|Mantle was a bargain even by reserve-clause era standards. (Heritage Auctions)|
Now, this is an awesome piece of history. Mickey Mantle's signing bonus check from 1949 is up for auction at Heritage Auctions. The check is clearly endorsed by the Hall of Famer, who was just 17 years old at the time.
The Yankees signed Mantle to the small bonus simply because no other teams were interested. Baseball's era of six-figure signing bonuses began the following year, so Mantle was underpaid even by the standards of the day. He spent parts of three seasons in the minors before breaking into the big leagues as a 19-year-old in 1951. Mantle finished third in the MVP voting as a 20-year-old in 1952, his first full season in the show.
The check is said to be in excellent condition with no stains, tears, bent corners, nothing. The high bid is only $8,000 at the time of this writing, but the auction does not close until Feb. 23. Heritage estimates the value at north of $20,000. That's a little too pricey to me, but baseball memorabilia doesn't get much cooler.
(h/t: Big League Stew)
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