“America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past.” Marshall Fogel holds that quote (from the 1989 film Field of Dreams) close to his heart. Fogel is a nationally recognized collector of sports memorabilia—particularly baseball.
Many of Fogel’s artifacts—including Joe DiMaggio’s uniform, Todd Helton’s bat, and Babe Ruth’s signed handprint—are on display at the History Colorado Center’s Play Ball exhibit.
For three days only, July 16–18, visitors can also view Fogel’s multimillion-dollar gem-mint PSA 10 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card. We spoke with Fogel about his collection and what makes this card unique:
Why did you get into collecting baseball memorabilia?
“I always enjoyed the game growing up. It fascinated me because we’re dealing with a singular hero. Unlike basketball, hockey or football, where it’s a team effort, baseball requires a skill set in each position and the ability to be athletic enough to hit a ball 90 miles an hour. You’re in a perfect setting—a ball park—sitting with your dad—and that creates an aura that makes you want to investigate the game and collect cards.”
Why did you pursue owning the Mickey Mantle card?
“The first baseball bat I ever had in my hands at my request, given to me by my father as a young boy, was a wooden Mantle bat—with his name on it. Everybody in the neighborhood had a hero, and it was Mantle. You had to admire someone under age 20 who played for the New York Yankees. We all wanted to get a baseball card of Mickey Mantle.”
How did you come about owning the card?
“The card came up for auction in 1996, and I won it for $121,000. My fellow collectors criticized me for being rather stupid for paying that much for a card made post-World War II.”
How much do you think the card is worth today?
“Anybody who values what he owns may not be as accurate. All I know is that people in the know think it’s worth between $10 million and $15 million.”
What makes this card so special?
“Prior to 1952, players’ pictures were paintings, not photographs. It wasn’t until 1952 that the first set came out where the players’ images were photographs. So in 1951, which was Mantle’s rookie year, the card did not achieve the beauty of the ’52 card. All these cards came in sheets and you had to cut the cards into singles. Most of the cards were cut poorly: they were cut at an angle, or the corner was chipped or the card wasn’t inked well enough. Who cared? You could get five or more in a pack for a nickel. They were for kids, who would put the cards in the spokes of bike tire or throw them against the wall to see which card would fall closest to the wall. And then when the kids grew up, their mothers threw the cards into the trash. This card is perfect. It’s a gem-mint card, surviving all of what I just told you. What makes it unique is 1. The corners are sharp, 2. The card is centered, 3. The colorization on the card is perfect, 4. It’s one of the greatest players who ever played baseball.”
Why did you agree to put the card on display?
“I have a wonderful collection. To share it with the public in a beautiful museum like the History Colorado Center and to have the community—fans, their kids, friends, and relatives—come to see it was my first motivation. It’s a safe place; it’s beautiful. They’re bringing the card by armored car to the museum and it will be in the lobby of the museum, so there’s plenty of space for the public to see the card. It will be guarded by police officers 24 hours a day starting July 16.”