The New York Yankees' great prospect, highlighted in early 1951 as Joe DiMaggio's designated successor, had finally made a dull season. After being downgraded to the Minor League, he returned to the Major League but suffered a severe injury to his right knee in an action with DiMaggio.
His father who was also his mentor dies on May 7, 1952 at the age of 40 of a blood disease. It was not known at the time that his illness was lead poisoning developed when mining. The young Mickey who is psychologically fragile believes in a hereditary curse. On July 8 Mickey is selected for the All-Star Game as an outfielder but left in reserve.
At the instigation of Sy Berger the bubble gum brand Topps makes a sensational entry into the edition of baseball cards. After a first trial in 1951, Topps launches in 1952 an extensive series with sharp pictures, pretty colors and a pleasantly didactic inscription on the back.
The printing of the 1952 series is made in several batches including the gradual selection of additional players. Mantle's omission in the first 310 players is probably due to his poor start of the season. When he becomes the first of the final 311-407, it is too late. The 1952 season is already well underway and Topps is slowing down the distribution to prepare for 1953 with suitably updated information.
An excellent participation at the beginning of October in the World Series launches the career of Mickey Mantle in a sustainable way. Although 1952 is not his rookie year, the rare Topps 1952-311 will become the most desirable of the modern baseball cards.
At the top of the scale PSA ranked three cards as Gem Mint 10 and six as Mint 9. None has been auctioned for more than a decade. One of the Mint 9 is estimated $ 3.5M by Heritage online from Dallas on April 19 plus extended bidding, lot 80477. With its bright colors and excellent centering this card excites the experts. The reason why it did not obtain the Gem Mint 10 grade is not revealed in the catalog.
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SOLD for $ 2.9M including premium