It was his tenth full season in the big leagues and Mickey Mantle was in his prime. The decline would come soon enough, but in the heat of the promising summer of 1961, there was no batter more feared. The Photo of the Day captures why they preferred to face just about anyone else.
The United Press International photograph shows Mantle taking a mighty cut during a night game of the memorable season that produced the two-man home run chase that would be talked about for decades to come.
It’s among more than 300 images in RMY Auctions’ January Collector Auction, set to run through January 18.
Batting from the left side, Mantle takes a rip at a pitch, hips turned and muscular forearms rippling.
The 5 ¾” x 8 ¼” black and white photo carries a UPI stamp and August 28 file date on the back, although it’s unclear exactly when or where it was taken. Most photos of Mantle during that era were taken in daylight but this particular image was shot during a night game. Recently obtained from an extensive newspaper archive, the photo remains in pristine condition.
Mantle would fall behind Maris in the home run race by September, but his overall hitting that year was impressive. He finished with 54 home runs, 128 RBI and a .317 average.
To register and bid in the auction, visit RMYAuctions.com.