Panini America has announced an exclusive agreement with the Mickey Mantle estate on Monday that will bring new Mantle cards into the hobby for the first time in five years.
Mantle’s sons, David and Danny, say they worked with Panini on the project after agreeing to license baseball cards featuring their father for the first time since Topps was producing them in 2012.
The deal gives Panini the rights to incorporate Mantle’s likeness, cut autographs and memorabilia in up to six Panini trading card products a year. In addition, Mantle will be featured on Panini packaging on two trading card releases per season.
According to an interview with Yahoo Sports, the Mantle brothers felt the market had been “flooded” with modern era cards of their father, who died in 1995 and decided not to continue licensing agreements with Topps or any other company.
Earlier this year, Topps announced it was “unretiring” card number 7 from the Series One set, a sign that the company likely wouldn’t be working with the Mantle estate in the near future.
Panini’s cards will carry Mantle’s photo but because Topps is the exclusive licensee of Major League Baseball, he won’t be depicted with the Yankees’ trademarked logos.
To coincide with the announcement, Panini is releasing through its Panini Eternal platform the first card in Panini Instant’s “Mickey Mantle Collection,” which will feature trading cards that will be released throughout the season and coincide on specific days tied to key Mantle moments and milestones. The first card in the Collection was slated for release at 2 PM Central time Monday.
“We are honored that the Mantle family has chosen Panini America to represent Mantle’s legacy on trading cards for now and the future,” said Jim Stefano, Panini America Senior Director of Product Development. “This is a historic day for Panini MLBPA-licensed baseball trading card products. We believe trading card collectors will be excited about what we will be creating in terms of product content and promotions by utilizing arguably the most collectible player in baseball history. We plan to work closely with the Mantle family on The Mick’s triumphant and long-overdue return to the trading card marketplace.”
Mantle’s first Panini America trading cards in MLBPA-licensed product will arrive in the company’s 2017 Immaculate Baseball release slated to release in August. Through the partnership with the Mantle Estate, Panini America will procure cut autographs and memorabilia directly from the Mantle family.
“Panini America is the recognized leader in the trading card category and a world class organization We’re excited to see how respectfully and innovatively they honor our father and get his trading cards into the hands of baseball trading card collectors and introduce him to a new generation of collectors,” said David Mantle.
— Panini America (@PaniniAmerica) April 3, 2017
“Panini America has treated us like family from the beginning and blew us away with the amount of passion and respect their people have for our father and his legacy. At the end of the day, it was an easy decision to partner with them as the only trading card company that will be able to include Mickey Mantle,” added Danny Mantle.