Mickey Mantle 1963 New York Yankees Game Worn Home Jersey
For Mickey Mantle in 1963, it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. Herculean heroics contrasted with fluke injuries. Surges of productivity were offset by limited play. Career high points met with statistical nadirs.
Riding high from the previous year’s milestones (his first Golden Glove, third MVP and seventh World Series championship), Mantle entered ’63 as only the fifth ballplayer in history with a contract worth $100,000, and he proceeded to rack up 8 multi-hit games and 8 homers in his first six weeks.
Then, of course, came the near-mythic events of May 22, when Mantle rocketed the extra-inning, game-winning Façade Home Run, which eyewitnesses claimed was still rising as it bashed into Yankee Stadium’s uppermost copper frieze in right field. Kansas City A’s pitching victim Bill Fischer said the trajectory was “like a jet taking off.” Yankee outfielder Joe Pepitone recalled the resounding ball-façade collision: “You could hear boom!” And as biographer Jane Leavy recounts in her 2010 bestseller The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood, “Mantle always said it was the hardest ball he’d ever hit…the only time the bat actually bent in his hands.”
But just two weeks later, on June 5, the pendulum of good fortune swung back. Chasing down a Brooks Robinson clout to deep center, Mantle got tangled up in the base of Memorial Stadium’s chain-link outfield fence and fractured his left foot. Making matters worse, after the cast was removed in late June, he ended up overcompensating for the foot injury and aggravating a vestigial cartilage tear in his left knee.
Nevertheless, Yankee manager Ralph Houk decided to deploy his gimpy star as a pinch-hitter by early August. And what did the Mick do in his very first at-bat? Knocked one out of the park. Here’s how Last Boy author Leavy described the heady aftermath:
The roar of adulation eclipsed the two-minute standing ovation that had greeted him when he hobbled to the plate. It got louder and louder as he headed toward home. The Orioles applauded silently…As Mantle rounded third base, Brooks Robinson thought, “That’s why he’s Mickey Mantle.” By the time he reached home plate, “there was tears runnin’ all over his face,” Yankee pitcher Stan Williams said. It stayed with [Williams] because it was one of the rare occasions when Mantle allowed the outside world to see “how much it meant to him, how much the fans meant to him, how much the moment meant to him.”
The season also held two more bright spots for Number 7. On the first of September, he mustered the strength for his infamous Hangover Home Run. (“Honest to God, I didn’t think he’d make it around the bases,” teammate Clete Boyer said. “Jesus Christ, he could play with a hangover.”) And on October 6, he belted a Sandy Koufax fastball to tie Babe Ruth’s record of 15 World Series homers. All told, however, Mantle took the field in only 69 games and entered the batter’s box just 229 times.
Among those appearances (possibly even the hallowed Façade Home Run), Mantle donned this all-original, completely unrestored Yankee Stadium game jersey. The iconically pinstriped jersey features “Mantle” chain-stitched in navy on a collar nameplate, which, true to the Yankees’ early-1960s style, is sewn only through the collar fold’s first layer. Matching navy chain-stitching of “63” resides on the exterior left front tail. The “NY” crest and “7” numeral appear in navy wool-blend felt on the left breast and reverse, respectively, with both components demonstrating proper vintage stitch patterns. Correct labeling and tagging include the circa 1958-1971 Spalding manufacturer’s label, a size-44 flag tag, an early-1960s variation laundry tag and a supplemental “SET 1 1963” tag. All seven of the four-hole buttons remain intact. There is moderate overall wear, several barely noticeable holes, and minor foxing on the tails.
An accompanying notarized letter from Dr. Richard, J. Caro—whose father-in-law Pierre L. Constancy had played minor-league ball in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system during the 1930s—is dated July 5, 2004, and reads, in part, “During the season of 1963, Pierre contacted the New York Yankee organization requesting a worn Mickey Mantle uniform on his wife’s behalf because she was an avid Mantle fan. Pierre had a good friend from his playing days that was a professional baseball scout and he also contacted the Yankees on Pierre’s behalf. The equipment manager was given this jersey directly from Mantle after a game. It was then boxed up and immediately sent to Pierre with the dirt remaining. My father-in-law made a gift of the jersey to my mother-in-law, who in turn, left it to me after her death in 1987. The jersey has never left the possession of our family and has been safely stored in our home through the years.”