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There may be no one man more responsible for the modern baseball cards hobby than Mickey Mantle.
The heck of it is, Mantle darn near delivered on that huge promise others made on his behalf. If not for a freak accident (with a Joe D. assist) and some hard living, Mantle might well have played into his 40s and rewritten all the record books.
As it stands, Mantle put together one of the best peaks in the history of baseball and helped the New York Yankees build yet another dynasty in the middle of the twentieth century. And, even though he petered out in his mid 30s, Mantle still banged out more than 500 home runs and continues to draw consideration in every “best of” discussion you can imagine.
And, exactly at the moment that Mantle was beginning to make his mark on American culture, so was another baseball giant.
Topps produced their first set of baseball cards in 1951 and, while they missed out on young Mick that first time around, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle “rookie card” struck the right note with young collectors.
It was big and bold, just like Mantle, and it was on every kid’s want list.
Many of those youngsters returned to the hobby in the 1970s and 1980s as adults, and those Baby Boomers brought plenty of expendable income with them.
Setting out to collect the cards they missed out on in their youths, these now-grown men focused their collective efforts on grabbing that ’52 Topps Mantle. That tremendous demand, coupled with the card’s place in Topps’ high-number series, sent prices spiraling through the stratosphere and pulled along every other Mantle card with them.
Not long after that, the hobby exploded as collectors tried to hook into whatever might become the next Mickey Mantle rookie card.
Even today, with the hobby boom long behind us, Mantle cards are special and deserve a second or thousandth look.
You can check out the complete list of Mantle cards issued during his career via the PSA master checklist , but with well over 200 cards in the list, you could probably spend a lifetime trying to piece the whole thing together.
You don’t have to wait so long to get a good look at Mantle’s best cards, though.
Below, we run down every Mantle card (except for team cards) issued by the big two card companies — Bowman and Topps — during his playing career. It’s a cornucopia of celebrated cardboard, so sit back and enjoy the show.
Click on any image below to see current Amazon listings for that card (affiliate links).
1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle (#253)
Although the 1952 Topps Mantle (below) gets most of the glory in mainstream coverage of the hobby, real collectors know the 1951 Bowman is Mantle’s true rookie card. This beauty will never surpass his first Topps card in terms of value or mystique, but it is a hobby icon in its own right.
1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle (#101)
A fine follow-up to his debut cardboard, the 1952 Bowman Mantle features a vertical format and a facsimile version of The Mick’s famous signature. An underappreciated card in the firmament of Mantle cardboard.
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (#311)
This is it — the Mac Daddy of all modern baseball cards. Were it not for the existence of the T206 Honus Wagner card, this would likely be the most valuable hunk of cardboard ever produced. It’s already in a close race for title of “Most Famous” and may — may — be in the running for most overrated.
1953 Bowman Hank Bauer/Yogi Berra/Mickey Mantle (#44)
Mantle barely squeezes into this rollicking photo with Yogi Berra and Hank Bauer, but don’t you get the feeling Bowman would have skipped the thing altogether had Mantle not been there?
1953 Bowman Color Mickey Mantle (#59)
The 1953 Bowman set is often lauded for its big, beautiful full-color images and minimal card design, and it smacks a home run with this Mantle card. This one has it all — powerful follow-through, pinstripes, stadium background, blue sky. Cardboard perfection?
1953 Topps Mickey Mantle (#82)
The 1953 Topps set is beloved by collectors but still has to play second fiddle to the 1952 Topps issue when it comes to value, especially in the case of Mantle. But this colorful card featuring the artwork of Gary Dvorak is a masterpiece in miniature that has been reproduced by Topps themselves multiple times.
1954 Bowman Mickey Mantle (#65)
This card was the only Mantle card in town in 1954 since the youngster had signed to appear exclusively on Bowman pasteboards. The classic design and Mick’s big smile make up for that paucity of cardboard, though.
1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle (#202)
Mantle was still a Bowman exclusive in 1955, so collectors were treated to Mickey on the tube, wrapped in wood grain. Not gorgeous, but it’s a Mickey Mantle baseball card, so you can’t sneeze at it.
1956 Topps Mickey Mantle (#135)
Mantle himself called 1956, “my favorite summer” and even wrote a book (affiliate link) about it with Phil Pepe. Little wonder, considering that the he won the Triple Crown that year! And, while Mantle was unfurling his magic on the field, little boys across America were pulling this classic card from their wax packs. A perfect representative of Topps first set as the lone card manufacturer after buying out rival Bowman.
1957 Topps Mickey Mantle (#95)
This is another of those minimalist card designs, like 1953 Bowman, that old-time collectors gush about. And, with Mantle in pinstripes and at the end of his left-handed power swing, this one is tough to resist.
1957 Topps Yankees Power Hitters — Yogi Berra/Mickey Mantle (#95)
This is a reprisal of the 1953 Bowman multi-player card, this time with Mantle and Berra poised and ready for diamond battle. But … where is Hank Bauer?!?
1958 Topps Mickey Mantle (#150)
Mantle gets up close and personal on his 1958 Topps card. It’s pure 1950s, set off by the classic Yankees top-hat logo.
1958 Topps World Series Batting Foes — Mickey Mantle/Hank Aaron (#418)
Hank Aaron probably should have had top billing on this card considering that his Milwaukee Braves beat Mantle and the Yankees in the 1957 World Series. No matter who’s listed first, though, it’s hard to gripe about the only card to feature these two legendary sluggers together.
1958 Topps Mickey Mantle All Star (#487)
Even more “50s” than his base card from the same year is the 1958 Topps Micke Mantle All Star card. There’s a whole lot of glitz and glamor on this one, but then again … it does feature The Mick, so what would you expect?
1959 Topps Mickey Mantle (#10)
Mickey Mantle in a red porthole pretty well sums up this 1959 Topps base issue. Not the greatest design or image ever, but it’s still a 1950s Mantle card. So … awesome!
1959 Topps (Mickey) Mantle Hits 42nd Homer for Crown (#461)
You wouldn’t know just by looking at this card that it’s part of the 1959 set, at least until you turn it over. There, the blocky green and red print give it away. The front features what appears to be a paint-over photo that is not great art but gives the card a tobacco-era feel.
1959 Topps Mickey Mantle All-Star (#564)
The American League shield cutout replaces the porthole design of the base 1959 set in this All-Star card, and Mantle looks powerful and vigilant in his left-handed stance against the Yankee Stadium grandstand in the background. A nostalgic card all the way around.
1960 Topps Rival All Stars — Mickey Mantle/Ken Boyer (#160)
Ken Boyer found himself in rarefied air on this 1960 card, sharing space with Mickey Mantle courtesy of a 1959 All-Star berth and a lifetime average that was creeping up toward .300. Add in climbing power numbers, and it’s little wonder that St. Louis Cardinals fans were excited by their stellar third baseman. Mickey seems amused by the whole thing.
1960 Topps Mickey Mantle (#350)
After three years of portrait layouts, Topps returned to a landscape format in 1960. It’s an interesting design that really pops for this Mantle card thanks to the bright colors, the classic Yankees logo, and … well, the presence of Mickey Mantle himself.
1960 Topps Mickey Mantle All Star (#563)
Topps wanted to make darn sure you knew which year these All-Star cards represented, so they slapped a huge “60” on the backdrop of each pasteboard. For his part, Mantle almost looks frightened here — maybe he feels the weight of “60” in another way? Babe Ruth and Roger Maris loomed in his future, after all.
1961 Topps AL Home Run Leaders — Mickey Mantle/Roger Maris/Rocky Colavito (#44)
This card was a harbinger of things to come for the 1961 season. After besting teammate Roger Maris for the American League home run crown in 1960, Maris would spend the summer of 1961 chasing history and, ultimately, looking up at Roger.
1961 Topps Mickey Mantle (#300)
Nothing fancy here, just The Mick and his bat, staring off into the future — or at some fan who has caught his attention.
1961 Topps 1960 World Series — (Mickey) Mantle Slams 2 Homers (#307)
Long before Reggie Jackson became Mr. October, Mantle was busy smashing through World Series after World Series with the Yankees. Here, he connects for two home runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 2 of the 1960 Fall Classic.
1961 Topps (Mickey) Mantle Blasts 565 Ft. Home Run (#406)
This is another one of those cards that tough to associate with a particular set based on an initial visual inspection, and even the back is a bit confusing. It’s a pretty cool little card, though, celebrating as it does the monster home run that Mantle blasted against the Washington Senators’ Chuck Stobbs on April 17, 1953. Any truth to the rumor that JFK, after hearing reports of this moonshot, recruited Mantle as a rocket booster in the US space program?
1961 Topps Mickey Mantle MVP (#475)
Who is that old man in front of the red background on 1961 Topps #475? Oh, right, it’s Mickey Mantle, two-time AL MVP.
1961 Topps Mickey Mantle All-Star (#578)
Apparently, Topps was a big fan of having Mantle wave a bat over his right shoulder, lift his chin, and gaze off intensely to his left, as this was the third card in their 1961 set that fit the motif.
1962 Topps Managers’ Dream — Mickey Mantle/Willie Mays (#18)
1962 Topps AL Home Run Leaders — Jim Gentile/Harmon Killebrew/Mickey Mantle/Roger Maris (#53)
What may be more amazing about this card that than the Roger Maris’s 61 home runs, Mickey Mantle‘s 54 home runs, or all the floating heads is that none of those floating heads belong to Chicago Cubs players. Go figure!
1962 Topps Mickey Mantle (#200)
This is a classic Mantle card released during his final MVP campaign and delivered to a whole new generation of collectors through Kmart’s 25th anniversary box set of MVPs in 1982.
1962 Topps The Switch Hitter Connects — Mickey Mantle (#318)
This card ostensibly celebrates the home run record that Mantle didn’t set, noting on the card back that
The New York Yankees’ fabulous switch-hitter was running neck and neck with Roger Maris in the home run race last year when an injury sidelined him in September.
Uh … yeah.
Just an excuse to squeeze in another Mantle card, which is all well and good. It does have some pretty sweet stop-motion swing action going on. And, Topps gave Roger his due with card #313, “Maris Blasts 61st,” so all is good.
1962 Topps Mickey Mantle All-Star (#471)
Ho hum, another day, another Micky Mantle All-Star card with bat on shoulder, chin up, and mischievous grin. It must have been good to be king.
1963 Topps AL Batting Leaders — Chuck Hinton/Norm Siebern/Floyd Robinson/Mickey Mantle/Pete Runnels (#2)
The floating heads are back and, what’s remarkable here, is that Mickey Mantle is the only guy among the five 1962 AL batting leaders who put together a Hall of Fame career. The rest weren’t even close.
1963 Topps Bombers’ Best — Tom Tresh/Mickey Mantle/Bobby Richardson (#173)
Topps and the Yankees probably thought the Bombers were on the verge of another dynastic run when this card came out, but it never quite materialized. By the mid-1960s, the Yanks had sunk toward the bottom of the standings, and Mantle was winding down. Tresh and Richardson were great in their own ways and for short periods of time, but they couldn’t carry the, um, mantle of becoming Yankee legends.
And, how could you possibly call out the “Bombers’ Best” in 1963 without including Roger Maris? Maybe the Yanks just ran into The Curse of Card #173.
1963 Topps Mickey Mantle (#200)
This card illustrates why Topps had Mantle looking to his left all those years. A turn to the right always soured his mood and swallowed his bat.
1964 Topps Mickey Mantle (#50)
The Mick was back in prime form here, bat waving over his right shoulder and eyes casting daggers toward the (batting practice) pitcher. A classic shot that extends nicely into the borders of the clean 1964 Topps design.
1964 Topps AL Bombers — Norm Cash/Al Kaline/Mickey Mantle/Roger Maris (#331)
1965 Topps AL Home Run Leaders — Harmon Killebrew/Mickey Mantle/Boog Powell (#3)
Mantle is doing his best Thomas Jane impression here as he peers up from the lower right-hand corner of the AL Home Run Leaders card. He may not have won the crown, but he looks like he still has several good years left in him. Depends on your definition of “good,” I suppose.
1965 Topps AL RBI Leaders — Brooks Robinson/Harmon Killebrew/Mickey Mantle (#5)
Mantle is just one of the crowd here, nestled as he is between Dick Stuart and Harmon Killebrew. That’s OK, though, because collectors could always count on Topps to squeeze in a bit more Mantle cardboard.
1965 Topps World Series Game #3 — (Mickey) Mantle’s Clutch HR (#134)
And so they did, with a recounting of Mantle’s Game 3 home run in the 1964 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Mantle looks powerful on his follow-through here, and the mattresses lined up behind him at old Busch Stadium cringe at the thought of a foul ball slammed their direction.
1965 Topps Mickey Mantle (#350)
This is, quite simply, a beautiful baseball card. The 1965 Topps set captures perfectly the rah-rah game day feeling that swallows ever die-hard baseball fan who has ever headed to a Major League stadium for the first time, and Mantle still stirs the all-American dream of making it big on the diamond. Crows’ feet and all.
1966 Topps Mickey Mantle (#50)
The 1966 Topps set was a rare bird — a major baseball card issue with only one Mickey Mantle card (if you discount the Yankees team card). Maybe it had something to do with the fact that both Mantle (19 home runs, 46 RBI, .255 batting average) and the Yankees fell on hard times in 1965.
The card is a good one, though, even if Mantle is batting left-handed and looking to his right. In fact, he seems mildly amused and not really sour at all.
1967 Topps 2nd Series Check List – Mickey Mantle (#103)
Topps made up for their pittance of Mantle cardboard in 1966 by popping his noggin on the top of their 2nd Series checklist (or “check list” in Topps’ parlance) in 1967. Slightly creepy, but it’s colorful and Mantleful.
1967 Topps Mickey Mantle (#150)
If Mantle weren’t smiling in this photo, you might mistake his base 1967 Topps card for a mugshot, what with the drab green background and partial-shoulders-and-mug … um … shot.
Couple this with the Check List card, and you get the feeling that maybe Topps wasn’t too keen to show Mantle’s body in 1967. Was it falling apart or something?
Well, yeah, it kinda was, but still.
1968 Topps Mickey Mantle (#280)
There we go. This is more like it.
The 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle card greeted what would turn out to be his last season in the Majors with a classic batting stance pose in Yankees pinstripes. It doesn’t come much more basic or iconic than that, burlap and all.
Related post: 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle Baseball Card: Sylin’ in Burlap
1968 Topps Super Stars — Harmon Killebrew/Willie Mays/Mickey Mantle (#490)
Willie, Mickey, and … The Duke? Well, not quite. Duke Snider had been retired for a few years by the time this burlap beauty slid out of wax packs across the land, but Harmon Killebrew filled in admirably for the Silver Fox to round out this trio of sluggers. (Though slotting him in centerfield would have been an interesting experience.)
So … Willie, Mickey, and Killer?
Yeah, that sounds pretty good.
1969 Topps 5th Series Check List — Mickey Mantle (#412)
Mantle retired just before the 1969 season began which meant that Topps’ “check list” was already pretty cemented. Part of that run was another Mantle head on another checklist card, but at least this time he got to keep his neck and a bit of background scenery.
1969 Topps Mickey Mantle (#500)
Most of the time, Topps based their set composition on who they thought would actually be playing in the Big Leagues during a given season. If they knew a player was jobless, they generally wouldn’t include him.
That wrecked the baseball card careers of luminaries like Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron, who announced their retirements well before the ink was dry on Topps’ master plan for the following season. As a consequence, those guys got no career-capper cards showcasing their entire statistical records.
But Mantle held out long enough that Topps couldn’t pull the plug on his final pasteboard, #500 in their 1969 set. Not only that, but his card also exists in the scarce “white letter” version that sends prices through the roof:
Who knows? Maybe Topps would have granted Mantle his career-capper anyway because, you know, he was Mickey Mantle. But he took the bat out of their hands and did it his way.
Also, check out the video version of the post here:
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