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Sum for Mickey Mantle card stokes fears of fortunes lost

(Author’s note: The following was written with my cherished 1957 Topps Ernie Banks card in full desktop view.) 

The anguish was palpable. The gnashing of teeth, some of them originals, could be heard from Neptune to Norwalk. Agony! 

The barely believable news last week that a 1952 Mickey Mantle card, not quite in pristine shape, sold for $12.6 million caused people of a certain age the kind of anxiety they hadn’t felt since military draft numbers were last called in 1972. 

Laments from readers arrived by the dozens. 

Most common among the woeful were from those whose mothers threw out their baseball cards during an unsupervised spring cleaning. Were they thrown in the garbage, down an apartment house incinerator, or just vaporized by mom’s secret devices, like those magazines hidden beneath your bed? 

Though often undiagnosed, thus left undetected and untreated, this disorder is known as TTT — “Topps Transference Trauma.” It can exist, dormant and harmless, for a lifetime — unless triggered by a sudden cataclysmic event. 

For example: “Did my mother throw out a $12.6 million Mickey Mantle card?!” 

You’ll never know! Perhaps it’s better that way, but that doesn’t assuage the fear. It’s Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” with batting averages and a small cartoon on the back. 

A Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for a record-smashing $12.6 million.
A Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for a record-smashing $12.6 million.
AP Photo/LM Otero, File

“Hal enjoys fishing in the offseason.” And there was a cartoon of Hal casting a line with a baseball bat. 

The second most worrisome lament came from those who awoke sweating (and perhaps screaming) in the abject fear that they had attached Mantle’s rookie card to the spokes of their bicycles with clothespins to produce the sound of here-I-come. 

Was Mickey among the impaled? 

The third: Did I gamble away that Mantle card? Did I lose him flipping cards? Worse, did I lose it to Eddie, that dork next door who swallowed a quarter? 

Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Easy for him to say. 

Naturally, none wrote that he threw out his baseball cards as a matter of free, uncontested will or by mutual spousal agreement, the one that began with, “What are you saving them for?” 

Jets tickets aren’t exactly flying off the shelf

I guess we were supposed to forget that in 2010, when the Jets and Giants had season-ticket waiting lists estimated to be 20 years long, the introduction of must-buy PSLs — those “good investments” as per the bogus claim of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — made both lists vanish virtually overnight. 

Now, as seen and heard in ads last Sunday during the Giants-Jets telecast on Ch. 2, the Jets again are having trouble selling even single-game tickets, starting with their home opener. 

Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell

Other than empathy for those Jets devotees who chose to be fleeced for thousands of dollars just to purchase the right to buy the right to sit in the same seats every season — tickets are extra, subject to annual hikes — I feel no pity for the Jets. 

With Goodell’s full neglect, the Jets, unlike the Giants, sold their PSLs attached to promises, from first crack at tickets to all Meadowlands events — a lie — to the multimedia cry, “Hurry, we’re nearly sold out!” — another lie. 

Jets sales pitches were so larded with lies that deep within the PSL contract appears language absolving the Jets of all promises made to buyers — suckers — other than what appears in the contract. 

As the Jets floundered on the field — a possibility Goodell’s “good investments” claim ignored — those who spent thousands on PSLs, plus the cost of tickets, could find themselves seated beside those who spent eight bucks a ticket on secondary markets or bought from the team as unsold tickets. 

And here we are, again. 

To think that the commissioner of the NFL, employing his superior wisdom and his “it’s all about our fans” nobility, made a long waiting list for tickets disappear in favor of empty and unsold seats — and vacant promises. 

Here I go again, miserable old guy that I am, but the Mets’/Steve Cohen’s retirement of Willie Mays’ number, already retired by the Giants, seems contrived. Mays played parts of just two last-gasp seasons for the Mets. 

Duke Snider played all of the 1963 season for the Mets and hit 14 home runs. Snider’s No. 4 has been retired by the Dodgers. Yet had the Mets also retired his number, that would have been forced, at odds with history. 

Same for the NBA retiring recently deceased Bill’s Russell’s No. 6, worn throughout his 13-year Celtics-only career, for all 30 NBA teams, as if Russell meant as much to Rockets, Cavaliers and Spurs fans as he did to Celtics fans. 

But these days, anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Wilson hangs out upstairs all alone

Curious to see injured Jets QB Zach Wilson seated alone in a sky box watching the preseason game vs. the Giants last Sunday. No headset, no evidence of using the game as a learning session, just a detached spectator. 

The Jets have 22 coaches this season. None could have been spared to sit with Wilson to provide a second-year QB and presumed starter some in-game, here-and-now counseling? The Jets couldn’t have brought in an offensive or defensive schemes expert to sit with him to try to apply what he saw? 

Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson
Getty Images

GM Joe Douglas was seen and interviewed by Ch. 2 from what appeared to be a different sky box, and apparently alone. 

But what do I know? Perhaps Wilson already knows all he needs to know. 

Harrison Bader, the injured outfielder from Bronxville acquired by the Yankees from the Cardinals for Jordan Montgomery, is all New York. A lifelong Yankees fan, his father is Jewish, his mom Italian. His cousin is actor Scott Baio of “Happy Days” and “Charles In Charge” TV fame. Another cousin, Chris Baio, is the bassist in the NYC rock group Vampire Weekend. 

Reader Len Geller suggests that SNY has a dedicated “Buck Showalter Hit By Pitch Cam.” Same stern reaction, every time. SNY must be waiting to capture exploding bottle rockets launched from his ears. 

The “NFL Experience,” continued: Sunday, as CBS cut to a crowd shot during Lions-Steelers, a young woman was seen proudly and smugly giving both “fingers” to the camera. That was early in the game, before the regularly featured drunken in-house and parking lot brawls. 

As per Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano’s claim that RU is “New York’s team!” N.J. reader Walt Goldeski calls that “Great news!” Now, he adds, N.Y. taxpayers, rather than Jersey’s, can help fund RU’s $73 million, mostly football athletic department deficit! 

Greg Schiano
Greg Schiano

The Bills sure waited to gauge which way the wind blew before cutting “Punt God” Matt Araiza. They knew well before he was dropped that he was being investigated for participating in the gang rape of a 17-year-old. 

Hey, Gary Cohen, you, too. Ease up on the stats. They’re baseball telecasts, not statistics and probability lectures. 

As seen Thursday on FS1, Oklahoma State punter Tom Hutton, recruited from Australia, is 32 years old. He’s listed as, ahem, a senior. He’s an End-Over-End major. 

Ex-Lions cornerback Stanley Wilson Jr., busted last week for his second invasion of the same $30 million California mansion, this time ransacking its contents, is the son of Stanley Wilson, who was to have started at fullback for the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII — until found in a cocaine stupor the night before. 

ESPN’s Stephania Bell, Thursday, on what she anticipates from this season’s Chicago Bears’ offense: “Positive touchdown regression.” Nurse! And hurry! 

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