One last flash of brilliance from The Commerce Comet1966 Mickey Mantle Game Worn New York Yankees Jersey, MEARS A9.5. "I always loved the game," Mantle once told a reporter, "but when my legs weren't hurting it was a lot easier to love." By the time that the Mick took the field for Opening Day 1966, it was a troubled love affair indeed. Still a brilliant and naturally gifted talent, who would yet again top the Yanks with a .538 slugging average in 1966, Mickey continued to battle the injuries that had plagued him throughout his Hall of Fame career.
With his knees failing him, sapping his lightning speed, this would be the last season he would occupy the center field position he had owned since Joe DiMaggio's departure. It was likewise the last he would factor into AL MVP voting. In many ways, this season was the end of the "Mantle era" that had hypnotized American youth for a decade and a half. It was the final glowing burst of the Commerce Comet.
As such, the offered grey roadster represents one of the most desirable of the few Mantle gamers to reach the hobby's auction block. Perhaps even more important than its historical positioning is the jersey's rare status as 100% original and unaltered. Though the jersey was sourced from a former Oneonta Yankees minor leaguer who was issued the flannel treasure as a hand-me-down, neither the original navy felt "New York" upon the chest nor historic number "7" on verso were removed or replaced as is typical of most period Yankee shirts reassigned to the minors. Even the original embroidered swatch applied within the collar, reading "Mantle - 1966 - 42" remains in place, a tribute to the esteem in which the consignor held this iconic slugger. Not even a button has been replaced. The proper "Wilson [size] 42" label appears in the left lower front tail, notated with a number "66" in sweat-bled black marker, digits that are repeated just above.
Wear is very strong, though we acknowledge that a portion of this use could be attributed to the jersey's second owner. It must be stressed once again, however, that this young ballplayer clearly prized the shirt for his more than four decades of ownership, allowing nothing beyond a few inconspicuous rust spots at the shoulders and chest to interrupt the pristine expanses of grey flannel. These minor stains, and a small patch of loose stitching at the collar, account for the half-point deduction from an otherwise flawless exemplar. Our catalog imagery should properly indicate that the jersey presents exceedingly well, and would serve ably as a focal point in the finest of private collections. LOA from MEARS, A9.5. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
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