The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum described Joe Pepitone’s claim to ownership of Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run bat as a “shake down,” in a federal court filing Friday.
Pepitone last month sued the Hall for $1 million and the bat, claiming he has always owned it. In his version of events, he lent the bat, inscribed with his signature, to Mantle and then to the Hall.
However, the Hall’s lawyers blasted away at Pepitone in a motion to dismiss, even suggesting the former Yankee might risk imprisonment for not being truthful during his 2010 bankruptcy. In that Chapter 7 proceeding, Pepitone disowned any ties to the Mantle bat, and the court discharged — let him walk away from — $130,000 in debt, the Hall alleged.
“Pepitone signed the Bankruptcy Petition in numerous places, attested that he was doing so under penalty of perjury, and acknowledged that making false statements or concealing assets in that filing would subject him to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and up to five years in federal prison,” the Hall’s motion said. “Despite listing items of nominal value, like compact discs worth $100, and rifles worth $400, Pepitone did not list the Mantle bat as an asset in his Bankruptcy Petition. He did not list any claims against the Baseball Hall of Fame or any claims concerning the Mantle bat. He did not list any contracts — oral, written or otherwise — with anyone concerning the Mantle bat. For Pepitone, who owned no real estate and claimed total cash holdings of about $550, the Mantle bat easily would have been his most valuable asset.”
Pepitone’s attorney, David Barshay, wrote in an email, “We have not yet reviewed the reply.”