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Lot # 937 (of 1137)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1951 New York Yankees Program and Ticket Stub from Mantle's First Yankee Stadium Appearance EVER!

Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $356

Offered here is an extremely significant item that is almost certainly absent from even the most advanced Mickey Mantle collection: an exceedingly rare New York Yankees program, issued for an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 13, 1951, that marks the first time that Mickey Mantle's name appeared in a Yankee Stadium scorecard.

Mantle made his major league debut with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 1951; however, it was not the first time his name appeared in a Yankee Stadium scorecard. That event occurred four days earlier when the Yankees played the first of three exhibition games against the Dodgers in New York. The first game, for which this program was issued, occurred at Yankee Stadium on April 13th, while the other two games, on April 14th and 15th, took place at Ebbets Field. A fourth exhibition game for the Yankees, at Washington on April 16th, was ultimately rained out.

Although the cover to this twenty-page program is dated 1950, there is no doubt that it was issued for the April 13, 1951 exhibition game between the Yankees and Brooklyn, as opposed to a 1950 exhibition game. It was a common practice of teams at the time to utilize their supply of leftover programs from the previous year for exhibition games, and that is exactly what the Yankees did here.
The preprinted lineup features Mantle (wearing number "6") batting third for the Yankees and DiMaggio batting fourth. Robinson, Snider, Reese, and Campanella are listed in the Dodgers lineup. (Mantle only wore number "6" for the first part of the 1951 season.) While Mantle's name and number in the Yankees scorecard clearly date it to 1951, the number of additional roster players listed for both the Dodgers (32) and Yankees (23) leaves no doubt that this scorecard could have only been issued for an exhibition game, and the only such game between the two clubs that season at Yankee Stadium took place on April 13th.

Ironically, although Mantle is listed in the lineup for the Yankees, he never actually played in the game. Mantle was the star of the Yankees camp that spring, but while his performance was cause for excitement among Yankee fans, it generated tremendous resentment for many others. The reason for that had nothing to do with baseball. Earlier in the spring, Mantle had been classified 4F by his local draft board on account of suffering from osteomyelitis (an infection and chronic inflammation of the bone or bone marrow). While the exemption was valid, many people could simply not understand how a nineteen-year-old boy could perform so incredibly on the ball field, but not be physically able to serve in the military. As the weeks went on, the public outcry became stronger, resulting in both Mantle and the Yankees receiving a tremendous amount of hate mail. Finally, in order to alleviate the unfortunate situation, the Yankees (though they denied it at the time) appealed to the draft board to reexamine Mantle. They felt that reaffirmation of his condition would help educate the public about his affliction and finally put an end to the controversy. Unfortunately for Mantle, he was ordered to report to his local draft board (in his home state of Oklahoma) for reexamination on April 11th, which caused him to miss the April 13th exhibition game against Brooklyn at Yankee Stadium. After he was reclassified 4F, Mantle returned to the Yankees on April 14th, just in time to make his New York debut with the Yankees at Ebbets Field.

According to a copy of a newspaper article that accompanies the program, only 8,479 braved the chilly weather on April 14th to watch the Yankees and Dodgers play their first of three exhibition games at Yankee Stadium. That low turnout, coupled with the fact that the program was issued for an exhibition game, and therefore would not have been saved by most fans, almost certainly explains its extreme rarity today. This is the first example of this significant 1951 Yankee Stadium program we have ever seen and we cannot imagine that many others exist. Incredibly, it is accompanied by a ticket stub from the game, which is stapled to the front cover. The ticket stub (1.5 x 3 inches; Ex-Mt) is not dated, and lists the game number as "D."

The program (6.5 x 10 inches), which is not scored, displays the name of the original owner, as well as the date, written on the front cover in blue ink: "Luis F. Portalatin/April 1950.” In Very Good condition overall, with moderate wear to both covers. Reserve $300. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $356

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