Monday, December 26, 2022

#350 Mickey Mantle - New York Yankees

Mickey Charles Mantle
New York Yankees

Bats:  Both  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'11"  Weight:  195
Born:  October 20, 1931, Spavinaw, OK
Signed:  Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent before 1949 season
Major League Teams:  New York Yankees 1951-1968
Hall of Fame Induction:  1974
Died:  August 13, 1995, Dallas, TX (age 63)

Writing about the extremely well-known Hall of Famers in this set is way more difficult and daunting than writing about the fringe players who enjoyed a cup of coffee in the majors.  What can I write here about Mickey Mantle that isn't already well known and better written?

With that caveat out of the way . . . Mickey Mantle, the popular center fielder for the Yankees during their 1950s and early 1960s dynasty, was a three-time A.L. MVP winner, a 20-time All-Star, a triple crown winner in 1956 and a member of 7 World Champion Yankees teams.  He's regarded as one of the best switch hitters in baseball history and was a first ballot Hall of Famer in 1974.  Mantle led the league in home runs four times and in runs scored five times.  He finished his career with a .298 batting average, 2,415 hits, 536 home runs (currently 18th all-time) and 1,509 RBIs.  His #7 was retired by the Yankees upon his retirement in 1969, he ranked 17th on the 1998 Sporting News list of Baseball's 100 Greatest Players, and he was voted as one of the three outfielders on Major League Baseball's All-Century Team.

Not surprisingly, Mantle was my Dad's favorite non-Phillies baseball player.

Some text for this post originally appeared on my 1956 Topps blog.

Building the Set

December 3, 2022 from The Philly Show (Sports Card Plus - Cooper City, FL) - Card #598
This was the fourth of four final cards acquired for our set at The Philly Show, the Philadelphia Sports Collectors Show, held within the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania.  We arrived at the show in a steady rain right after doors opened at 9am, secured our autograph tickets and started walking the floor prior to the arrival of most of the crowd.  My goal for the show was simple:  Find the last four cards needed to complete our 1965 Topps set.  I wrote a full summary of the show in this post over at The Phillies Room.

The first two cards needed to complete our set took a while to find, but I eventually added the Orlando Cepeda (#360) and the Gordy Coleman (#269) cards within the first hour of walking around.  With Cepeda and Coleman out of the way, I turned my attention to the Tony Perez rookie card (#581) and the BIG final card needed for our set - this Mantle card.  Perez came quickly, as I found a gorgeous version of the card for sale from dealer America's Pastime.  Having spent a few hours at this point walking the show floor, I had added notes in my phone for the location of five ungraded Mantles I had come across so far, none of which had checked off the two qualities I was looking for - relative affordability and excellent or better condition.

When I came across this Mantle card from Sports Card Plus, I knew we had completed our set.  There was some negotiation, and a little hesitation, but I eventually agreed to the price the dealer finally offered.  And then . . . I went a step further.  In the case next to the stack of 1965 Topps superstar cards was a stack of 1969 Topps superstar cards with the 1969 Topps Mantle card, one of the key cards of that set, on top of the stack.  I asked to see that card as well, studied it for a minute or two, and offered the dealer a bundled price for the two Mantle cards.  My offer was accepted after a few beats, Venmo information was exchanged, and the cards were ours.  Our 1965 Topps set, begun almost three years prior, was complete.

I found Doug and casually announced, "We completed the set."  Smiling, he asked to see the Mantle card and then I proceeded to show him not one but two new Mantle cards.  I then regaled him with my negotiation story, which will be embellished and lengthened for dramatic effect as the years go on.  My Dad would be proud.  Four down, none to go.

I honestly held off a few weeks to write this post as we were busy with Christmas preparations and because I didn't want this particular journey to end.  This was fun.  Slogging through some of the commons and multi-player Rookie Star cards got a little tedious at times, but I enjoyed myself.  As I've stated before on this blog, writing about these baseball cards helped me escape briefly each day and got me through some long, stressful days during the 2020 pandemic.  I'll start up my 1969 Topps blog in earnest now, with regular posting starting in the new year.

The Card / Yankees Team Set
Each of Mantle's cards in Topps flagship sets between 1952 and 1969 are iconic, and this card is no exception.  The back of the card highlights his heroics in the 1964 World Series, and his walk-off home run in Game 3 is highlighted earlier in the set (#134).  Mantle also appears on two League Leaders cards for home runs (#3) and RBIs (#5), so this base card is his fourth appearance overall in the 1965 Topps set.  Also highlighted on the back are his three MVP wins and his four home run titles.  He would not add to either of those tallies.

This card has been reprinted quite a bit, and I tried to review Mantle's entire cardboard output in the Trading Card Database to determine how many different reprints are available.  I counted six different reprint versions for the card, starting with the reprints available as inserts with the 1996 Topps flagship set and up to the 2021 Topps x Mickey Mantle exclusive online set.

1965 Season
Mantle's SABR biography notes "years of injuries, late nights and excessive alcohol consumption" caught up to him in 1965.  While he was still an All-Star, he endured possibly the worst season of his career, batting .255 in 122 games with 19 home runs and 46 RBIs.  The Yankees finished below .500 at 77-85 and in sixth place, with Mantle making 107 starts in left field.

1951 Bowman #253
1952 Topps #311
1959 Topps #10
1962 Topps #200
1969 Topps #500

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1951 Bowman #253
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (25):  1952-1953, 1956-1969, 1975, 1996, 2006-2012
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2022 Topps Update Salute to the Mick #STM-9

5,873 - Mantle non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 12/21/22.

1956 Topps Blog

And with that, this blog is done! The video above flips through the entire glorious and bindered set.


  1. First reprint of course folks DIDN'T jump on at first was 1983 Topps reprint of the 1952 set. From 1983 until 1990 you could buy that unopened for 50 bucks. THen suddently the Mantle collectors jumped on that car and the set went to 200 bucks overnight.

  2. My Dad bought that set when it first came out and I'm forever grateful for that. I'll never own an original 1952 Topps set, but the reprints work for me!