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April 17, 1951 Mickey Mantle Major League Debut Yankee Stadium Program/Scorecard - Immaculate!

Item Number 26302

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Prompting perhaps more anticipation and unbridled wonder than any endeavor before or since, the career of Mickey Mantle proved nothing short of spectacular. Resultantly, artifacts from the Oklahoma-born icon’s career spark warranted hype and allure. This Bronx heirloom is no exception. Issued at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 1951, this program hails from the Major League debut of, without a doubt, the most prolific switch-hitter in baseball annals. As if that detail does not suffice, the item maintains absolutely stunning condition. The 20-page guide features the club’s stars-and-stripes themed logo on the front cover, with logos of the American League’s annual “also-rans” surrounding. The crisp interior pages are comprised of advertisements for local establishments, as well as text, photos and statistics detailing the well-oiled machine in the midst of a record five successive World Series crowns. The center pages tell a multi-faceted story. With pre-printed lineups listing the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams, the scoring grids have been marked in graphite pencil to document a 5-0 Yankee triumph. Further pinpointing the item to Mantle’s big league bow, several names were penciled into the lineup, as a variety of circumstances dictated. Mantle, listed as number “6” in the roster section, was not in the printed starting lineup. At the height of the “Red Scare” and corresponding Korean War, 19-year-old Mantle was a prime candidate for military service. A physical examination by the Draft Board, however, produced a 4-F status (likely due to chronic osteomyelitis incurred by Mantle after a high school football injury). Mantle was not notified of his rejection until April 13, after the program template had gone to print. Additionally, defending American League MVP Phil Rizzuto was not in the pre-printed lineup. Again, in anticipation of Rizzuto’s absence, the lineup was printed without him. Rizzuto (along with teammates Allie Reynolds and Joe Page) was sent to Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital on April 10 with a back strain. His status was “unlikely,” while that of his teammates was a definitive “no.” Finally, Gene Markland (he of one career hit) was pre-printed as the hosts' No. 9 hitter. Markland was optioned to Class AAA Kansas City that morning and was never again to appear on a Major League roster. Regardless of prognostications, the show went forward with what skipper Casey Stengel lamented “too many green peas.” Mantle, who had hit his first-ever home run in New York just two days prior during an exhibition contest at Ebbets Field, had to wait an extra day to debut as the April 16 scheduled season opener in Washington, D.C. was rained out. Visibly nervous during a pre-game photo opportunity with DiMaggio and Williams, Mantle stood in awe. As DiMaggio failed to introduce the young phenom, Williams took charge, extended his hand and said “You must be Mick.” The rest is baseball history. A treasure in its own right, this pinstriper relic certainly exceeds all other examples with its pristine condition. Aside from the aforementioned crisp and complete pages/covers, this is free of any creases or compacting folds routinely found on stadium-issued publications of this era. In summary: it’s breathtaking.     

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