An Incredible Photograph of Mickey Mantle Immediately after his Career-Altering Injury in the 1951 World Series
It may not have been the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" but it certainly turned out to be a major event with long term ramifications for the New York Yankees. By now we all know the story of Mickey Mantle's knee injury during the 1951 World Series, the injury that perhaps robbed him of becoming the greatest hitter in history. His career statistics are quite remarkable nonetheless, but imagine how much more impressive they would have been, but for this event.
As Mickey told the story many times in his typically humble and diplomatic way, before that Game 2 of the Series, manager Casey Stengel instructed him to "take everything you can get to in right field" because Joe DiMaggio, the team's resident center fielder, was "slowing down".
In the fifth inning, Willie Mays hit a fly to right center. The Mick raced over to snag it, but DiMaggio was already under it, causing the 19-year old Mantle to pull up. As Mantle said, "you didn't want to run into Joe". When doing so, Mickey caught his foot in a rubber drain and his knee gave way. That injury of course became the "Achilles heel" of his career. Please excuse the pun. Those close to him knew he was not pleased with DiMaggio over the play.
Mickey's legs were never the same thereafter, and the injury certainly affected the rest of his 18-year playing career. Just look at the video years later of his 500th home run as he gingerly--make that "barely"-- trotted around the bases. The speed he was once known for was all but gone after that fateful day of October 5th, 1951. It was said that no player went from the left side of the batter's box to first base faster than he.
Immediately after the injury, Mickey was carried off in a stretcher with his knee and leg wrapped, and sent off to Lenox Hill Hospital – just south of Yankee Stadium. His father was at his side.
Presented is the original Type 1 photograph of the somber teenager, alone in the Yankee clubhouse holding his wrapped leg. To our knowledge, it is the only one known to exist. The caption on the back reads, "Yankee Casualty", "Mickey Mantle tests his taped shin in the Yankee dressing room, after spraining a knee while going after Willie Mays' long fly to center field in the fifth inning of the second game...” It's dated October 5, 1951.
The photo is crystal clear, measures 6" x 9", and is in immaculate condition, free of any defects whatsoever. Notice the pinstripe uniform, the hat and spikes.....and then imagine their worth today. He also had some fan mail on the shelf that probably went unanswered. Also, the obvious: his young face and teenage blemishes. If you are a Mantle fan you realize how deeply profound this moment was in his life. Whether he knew then how badly it would affect his career we will never know. The expression on his face certainly gives us some indication of his worry, and of course we do know the injury later manifested itself in a big way. It's simply a wonderful image, and one we had to purchase. Its significance cannot be overstated.
To state the obvious, Mickey Mantle is the most collectible post-war player in the hobby. Everything-Mickey is important to collectors. Items from his rookie season are sought after by all (especially us). Original "Type 1 graded" photographs are particularly popular and extremely scarce. These were "shots" taken randomly by photographers to be used in news dailies and later abandoned or destroyed. No more than a few originals could possibly have existed at the time, and most have been thrashed over the years. This one, thankfully, has survived and, and as noted most likely unique. It captures a crucial point of time in the Mick's career, albeit an unpleasant one. Its importance and rarity speaks for itself.
Photograph Collecting in Today's Hobby
In the last several years photo-collecting has taken on a new dimension with an influx of buyers searching for the very best images of important subjects and events. Following the rise--perhaps explosion is the proper word-- in rookie and vintage card prices, the market for rare photographs has risen dramatically as well. The end simply does not appear to be in sight. The demand outweighs the supply, but especially so on new-to-the-market pieces that surface. This is one that is brand new to the hobby, along with others we have recently purchased for our inventory.
We are interested in only the best photographs --the ones that we ourselves would put in a personal collection. Our criteria is simple: the event or player must be important, the condition beyond approach, rarity and authenticity unquestioned, and of course the image must be sharp and particularly significant. In addition, we make certain each photo is a "first generation", i.e., one that comes from the original negative at the same time the image was taken by the photographer. That is known in the parlance of the experts at PSA/DNA as a "Type 1".
If you love rare Mantle items, or perhaps photos generally, this one is a must. It features everything important in a collectible, including a large-size, sharp image of a young Mickey in his rookie season. The condition cannot be improved and the event is monumental.
Simply the Best of the Best and an item that will complement even the finest collection!
True Brigandi Quality
Comes with the all-important encapsulated "Jumbo Holder" from PSA/DNA