< back to articles listings

The $10 Million Mickey Mantle Card

by Jay Reeves |

This story begins with a $10 million dollar Mickey Mantle baseball card and ends with the statute of limitations.

In between is a lesson for your Law Life on letting go of the past.

But before reading further, please take a moment to search your attic. If you happen to find a Topps 1952 Mantle rookie card, you could be an instant millionaire. One of these rarities just went up for auction, with the winning bid expected to reach $10 million, shattering the old record of $6 million for a 1909 Honus Wagner.

Which brings us to my childhood friend, who for half a century has been fixated on having lost something he probably never had in the first place.

This friend and I share a lifelong love of baseball. We grew up in the same small South Carolina town, attended the same church, played on the same Little League team and rooted for the same big-league club (the Braves).

But there’s one difference. To this day, my friend has not forgiven his dear, departed mother – a kindly woman who taught Sunday School – for getting rid of his baseball cards when he went off to college.

“Best mom ever,” he says. “But I can’t believe she threw out my cards.”

Keep in mind this happened way back in the ‘70s, which means my pal has been carrying a chip on his shoulder his entire adult life.


Put Down the Past and Pick Up Your Life

Funny thing is I don’t remember his card collection being anything special. Few were pre-1970. The prize of the lot, as I recall, was a Ralph Garr rookie I dearly craved but was unwilling to meet his extortionate demand of Rico Carty, Pat Jarvis and Ty Cline in exchange.

No matter. My friend has convinced himself that his mom tossed away a fortune.

“I know there was a Mantle or two in there,” he said wistfully, in a recent phone conversation which centered – as our chats always do – on baseball.

Here I should point out that my beleaguered baseball buddy is a fine friend, husband, father, grandfather, citizen and human being. He has lived a rich and abundant life. And yet. To this day, he can’t celebrate the brilliance of our beloved Braves or exult in the Hall of Fame induction of Minnie Minoso, Buck O’Neil and Big Papi without moaning about what might have been.

It’s like a smudge on an otherwise spotless window. All he sees is the blemish and not the beauty on the other side.


To Not Regret the Past or Wish to Shut the Door on It

“Be here now” is not some airy, New Age mantra. It’s sound, practical advice for a happy Law Life. No less a realist than psychologist Abraham Maslow (the hierarchy of human needs) said: “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”

Life is heavy enough as it is. When we wake each morning and strap on a backpack stuffed with grudges, gripes and regrets, we make it infinitely heavier – and much less fun.

Of course, not all regrets are equal. Minor regrets (“I should have ordered a salad for lunch.”) are different than major regrets (“I should have gone to dental school.”). But both types can erode self-confidence and halt forward progress, especially if we slip into a pattern of constantly second-guessing ourselves.

None of this is to suggest we should ignore the past. To the contrary. There is gold to be mined from our disappointments, defeats and dumb decisions – provided we do so with self-compassion and a commitment to grow, not groan.


The Statute Of Limitations Has Expired

“The greatest freedoms are freedom from regret, freedom from fear, freedom from anxiety, and freedom from sorrow,” says poet, monk and mystic Thich Nhat Hanh, who died earlier this year at the age of 95.

My guess is Thich Nhat Hanh experienced his share of regrettable times during his long journey on this mortal coil. But he refused to shackle himself to yesterday. He chose joy today instead.

Next time I talk with my baseball friend, I think I’ll suggest the statute of limitations has expired on his whining. If he misses his cards so much, go out and buy some more. On eBay are more than 150,000 auctions for “vintage baseball cards.”  

For the last word on regret, let’s quote another sage, Yogi Berra, who like Thich Nhat Hanh moved through life with uncommon lightness and grace: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”


Want Some Clarity in Your Law Life?

A Discernment Consultation with someone who understands what you’re going through could be just what the (juris) doctor ordered. I’m here to help. Shoot me an email if you want to learn more.


Jay Reeves practiced law for nearly 40 years in North and South Carolina. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World and runs Your Law Life LLC. Contact jay@yourlawlife.com. He is available for talks, presentations and in-house Zoom sessions.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Newsletter Signup