A legend on the diamond and in the collecting world, there's been nobody like Mickey Mantle. With literally thousands of cards to choose from, here are the top ten Mickey Mantle baseball cards of all-time.
The most iconic post-War card in existence, people often regard Mantle's 1952 Topps Baseball card his rookie. It's not. But from a hobby standpoint, it's easily his most important piece of cardboard. Added to the much rarer "high series," legend has it that cases of leftover product were sent to a watery grave at the bottom of the ocean by Topps founder, Sy Berger.
Issued a year before his Topps debut, Mantle's true rookie card comes from 1951 Bowman Baseball. The painted image features a young Mantle standing against a cloudy backdrop. It's a beautiful card that embodies classic baseball card collecting. Like the 1952 Topps issue, this iconic Mickey Mantle baseball card was part of the scarcer high series, adding to its scarcity ,and subsequently, its value.
Another beautifully painted card, Mantle's 1952 Bowman Baseball card is the first mainstream card to picture him in the classic Yankee pinstripes. Like Mantle's 1952 Topps card, Bowman also included facsimile autographs.
Mantle's second Topps issue offers a close-up look at the young slugger. This is also the last Topps card Mantle had for a couple of years, as he would not return to the company until 1956. Although it might get a lot of attention for being on of the earliest baseball card sets from the company, 1953 Topps Baseball stands out on its own for having one of the best designs of all-time.
If Mantle embodies the vintage appeal of the hobby, Ken Griffey Jr. is the king of modern baseball cards. Autographed cards were still a rare novelty in 1994. Dual signatures were even tougher to come by. Upper Deck seeded 1,000 of these painted cards featuring autographs from both hobby icons in retail packs of 1994 Upper Deck Series 1 Baseball. Single-signed versions were also included.
Upper Deck's Piece of History - 500 Club is one of the few memorabilia sets to reach iconic status in the hobby. Even though bat slivers are generally regarded as being less desirable than a nice jersey or patch swatch, these cards that honor the game's biggest sluggers have held up on the secondary market extremely well. Released over various sets and years, Mantle's Piece of History card was inserted in 1999 Upper Deck Ovation Baseball. It also holds the distinction of being the slugger's first game-used memorabilia card. Limited to 350 copies, there's also a one-of-one version that also has a cut signature.
1969 Topps Baseball marked the last release to feature the Yankees legend during his playing days. The look in his eyes tell the story of a weary veteran who lived as hard as he played. It's a contrasting view of his earlier cards that often featured a beaming smile.
8. 1992 Score Baseball The Franchise Players Autographs Mantle (with Stan Musial and Carl Yastrzemski)
Who would've guessed a card from 1992 Score Baseball would land in Mantle's top ten? But who wouldn't want a card that has Mantle's signature sandwiched between those of Stan Musial and Carl Yastrzemski? The gold ink is also a nice addition. A total of 500 of these triple autographs were produced. Considering the massive print run that 1992 Score had, good luck finding one.
Think athlete exclusives on trading cards are a new thing? Think again. Back in 1954, Mickey Mantle (along with Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese) signed to appear exclusively in Bowman products. The 1954 Bowman Baseball design is simple but beautiful. A painted portrait of Mantle is anchored by a solid green box with a facsimile autograph.
Mickey Mantle knew he was one of the best in the game. Perhaps no other card shows his confidence than this early oddball release from Dan-Dee Potato Chips. It's also notable because, up to this point, Mantle's mainstream releases from Topps and Bowman all featured painted portraits and not photographs like the ones used here. Due to their distribution with the greasy snacks, it's extremely difficult to find cards without stains.
Please note that although very valuable, individual cut signature and one-of-one cards were left off due to their scarcity.
Did your favorite Mickey Mantle baseball card make our list? Let us know which ones stand out to you in the comments below.
Related Topics: Baseball Cards: Guides