Man, brother find Man­tle cards in old col­lec­tion

The Western Star - - SPORTS - BY VIN A. CHERWOO

Most peo­ple who col­lect sports cards when they are kids usu­ally end up stor­ing them in boxes for years and years. That’s where they stay un­til some­thing prompts the desire to go through them.

For a 76-year-old man from New Jer­sey who asked to be iden­ti­fied only by his first name, John, it was see­ing an ad in a news­pa­per ear­lier this year for a 1952 Mickey Man­tle card be­ing sold by Heritage Auc­tions with an es­ti­mated value of $3.5 mil­lion.

At first, he was sure the listed price was an er­ror.

“I told my daugh­ter, ‘this is go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing. To­mor­row’s New York Times, they’re go­ing to print they had a typo and they had an ex­tra zero in it,”’ John told The As­so­ci­ated Press in a phone in­ter­view. “I re­ally thought they had made a ter­ri­ble mis­take.”

When he didn’t see a cor­rec­tion the fol­low­ing day, he be­gan look­ing through the col­lec­tion he jointly owns with his older brother, Ed.

And when he saw the card sold by for­mer NFL line­man Evan Mathis went for $2.88 mil­lion, that’s when John de­cided to call Heritage to have them eval­u­ate his cards.

As it turns out, their col­lec­tion in­cludes five Man­tle Topps cards from 1952, sim­i­lar to the one Mathis sold. How­ever, that card was graded a Mint 9 by PSA, one of the lead­ing sports mem­o­ra­bilia au­then­ti­ca­tors. The best in the broth­ers’ col­lec­tion is a PSA 8.5 that has been val­ued at $1 mil­lion by Heritage and is part of its Sum­mer Plat­inum Night Sports Auc­tion that runs through Aug. 19.

John re­called he and his brother be­gan col­lect­ing cards in 1951 when they were grow­ing up in West Hartford, Con­necti­cut. John was 9 years old at the time, and Ed was 12, and they each had sep­a­rate col­lec­tions that got merged at some point years later when they were be­ing stored.

Their cards are from 1951 and 1952, and noth­ing af­ter.

“For rea­sons un­known, we didn’t save any­thing af­ter that, from 1953,” John said.

There was a big at­tic in their house and John said a lot of things were stored there over the years af­ter they were no longer be­ing used, in­clud­ing his Cub scout uni­form and his Army uni­forms.

At some point the cards went up there, too.

The cur­rent auc­tion has six cards from their col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing the Man­tle PSA 8.5, and their fi­nal two Man­tle cards - a PSA 7 es­ti­mated at $100,000 and an­other PSA 5 es­ti­mated at $40,000 - will be part of an of­fer­ing in the fall.

John cred­ited his fa­ther, who was an avid col­lec­tor of stamps, coins and post­cards with pic­tures of bridges, for in­still­ing the sense of pre­serv­ing col­lec­tions in him and his brother.

“We didn’t abuse them,” he said of the cards. “They were a col­lec­tion. We watched how he did things and we did the same.”

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