Baseball legends Mickey Mantle and Don Drysdale say a sports show promoter threw them a curve by paying them with bad checks. The former athletes contend Ernest Dent vanished after handing out thousands of dollars in bad paper, Pasadena, Calif., Police Detective Mark Hansen said.

At least 10,000 fans showed up at the Pasadena Center earlier this month for a three-day "Baseball Legends" memorabilia show. About 30 sports and television celebrities sold their autographs for $6 to $30 each.

The stars said they were promised anywhere from $1,000 to $32,000 to attend. Local businesses who supplied thousands of dollars in office supplies, posters, lithographs and airline tickets say they found the promoters' Glendale offices vacant when they went to collect two days after the show.

"Unfortunately, we were not able to escape what appears to be a planned scam by Mr. Dent," said Mark Roesler, president of Curtis Management Group in Indianapolis.

The investigation began last week after Mantle reported his check for $16,000 had bounced, Hansen said. Other athletes claiming they were stiffed include former baseball stars Ernie Banks, Bob Feller, Monte Irvin and Davey Lopes, boxer Joe Frazier and Phoenix Suns forward Kurt Rambis.