(FLINT, Mich.) — Investigators in Flint, Mich., tracked down a valuable ring commemorating Mickey Mantle’s career six years after it was stolen from the baseball legend’s son’s Texas home.
When the Plano, Texas, residence of Dan Mantle, 52, was burglarized while he was out of town at his father-in-law’s funeral in 2007, the robber took a number of valuable items and pieces of his wife’s jewelry. The most critical item for the center-fielder’s son was his Mickey Mantle commemorative career ring, which had been inscribed to the son and approved by the Yankees.
A total of 536 of the gold, diamond-encrusted rings were made, to correspond with Mantle’s 536 career home runs.
“My wife and I assumed we’d never see it again,” Dan Mantle told ABC News. “With a ring of that significance, we figured some collector will buy it and keep it for himself. Apparently it’s changed hands five times.”
The ring was found in Canada, but last spring, Mantle was contacted by an antiquities appraiser in Flint, who said he’d come into possession of it.
“He wanted me to sign an authenticity slip for it,” Mantle said. “I guess what they’d been told was that either me, or my mother, had given it to some attorney for payment. That was the original story.”
Mantle told him no, and that the ring was stolen. But the appraiser refused to return it, and instead sold it to a collector in Port Huron, Mich.
Mantle family attorney W. Drew Kastner told ABC News that he went back to the dealer, but that he refused to help recover the priceless ring. At that point he began working with Flint police — specifically Marcus Mahan, with Flint’s Criminal Investigative Bureau, whom Kastner described as “relentless.”
“[Mahan]’s a tough guy. He said, ‘I’m going to make you a promise to get this ring. And I keep my promises.’ He considered it a personal crusade,” Kastner said. “You’d think this was part of the crown jewels … it became a cause célèbre.”
Meanwhile, local police in Texas had caught a career burglar, and while inventorying his possessions, they found items that could be traced to Dan Mantle. He had made up an unlikely story that he was friends with Dan Mantle’s mother, according to Kastner.
Mahan and Michigan State Police were eventually able to trace the ring to Canada after putting pressure on the local appraiser. After meeting with an attorney, it was agreed that the ring will be returned to Dan Mantle.
“These guys in Michigan were amazing,” Kastner said. “They crushed it. They went after them relentlessly, and told them they’d be prosecuted. Eventually they did the right thing.”
Mahan was not immediately available for comment on the investigation. Kastner said that part of the deal is that there would be no disclosure of the buyer’s names to the press.
The lawyer who represented the buyer got the ring to Michigan police, who then sent it down to Flint. Kastner said that Wednesday morning Mahon delivered it to a jeweler, who is now sending it to Plano via a personal courier service. Dan Mantle should have his ring back by Friday.
Kastner said that each time the ring changed hands, the price doubled. The final purchase was for $10,000 – though Kastner, who has been representing the Mantles since 1989, says he considers that under market value. For the family the value is immeasurable.
“This was an authentic, very unique ring that Mickey had touched, and given to his son,” Kastner said. “When Mickey died in 1995, Danny’s wife was pregnant with Will. He and Mickey never got to meet. Danny knew all along that he’d give it to his son.”
Dan Mantle said that he plans to send thank you letters to Flint police, along with items signed by his dad.
“I have got to hand it to them, they did a great job. I’m going to send a signed lithograph to the Flint police and the state police,” he said. “I don’t know what else I can do. I hope it’ll be a great addition to wherever they put it. At least they’ll know they’re real!”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Laura Goehler, CNN
Sonya Hamasaki, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN
Holly Yan and Joe Sterling, CNN