Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Nitty Gritty on The Mick!

Some call him Muscles, some know him as the Commerce Comet, others just call him the Mick, but I think everyone knows who Mickey Mantle, whether they are a baseball fan or not. Aside from his rookie year in 1951 he was named to the All Star team for each of the next 17 seasons, being named to 20 All Star Games, starting 13 of them, appearing in 16 and hitting 2 homers as an All Star. During the regular season he was named the American League MVP 3 times, led the AL in homeruns 4 times and in runs scored 6 times. In 1956 he won his first MVP award and also won the American League’s Triple Crown, batting .352 with 52 homers and 130 RBI. Since then only 2 other players have won the Triple Crown and no one has done it since Yaz won it in 1967. The Mick had some amazing regular season performances, but he became a Legend for his feats in October and that is what today’s Nitty Gritty Card of the Day focuses on. The CotD is from the 1964 Topps Giants set, card #25, titled Mickey ties Ruth Record-Mantle Smashes 15th Series Homer. The Mick played for 12 American League Pennant Winning teams in New York and his Yankee squads won 7 World’s Titles. Mantle played in 65 World Series games and went to the plate 273 times in October. His career batting average in the Series (.257) is considerably lower than his career batting average of .298 in regular season play, but Mantle got things done with the long ball in the Series. The back of this card touts Mantle tying Babe Ruth’s record with 15 homeruns in the Series, but less than a year after this card was printed Mantle had one of his best postseasons ever. At 32 years of age, the 1964 Series would be Mantles final time in the postseason. His Yankees team fell to Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games, but Mantle batted .355 with 3 homeruns and 8 RBI in a losing effort. That gave him 18 World Series homers and set the record for most homers in the Series. Mantle would play for several more seasons with the Yankees before retiring after the 1968 season at age 36. He hit 18 homers in his final season and ended his career with 536 homers, which at the time was 2nd most of All-Time. Presently he is 16th on the All Time list, but has more homers than any other switch hitter in MLB history. Among those ahead of him on the All Time list; only Mike Schmidt (548) hit all of his homers for one team. Mantle spent his entire career (1951-1968) with the New York Yankees. His number 7 has been retired by the Yanks and he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1974. I love this set, I love this hobby, and I love this game and its rich history. 46 years, LATER!

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