One star was fading but another was there to assume the mantel… or should we say “Mantle.” That moment on April 15, 1951 when soon to be retired veteran Joe DiMaggio and teen rookie Mickey Mantle were posed together captured a changing of the guard for the Yankees, who had an unbroken line of baseball icons in the lineup from the early 1920s to the late 60s. The photo is famous but it’s believed only two International News originals of the 7×9 image exist. One of them is now at auction for the first time.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day shows the two players smiling before a pre-season game—Mantle’s New York debut—on April 15, 1951. It stayed in a newspaper archive for decades but is now one of the headliners in RMY’s February online catalog.
The photo definitely had its share of use by photo editors, who blackened the background for publication. It has undergone some professional restoration that flattened the once curled image and the resulting creases. There is some light crazing of the surface, primarily in the upper left and a staple hole.
The photo has a correct period International News stamp on the back as well as a handwritten filing date of January 13, 1952, pegging the photo as an original 1951 example. The original caption clipping from publication is attached to the back.
DiMaggio retired at the end of the 1951 season and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1955. Despite some early struggles, Mantle became the Yankees’ next generation Hall of Fame talent, and a Hall of Famer himself five years after the end of his career, which spanned nearly all of two decades.
The photo is one of over 500 lots in RMY’s auction, set to conclude Thursday night.