1950 Joplin Miners Team-Signed Baseball with Mickey Mantle 
Lot Number 479
Quantity: Bid Starts: 10/01/2007 10:00:00 
Bid Open: 2500.00  Bid Ends: 10/17/2007 23:30:00 
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The evolution of the game of baseball from a pastoral game similar to the British game of rounders to the economic juggernaut that is the National Pastime was a slow and arduous process. Over 40,000 men have toiled on the diamond for countless spectators, giving their all for the love of the game and admiration of the fans. The chances of watching a future Hall of Famer playing in a minor league game is slight, especially during the 1950s when dozens of minor leagues were scattered throughout the Midwest. For a young boy in Springfield, Missouri in 1950, the chances were good as the Springfield Cubs were playing the Joplin Miners that day. The boy’s uncle, Bob Lee, an announcer for KICK radio, decided to gather signatures on a baseball for his nephew and one of the signatories was an 18-year-old Mickey Charles Mantle. Presented is an absolutely wonderful baseball that was signed by eighteen members of the 1950 Joplin Miners. Unbeknownst to those who watched a young Mantle play in 1950 was the fact that he would evolve into one of the game’s greatest icons. This gorgeous Official Western Association League Wilson baseball (Howard Goetz, president) is well preserved, grading (“8-9”), and features the youthful script of Mantle near the logo on the reverse sweet spot. The blue ink Mantle signature rates an (“8”) in both strength and clarity. The signatures are all represented in blue ink and include Sweet Spot: Al Billingsly; North Panel: Harry Craft (d.1995, “8”), Cal Neeman (played in the majors from 1957-63), Dick Fiedler, Bob Lee (KICK); South Panel: Lou Skizas (played in majors from 1956-59), Cal Lombardi (who played second base while Mantle was the shortstop), Mickey Mantle (d.1995, “8”); East Panel: Frank Simanovsky (deceased, LHP and MVP of the team and league in 1950), Dave Waters, Joe Crowder (d.1953, “8”); West Panel: Steve Kraly (pitcher, played on the 1953 Yankees), Jerry Buchanan, Lyle Westrum, Tom Gott, Dan Ferber and Bob Wiesler (pitcher). There are several stories and connections that can be found in conjunction with this ball. For example, Harry Craft was Mantle’s first manager in 1949 at Independence and moved with “the Mick” to Joplin. Joe Crowder and Mantle played against one other in 1948 then were teammates on the 1949 Independence Yankee and 1950 Joplin Miners clubs, but Crowder never made the “show” and died tragically during the 1953 World Series at Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Wyandotte, Oklahoma. John Hall, author of ”Mickey Mantle: Before the Glory”, helped identify the players from this team, and the book would make a fine companion. The overall grade of the signatures is (“8”) with a few stronger and a few lesser, and the ball is a solid, slightly off-white gem without any toning spots. Mantle's 1950 Joplin statistics included 519 AB, 199 Hits, 30 2B, 12 3B, 26 HR and 136 RBI while hitting a stellar .383. COA from James Spence Authentications. 
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