What Would Mickey Mantle Think?

I saw a news item that a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card in mint condition recently sold for $12.6 million.

Did this 5-year-old me once have a Mantle rookie card?

I share a birthday with Mickey Mantle, so I always had an affinity towards him as a player. And I grew up in northern New Jersey which is Yankees (and Mets) territory. I collected baseball cards as a kid. Might I have had a Mantle rookie card?

My friends and I used to trade and toss cards as a game. We also put card on our bicycle wheels with a clothespin to create a motorcycle sound when they hit the spokes. It destroyed the card but you used doubles and players or teams you didn’t collect. Surely, I would never have used a Mantle or any Yankees card.

I wonder if I “had” Mantle cards because my mother got rid of a box of my cards (baseball and others) and comic books when I went off to college. She thought I had outgrown them. She also gave away my Lionel train set to younger cousins. Considering that she was quite the pack rat for other things, it both amazed and angered me when I came home and found them gone.

The card via NPR

I still have about half the cards and comics that escaped the purge because I had stored them elsewhere but who knows how much of value was lost. On the subject of value – why would a card be worth $12.6 million? As the guy at the comic book shop told me not that long ago, “Because someone is willing to pay $12.6 million dollars for it.” An original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation sold for $2.1 million. So much for actual history book history.

It saddens me that some of my old classic comic books are worth a lot less because i actually read them. And the cards were handled and stored in boxes unprotet. “Mint condition” is the thing. It also saddens me that kids and adults (more the latter) now buy comics and never read them, and but cards and toys and never handle them or play with them. The comic immediately goes into a special acid-free plastic bag or other storage. The toy must be saved unopened to be mint – with all the fun drained from them.

Mickey Mantle died at age 63 in 1995, shortly after a liver transplant. He was a drinker and he knew it had shortened his life. His career earnings in baseball was $1,128,000. Even adjusted for inflation at $9 million dollars, that one card outearned his whole career.

What would the Mick think about that card’s sale? Maybe a bit proud that he was still valued that much. Maybe a little pissed off that he never earned that kind of money. (Doesn’t his family have a bunch of his cards that they saved?) Maybe he’d be bitter or regretful of the way he abused alcohol and his body during his playing days. Maybe he’d just think there were better things that 12 million dollars could do in the world of 2022.

I have to go find that box of cards that I still have – just in case.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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