1961 Mickey Mantle Home Run #44 Baseball of Historic "M&M ...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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As we all know, Maris would take controversial ownership of that throne on the final day of the 1961 season, forced to take the final steps of that harrowing march alone after an abscess on Mantle's hip drove him from the race--he would finish the season with a career-high fifty-four. Yet, with 155 long balls struck between them during that thrilling World Championship season, only a single one of them has ever made its way to the hobby's auction block.
That baseball is presented here, a two-run shot to deep center off the bat of the legendary Mickey Mantle in the seventh to regain his two-home run lead over Roger Maris, who had authored a solo blast of his own in the top of the fifth inning at Washington D.C.'s Griffith Stadium on August 11, 1961.
The theatrics thrilled a young Yankees fan named Garland Rigdon, who was visiting our nation's capital when his team began a three-game series with the Senators and bought a ticket in the center field bleachers. A notarized letter of provenance from Rigdon's widow tells the tale:
"During the 1961 season, Garland had the opportunity to visit Griffith Stadium in Washington DC to see his team play the Washington Senators. On August 11, 1961 Garland attended the game and had the good fortune of catching Mickey Mantle's 44th home run of that season. After the game, Garland waited for Mickey Mantle to leave the clubhouse, with the hopes to have him autograph the home run baseball. Mickey came out, Garland approached him and told Mickey about the ball. Mickey signed the ball with the following inscription 'To Garland, My Best Wishes. Mickey Mantle No. 44. 1961.' Garland kept the baseball at the residence until his death in 1990. Since his death, I have kept the baseball in my hope chest. At this time, I am ready to share this baseball and the history behind it."
The ball remains exactly as described, the inscription a bit faded by age but still readily legible. The OAL (Cronin) ball exhibits clear game use with a couple bruises that we suspect relate to its painful meeting with Mantle's Louisville Slugger, and soon after the wood and concrete of the center field stands.
This baseball, the 364th home run of Mantle's career, is the most significant Mantle home run sphere we have presented since his 1956 "façade" ball commanded nearly $100,000 over five years ago, a price we expect it would dwarf if it were to surface again. It's a special opportunity-perhaps the last one to own a long ball from this unforgettable chapter of Yankees history. Letter of provenance from widow of fan who caught baseball. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
Guide Value or Estimate: $10,000 - up.
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