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					        The Complete Collectibles Guide
                                      Mickey Mantle
                              Mickey Business: Country Cookin’
By Kelly Eisenhauer

                                                                   Part III
T
        o be successful in the business world, a corporation
        knows the value of a good advertising slogan. In 1968,
        Mickey Mantle thought he had the perfect phrase that       Real estate,
would stick in the minds of people looking for a good old-
fashioned country dinner. The slogan, “To get a better piece       a bowling
of chicken, you’d have to be a rooster,” was humorous and
direct. Even today, some 40 years later, the saying still brings   center and
a laugh that was reminiscent of the great number 7’s person-
ality. It showed his practical-joking manner and at the same       good ole
time promoted a chicken dinner to rival Colonel Harlan Sand-
ers’ Kentucky Fried Chicken.                                       Country
    As time would tell, being a successful businessman was
not in the cards for Mick. This was a business endeavor that       Cookin’
would start in 1968 and end very abruptly in the early 1970s.
“The Mick” was a poor businessman who made some bad
investments. He really didn’t possess the knowledge of what it
took to run a successful franchise.
    After being successful with his Holiday Inn in Joplin, Mo.,      Mickey Mantle
Mantle was hopeful that his name would be enough to make             artwork by
the Country Cookin’ chain prosper, but this was not the case.        Andy Jurinko


                               Go to MICKEY MANTLE on page 20



        “To get a better piece
      of chicken, you’d have
      to be a rooster.”
                                       – Mickey Mantle


  In this, the third installment in a multi-part series
“Mickey Mantle: The Complete Collectibles Guide,”
we’ll look in-depth at items connected to many of
Mantle’s business ventures, including his Country
Cookin’ and Mickey Mantle Family Restaurants, real
estate and land development and his billiards and
bowling centers.
   The first part, “Topps Test, Secondary Issues and
Inserts 1952-69,” appeared in the Feb. 6 issue of SCD;
Part II, cataloging memorabilia related to his Yoo-Hoo
Beverage Co. contract and the two trips to the Orient
in the 1950s, appeared in the March 6 issue.
MANTLE SERIES from page 18                      MickeyMantle
   After opening the first restaurant in his hometown, located at 3651
Marvin D. Love Freeway in Dallas, Mickey tried to franchise the Mickey        103
Mantle Country Cookin’ Restaurant. He would frequently make ap-
pearances and sign autographs to promote his business. Other locations
                                                                                                 108
quickly followed in Florida, Louisiana and Longview, Texas. Lawsuits
and bad decisions would ultimately spell doom for the Country Cookin’
franchise (Photo Nos. 103-104).
   Today, there are numerous collectibles from the Country Cookin’
chain that have made their way into the baseball memorabilia market-
place. Most of these mementos are the typical items that are associated
with any restaurant operation. What makes them very collectible is the
fact that they all have Mickey Mantle’s name on them.
                                                                              104                       114
   Matches – There was only one design that existed. The matchbook
had the Country Cookin’ logo with black coal stove on the front and a
sketch of Mickey on the reverse (Photo Nos. 105-107). In unused condi-
tion, these can bring between $75 and $100. They are very collectible to
matchbook collectors, as well as Mickey Mantle collectors.                                 109
    Postcards – There were two different postcards produced. The first
shows Mickey hitting his 535th home run of Detroit Tigers’ pitcher
Denny McLain (Photo No. 108). The reverse has a write-up of the fa-
mous home run on Sept. 19, 1968 (Photo No. 109), and has a facsimile
                                                                              105
signature with “Best Regards.” The second postcard shows a kneeling
Mickey Mantle in his pinstriped uniform at Yankee Stadium (Photo No.                             110          115
110). The reverse has a machine hand-printed message about more res-
taurants possibly opening near your town (Photo No. 111). It also has
a facsimile signature with the closing, “Best Regards.” The signatures                                 116
on both postcards are machine printed, but look very authentic. When
Mickey was at the restaurant, he would usually sign the front of these
two issues.
    The value of these postcards is between $200-$400. They are very
scarce and not as readily available, as are the Holiday Inn postcards.

    China – The china that was used at Mickey Mantle’s Country
Cookin’ Restaurants was manufactured by Shenago (Photo 112). This
heavy stoneware came in a variety of shapes and sizes and made its
way into the baseball memorabilia market when a large part of the                      111
total inventory was sold to a major collector. In the last 10-15 years, the
Shenago china can be picked up quite easily, especially on eBay.               106
    Some of the pieces that were manufactured by Shenago included
9-inch soup bowls (Photo No. 113), 10-inch dinner plates (Photo Nos.
114-116), 61/2-inch vegetable bowls, 7-inch bread plates, 5-inch mini
bowls or dessert bowls and 7-inch butter dishes. All have the Mickey                                          117
Mantle Country Cookin’ name printed around the circumference of the

                                                                                     112
stoneware.
    The coffee mug (Photo No. 117) remains the most expensive piece in
the collection, simply because of supply and demand. Not to say that the
coffee mugs or cups are scarce; they were just not produced in the same
quantity as the plates, bowls and dishes. The Country Cookin’ coffee
mug goes for around $100-$125. The plates and bowls are in the $25-$40
range.
    Carrying Tray – The plastic carrying trays that were used in the
daily operations remain one of the most sought-after items from the res-
taurant. It features a nice black-and-white drawing of Mickey wearing
                                                                              107
his Yankees pinstriped uniform. It also has a facsimile autograph with
the M.M. Country Cookin’ logo (Photo No. 118). These trays are so rare               113                118
that, when available, they can command prices of more than $3,000.
                  MickeyMantle
                                         Menus – There were two different menus. The first was
                                      a black-and-white menu that had a drawing of Mickey on the
                                      reverse side (Photo No. 119). The most expensive item on
                                      the menu was an eight-piece chicken bucket for $3.25 (Photo
                                      No. 120). The menu goes for around $300. The second menu
                                      was the dinner menu (Photos No. 121-123), which showed
                                      a very colorful, plaid mixture of photographed fabric on its
                                      cover with the M.M. Country Cookin’ Logo. These menus are
            124                       relatively scarce and are valued in the $1,000 plus range.

119          123                         Chairs – There were two types of chairs. Both were sim-
                                      ple in design and country-looking in appearance. A captain’s
                                      chair (with high arms) and a regular chair were used. Both
                                      possessed an aluminum identification plate underneath the
                                      seat area. The plate had the Mickey Mantle Country Cookin’
                                      name and an identification number. These chairs are valued
                                129   between $700-$1,000 each (Photo No. 124).

                                          Pot holder – And no, not that kind of pot. Other than
                                      postcards and matches being available to all customers, pot
                                      holders featuring the Country Cookin’ logo with Mickey Man-
                                      tle’s name on it were just about the only other item available
                                      for sale (Photo No. 125). It featured a flowery design on one
120         125                       side and the logo with black coal stove on the other. The
                                      value of these holders is usually around $500 or more.

                                          Waitress/waiter ordering pad – Without a doubt, the
                                      ordering pad from the Country Cookin’ Restaurant is one
                                      of the nicest and most coveted paper collectibles. It shows
                                      Mickey with a follow-through swing batting left handed
                                      (Photo No. 126). What makes this so desirable is the fact
                                      that very few of them survived. Most were thrown away after

                                130   orders were completed and no one had the foresight to ask
                                      for an unused one. They are very scarce and can bring up to
                                      $500 per sheet. A pad that had only 4–5 sheets brought close
                    126   131         to $1,800 in a major auction about 10 years ago. I have never
                                      seen another.

                                          Stock certificates, business reports and prospectus
              127                     – One of Mantle’s goals was to franchise and incorporate the
                                      restaurant into a successful chain (Photo No. 127). As the
                                      business was incorporated in 1969, stock certificates (Photo
                                      No. 128) were purchased for investment purposes. When the
                                      chain imploded in the early 1970s, these stock certificates
                                      became worthless, but would later become sought after by
                                      Mickey Mantle collectors and stock certificate collectors,
                                      alike.
                                          Business reports of the financial year were issued to the
                                      stockholders (Photo No. 129). Periodically, some of these
                                      documents (Photo No. 130) and certificates would show up
                                      and are valued in excess of $500. The prospectus booklet is
                                      also very rare, as only individual investors, who had finan-

  121-123
                                      cial interest in the chain, might possess these (Photo Nos.
                                      131-132).
                                          Ironically enough, napkins and placemats with Mickey’s
                                      name and Country Cookin’ logo have never been seen. Either
                                      the chain used generic napkins and placemats or people
              128                     didn’t bother to save them. The same goes for pencils and
                                132   pens that were used in the daily operations.
                                                        GO to MANTLE SERIES on next page
             MickeyMantle
      136
                               MANTLE SERIES from previous page


                                  All in all, with the exception of the Shenago china,
                               memorabilia from the Country Cookin’ Restaurant is con-
                               sidered to be quite scarce and valuable.

                                   Real estate and land development – In the early
                   141         1970s, Mantle was hired to serve as land developer for GWM
                               Corp., which billed itself as the leading resort property de-
       137                     veloper in Dallas. Using Mantle’s name and popularity was
                               the battle plan to sell real estate lots in the Dallas area. The
133                            GWM Corp. featured different types of lots for people with
                               different lifestyles. Three different packages existed, all with
                               Mickey Mantle being used as their pitchman.
                                   Mickey Mantle Manors was one of the most popular
                               developments on Cedar Creek Lake. The popular lakefront-
                               view lots with dimensions of 95-by-150 feet sold for a meager
                               $695. The Mantle Manors brochure loaded with caricatures
                               of Mickey, boasted boating, sailing, fishing, swimming and
                               water skiing. There were two different pamphlets issued
                               from GWM. The first was a three-panel foldout brochure
                               (Photo Nos. 133-134) that had the previously mentioned
       138                     caricatures, while the second brochure (Photo No. 135),
                               slightly smaller in size, featured a large map and picture of
                               Cedar Creek Lake.
134                                Two other items were made to promote Mantle Manors.
                               There was an introductory letter (Photo No. 136) that was
                               sent to prospective clients. It came with a picture of Mickey
                               in his Yankees uniform and had a facsimile autograph. The
                               value of the pamphlets and letter are about $100 each. A
                               prepaid green Mantle postcard was also issued for clients
                               who wanted further information (Photo Nos. 137-138).
                               The postcard is valued at $40. The company also issued a
                               $3 payment voucher to attract clients to visit Mantle Man-
             139               ors (Photo No. 139). The voucher or check had Mickey’s
                               photo in the upper left. Value $150-$200.

                                   Willowwood – “Mickey Mantle’s Homesites of Distinc-
135                      142   tion on Cedar Creek Lake,” Willowwood was a lakefront
                               resort and residential mobile home community. Willowwood
                               promoted itself as ideal for a weekend hideaway, retirement
                               or investment.
                                   Two issues were used for promotion (Photo Nos. 140-
                               141). The first was a large 8½-by-11, six-page booklet that
                               featured a nice photo of Mickey on the back page. The sec-
                               ond item was a brochure with a large map of the develop-
                               ment. Both pieces are valued between $75 and $100 each.

                                  Arbolado – “Arbolado,” which is Spanish for “wooded,”
                               was another residential and resort community with views
                               of Cedar Creek Lake. The development offered swimming,
                               boating and fishing in a wooded, secluded area. Two differ-
                               ent issues also exist. The first is an 8½-by-11-inch, black-
                   143         and-orange glossy six-page folder (Photo No. 142) and the
                               second issue was a large 17-by-22-inch folded map of the
136                            Arbolado Development (Photo No. 143). Both pieces are
      140                      valued between $75 and $100 each.
                                                          MickeyMantle
    Mickey Mantle Family Restaurant – 9500 Parkway East. Not
much is known about this restaurant (Photo No. 144). It operated in the
late 1960s to early 1970s, after Mickey had retired from baseball. This
Mickey Mantle Family Restaurant featured steak dinners, hot dogs and
hamburgers, as well as fish. The prices were very reasonable in their day,
with a T-bone steak dinner selling for $2.99 and a shrimp platter selling
                                                                                                   152
for $1.59. The restaurant even had a burger named after the great num-
ber 7 called the “Mantle Burger.” It sold for a whopping 59 cents.
    As far as memorabilia from the eating establishment, a very color-
ful scoreboard menu exists (Photo No. 145). The menu is valued between
$100-$150. In the early 1970s, Mantle was seen at several business fairs
in Florida, distributing Mantle Family Restaurant prospectus (Photo Nos.
146-148) to future investors. It is thought that the chain never materialized.   144   148
    Mickey Mantle Billiard Center – Without a doubt, the Mickey Man-
tle Billiard Center had to be one of his smallest business ventures, and
also his most grammatically incorrect (billiards is traditionally in the plu-
ral usage). Very little is known about this enterprise, which was located
at 4650 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207. It is quite possible that
Mickey was paid by someone to use the Mantle name. A billiards rules
book with the business’ name and address exists (Photo No. 149-150), as
well as a ticket good for one free visit (Photo No. 151). The Billiard Center
advertised itself as “America’s most beautiful billiard lounge for family
recreation.” It featured Mickey Mantle customized billiards tables and
free instructions to all men and women.

    Mickey Mantle Bowling Center – The Mickey Mantle Bowling
Center was very well known and a popular place to go. Opening in 1956            145
and located at 200 Exchange Park North in Dallas, Mickey was frequently
seen in attendance during the offseason. Coming off a Triple Crown
                                                                                       149
season, Mickey obviously tried to cash in on his name and popularity. One
would think that there would be the typical bowling alley memorabilia,
like score sheets, ashtrays, placemats, etc., sporting Mantle’s name, but
very few items have surfaced.
    The only items that have reached the sports memorabilia market are
matchbooks (Photo No. 152), pencils, and gold-plated lighters (Photo Nos.
153-154). The matches are valued between $100-$150 in unused condition.
The lighters are worth about $500. u


                                 About the author                                            153
                           Kelly R. Eisenhauer of Lehighton, Pa., has been
                       a fan and collector of Mickey Mantle memorabilia
                       for more than 40 years. He supplied photography for
                                                                                 146
                       the HBO documentary “Mantle, The Definitive Story”
                       and is featured in Richard Wolfe’s current book, For
                                                                                       150
                       Yankee Fans Only – Vol. 2. Eisenhauer owns and
    operates his own Mickey Mantle webpage at www.hofmemories.com.
    Anyone with questions or comments can reach him at mrike@ptd.net.
        Many of the photographs from this multi-part series, including a re-
    markable number of one-of-a-kind pieces, came from the Mickey Mantle
    Collection of B.S. Alpert.                                                         151
                                                                                                   154
   For pricing of more than 3,000 entries involving Mickey Mantle, go
   to the exclusive SCD Auction Database at:
                                                                                 147
   www.sportscollectorsdigest.com

				
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