here that I wanted to branch out into memorabilia. It was a discussion with my good friend, P. A. at the card shop on a Saturday that getting some signed baseballs by Hall of Famers wouldn't be too difficult a task. I began with three baseballs, the Cal Ripken that my mom gave me in 1992; a Jim Palmer given to me for my 19th birthday in 1999 by my old boss, Todd and a Brooks Robinson given to me by Mom a few years later at Christmas. The first baseball in my quest (4th overall) arrived on January 14, 2010 (A ball signed by Stan Musial, which you can see here). Four years and 96 baseballs later, we now have number 100, Mickey Mantle.
This has been an exhaustive quest. I have obtained several baseballs through the mail, at card shows, over Ebay, through auction houses, antique shops, two trades, birthday and Christmas presents from my mom and great friend, Drew and a couple in person autographs. I haven't spent near what one might think on these 100 baseballs. I've watched sales and auctions like a hawk. I've learned a thing or two about autograph authentication along the way, of course.
The Mantle ball came about, like I said last night, through my friend Conrad from the antique shop (Chic Antiques) in Columbia, SC. He did shows with a good friend of mine in the 1980s and early 1990s where they would meet Hall of Famers in person, one of which was Mantle, himself. Conrad wanted to help me with my quest, so he gave me a deal I couldn't refuse on both the Koufax ball and this Mantle.
As you can see, the signature is amazing. Words can't describe, so I'll just let you take a look at the picture and see for yourself.
Now what do I do? I've reached a plateau, 100 signed baseballs and I've nearly run out of room in my China cabinet. This ball and several others won't even be able to be displayed since they are in a safe location, not in my house. Do I keep moving forward and knock more players off the list (and go for Jimmie Foxx, ultimately)? Do I rest on my laurels and admire the fact that I reached #100? I don't really know at this moment. I'm inclined to continue on, maybe try to reach 150 or more. If I do, I need to devise an alternate means of display. Also,I know I have to replace at least one ball (Niekro) because of fading. I also need to re-assess my choice of pens/balls for TTM and IP autographing as well to eliminate the fading issue (which I think I have solved).
So, we'll see what the future holds. If I were to guess today, at this moment, I'd be willing to say Hell Yeah, keep em coming, but I do have some things to think about.
Mickey Mantle (b. 1931 - d. 1995) played in the Majors from 1951 to 1968, all for the Yankees. He had 2,415 hits, 536 home runs and a batting average of .298. Mantle was a 16-time All Star, 3-time AL MVP (1956, 1957 and 1962) and the 1956 AL Batting Champion (.353 average). He won the World Series with the Yankees 7 times (1951, 52, 53, 56, 58, 61 and 62) and made 12 trips to the World Series all together.
He was a 4-time AL Home Run champion (1955, 1956, 1958 and 1960) and hit 50 or more home runs twice (1956 and 1961). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974 (his first ballot) when he was named to 88.2% of the ballot.
So, there you have it. I am celebrating a huge milestone in my collection. I wanted #100 to be special and I couldn't honestly think of getting anyone other than Mantle at #100 (unless a Jimmie Foxx fell into my lap). I'd like to thank everyone who helped me get to this point, namely Mom, my wife, P. A., Drew and Conrad.