Mickey Mantle is one of the greatest baseball players ever. In fact, if it weren’t for the injuries that nagged him, he might’ve been able to contend for GOAT status. Mantle’s powerful slugging and tendency to swing for the stands set the template for superstars of subsequent generations.
Mantle’s enduring fame also impacts the value of his baseball cards. Originally worth little more than pennies, Mantle’s cards now fetch staggering sums in the memorabilia market. Let’s look at Mantle’s legacy, how much his baseball cards are worth, as well as the most valuable Mantle card of all.
Mickey Mantle’s baseball legacy
The Yankees signed Mantle to his first minor league contract in 1949, shortly after he graduated from high school. The athlete spent his first minor-league year with the Class-D Independence Yankees, before moving up to Class-C team, the Joplin Miners, in 1950. He struggled defensively, but Mantle’s incredible batting skills became apparent in his sophomore season.
Mantle made his leap to the majors the next year. This began an 18-year career with the Yankees. Though he always struggled with injuries, it didn’t stop him from racking up monster numbers. Mantle was undoubtedly a slugger, smacking as many as 52 home runs in the 1956 season and earning his first MVP.
Yet he also showed a surprising amount of finesse at the plate, averaging 163 hits per season. In other words, Mantle managed to get his bat on the ball often, leading to some exceptional batting averages in his career. For instance, during his 1956 MVP season, Mantle had a batting average of .353.
Mantle made 16 All-Star teams and earned three MVP awards (1956, 1957, and 1962). During his historic 1956 season, Mantle the AL batting champion earned a Triple Crown. Mantle was no defensive slouch either. In 1962, he won his sole Golden Glove Award.
How much are Mantle baseball cards worth?
Mantle spent 18 seasons in the MLB, so fans saw a lot of Mantle baseball cards produced. As you may imagine, not all of them are worth as much. Value tends to depend on factors like condition, year, and overall scarcity. At the low end, the Mantle card produced for Red Heart Dog Food has an average value of around $4,250, reports PSA Collector.
From there, Mantle cards just get more expensive. Even cards from later in his career can fetch enormous sums. For instance, his 1969 Topps card may be worth as much as $40,000 if you have the rare variant with white borders. The same card with the more common yellow borders usually goes for around $8,500.
The majority of Mantle’s baseball cards have five-digit values ranging from $15,000 to $99,999. A few Mantle cards manage to break into six-digit territory. These include the 1953 Topps card, valued at $100,000, and the 1951 Bowman rookie card, which has a staggering value of $750,000.
The most expensive Mantle baseball card ever
The rarest and most expensive of Mantle’s cards is the 1952 card produced for Topps. Mantle’s first for Topps, it features a striking design with bright colors. Although the series of cards had two print runs, the manufacturer trashed a large amount of them, unwittingly driving up the scarcity.
As a result, this has become the single most valuable Mantle card by a long shot. In 2018, a 1952 Topps Mantle card sold for $2.88 million dollars, reports USA Today, making it the second most expensive baseball card ever sold. The most expensive was a 1909 Honus Wagner card that brought in $3.12 million in 2016.
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