Yesterday, we posted a photograph showing Joan Crosby, surrounded by Bowman Gum’s baseball cards as she carried out her duties with the company back in 1953. One of Crosby’s duties was to track down as many players as she could and get them to sign contracts so the company could put them on its baseball cards. One of those players was a young Mickey Mantle and in its upcoming February Premier catalog, Heritage Auctions has the original paperwork signed by the 19-year-old Yankees prospect that paved the way for one of the hobby’s most valuable post-War cards.
The three signed contracts are expected to sell for $40,000 or more. Heritage is also offering Mantle’s 1955 Bowman contract in a separate lot.
The earlier of the two rookie year documents, dated April 13, 1951, shows Mantle received $10 for accepting the terms, and $90 more to follow for an annual payment of a $100, the equivalent of a little under $1,000 today.
A second document, dating to four days later–the same day Mantle made his debut– offers more detail on the terms, with text on front and pack of the single sheet. All three printed sides of the two documents bear Mantle’s rookie era signature, the earlier one including his handwritten “Commerce, Okla” notation. Crosby also signed the contract on the same three pages.
The documents offer evidence that Bowman was hoping to lock players into exclusive deals, but Mantle appeared in both the 1952 and ’53 Topps sets, before becoming a Bowman exclusive player in 1954 and ’55. One clause in the contract indicates Mantle’s acceptance that he received a watch from Bowman as part of his agreement to let the company include him in their card set.
The auction is scheduled to open January 31 and close over a two-night period, February 22 and 23.