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Description1979 Thurman Munson Game Worn Catcher's Mask. Along with the mitt that precedes this lot within this auction catalog, this well-worn catcher's mask was retrieved by Munson's heartbroken Yankee roommate shortly after the captain lost his life in a field just short of the airport runway in his hometown of Canton, Ohio. Though Reggie Jackson had proclaimed himself "the straw that stirs the drink" of the late 1970's Yankees, the humble Munson was truly the key element in the Bronx return to glory. Conversely, the sudden, shocking loss of their rudder left the Yankee clipper ship adrift once again, beginning an eighteen-year World Championship drought in the Bronx.
Presented is one of the final masks worn in competition by the tragic captain, acquired from the Yankee clubhouse man Pete Sheehy by Munson's close friend and road trip roommate Gene Michael shortly after that fateful day in Ohio. Documentation appears in the form of a photocopy of the letter from Sheehy's successor Nick Priore (original letter included with mitt), and a letter from Gene Michael himself.
The mask is the stark black style favored by the no-nonsense backstop for aces from Guidry to Gossage to Hunter, lacking any manufacturer's labeling or handwritten identifications. Solid, sweaty wear is clearly evident, with minor oxidation and paint chipping to the metal cage that protected Munson's mutton-chopped visage. This is just the second Munson mask to enter the sports collectibles auction world, according to our comprehensive database.
Thurman Munson's untimely passing may have blocked an otherwise probable path to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the retirement of his number "15" from Yankee pinstripes and his enshrinement in the Stadium's Monument Park carry even more weight among the millions faithful to the sport's most decorated franchise. Rarely has any game used material from this two-time World Champion reached the collectibles hobby, and rarer still are pieces with such ironclad documentation. Photocopy of original letter of provenance from Nick Priore that appears with previous lot. Original documentation/paperwork from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Letter of provenance from Gene Michael.
Guide Value or Estimate: $60,000 - up.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas