Card of the Day: 1953 Bowman Color Mickey Mantle

**Note: With the All-Star game taking place this week at Yankee Stadium, I will spend the next several days showcasing cards from my Yankee collection.

The Mick. For about as long as I have followed baseball, Mickey Mantle has been a mythical figure to which I could not relate. I never got to see him play, and by the time I truly got a chance to understand his greatness, he near the end of his life. He died in 1995. I still have the Beckett Baseball Monthly issue dedicated to his death. That issue, which I took to school for a week, brought about lots of memories from other high schoolers who spoke of their father’s card collections. And it also caught then attention of one teacher who spoke of Mantle … and then about a newly emerging technology called deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA. But I digress. Never did I think I’d own an authentic vintage Mantle. The Internet was still in its infancy so I never saw them in person. EBay, I think, was still being thought of as a Web site on which the creators owner’s wife traded dolls. And I just figured I’d grow out of cards by the time I was able to afford one. But times have changed and I was wrong about my collecting habits. There is a vintage Mantle in my collection and it is this 1953 Bowman Color. It’ll probably be the closest I’ll ever get to owning his true rookie (1951 Bowman) or his most popular card (1952 Topps). This copy has some battle scars. As best as I can tell, at one point it had to have been mounted in a scrap book somewhere as there is clue residue on the rear, as well as some paper loss. But if you’ve read any of my pieces so far about vintage cards, these are attributes I enjoy. Sure we’d all love to own perfect copies of old cards — particularly because they are worth so much on the secondary market — but for me it’s fun to sit and imagine what this card has been through. It’s original owner probably had this thing stashed in a stack of other cards wrapped in a red rubber band or used it as a book marker once or twice. But a likely scenario probably involved the owner grasping the card as he listening to the Bronx Bombers on his family’s massive radio. The reason I bring up this later point is because Mantle came to mind a few times this week as I watched the All-Star festivities. No, I was not holding it while watching the events. But I found myself thinking of this card, Mantle, and The Mick’s left-handed swing every time Josh Hamilton belted a homer during the home derby. Some of Hamilton’s swings, particularly the ones in which he drove the ball to center field, looked exactly like Mantle. And on Tuesday I was again reminded of Mantle as I saw JD Drew in the All-Star Game MVP. Drew wears No. 7, the same jersey number Trot Nixon wore for the Red Sox. Nixon wore the jersey number in honor of his favorite player: Mickey Mantle. And of course Mantle played at Yankee Stadium, the theme for this week’s “Card of the Day” series.

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