Sports Collectors Digest has exclusive on collection that speaks volumes

IOLA, Wis. — He pitched to Mickey Mantle; he struck out Ted Williams. He was a gofer for one of Meyer Lansky’s henchmen. Former major leaguer Johnny Gray is 84 years old now and sitting on a pile of spectacular vintage baseball “cards” that came from a shadowy figure with links to everything from President Kennedy, the Bay of Pigs and the Mafia to Avery Brundage, Mickey Mantle, Jim Thorpe and “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”
Now Gray, hoping to create some awareness of a unique, largely overlooked collectible from nearly 50 years ago, has told his story in an exclusive interview with the hobby’s oldest publication, Sports Collectors Digest. Check out some of the most spectacular photography from the Golden Era of Major League Baseball in a stunning set of talking baseball cards that still have plenty to say so many years later.
The fascinating story unfolds in a first installment in the April 17 issue of Sports Collectors Digest and on its website at
According to Sports Collectors Digest Editor T.S. O’Connell, Gray is sitting on an estimated 17,000 Auravision Records from 1964, unique collectibles that boast one of the more curious histories in the sports memorabilia hobby. A mysterious fire at a Pier in New York City reportedly destroyed hundreds of thousands of the 33 1/3 RPM records that feature stunning photographs of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, Ernie Banks and a dozen other top stars from the early 1960s. Each of the players is brought to life in their own words in marvelous interviews conducted by famed broadcaster Marty Glickman.
Michael McLaney, a legendary golf hustler, professional gambler and casino operator in the Bahamas and Cuba in the pre-Castro days who was described as a Meyer Lansky lieutenant, ended up with a cabana-full of the Auravision Records, which he gave to Gray in the early 1970s. A man linked to the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro, Lee Harvey Oswald, the NFL’s early gambling scandals and even Watergate, McLaney seems like an odd candidate for a pioneering role in the memorabilia business, but there he is.
Omerta aside, these are baseball cards with a story to tell.
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