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The need for a Mantle

Sports Collectors Digest editor Bert Lehman shares his experience a buying a Mickey Mantle card when he was in high school in the 1980s.

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card has become a favorite in the sports card hobby.

With PSA 2.5 examples of the card selling for more than $15,000, the price of the card has been pushed out of the reach of some collectors.

That being said, what does a collector do if they want to add a Mantle card to their collecting? I'd like to share the story of how I secured a Mantle card. No, I didn’t secure a 1952 Topps Mantle.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, while I was still in high school, I was collecting compete sets each year, but I was also on a quest to purchase cards of some of the all-time great players to ever play Major League Baseball.

With that criteria in mind, adding a Mantle card to my collection was a no-brainer. Once the decision was made to purchase a Mantle card, the question was which Mantle card to pursue. Obviously, since I was still in high school, the cost of any Mantle card would be an issue.

With price being a concern, the condition of the card wasn’t too much of a factor, as I just wanted a Mantle card in my collection. This was also before the advent of card grading, so as long as the card wasn’t completely beat up, I was alright with it.

This 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle was purchased by Sports Collectors Digest Editor Bert Lehman when he was in high school in the 1980s.

This 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle was purchased by Sports Collectors Digest Editor Bert Lehman when he was in high school in the 1980s.

This was also before eBay, so I began searching through the sports card publications I had and found a 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle card for sale, which I wound up buying. I’m not 100 percent sure of the price I paid for it, but for some reason $10 sticks out in my mind.

There have been times when I have thought about trying to sell it, but I always come back to the feeling of, “why have a baseball card collection if you don’t have a Mickey Mantle in it.” So, I still have that card in my collection.

Since the main reason I collected sports cards as a kid was for the enjoyment, the condition of the cards were not my primary concern. Because of that I’ve never had any of my cards graded. I’ve thought about it, but never went through the process.

If I were to get a card graded my Mantle card would probably be at the top of my list to be graded – mainly out of curiosity to see what it would grade out at. After all, the higher it grades out, the more valuable it is.

Graded or ungraded, this card is worth a lot of money, but it is one of my favorite cards in my collection.

As I stated, when I was in high school I bought a handful of baseball cards through ads in magazines and at card shows, of players I had read about which made me want to add at least one of their cards to my collection. This was the reason I purchased a 1969 Topps Ernie Banks, a 1974 Topps Hank Aaron, a 1959 Topps Billy Martin, a 1956 Topps Harvey Kuenn, a 1962 Topps Warren Spahn, a 1962 Topps Roger Maris and a 1971 Topps Ted Williams.