Summer, 2019 Premier Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/25/2019

Beautiful 1951 official Yankee Stadium scorecard, in outstanding condition, from what we believe to be Opening Day of the 1951 season: the first regular-season game of Mickey Mantle.  Assigning a technical grade of NM would not be out of line; some minor wear to the corners and spine along with some even, age-related toning being the primary flaws.  The game is unscored, the starting pitchers' names written lightly in pencil in the appropriate areas on the scorecard.  Otherwise clean, the color is rich and bold, with an unblemished cover.  Given the significance of the game, finding such a program in this condition is quite remarkable.

The primary issue with this scorecard has nothing to do with the scorecard itself.  It has to do with other scorecards, in other auctions.  Over the years, several different scorecards have been offered at auction, each described as the scorecard from Mantle's first game.  In fact, including this one, three completely different scorecards have been described as Mantle's first!

The key is, of course, Gene Markland.  Markland, a Yankees prospect in 1951, made the team out of Spring Training, but was sent to Kansas City on the day of the team's third scheduled game.  That game - scheduled against the Red Sox - was rained out.  By the 20th of April, Markland was gone, never to play another inning in the major leagues.  

Based on this information, there should be only three different scorecards featuring Markland in the Yankees roster printed on the scorecard, and the Red Sox as the opposing team: the Opening Day scorecard (which the Yankees won, 5-0), the Game 2 scorecard from April 18, and the rained out Game 3 scorecard.  And indeed, three different scorecards have surfaced, each of which feature Markland on the roster.

We believe that this is the true Opening Day scorecard for one simple reason: of the three scorecards, the starting lineups on this example are an exact match for the lineups of the actual Opening Day game.  The Yankees' scorecards were produced by the Harry M. Stevens Co (thanks to an astute baseball researcher and hobbyist for that bit of information), and there is little cause to believe that company would not have produced new scorecard pages each day and inserted into preprinted programs prior to the game.  In the weeks leading up to Opening Day, the Yankees lineup had many questions, but the last of them - whether or not Mickey Mantle would need to report to the Army for active duty - was resolved on April 13, when Mantle was pronounced physically unqualified to serve.  The Yankee roster would be set, and the starting lineups began to take shape in the exhibition games preceding the opener.  The Stevens company could have produced a scorecard with the correct Opening Day lineup printed inside several days in advance of the game, because that's how long the probable Opening Day starters were being published in New York newspapers.

The remaining two scorecards offered elsewhere as Opening Day scorecards contain lineups that did not resemble the Yankees' Opening Day lineup.  In both cases, the scorecards are filled out in pencil, the printed lineups crossed out and replaced with the actual lineups - the ones printed in this scorecard.  After having reviewed this scorecard with several advanced collectors of scorecards, we are confident that this is the scorecard from Mickey Mantle's first regular-season game as a major league ballplayer.

All that being said, there is no way to say with 100% certainty which scorecard is the right one: the one with the correct lineups pre-printed in it, or the ones with the correct lineups written into the scorecards in pencil.  None of them have the dates printed inside (a simple step Harry Stevens could have taken, to make things easier on us collectors!).  There is a certain leap of faith one must take when dating many scorecards, and a portion of that leap involves that lineups and scoring handwritten into the scorecard page.  When several different scorecards emerge that all have the same lineup and game scoring handwritten into them, it presents a number of scenarios, not the least of which is the possibility that three different scorecards were preprinted for each of the first three games, and accidentally all distributed on Opening Day. However, what we are left with are three different scorecards: one where both lineups match the actual teams' lineups on Opening Day.  Another where the lineups are a very close match for Opening Day.  A third where the Yankee lineup does not match any lineup the Yankees ever fielded, and names have been crossed out and new ones written in to reflect the actual Opening Day lineup.  We present to you the former, along with our belief that this is the correct scorecard, but implore you to do your own research and arrive at your own conclusion to what we believe has turned into one of the hobby's great mysteries! 

April 17, 1951 New York Yankees' Official Program - Mickey Mantle's First Regular-Season Game!April 17, 1951 New York Yankees' Official Program - Mickey Mantle's First Regular-Season Game!April 17, 1951 New York Yankees' Official Program - Mickey Mantle's First Regular-Season Game!
April 17, 1951 New York Yankees' Official Program - Mickey Mantle's First Regular-Season Game!
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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $300
Final prices include buyers premium.: $780
Number Bids: 9
Auction closed on Sunday, August 25, 2019.
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