I enjoy things. More specifically, I enjoy collecting things. There are theories as to why people enjoy collecting. While some argue that it is for selfish reasons or a form of financial investment, others believe it is a form of addiction or a compulsion.
I collect because of the sentimental value I associate with an item. A piece of paper is never just a piece of paper. It is a time machine. An antique is not only an antique. It is a relic that invites me to learn more about it and its preservation. Finally, baseball is not just about baseball. It is a pastime and a door to connect with my family. I collect many things, but I enjoy sports memorabilia because of the memories and legacies that each item holds.
Like this 1950s game-worn Mickey Mantle warm-up jacket.
How I Discovered Mantle’s Jacket
I remember when I was lucky enough to get my hands on this Mickey Mantle jacket. It must have been the mid-to-late 1990s, and I was still adjusting to my new title of “dad.” My wife and I didn’t get out much, and we had a hot date scheduled at an auction house, which is no longer operating. As the auctioneers slowly brought out rarer items, there was anticipation amongst the bidders; however, nothing quite piqued my interest.
Then, angels began to sing, and a light shone down from the sky. You might think I’m embellishing this story, but a bidding war arose, meaning the other participants had to have heard and seen as I did. Before our very eyes was a Mickey Mantle jacket. I knew I was up against knowledgeable collectors and investors, as the battle seemed endless. Although the winner of that battle is obvious, what I plan to do with this triumph nearly three decades later might shock Mantle’s biggest fans.
What’s the Big Deal Anyways?
You might be thinking, why is this jacket so important in the first place? It is not like this is a mint-condition card or a game-worn jersey. I mentioned earlier that I collect because I like things and their memories. It is not necessarily about the monetary value but more so the legacy associated with the item. I think about why a particular item is far more unique than its comrades, and only then can I decide if it is worthy enough to join my museum.
Mantle wore this treasured jacket at the height of his career. Mantle was partying hard and playing harder, and this jacket is a symbol of the legacy of the last greatest players the world has seen. I know there are plenty of collectible jackets, but do they all come with documented providence? This jacket does. When I purchased it, I received a photograph of Mantle giving the item to the auction house and a signed letter declaring that he gave it. I kept these documents in pristine condition for when the time finally came to pass my treasure onto another worthy collector or agency, but I never thought the time would come so soon.
The Cat Is Out of the Bag
Or, in this case, the jacket may be on the market! I recently cosigned it with Heritage Auctions, which will showcase it at the 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention this summer. With the recent increased demand for sports memorabilia, it feels right to release ownership of the item and potentially make it available to other worthy sports collectors.
While I can’t disclose how high Heritage might set the opening lot, I can advise you to research sold-for prices for other sports memorabilia. The sports market has consistently been popular, but because of the pandemic, it has been booming!
Whether your poison is autographed baseballs, jerseys, jackets, bats, bobblehead dolls, or autographed photos, there has been a strong trendline in these items’ investment rate. Within the last year, prices have continued to soar, such as with this high-value Babe Ruth’s 1914 Baltimore News card that sold for $8.8 million in January. While this item is rare and one-of-a-kind, there is still plenty of value in researching what similar items are searching for and what trends these items share.
The Mick’s Legacy Lives On
As one of the most significant batters in Major League Baseball, Mantle began his eighteen-year-long career with the Yankees in 1951. At his retirement, Mantle was named to twenty All-Star Games, awarded a Gold glove, and played a part in seven Yankee teams that won the World Series. Today, he still holds the record for several World Series Stats.
Because of injuries and illness, Mantle was never quite at 100 percent. He still earned a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame despite this. He was such a phenomenal player that his legacy continues to support him in setting records today. In August 2021, Mantle set yet another world record when a 1952 mint-condition Mickey Mantle Yankee card sold for $12.6 million. When I learned about this, I wondered who would release a card of such value. Perhaps it was someone who collects for the financial investment, or maybe someone like me who is looking to part ways with a cherished item.
Whatever your purpose for collecting, I hope it brings you joy. It can be challenging to let go of a sentimental collectible, but there is a unique buzz in knowing it will be passed on for other fanatics to enjoy. Heritage will showcase Mantle’s jacket in the upcoming National Sports Collection Convention on July 26–30, 2023. The super VIP packages are already sold out but do not fret. There are still alternative ticket options available! Interested in learning more about what other Mantle memorabilia has been selling for? Visit WorthPoint®’s Price Guide to find out!
Will Seippel is the CEO and founder of WorthPoint®, the world’s largest provider of information about art, antiques, and collectibles. An Inc. 500 Company, WorthPoint is used by individuals and organizations seeking credible valuations on everything from cameras to coins. WorthPoint counts the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and the IRS among its clients.