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    Description

    Early 1970's Thurman Munson Rookie-Era Game Worn Catcher's Mitt--Photo Matched!

    UPDATE: This mitt was gifted to Ed Napoleon, who managed Yankees farm clubs in the mid-1970's and was a good friend of Munson, who gave the mitt to Napoleon personally. He is the reason for the "NAP" notation on the mitt, which will be accompanied by a letter of provenance from Napoleon's son, our consignor.

    The August 2, 1979 news hit the Yankee faithful like the proverbial ton of bricks. Much like the Kennedy assassination, any Yankee fan who was active in their rooting that year remembers exactly where he or she was when they heard the news that Munson's plane had gone down and that their beloved team captain had not escaped the flames. The beating heart that had delivered his ball club from its longest Championship cold streak since Babe Ruth to its first was suddenly stopped. Despite an absence from Cooperstown, Munson remains one of the most significant Yankees in pinstriped history, and likewise remains the most sought after and valuable figure in the collectibles market of players active within the past half century.

    Every Yankees fan remembers the late 1970's brilliance of their fallen captain--the 1976 MVP Award, and Fall Classic glory the following two seasons, but fewer recall his dazzling debut. He'd drive in two runs and catch Al Downing's complete game shut-out in his August 8, 1969 debut before earning the starting job for 1970, when he'd top .800 in OPS and nail over half of aspiring enemy base thieves. The 1970 American League Rookie of the Year balloting was a landslide in Munson's favor, with only one of the twenty-four electors casting his first-place vote elsewhere.

    The 1969 production date of this Rawlings RL mitt (according to the PSA/DNA letter of authenticity) virtually assures that this is the tool that Munson utilized during that ROY campaign (and quite possibly in his MLB debut the previous season), though the Getty Image (#1204045787) photograph that pictures the young superstar wearing the glove is unfortunately lacking a specific date. We can report that the wear suggests at least a full season of action, with the impact of thousands of pitches ultimately ripping the leather of the palm and snapping some leather lacing in the pocket. More lacing has snapped at the wrist. Interior wrist is darkened by sweat.

    The distinctive "15 Munson" handwritten text on pinky is the feature that allows for the definitive photo match, while the significance of the letters "NAP" or "NAY" at the edge of the pinky remains a mystery.

    However, we can be certain of this much--the offered catcher's mitt stands as one of the most desirable Munson items ever to challenge a bidding audience. Fielder's gloves have always been the toughest of game used gear to acquire due to the common practice of using only one for months or years, and certainly a catcher's mitt is particularly unique and desirable among all fielding models. This ultra-early, photo matched model from one of the Bronx' most beloved and tragic figures is a particularly significant example thereof. LOA from PSA/DNA. Photo match to Getty Image #1204045787. Letter of provenance from son of Yankees farm club manager Ed Napoleon. LOA from Heritage Auctions.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2020
    10th-13th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 32
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 728

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