Friday, November 26, 2010

OK, let's get some Mantle over with here.

I love this '64 Topps Giant Mickey Mantle card. It's probably my favorite playing era Mantle card, and not just because it's the only one I own or will own barring a lucky break. (I'm not even remotely seriously in the market for anything other than maybe the '67 or '69 cards, but those still hurt.)

On this larger than life card of a larger than life guy, Mick looks like he's midsummer, mid-game, middle of a flask, and most importantly, in the middle of a story about either the rack on a deer he and Whitey bagged, or the rack on the girl he took home last night. He looks more like the Mantle I grew up with, the off-color, half-lit, mischevious storyteller who'd show up on Letterman in the '80s and hold court, than he does the Superman Mantle revered by baby boomers. This is the Mantle who'd drop an F-bomb on an autographed baseball from time to time, the renowned beaver shooter of "Ball Four", the guy who was more like one of the guys my dad would hang out with at the bar than a boyhood sports idol.

Maybe, given the mess he made of his life and his family's, I shouldn't like that Mantle (or people like him) so much, but like quite a few people who knew him and plenty who didn't, I just can't help it. Eventually, in the face of his own mortality, Mick repented and did as much good as he could given the circumstances, but I feel like this card gives us a terrific glimpse of the unrepentant Mickey Mantle.

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