When Mallon asked, “Why would I want you to sign my game ball?” Mantle responded, “Because one day I’m going to be a famous player and you’ll be happy that I signed it.”
Mallon obliged, tossing the ball to his younger friend, who printed “My First Pro Win July 19, 1949, 6-3 on 7 hits” across the panel, and signed it “Mickey Mantle.”
Both balls feature signatures that bear little resemblance to the scores of autographs Mantle signed in later years but carry double authentication, verified by PSA/DNA and JSA.
Other items consigned by the Mallon family include a 1949 Independence Yankees team-signed ball, which Mantle signed “Mick Mantle,” as he often did at the time. There’s an 8 x 10 original type I 1949 Independence Yankees team photo and a rare 1949 Independence Yankees KOM League souvenir booklet that was autographed by Mantle in his more familiar signature style, likely decades after the two teens first shared a room. It, too, has been double-authenticated.
The auction is set to run through October 10 on Mile High’s website.