Mickey Mantle still a hit
Rookie card sells for millions
Good morning, all! It’s Frrriiiiiiddddaayyyyyyy!!!
Twenty-five years after his death, baseball icon Mickey Mantle is still a hit. The back-bone of the championship New York Yankees teams of the 1950s and early-60s, Mantle had millions of fans, including non-Yankee and non-baseball fans. Word has now come that his 1952 Topps rookie baseball card has sold for $5.2 million.
Reports are this is the highest amount ever paid for a baseball card. The person who bought it was entrepreneur and “Billionaire Boys Club” actor Rob Gough.
“I always dreamt of owning a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle since I was a kid collecting cards. It’s the Mona Lisa of sports cards and I’ve been searching this high graded example talking to industry experts, dealers, auction houses, friends, and I’m ecstatic that I’m now the proud owner of this iconic card.”
The PSA 9 1952 card is one of six known to be in existence. As the “Voice of the Yankees,” who called many of Mantle’s home runs, Mel Allen would say, “How about that!”
Incidentally, in 1980 I interviewed Mantle. You can listen to the interview here.
Do not downplay Theo’s hire
Major League baseball announced on Thursday it has hired former baseball executive Theo Epstein as a consultant. He will work with Commissioner Rob Manfred, analytics gurus, and the league’s competition committee on ways to speed up the game and make it more viewable. Presumably this does not mean a game of the week package for Nickelodeon, but never downplay the popularity of a home run into the mouth of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Do not view this as some kind gesture by the commissioner to give Epstein a job, while he is in between gigs as a team executive or perhaps future owner. Before departing the Chicago Cubs, Epstein talked about how the game was getting bogged down in analytics, draining strategy out of the on field product. The length of games is also an issue, with the average game time last season over three hours.
Even in 2021, there is no reason most baseball games should not be completed in two-and-a-half hours. How often, particularly when the Yankees are playing the Red Sox, do you find the game is entering its third hour and it is only the top of the fifth inning?
For years stalwarts have maintained that there are always complaints about pace-of-play and long contests, but the game survives. Unfortunately, baseball needs to do more than survive in the third decade of the 21st Century. This may turn out to be Epstein’s biggest rebuilding job, even if it means pushing for all regulation games to last seven innings rather than nine, otherwise, come 2030, not even Bikini Bottom will want a franchise.
Now we have sports empires
It used to be we would rank sports franchises by value, but these days in order to succeed, your franchise better be part of a larger component. To that end, Forbes has ranked the richest “Sports Empires.” The ranking takes into account not only a particular team, but property, other franchises owned, racing teams, whether an entity owns a sports network, etc. Equity plus net debt was factored into the calculation.
The entity which grew the most in 2020, even with a pandemic and without Tom Brady, is owned by Bob Kraft and his family, who own the New England Patriots, have invested in DraftKings, own the New England Revolution, an esports franchise, etc. His and his family’s empire is valued at $5.3 billion. And that is not even close to number one. The top spot belongs to Liberty Media, owners of the Atlanta Braves, Formula One and other sports-related businesses. The value is placed at $13 billion.
And you thought SpongeBob SquarePants was worth a lot of money.
Dee Rowe and baseball
In my New England neck of the woods, we lost a sports icon on Sunday, Dee Rowe, former UConn men’s basketball coach. Rowe was synonymous with UConn as a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador. He also loved baseball and used to pay numerous visits to the New Britain Rock Cats broadcast booth to see Rock Cats voice Jeff Dooley and me. Click on the podcast art below to hear Dee and me, during the sixth inning of a broadcast in 2000.
Dee Rowe was 91.
That is it for this week. Thank you for your support and have a great weekend.