Foul Balls

These days, the time is right for price gouging in baseball memorabilia. Hell, a Scott Brosius­signed baseball is currently going for $60; last week it probably cost little more than the actual ball. But at least with the Mickey Mantle­autographed merchandise that is being auctioned off on the Internet, you get what you pay for: balls signed by the Mick with heartwarming greetings like "Fuck You! Mickey Mantle."

The auction, run by the Las Vegas­based Gallery of History, goes on through Wednesday, October 28. Other items on the block: A ball reading "Willie Mays Sucks! [signed] Mickey Mantle." Another ball that says "Joe DiMaggio Sucks!" And then there's one with "Marilyn Monroe told me Joe D. Sucks!--Mickey Mantle--I agree MM." The bids on these items start at two grand. If you want to spend a little extra, you can pick up a tiny athletic supporter that is expected to attract $5000 to $10,000. The inscription reads "Joe DiMaggio's jock/X Small--Mickey Mantle."

Asked his thoughts about the auction, Wayne Miller, coexecutor of the Mantle estate, told Jockbeat that his only concern was that the balls are genuine. "There are a lot of forgeries out there," Miller said. "But it's not inconceivable to see Mickey having a few pops and doing something like that."

To make a bid, go to www.galleryofhistory.com.

Fourth Best Ever!

"There hasn't been anybody better," huffed George Stein- brenner last week, offering perspective on the '98 Yankees. And so the debate rages.

To bypass the gusty hot air of mythical rankings, Jockbeat contacted statistician Harry Hollingsworth, author of The Best and Worst Baseball Teams of All Time (SPI Books, 1994). Based on Hollingsworth's 11-criteria computations (games ahead, games won, team batting average, team ERA, etc.), these Bombers stack up no better than fourth place among history's 196 pennant winners.

Hard to argue his first two picks ('27, '39 Yanks), but Hollingsworth's system somehow lands the '95 Series­losing Indians in third place. Hollingsworth admits taking some flack, but insists it's all in the stats. "There wasn't a guy hitting under .300, top-notch pitchers came through, and they [Cleveland] finished 30 games in front." Yes, but what about that postseason? "Well, we may need more weight on Series performance," he acknowledges. "But we've run simulation models and found that even .704 teams [this year's Yanks] will sometimes lose four games."

Fore The Masses

According to his CIA file, Che Guevara was crazy about golf. And judging from the cover of November's Travel & Leisure Golf magazine (right), his form was a little nutty as well. Yes, that's the legendary revolutionary putting out as comrade Fidel Castro looks on. The glossy published this never-seen-in-the-U.S. photo to tease its "Golf on the Forbidden Island" feature.

Che, a doctor as well as a guerrilla, had played the game since childhood, while the 1959 round was Fidel's first . . . and last. It was also the last match on nearly all of Cuba's courses--considered symbols of capitalist decadence, all but one were destroyed. Somehow, El Jefe managed to win the round. It was, says T&L Golf editor James Gaines, "an early example of client golf."

Jockclips

Jockbeat finds the NYPD's estimate of 3.5 million at the Yankees victory parade wildly off base. From our vantage point at the 13-block parade, the figure was clearly closer to 20 million. The cops--as they do with nearly every large gathering they chaperone--lowballed it again. . . . E Was Jockbeat the only one to wince when, during their World Series celebration, the Bombers chose to salute stricken teammate Darryl Strawberry by chugging and spraying champagne? Darryl, of course, is a confirmed alcoholic.

Contributors: Bill Jensen, John Stravinsky, Miles D. Seligman, Frank Ruscitti Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman

 
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