Mickey Mantle using an illegal bat? Say it ain’t so.
But it is…or was…and now that 35” Adirondack stick confiscated by an umpire is on the block at the All-Star FanFest Auction.
Hunt Auctions is offering the bat, removed from play by home plate umpire Ed Hurley in 1958.
The episode is rarely discussed today and got virtually no media attention when it happened 59 seasons ago.
Hurley, who died 11 years later, was a stickler for rules. He must have recognized the significance of the bat. He not only kept it, but wrote a letter of provenance in which he detailed the story.
“…It was during the 1958 season that I confiscated this Mickey Mantle white letter Adirondack bat…While at bat I noticed the Mick’s bat revealed pock marking, forming a grid of perforations on the barrel in an area thick enough to cover both sides of sweetspot for a switch-hitter. Apparently Mantle believed the waffle-iron effect would provide more traction and harder contact. I had no choice but to remove it from the game because this practice is against the rules of baseball.”
The bat has gotten some media attention in New York, reviving one of the more unusual moments in that era of Yankee history.
“Could Mantle have fought it? I’m sure. It probably wasn’t worth it for him,” David Hunt of Hunt Auctions told the New York Post.
In his letter, Hurley acknowledged the illegal bat had probably seen game action before he confiscated it.
“Evidently Mantle was able to sneak the bat into previous games, as there is clear evidence of game use. I obtained the bat at that time and it has been in my possession ever since.”
The bat did sell at auction once before. It garnered $17,400 in 2006 at Robert Edward Auctions but Mantle items and high-end memorabilia in general has soared since then. The current high bid is over $16,000 but the bat could reach $50,000 or more when the auction closes Monday afternoon in front of a live audience at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The bat, which weighs 32 ounces, is one of three different Mantle stampings used by Adirondack during the era and the rarest of those three. It’s been graded GU 10 by PSA/DNA and A10 by MEARS.
The incident didn’t hurt Mantle’s offensive production that season. He led the American League in home runs with 42, batted .304 and led the Yankees to a World Series victory over the Milwaukee Braves.
Update: The bat sold for $47,000 Monday afternoon.