Prior to his death in 1995 from cirrhosis of the liver, New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle wrote a letter to his fans pleading with them to avoid drugs and alcohol. Decades later, someone spent a considerable amount of money to acquire that note. The handwritten letter recently sold for $8,666.40 at auction.
Lelands hosted an auction that started with a $500 opening bid. The letter was reportedly for one of Mantle's books but was a work in progress and included several handwritten notes. Nearly 30 people bid on the rare items, driving the price up in large increments. The final bidder secured the victory just shy of midnight on June 19, the final day of the auction.
"I want to dedicate this book to all my friends. Old, new & especially young friends. Please don’t do alcohol & drugs. I never did drugs but alcohol hurt my career terribly," Mantle wrote in the yellowed letter. "People used to ask who was better? Willie, Mickey or Duke. I think you have to look at final statistics and Willie was far ahead at the end."
Mantle continued in the letter to explain that he never took proper care of his body. He is one of Major League Baseball's all-time legends due to being a 20-time All-Star, three-time AL MVP and seven-time World Series champion. However, Mantle wrote that he could have been even better if he had properly rehabbed injuries and avoided alcohol.
"Guys who took good care of themselves like Willie, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Joe D. etc. were the ones at the top in the final stats," Mantle continued. "I did play in more games as a Yankee (2401) than anyone but if I had taken better care of myself I could have done a lot better. I didn't even take care or do my re-hab on my legs like I was supposed to.
"I drank too much when I was playing from 1952, after my Dad died, til 1969. After I retired in 69, I drank more + more (I'll always be ashamed of). So to everyone out there especially young people, Little Leaguers etc. 'Don't end up over the hill before you even start to climb it.' Make us all proud of you. Don't Do Drugs + Alcohol - Mick."
According to AP News, Mantle checked into a hospital on May 28, 1995. He complained of abdominal pain, and doctors discovered he was suffering from liver failure. They believed the issue was due to a combination of his "heavy drinking" and a hepatitis C infection. Mantle received the transplant in early June but only survived until later in the summer. He died on Aug. 13, 1995.