Going to Yankee Stadium in the 1950s and 1960s was a special treat. Not only did we get to see the great No. 7 Mickey Mantle in his beloved pinstripes, but we also got a chance to take in the sights and sounds of the old stadium. Who can forget the classic Ballantine Beer and Ale scoreboard, the three monuments of Ruth, Gehrig, and Huggins in deep center field, the fabled Gem Razor Blade advertisement in the outfield, and the iconic white scalloped frieze or facade that ran high above the perimeter of the hallowed playing field? Yes, the old stadium has left me with a lot of great, vivid memories.
As far as memorabilia, the souvenirs of yesteryear are priceless. There was always something inside or outside the stadium that would capture my attention. With stadium pins, pennants, programs, and yearbooks readily available for purchase, there is still one collectible that gives most collectors headaches, including me. That collectible came in the form of those Yankee picture packs sold by the Yankees and then in 1958 by the Jay Publishing Co.
With most packs containing 12 black-and-white photos that were usually 5x7 or 8x10 in size, the problem lies within trying to identify them according to year. With the help of grading services such as PSA and SCD's Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, it is now possible to zero in on a specific time period. Who would have thought that almost 60 years later we'd be researching those paper-thin collectibles, which in all likelihood ended up taped to our bedroom walls, glued in a scrapbook, or becoming another chapter of The Great American Tragedy—mom throwing them into the trash along with our beloved baseball cards.
It should also be noted that those now highly coveted picture packs were sold by Yankee Stadium vendors, as well as Yankee Stadium souvenir shops located throughout the ballpark. Those same photo packs were also available through the mail.
Just like the Yankee yearbooks, two different manufacturers produced the photos: The New York Yankees and Jay Publications, which started production in 1958. The Jay Publishing photos can be identified by the player’s name followed by the city and team nickname. For example: "MICKEY MANTLE New York Yankees."
The team-issued sets of The New York Yankees have the player’s name followed by the team nickname, without any mention of the team's city. For Example: "MICKEY MANTLE Yankees. " The backs of the issues are blank and there is no mention of any year. A checklist would be needed to zero in on a specific year. To add to the confusion, sometimes a player's photograph would be used for multiple years.
At least two different kinds of paper were used to produce the photos. Most of the time a very thin non-glossy stock was used and in other years the paper stock would be somewhat glossy.
There are at least 16 different picture pack photos of Mickey Mantle. The following is a checklist of The Mick's picture pack photos (measurements in inches).
1. Mickey Mantle 1954 All-Star: This black-and-white issue measures6x8 7/8 and is one of 24 players in the set. On thin paper stock with a slight gloss, Mickey is pictured in his rookie season of 1951 wearing his road uniform. The picture was taken during spring training and believed to have been sold in stadium souvenir stands during the 1954 and 1955 seasons. The publisher of this issue remains unknown, as the format is very different than subsequent years. (Photo 1)
2. 1955-57 N.Y. YANKEES PICTURE PACK MICKEY MANTLE BATTING: This black-and-white issue features Mickey in his pinstriped uniform in a right-handed batting pose. Below his picture is "Mickey Mantle, Yankees." This issue is one of the more rare picture pack issues. (Photo 2)
3. 1955-1957 N.Y. YANKEES PICTURE PACK MICKEY MANTLE PORTRAIT: Issued approximately in the same time period as the beforementioned #2, this team-issued 5x7 shows a close-up portrait of Mickey smiling in pinstripes while wearing his Yankees cap. "Mickey Mantle, Yankees" appears below the photo. (Photo 3)
4. 1956 NEW YORK YANKEES ACTION PICTURES: This 8x10 black-and-white issue on slightly glossy, thin stock has created the daunting task of accurately dating and categorizing. To start, the photo used was taken in 1951. Secondly, the portrait photo is by no means an "Action Picture." PSA, however, has identified this issue to be from 1956 and part of a 12-player set. The cost of the entire set was 75 cents at time of issue. (Photo 4)
5. 1958-61 JAY PUBLISHING PHOTOS-TYPE 1 MICKEY MANTLE BATTING, POSE TO CHEST: This 5x7 issue shows Mickey in a right-handed batting pose with a young boy in the background holding his baseball glove. The Jay Publication photo has "Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees" printed below. (Photo 5)
6. 1958 -61 JAY PUB.PHOTO MICKEY MANTLE TYPE 1-PORTRAIT POSE TO NECK: The second 5x7 Jay Publications photo was listed as "Portrait Pose To Neck." The file photo was commonly used for the Yankees Yearbook, advertising premiums, and countless other publicity shots. Since the issue has a span of four years, this photo was used repeatedly for several years with only cropping variations. The issue can be identified based on the cropping of the photo, which starts very close to the button on top of Mickey's cap and ends just beneath Mickey's neck. (Photo 6)
7. 1959 JAY PUBLISHING ALL-STAR, 5x7: Almost identical to the 1958-61 issue, the 1959 Jay Publication All-Star uses the same Mantle photo but shows cropping into Mickey's chest area of his pinstriped uniform. "Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees," appears at the bottom of the photo. (Photo 7)
8. 1960 NEW YORK YANKEES ACTION PICTURES: This 8x10 black-and-white glossy photo shows Mickey in a right-handed batting stance. Mickey is wearing his grey road uniform and his name appears hand printed at the bottom of the photo near Mickey's belt area. (Photo 8)
9. 1961 MANNY'S BASEBALL LAND MICKEY MANTLE: This black-and-white 8x10 issue was available for purchase from Manny's Baseball catalog and also available at the storefront, which was located across the street from Yankee Stadium. The large format photo shows Mickey in his rookie year, 1951, with the American League patch on his left sleeve. "Mickey Mantle" appears at the bottom of the photo. (Photo 9)
10. 1962 YANKEES TEAM ISSUE MICKEY MANTLE: The black-and-white issue shows Mickey in his pinstripes with about 3/4 of the interlocked NY showing. "Mickey Mantle, Yankees," appears at the bottom of the photo. (Photo 10)
11. 1962-65 JAY PUBLISHING PHOTOS-TYPE 2 MICKEY MANTLE BATTING, POSE TO CHEST, ONE EAR SHOWING: This Jay Publication Photo shows Mickey in a left-handed batting stance with a batting screen showing in the background. Only Mickey's left ear is showing and at the bottom of the photo is "Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees." (Photo 11)
12. 1962-1965 JAY PUBLISHING PHOTO MICKEY MANTLE -TYPE 2 BATTING/TWO EARS: Mickey is shown once again in a left-handed batting pose. The photo is straight on with Mickey's eyes looking slightly to the right. Both of Mickey's ears can be seen, with his right being much more visible. "Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees," is printed at the bottom of the photo. (Photo 12)
13.1962-65 JAY PUBLISHING PHOTOS-TYPE 2 MICKEY MANTLE PORTRAIT: The 1962-1965 Jay photo shows Mickey in his home pinstriped uniform with a full interlocking NY visible in the lower-right corner. The most noticeable detail on this issue is that Mickey is shown with a shadow on his face. The bottom of the photo is "Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees." (Photo 13)
14.1966 YANKEES TEAM ISSUE MICKEY MANTLE: The final black-and-white picture pack photo shows Mickey from belt up holding several bats, while wearing his road Yankee uniform. "Mickey Mantle, Yankees" is printed at the bottom of the photo. (Photo 14)
15. 1966 New York Yankees Picture Pack: This large format issue measures 7 3/4x9 3/4 and was in color. Twelve Yankee photos were in the set and shows Mickey holding several bats, while posing on the Yankee infield. A facsimile signature appears above Mickey's belt area. The set was actually part of a Yankee Stadium give-a-way to fans 14 years of age and under on Aug. 28, 1966. (Photo 15)
16. 1967 YANKEES TEAM PACK-COLOR ISSUE: Smaller in size than any of the previous issues, the 1967 team issue measures 4x6. Mickey is shown batting left-handed in his road uniform, while wearing a batting helmet. At the bottom of the card is "Mickey Mantle-Yankees." (photo 16)
PICTURE PACK ENVELOPES
The envelopes that held the picture pack photos were usually very basic in design and color. Some of the earlier picture pack envelopes simply had the Yankee top hat logo in the upper-left corner. (Photo 17)
Other envelopes simply had "Yankees" in bold print along with the names of the players included with the price. (Photo 18)
For the 1958 World Series, the package contained logos of the Yankees and Braves, and contained photos of each team. (Photo 19)
In the 1960s, the envelopes were black and white in design and contained a cellophane see-through window that would show Mickey or another team star. (Photo 20)
In 1961-62, the packaging changed to a light brown color, showed pictures of the M&M Boys, and contained 14 photos instead of the usual 12. (Photo 21)
The 1962-65 Jay packaging shows a plastic see-through bag with a hole for rack hanging. The packaging offers 12 pictures for 35 cents. (Photo 22)
In 1966, a clear cellophane wrap was used for the 12-player set. The set was in color, contained beautiful photography, and had the players’ names listed in the upper-left corner of the clear, cellophane packaging. (Photo 23)
Kelly R. Eisenhauer has been contributing articles on Mickey Mantle since 1991. He operates his own webpage at www.hofmemories.com and also Mickey Mantle Cards and Other Memorabilia on Facebook. He can be reached at email@example.com.