Monday, October 14, 2013

#10 Mickey Mantle (Blog Post #500)

I figured a good way to celebrate the 500th post on this blog was to feature the (arguably) most popular and (definitely) most expensive card in the set, that of Mickey Mantle. I consider myself lucky to have grown up watching Mantle. Although I wasn't a Yankee fan it was easy to find yourself in awe of him and his persona. My father and I were regular Sunday visitors to Yankee Stadium and if the Yanks were playing a doubleheader (they did that a lot) then Mantle usually started one of the games. If it was a single game there was a chance he would be sitting it out. That always disappointed me (and probably everyone else in the place).
There isn't any point to summarizing his career or life here. You can Google infinite pages of Mantle info including both 'official' and 'unofficial' dedicated sites. But, as with the other mega-stars shown in this set, I'll paste in the list of achievements as listed on Mickey's Baseball Reference Bullpen page.

16-time AL All-Star (1952-1965, 1967 & 1968)
3-time AL MVP (1956, 1957 & 1962)
AL Triple Crown (1956)
AL Gold Glove Winner (1962)
AL Batting Average Leader (1956)
3-time AL On-Base Percentage Leader (1955, 1962 & 1964)
4-time AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1955, 1956, 1961 & 1962)
6-time AL OPS Leader (1952, 1955, 1956, 1960, 1962 & 1964)
5-time AL Runs Scored Leader (1954, 1956-1958 & 1960)
3-time AL Total Bases Leader (1956, 1958 & 1960)
AL Triples Leader (1955)
4-time AL Home Runs Leader (1955, 1956, 1958 & 1960)
AL RBI Leader (1956)
5-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (1955, 1957, 1958, 1961 & 1962)
20-Home Run Seasons: 14 (1952-1962, 1964, 1966 & 1967)
30-Home Run Seasons: 9 (1955-1962 & 1964)
40-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1956, 1958, 1960 & 1961)
50-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1956 & 1961)
100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1954, 1956, 1961 & 1964)
100 Runs Scored Seasons: 9 (1953-1961)
Won seven World Series with the New York Yankees (1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961 & 1962)
Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1974 (Mantle's Hall of Fame page)

As for the card, well it's a classic and one of my favorite Mantle Topps cards. I can't say I remember pulling it from a pack as I wasn't buying packs in 1959 but in the early to mid 60s it was a big thrill to pull a Mantle from a pack no matter how you felt about the Yanks. I picked this one up for what I thought was a reasonable $100 after many losing bids on lower conditioned examples. It's more appealing in person than it appears in my scan which seems to have washed out some of the color. Mantle poses near the batting cage in Yankee Stadium with some teammates and the third base seats in the background.

I met Mantle once some years after he had retired. In the late 70s and early 80s I would spend a day every spring at the Houston Open Wednesday Pro-Am. Back then there would be actual sports and entertainment celebrity players out on the course. I'd get there very early and hang out around the clubhouse parking lot area seeing who I could see. I never approached any of the celebs with one exception. I'll never forget turning around to see Mickey Mantle alone on the passenger side of a golf cart parked in a row of other carts near the clubhouse steps. Oddly no one else was around so I went over and said hello and mumbled something about the fact that my Dad's two favorite players were him and Joe DiMaggio. I don't remember what he said but he did shake my hand and smiled. I never thought to ask for an autograph. I probably didn't have anything for him to sign anyway.

When my Dad died I stuck a Mickey Mantle pin onto his lapel just before they closed his casket. I'd bought the pin on a whim a few years earlier at a game in the old Yankee Stadium. Probably the last game I attended in the park I'd enjoyed so many Sunday afternoons at with my father. Even though it looked different due to the refurbishings it had gone though it was still Yankee Stadium and it held some great memories for me.
Here is my favorite picture of Mickey Mantle....


  1. Bob,

    I just learned yesterday that Mickey Mantle was left unprotected in the expansion draft following the 1968 season (though, had I ever stopped to think about it, it makes perfect business sense).

    1. As I recall, it was pretty well known after the '68 season that Mantle was going to retire the following spring training no matter what.

  2. I was looking at his home run log trying to remember which homer it was that Denny McLain served up as a 'gift' and I noticed something. In that last 1968 season Mantle hit 9 homers with one guy on base. For seven of those Roy White was the guy on base. And those were consecutive. What that signifies I have no clue. Except that I spent far too much time on Baseball Reference's site.