Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Card show pickups: Mickey Mantle getting dirty

Cards of the 1950s and 1960s didn't have very many action shots. Photography was expensive, and you couldn't take hundreds of pictures every year for every player and pick out the best for your card, as companies do today. Action photography was pretty rare, though there was plenty of action artwork and posed action shots. If you wanted a picture of, say, Mickey Mantle sliding into a base, you had to stage it.

I wonder if the photographer tossed the bag on the ground and said, "Hey, Mick, can I get a picture of you sliding into the bag?" Mick took a few steps back, told the cameraman to get ready, and hit the bag like he had just hit a nice double down the line.

Maybe the photo was taken during sliding practice. That's a pretty rough sand pit, so either Mantle did several takes over the course of the day, or it was there for a reason. Or maybe there's a whole other story and someone else already knows the details. The back of the card describes Spring Training, but who knows if this was posed or a real "candid" shot of Mickey taking sliding practice.

Still, it's a great photo. The dirt is exploding from Mantle's cleats, and the individual clumps of sand are sharp and visual in front of the dust storm being created. It's not an in-game shot (note the fence in the background?) but it's still a photo with a story beyond "Mr. Mantle, can you take off your hat, look off to the right and smile?"

I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of that card will be in my collection. Maybe I'll need it, or perhaps I'll give it away. But it's still a pretty cool shot.


  1. I thought I recognized this card from somewhere - it's also the photo they used for his Gypsy Queen "Great Ones" insert card.

  2. If you decide on the latter, I know of a real good home here on the east coast that'll take him!!
    Nice card.

  3. That's a really cool card. I haven't seen the Gypsy Queen card yet, so this is my first exposure to this photo. Pretty nice.