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The Best Looking Mickey Mantle Cards

By Richard Rowell, ThePit.com Contributor

Mickey Mantle is one of the most beloved sports legends of all time. The career New York Yankees baseball player put up spectacular numbers in his career. The overall stats could have been even better had he not played through some injuries, among other things. So, it's no surprise that as a Yankee, an all-time great ballplayer, and a charismatic sports icon, Mickey Mantle is featured on some of the most sought-after and valuable cards in the hobby.

When looking for the best Mickey Mantle cards, most in the hobby will direct you to the iconic 1952 Topps Mantle or the true 1951 Bowman Mantle rookie card. While these are both spectacular cards, the list of top Mickey Mantle cards doesn't end there. Being such a star, Mantle had plenty of baseball cards. Of course, some are better looking than others. Mantle's first two cards are certainly the most attractive cards from a value standpoint, but are they the most attractive *looking*?

Today we take a look at the two most popular Mantle cards as well as a selection of Mickey Mantle cards we trade at thePit. Many of these are considered among the top 10 Mickey Mantle cards of all time. But rather than focus on prices, we are looking instead at the aesthetics and visual appeal of each of these Mickey Mantle cards.  You decide which Mickey Mantle card is the best looking of them all.

The Hobby Favorite: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
A card that in top condition has fetched over $2 million at auction, the 1952 Topps is one of the most recognizable in the hobby. While not his first card, it's part of an historic set. It's also a great looking card. The painted portrait of Mantle holding the bat over his shoulder looking up into the sky is a classic image. The year 1952 was also his first of 16 All-Star Game selections and the year his star truly began to shine.

The True Rookie Card: 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle
Mantle's first true baseball card is a gem. Is it better than the 1952 Topps aesthetically? This Bowman rookie card depicts a painted portrait of the switch-hitting Mantle batting right-handed against a cloudy blue sky with stadium lights barely visible in the background. It does a great job of foreshadowing (unintentionally of course) how much larger than life Mantle would become as a baseball player. Whether you prefer this artwork or the one of the 1952 Topps is really just a matter of opinion, but some collectors truly prefer action shots, no matter how great the portraits may be.

1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle
The 1952 Bowman Mantle is quite different than his Topps issue. It features a hand drawn portrait of the young Yankees star. While it's far from an action pose, it’s not a scene you typically see on baseball cards. It looks like he is sitting near the stairs that lead down from the dugout. It’s not an exciting looking card, but it’s a nice piece of art and a great early Mantle card.

1953 Topps Mickey Mantle
The 1953 Topps set features the same card design which Topps now uses for their online-exclusive Living Set. In fact, this particular card has been reproduced on multiple occasions by Topps, and the colorful artwork of Gary Dvorak is a masterpiece. It’s to this day one of Mantle’s most beautiful and valuable cards.

1954 Bowman Mickey Mantle
Mantle had an exclusive deal with Bowman in 1954, so there wasn’t a 1954 Topps card of Mantle in that year. This Bowman card features a great portrait and a classic smile. It's a great looking classic Mickey Mantle card that probably deserves more love than it gets.

1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle
Still a Bowman exclusive in 1955, Bowman struck out with many collectors with its “Color TV” design. While the pose of Mantle in a followthrough after a practice swing during warmups is fine, the intended effect of watching Mickey warm up “on the tube” leaves the image grainy. It’s still a Mickey Mantle card, though. 

1956 Topps Mickey Mantle
Not only was 1956 Mantle’s best year on offense in the major leagues, the year also features one of Mantle’s best-looking Topps cards. Mantle won the Triple Crown with a .353 batting average, 52 home runs, and 130 runs batted in, as well as the MVP award. The card features a big Mickey smile with Mantle running down a flyball in the outfield in the background. It’s one of the nicer looking horizontal Mickey Mantle cards, for sure, and a fan favorite -- not to mention Pit GM Mark Humphries’ choice for most attractive baseball card of all time!

1957 Topps Mickey Mantle
Many collectors love the minimalist design of the 1957 Topps set with white and yellow text listing the player’s name, team name, and position at the bottom of the photo. The photo in Mantle’s case is great, a shot of Mantle’s follow-through on a left-handed practice swing. It’s not only a great action shot, it’s just a great looking card overall. 1957 was also Mantle’s second MVP award in a row.

1958 Topps Mickey Mantle
The 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle card features a good closeup photo of Mantle’s face on an orange background. It’s not one of the more exciting Mantle cards, but it has good composition and good colors. Also, 1958 was a great year for Mantle, with 42 HR and more walks than strikeouts.
Trade the 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 5 on thePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-58-TPS-P5 

1959 Topps Mickey Mantle 
The 1959 Topps design is quite different from previous sets, featuring the photo in a “porthole” with a colorful background and the player’s name in lowercase letters. It’s not the most expressive photo of Mantle, but it’s certainly better than what you’ll see with his 1960 card. Overall, while collectors typically don’t like the 1959 Topps design, they do like this rather unique Mantle card. As it turned out, 1959 was not one of Mantle’s best years, but he still performed very well relative to the rest of the league.
Trade the 1959 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 6 on thePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-59-TPS-P6

1960 Topps Mickey Mantle
The 1960 Topps card design features bright colors, a decent photo of Mantle and a depiction of Mickey in his batting stance on the bottom of the card. Some collectors really do not like the horizontal design of this set, but it’s certainly a colorful little piece of history. Mantle makes this card work. Also, 1960 was a good year for Mantle, finishing second in the MVP voting to a teammate by the name of Roger Maris.

1961 Topps Mickey Mantle
There’s a lot to like about the 1961 Topps Mantle card. It has a very minimal design and features a great photo portrait of Mantle. Of course, the 1961 season would be one of Mantle’s best in the majors, one that would see him get into a home run race with teammate Roger Maris. He’d finish with his highest season HR total of 54, although only his third best season by OPS (1.135). It’s a great card that released before one of the Mick’s very best seasons.
Trade the 1961 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 6 at ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-61-TPS-P6 

1962 Topps Mickey Mantle
The classic 1962 Topps set depicts Mantle staring off into the future. The year ahead of him would be quite a good one, too: his final MVP season, even though he played in only 123 games. He also won his only Gold Glove award. Of course, this set featured the woodgrain borders, which collectors either love or hate. Those borders also tend to be condition-sensitive, which makes it tougher to get high grades, making the higher grades much scarcer than some other Topps issues. 

1963 Topps Mickey Mantle
Mantle only played in 65 games in 1963 and his expression on his 1963 Topps card seems to suggest he knew it would be a down year. His bat was actually fine when he did play in this injury-shortened campaign. The card itself isn’t bad, although the neon green bottom section is a bit distracting. It also features a small porthole shot of Mantle batting right-handed.
Trade the 1963 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 7 on ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-63-TPS-P7 

1964 Topps Mickey Mantle
Entering one of his final great years in 1964, Mantle’s 1964 Topps card features a great shot of Mantle staring down the batting practice pitcher. It looks like he’s about to launch a few baseballs to the moon. He would hit 35 bombs that year, the last time he would hit more than 23 in a season. To commemorate that season, Mantle has a great clean looking card that collectors are happy to have.
Trade the 1964 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8 on ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-64-TPS-P8 

1965 Topps Mickey Mantle
While 1965 would be a remarkably down year for Mantle, it still features a solid looking Topps card for the Mick. It’s yet another photo of a sweet Mantle swing follow-through, but that pose is always a classic. Even as injuries began to erode his skills, Mantle was still a well above-average hitter whenever he did come to the plate. This beautiful card with the magenta border reminds us that Mantle still had some good baseball left in him.
Trade the 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 6 on ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-65-TPS-P6 

1966 Topps Mickey Mantle
While 1966 was yet another year limited by injuries for Mantle, he managed to put up some solid numbers when he did play. On his 1966 Topps card, Mantle is clearly still having fun during batting practice. The Yankees weren’t playing so well, but Mantle was still an above-average hitter when he came up to bat.
Trade the 1966 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 6 on ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-66-TPS-P6 

1967 Topps Mickey Mantle
By the 1967 season, Mantle had permanently moved to first base in order to prolong his career. His power was really fading by this point, but his strong on-base skills allowed him to still be a well above-average force at the plate. The 1967 Topps Mantle isn’t really a great looking card - some people say it looks like a mugshot - but Mantle’s smile saves it. 
Trade the 1967 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8 on ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-67-TPS-P8 

1968 Topps Mickey Mantle
Going into his final season in Major League Baseball, the 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle card is actually one of his best looking. The burlap design border and classic pose of Mantle in his left-handed batting stance. Of course, 1968 was one of Mantle’s weakest years at the plate, but his strong on-base skills and 18 home runs meant he was still an above-average hitter. This card is a great tribute to a great career. But, it’s not Mickey Mantle’s final Topps card. That would be 1969 Topps.
Trade the 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8 on ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-68-TPS-P8 

1969 Topps Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle held off announcing his retirement from baseball long enough that Topps included a card for him in their 1969 set. The best part is that Mantle gets his entire career statistical record on a baseball card, something that didn’t happen for some other stars. It’s also a decent looking card on top of that, featuring Mantle in his left-handed batting stance presumably staring out at a batting practice pitcher. This is a great farewell card for Mantle. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s an alternate white lettered version of this card that’s more rare.
Trade the 1969 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 5 on ThePit: https://thepit.com/card/MICK-69-TPS-P5 

When you’re looking to collect some of Mickey Mantle’s top baseball cards, thePit can help you find graded copies often for less than on eBay! Start trading at thePit today and trade up to your favorite Mickey Mantle cards. Which Mantle card is YOUR favorite? Which one do YOU think is the best looking Mickey Mantle card of all time?  Let us know on our Facebook Forum: