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    Description

    Worn to launch career home run number 500?

    1967-68 Mickey Mantle Game Worn New York Yankees Batting Helmet.
    A pair of definitive photo matches get us 98% of the way to concluding that this battered relic was on the Mick's head as he made his 500th unimpeded circumnavigation of a Major League basepath, but imagery of his May 14, 1967 long ball is maddeningly imperfect. All logic points to that determination, but the certitude of a clear photograph eludes us.

    Here's what we do know. The photograph on the Getty Images website bearing the numeric code 73969702 pictures Mantle wearing this helmet. The sizeable chip out of the fiberglass shell that appears at the upper right edge of the "NY" logo can be clearly seen. The caption attributes that photo to a May 28, 1967 contest at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, a game played exactly two weeks after Mantle gained entry to the 500 Home Run Clubhouse.

    A second image, a Type 1 photo (8x10") provided with this lot, again finds Mantle donning this helmet as he shares a joke with Baltimore Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren during spring training of 1968. Once again, the frontal divot is the key characteristic that links the helmet to the photo. So we know that Mantle is wearing a helmet exhibiting heavy game wear both two weeks and approximately ten months after summiting the famous slugging plateau.

    Is it enough to conclude that this is the helmet worn for home run number 500? We'll let you be the judge of that. At the very least, it served as Mickey Mantle's long-term companion as he put some of the finishing touches on his Hall of Fame career. Already showing heavy use two weeks after his historic homer, the helmet almost certainly saw action throughout a lengthy period of time prior.

    It is accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from a coach in the San Gabriel Valley (CA) League who made the acquaintance of a Yankees scout in the 1980's. Since the scout lived nearby, he invited the coach to his home to pick up some fungo bats and practice balls he could use with his team. As he was prepared to leave, the man handed him this helmet, telling him that Mickey Mantle had used it in spring training "sometime in the 60's."

    Beyond the details already reported, we find the proper "American Baseball Cap [size] 7 1/2" sticker inside the shell, as well as a piece of trainer's tape bearing a bold number "7" in black marker. A sizeable crack runs up the back of the helmet, and the visor exhibits some chipping, both indicative of either game wear or poor storage. But, certainly, these minor concerns evaporate when considering the enormous appeal of any Mantle game used gear, and the thrill of its possible association with one of the sport's greatest accomplishments. Letter of provenance from recipient. LOA from Heritage Auctions.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    27th-28th Saturday-Sunday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,016

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