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April 17, 1951, New York Yankees Opening Day Program - Mickey Mantle's Major League Debut!
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,320
Historic New York Yankees opening-day program from Mickey Mantle's major league debut on April 17, 1951, against the Boston Red Sox. This is only 1951 New York Yankees opening-day program we have ever seen, making it not only one of the most significant Mantle pieces in the hobby today, but one of the rarest as well. The program lists Mantle batting third and playing right field, while the venerable "Yankee Clipper," playing in his final opening-day game, bats cleanup. Although the program is not scored, based upon the starting players and substitutes listed for each club, this program can be conclusively dated to the opening game on April 17th. Collectors have always placed a special importance on famous firsts, and Mantle's Major League debut certainly qualifies as that. Mantle was one of the most heralded rookies in history entering the 1951 season. The Yankees trained in Arizona for the first time in the spring of 1951 and all of the media attention was focused on a young outfielder who could hit with incredible power from both sides of the plate and run like a deer. After a number of tremendous home runs that amazed even the veteran players, Mantle began to draw the inevitable comparisons to Ruth, Gehrig, and, in hushed tones, DiMaggio. New York fans couldn't wait to see the young outfielder for themselves and on April 17th their wait was finally over. A reported 44,860 fans came out to Yankee Stadium to witness Mantle's debut with the "Bombers," and he did not disappoint them. The rookie turned in a solid effort that day, managing a single and one RBI in four trips to the plate during the Yankees easy 5-0 victory. Interestingly, Mantle was originally given uniform number 6 to wear, as noted in the program. He wore number 6 until he was sent down to the minors on July 15th for more seasoning. It was only upon his return, later in the season, that he was given his familiar number 7. The program (6.5 x 9.75 inches) displays light handling wear, oxidation to the staples, and a small area of light discoloration on the Red Sox score page. In Excellent condition overall. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,320
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