Why Are Mickey Mantle Baseball Cards More Valuable Than Others?
August 15, 2007
by William Szczepanek
Many people have admired Mickey Mantle during his playing years and thereafter. Most would not say that Mickey Mantle was the greatest player of all time, or even the greatest of the 1950s or 1960s, though he did seem to be the most popular. Back then Babe Ruth would have gotten many votes for "greatest player" even though he had long been out of baseball. Ted Williams has the “best hitter" title in his bag. Willie Mays is always mentioned, but racial issues have kept most black players from being the most popular. Hank Aaron played during the same time as Mantle though he never seemed to get enough credit for his accomplishments. Aaron hit more than 200 more home runs than Mantle and almost 100 more home runs than Mays, but his cards don’t have anywhere near the value. Duke Snider hit more home runs that any other player in the 1950s, but didn’t have anywhere near the popularity of Mantle. His baseball cards don’t have near the value of the Mantle cards from the same time either.
The fact that Mantle played in New York gives him an advantage over most players because of the power of the New York press. Snider and Mays also played in New York with the Dodgers and Giants respectively during the fifties before the clubs moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The smaller San Francisco market probably hurt Mays’ popularity, except for the fact that the Giants played in the 1962 World Series against the Yankees. Snider never seemed to get the credit from the LA press that he got in New York even though the Dodgers won the World Series in 1959.
After reviewing all of these issues it appears that the constant over time has been Mantle’s popularity. He did have a period of time in the 50s when his fan support waned, when people did not think he was living up to his expectations, but later, when the fans watched him hobble up to the plate every day with his legs taped and in obvious pain, the sentiment towards him changed. He continued to put up big numbers throughout this time.
So the mystique lives on, much as it did in Mantle’s time. That mystique makes it harder and harder to question the value of a Mickey Mantle baseball card. In fact, it adds to the legend and the possibility that at a specific point in time Mantle may be considered the greatest player ever. I wonder why there hasn’t been a movie made yet about the life of Mickey Mantle. Maybe someday a movie will add more value to his already glorious cards.
By the way, my vote for greatest player of all time goes to Babe Ruth.