Mickey Mantle's 'Gift' home run jersey up for sale at Heritage Auctions
The New York Yankees Jersey worn by Mickey Mantle as he hit the penultimate home run of his career is up for sale at Heritage Auctions.
Mantle wore the jersey on September 19, 1968, in an end-of-season game against the Detroit Tigers, in which he hit his 535th home run – thanks to the generosity of Tigers pitcher Denny McLain.
McLain was then closing out one of the finest pitching seasons in baseball history, the last 30-win season ever recorded by a MLB pitcher, for which he was awarded the AL Cy Young Award.
With his 30th win under his belt five days previously, he was full of good will towards the ageing legend who stood before him on the mound at the top of the 8th inning.
After a brief discussion with Tigers catcher Jim Price, McLain offered Mickey Mantle what has become known as 'The Gift' – a perfect waist-high pitch over the centre of the plate, for Mantle to hit out of the park in his last at-bat in Detroit. Mantle duly obliged, and received a wink from McLain as he rounded third base.
Having been tied on 534 with Jimmy Foxx in the all-time career home run rankings, McLain's gift allowed Mantle to finally clinch third place on the list. It was a touching moment of respect for a player who had embodied the magic of baseball like few others ever could.
Mantle later gifted the jersey to his close friend Tom Catal, a renowned collectors and former president of the Mickey Mantle Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
The jersey previously sold during an SCP Auctions sale in 2012 for $366,967. Given the rapidly rising value of Mickey Mantle memorabilia, including his iconic 1952 Rookie card which can now sell for more than $500,000, the jersey is now expected to sell for more than $700,000.
"For millions of Baby Boomers, the retirement of Mickey Mantle signaled the end of childhood," said Heritage Auctions. "Ownership of this jersey could go a long way toward bringing it back."
The Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Catalogue Auction takes place in Dallas on February 25-26.