01 March 2013

of willie, mickey, and the duke - the only one to get a 'final tribute'

as many of you know, i am a fan of 'final tribute' cards.  those would be cards that feature a player's entire career stats on the back, issued the year following their final season.  i don't consider cards issued today of a player who retired in 1987 to be a final tribute, and i don't consider cards issued in the final year of a player's career to be one either.

so many great players did not get feted in this way - sandy koufax, don drysdale, roy campanella, hank aaron, duke snider, willie mays, harmon killebrew - the list goes on and on.  many bloggers, including myself, have taken a shot at creating these cards that should have been for many of these players.  still, there's nothing like the real thing.

i have wanted a 1969 topps mickey mantle card for a long time, and i finally picked one up.
i believe it to be the second greatest true final tribute card that there is, trailing only the 1973 topps roberto clemente card (and just slightly ahead of the 1988 score steve garvey card).  the mick played his final game on september 28, 1968 against the red sox at fenway.  starting at first base, mantle popped out to shortstop against jim lonborg in the first inning, and was replaced in the field by andy kosco - no doubt removed from the game to an ovation even from the red sox faithful.

topps made the unusual choice to feature mantle in the 1969 set (in a late series, no less) even though he had announced his retirement during spring training.  in fact, it was 44 years ago today.  so sayeth the back of his 1969 card.
so that's what an 18-year career looks like if you're the mick.  he was only 36 when he played his last game, but his knees were shot.  he finished with 3 mvp awards, a triple crown, and 7 world series titles, and was third to babe ruth and willie mays in home runs at the time of his retirement.

i am glad that topps gave mantle his due - my collection feels a little more complete today.


Nick said...

I have long wanted to add this card to my collection. Nice pickup!

Fuji said...

That card is pretty sweet. I've always wanted to add a vintage Mantle base card to my collection... maybe this is the one I'll chase.