The Roger Maris Bat Experiment Auction on www.gottahaveit.com will feature a single lot of the four bats and will, at the same time, help to launch a relationship between the memorabilia dealer/online auction house and New York City’s landmark restaurant, Mickey Mantle’s.
Gotta Have It president Pete Siegel, easily one of the most famous (and ardent) Yankees fans in this hemisphere, recently announced the opening of the company’s second retail location at the famed restaurant across from Central Park in Midtown Manhattan, and pointed out that the bats will be displayed at the restaurant starting Oct. 21. The online auction opens on Oct. 26 and closes on Nov. 2. A press conference to promote the auction is slated for Oct. 26 at the restaurant.
Siegel said the pre-auction estimate on the bats is $25,000-$35,000, which will come with a PSA/DNA letter of authenticity from John Taube and Vince Malta, along with a notarized affidavit from Les Lieber.
“This is a fun lot, not that it’s all that much money” said Siegel, who has a pretty good grasp about such things. He’s the man who paid nearly $1 million at the SportsCards Plus/Sotheby’s auction this past June for the contract that sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and spent nearly that much on Mickey Mantle treasures at the December 2003 Guernsey’s auction at Madison Square Garden. And he doesn’t confine himself just to sports: he was also the winning bidder eight years ago at $1.265 million on the dress Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy.
“It’s the story that makes the bats important. We’re hoping to get a lot of active bidding and some mainstream media attention,” said Siegel. “The timing of it all is just incredible, with the World Series and the contrast with all of the things going on in baseball today compared with the innocence of the times in 1962.”
It was as a result of publicity from the Babe Ruth sale contract that sent Les Lieber to the Gotta Have It retail location at 153 East 57th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues. “He came in to tell me about it, and he showed me the article,” Siegel recalled. The veteran dealer pointed out that one of the unique aspects of the auction lot is that unlike most game-used items, you can definitively place the bats in Maris’ hands to prove that they were used at the time noted. A May 1962 magazine article with 14 million readers is about as good as it gets in terms of provenance.
The link with the venerable Mickey Mantle’s restaurant turned out to be another well-timed piece of the puzzle, and Siegel pointed out that the opening of the Gotta Have It satellite store marks the first time at a themed restaurant where everything displayed is for sale.
“This is a win-win deal,” said Frank Villano, owner of Mickey Mantle’s. “We're excited to have the great and unique items that Gotta Have It can provide, and we believe both businesses will benefit tremendously. Our customers will be dazzled by the array of museum-quality artifacts that will be for sale here.”
The bats will be on display for public viewing at Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant, 42 Central Park South, New York City (between 5th and 6th Avenues on 59th Street).