“He’s the greatest prospect I’ve seen in my time and I go back quite a ways,” said Bill Dickey, a Hall of Fame catcher who was coaching for the New York Yankees. The quote led off an Associated Press article carried in newspapers across the country on March 23, 1951. The subject? A young slugger from Oklahoma named Mickey Mantle.
As the world began to wake up to the newest Yankee phenom during spring training workouts, photographers clamored for Mantle to pose so they could transmit images of the player everyone was talking about.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is dated to the actual day Dickey’s quotes appeared. The 4 ¾” x 7” image bears the markings of a newspaper’s photo editors. While Mantle appears in numerous photos around that time, this pose is one not seen before. Culled from a newspaper archive, it’s being offered for the first time. The black and white image one of over 1,500 at auction through this Friday at RMYAuctions.com.
Reversing his initial belief that Mantle should go back to the minors, Yankees manager Casey Stengel brought his young outfielder north but after a short time, Mantle began struggling. He was frustrated enough to talk about quitting but his father Mutt’s tough love convinced him to keep working and of course, the rest is history.
Those who were getting their first glimpse of Mantle that spring never forgot it
Also in Arizona 65 years ago last spring were the Cleveland Indians, with manager Al Lopez having seen the future unfold in front of his eyes.
“He’s one of those lifetime boys who makes you water at the mouth just to watch him.”