By Kelly Eisenhauer
In 1962, Mickey Mantle added “matinee idol” to his already impressive resume. Co-starring with his teammate Roger Maris, the two Yankee sluggers appeared in two films: “Safe At Home” and “That Touch of Mink.”
Filmed in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., during spring training, “Safe At Home,” under the direction of Walter Doniger, featured William Frawley of “I Love Lucy” fame, Bryan Russell, Don Collier, Patricia Barry, and the “M&M Boys.”
The story line centered on a young boy, Hutch Lawton, played by Russell, who boasts to his Little League teammates that Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are his father’s friends. When his story starts to snowball, he is forced to promise that Mickey and Roger will attend a Little League banquet. In order to make contact with them, young Hutch hitchhikes to meet his idols at spring training.
Refusing to be a part of the young man’s deceit, Roger and Mickey deny his request. Heartbroken, Hutch then returns home to tell the truth to his Little League teammates. Just as he finishes his confession, word arrives that Mantle and Maris have invited the Little Leaguers to join them for spring training.
Movie No. 1 – Safe At Home Collectibles
Released on April 13, 1962, to coincide with the start of the 1962 baseball season, Columbia Pictures was very promotionally minded in trying to get viewers to watch the movie on the silver screen. Although memorabilia collecting was still decades away from its modern configuration, the studio released many different collectibles that are focal points in many advanced Mantle collections today.
Starting with colored “lobby” cards, these colorful 11-by-14-inch posters showed various scenes from the movie and were usually placed behind glass outside the cinema in an effort to capture the viewer’s attention. Eight different lobby cards were released, with five of them showing images of both Mantle and Roger Maris. The remaining three cards showed a young Russell at bat during a Little League game; Russell with actor Don Collier in a boat yard, where the young man’s father chartered fishing boats; and a scene from the movie that showed Frawley as the manager, an unidentified police officer, Collier and actress Patricia Barry. All eight lobby cards contain the Mantle/Maris “Safe At Home” banner logos. (Photo Nos. 868-875)
A Spanish lobby card was also made that showed Mickey and Roger with the words, “IDOLOS DEL DIAMANTE.” In addition to showing the M&M boys, a photo of Bryan Russell with Don Collier appears in the lower right corner. At the top right, Russell appears in a follow-through pitching pose. Actress Patricia Barry is pictured on the middle left side of the poster. (Photo No. 876)
Columbia Pictures released many different 8-by-10 promotional, black-and-white glossies. The stills contained different shots from the movie and were usually found with the Columbia Pictures copyright at the bottom of the picture. All pictures were designated “SH,” along with the number of the still. The designation was always labeled in white and usually located in the lower right corner. (Photo No. 877)
There were more than 100 different stills from the movie that were printed and at least 40 of those stills contained pictures of Mantle by himself or pictured with Maris. One picture shows Mickey alone and sitting in his personalized director’s chair. (Photo Nos. 878-892)
Other print media
Columbia Pictures also issued a multi-page press book. Inside were stories about the film along with credits, pictures, various ad layouts, and the many different Mantle/Maris licensed items available for sale.
A newspaper article is also shown with the M&M Boys, their agent Frank Scott, and Vice-President and Treasurer of Columbia Pictures Leo Jaffe. Filming was set to begin on Feb. 13, 1962. (Photo Nos. 893-896)
In addition to the eight 11-by-14-inch lobby cards, Columbia pictures issued two large posters that were primarily used by movie theatres. A very large three-sheet poster that measured 41-by-81 inches and a single-sheet poster that measured 27-by-41 inches were available.
The three-sheet large poster shows a color illustration of Mickey and Roger carrying Bryan Russell on their shoulders. Filled with a large sky-blue background, the top of the poster shows the word, “WOW!” in red print and an illustration of a baseball bat and ball used as the exclamation point. A dark-blue banner has Mickey and Roger’s name printed in white. At the bottom of the poster a red banner has the words “Safe at Home.” Also printed are the actors names and an inset picture of William Frawley.
The one-sheet poster shows a color illustration of Mickey and Roger in their batting poses. Bryan Russell is positioned in between his two idols. This poster is basically white in color with the words “Grand Slam” printed at the top in red. The words “Fun and Laughter with the idols of millions and the luckiest kid in the world” are written horizontally. A yellow banner flies above Mickey’s head and a blue banner flies above Roger’s head. Both names appear in blue print. The bottom of the poster is almost identical to the three-sheet poster, with the only exception being that the inset picture of Frawley appears on the lower-left side. A Spanish version was also issued in a one sheet, vertical poster. (Photo Nos. 897-900)
Columbia Pictures issued “window cards” for the theater to display. This light cardboard poster is black-and-white with red banners. The word “Wow!” also appears in red print. A large area was left for the name of theatre and a showing time or date. This particular poster shows the name “Ritz,” which was ink stamped. Mantle and Maris are shown in black-and-white and in their batting stances, just as in the single-sheet poster. (Photo No. 901)
Two 22-by-28-inch horizontal posters were issued to promote the movie. The posters strongly resembled the one- and three-sheet posters, but were horizontal in design. In the first poster, both Mickey and Roger are carrying Bryan Russell. The blue sky is missing and a dark-purple banner appears with the names of Mickey and Roger in white print. Poster No. 2 is basically the same as the single-sheet poster, with the only real difference coming in the layout. (Photo Nos. 902-903)
A very rare horizontal poster also shows Mickey and Roger in their respective batting poses with the words “Columbia’s Got a Grand Slam for You!” printed at the top. Black-and-white in design, the poster shows two red banners promoting the film’s name and its two key players. The cast and copyright information also appear in red print and state that the picture will be released in May. (Photo No. 904)
Another rare poster from the movie was blue and gold in color and featured two nondescript baseball players with a sky-blue background. This is the only poster not to have any photographic images or illustrations of Mantle or Maris. This large poster shows the names of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in a gold banner located at the top, while the movie’s name, “Safe at Home,” appears inside a large baseball located in the center of the poster. Located at the bottom is the cast with copyright information. (Photo No. 905)
A final poster variation is an Australian issue that is red, black and white in color. This poster is very notable because it is the only time that Maris appears on the left side of actor Bryan Russell and Mantle appears on the right. The names of Mickey and Roger are also incorrectly identified as the player’s names are inverted. Red numbers, not blue, are also shown on the backs of the M&M Boys. (Photo No. 906)
Other Safe at Home Memorabilia
Columbia Pictures produced an 8mm home film with images of Mickey and Roger at spring training camp in Florida. The front box cover showed Mickey and Roger, posing back to back. On the bottom of the front cover, consumers were told to see Mickey and Roger in “Safe at Home” at their favorite movie theatre. (Photo No. 907)
A full-length film was also released in the VHS format. With two different covers, the first variation showed a color image of Mantle, Maris and Frawley. (Photo No. 908)
The second box showed an image of Maris, Mantle and Russell gripping a baseball bat. At the bottom of the photo were the words “Get Ready for Grand Slam Fun!” This photo was commonly cut from the box, as it resembled a blank-backed postcard. (Photo Nos. 909-910)
A pinstriped black-and-white postcard with the words “Safe at Home!” was inserted into the VHS packaging. The postcard’s reverse side contains the names of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris with the movie’s title, “Safe at Home,” in the upper-left corner. The card also states that the movie is now available on videocassette. Copyright information from 1962 also appears in the lower-left corner, although the videocassette was released on March 5, 1996. (Photo No. 911)
RKO Theatres issued a 5-by-7-inch black-and-white promotional card that featured Chubby Checker, Mantle and Maris. The promo card was advertising for the Chubby Checker movie “ Don’t Knock the Twist,” and “Safe at Home.” (Photo No. 912)
Two different horizontal banners were made to promote the film. The first banner is red, white and blue in color and does not contain any images of the M&M boys. In a square dark-blue box located at the left of the banner are the words “Fun and Laughter with the Idols of Millions and the Luckiest Kid in the World!” Mantle and Maris’ names with the movie title are printed inside red and blue flags. Also appearing on the banner are the cast members and copyright information. (Photo No. 913)
A second horizontal banner features two nondescript players in follow-through swings. Mantle and Maris’ names as well as movie title and casting are printed in the center area. Both banners measure 24-by-82 inches. (Photo No. 914)
Sun Fun, a publication issued by Gill Hotels of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., featured a story on the filming of “Safe at Home” in Ft. Lauderdale. Also accompanying the story was a photo of Mantle, Maris, actress Pat Barry, and Frawley. Also shown on the front page of the tabloid was a photo of Marilyn Monroe. The issue dates back to April 1962. (Photo No. 915)
In 1999, Sotheby’s in New York City held the famous Barry Halper Collection auction. Inside the three-sectioned catalog, a 15-card set of baseball cards was enclosed. One of the cards featured Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris together in a scene from “Safe at Home.” Two different variations of the card exist; one of which was a promo card and the other was the “normal” issue. The two cards are almost identical, with the only difference being the numbers. The two cards are numbered 6 and 12 respectively. (Photo No. 916)
Movie No. 2 – That Touch of Mink – 1962
Not surpisingly, 1962 was a busy year for the M&M boys. Coming off one of the greatest years in franchise history, this was a year when both Maris and Mantle were going to be in demand for public appearances, television interviews and commercials, and, of course, motion pictures. (Photo No. 917)
How many baseball players have had the chance to star in the movies? Don’t bother answering that question; it’s rhetorical.
After completing the filming of “Safe at Home” in March, another film offer was waiting in the wings. This time “The Mick”, Roger and Yogi Berra would be working with two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Cary Grant and Doris Day. Even though their camera time was relatively short, it was noteworthy.
The scene, which was filmed inside the Yankees dugout, showed Nos. 7, 8 and 9, all being ejected from the game by umpire Art Passarella. Some consider this act to be the best scene of the movie. The movie was released on June 14, 1962.
Just like any motion picture, there is always a fair share of collectible memorabilia. This holds true for “That Touch of Mink.”
But since their camera time was limited to just one scene, not that much memorabilia with Mickey, Roger and Yogi was produced.
Movie Lobby Cards
Two different lobby cards were issued by Universal-International in 1962. The first was a very colorful issue that was mostly yellow in color and showed a dugout candid of Yogi, Cary Grant, Mickey, Doris Day, Roger Maris, and an unidentified player, sitting on the bench. Above the picture were the names of Cary Grant and Doris Day and the movie’s title, “That Touch of Mink,” printed in red. The names of Gig Young and Audrey Meadows appear on the right side, below a photo of Grant and Day. (Photo No. 918)
The second lobby card was written in Spanish for a Mexican release. It showed two images of Grant and Day on the poster’s left side. The film’s director, Delbert Mann, is also shown in the lower-left corner. The focal point of the poster shows a black-and-white picture of Doris Day sitting in between Mickey and Roger. The words “Amor Al Vuelo” appear in black over a pink background.
(Photo No. 919)
Several different black-and-white 8-by-10’s were released to promote the film. The first of which featured a close-up shot of Mickey Mantle and Cary Grant inside the Yankees dugout. Mickey is shown wearing his pinstriped Yankee uniform, while Grant appears with suit and tie. Copyright and casting information are printed below the photo. The print is numbered 62/288 and is identified as scene 1916-26. (Photo No. 920)
A second promotional photo was released with Day, Grant, Mantle, Maris and Berra standing by a rail in front of the dugout. Mickey and Roger are both seen holding the hands of Doris Day. An interesting point that needs to be made is the fact that Mantle, Maris and Berra are shown wearing their road “New York” uniforms. It is believed that the photo was taken in Los Angeles, Calif., when the Yankees were playing on the West Coast. (Photo No. 921)
A third promotional photo, and perhaps the most popular still, shows a dugout shot of Yogi, Cary Grant, Mickey, Doris Day, Roger, and an unidentified Yankee player who was used as an extra. The promotional still was numbered 1916-23. (Photo No. 922)
A special colorized variation of the same promotional still was also made by Universal-International. It was also numbered 1916-23 and contained the same print number 62/288, with copyright and casting information located at the bottom of the print.
(Photo No. 923)
The fifth promotional black-and-white 8-by-10 showed the cast enjoying a laugh while the movie cameras were stopped. In the photo are, from left to right, an unidentified extra, Maris, Doris Day, Mickey and Cary Grant. (Photo No. 924)
The sixth promotional still showed Doris Day standing near the Yankees’ bat rack, while Mickey and Cary Grant are looking off to the side while sitting on the dugout bench. (Photo No. 925)
The seventh promotional 8-by-10 shows all four stars posing while sitting on the dugout bench. From left to right are Mickey, Doris Day, Cary Grant and Roger. Behind Maris, Doris Day’s handbag is shown hanging from one of the dugout’s hooks. (Photo No. 926)
With pictures of Cary Grant and Doris Day on the front cover, Universal-International issued a multi-page, pink press book that contained film credits, names of actors and their roles. Although no pictures of Mantle, Maris or Berra appear in the press book, their names do appear, as they played themselves. (Photo Nos. 927-928)