A seventeen-year old "Commerce Comet" officially joins the Yankees!
1949 Mickey Mantle Signed (Endorsed) New York Yankees Signing Bonus Check.
Excerpted from "Mickey Mantle: Rookie in Pinstripes" by Fred Glueckstein (2008):
The check arrived at the Mantle home in July. It was issued by the Independence State Bank, Independence, Kansas, and dated July 11, 1949. It was made payable to Mickey Mantle in the amount of $1,150. Paid by the Independence Baseball Club, the check was signed by the club's secretary John Vallina and cosigned by its president, W.B. Tole. One one of the check's lines, it read simply, 'Bonus.'
Mickey was asked later why he signed for such a modest sum. Other 'bonus babies' were signing for amounts of seventy-five to one hundred thousand dollars.
'Why did I sign for peanuts during a time when kids, a lot less known than myself, were getting fabulous bonuses? Well, I'll tell you why,' Mickey told Ben Epstein of the New York Daily Mirror. 'Nobody offered me one.'"
That staggering oversight would swing the pendulum of fate in the direction of the Bronx for two decades to come and begin an era of hero worship unprecedented since the Big Apple arrival of Babe Ruth for a purchase price of $100,000.
Arguably the most significant Mantle document ever to surface in the collecting hobby is the very check that brought Mickey Mantle into the pinstriped fold, issued just weeks after the Oklahoma miner's son graduated Commerce High School at age seventeen. The obverse of the check is exact in description to the text of Glueckstein's critically acclaimed biography. The reverse bears a bold black fountain pen signature of endorsement, a conservative 9/10. The check presents flawlessly with no folds, tears or stains--only the original bank punch coding, which remains well clear of the teenaged Mick's signature.
Mantle would spend two years with the Class D Independence Yankees of the old K-O-M League before making his unsteady 1951 Major League debut and the rest, as they say, is baseball history. Few transactions in the history of American sport have been as momentous as the one represented here, lighting the fuse on the fireworks of a million Baby Boomers' childhood dreams. Encapsulated by PSA/DNA, Authentic. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication. This check sold at Heritahe Sports Collectibles Auction on Augusy 1, 2013 for $286,800 including buyers premium. Source: Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas