Part VII: Mickey’s Toys & Games Pt. II
By Kelly Eisenhauer
The 1950s and 1960s was surely the age of innocence. Life was so much simpler back then. Our lifestyle reflected the times and baseball was simple, too. Our favorite players were rarely traded and if you had a favorite player, the odds were pretty good that he would be with your favorite team for the long haul. Yes, there were exceptions, but for the most part, things didn’t change.
As a child growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, we were pretty content. The toys we bought and played with were simple, too. There weren’t a lot of bells and whistles to distract us. We didn’t have video games and computers to occupy our time. We played outside, not inside.
Toy companies would gear their advertising toward the younger kids. We were their target audience and in the world of baseball, Mickey Mantle was King. No one in baseball had more games and toys named after him than “The Mick.”
This is the concluding section of the “Toys and Games” installment; the first section appeared in the June 26 issue of SCD.
1955 Dairy Queen Statues
In 1955, Dairy Queen released a set of 18 miniature baseball players. These 3½-inch statues were made of white plastic and featured a player in an action pose. The Mickey Mantle statue showed him bunting left-handed. The players name was located at the bottom of a white base. Some of the other players included in the set were Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella. One common problem is that the bats that the players were holding would break off. A complete unbroken Mantle is worth about $150-$200.
1956 Big League Star Statues
The 1956 Big League Star Statues are virtually identical to the 1955 Dairy Queen statues (Photo No. 391). There is only one difference. The Big League statues are all copper in color. Mounted to a 4-by-5-inch cardboard blister pack, the front of the cardboard features the name of the player with the player enclosed in plastic. The Mantle package has Mantle’s name on the front and “Big League Stars” and “Series 10” below the figure. On the reverse side of the cardboard, a portrait card of the player with facsimile autograph is located on the left side of the card (Photo No. 392). A biographical write up with the player’s stats occupies the left side of the cardboard. A pullout tab is also on the reverse, so that the product can be displayed.
The Mantle statue with card is the most expensive in the 18-player set. Values for the Mantle alone are in the $2,000 range. Complete unopened Mantle packages are quite rare.
Mickey Mantle’s Isometric Minute a Day Gym
The “gym,” made by Beacon Enterprises in the 1960s, was designed to build muscles and physique. Based on the idea of isometrics, a metal plate was stepped on while pulling a grip that was affixed to a rope. The design of the box was very basic and was not a favorite among collectors (Photo No. 393). Two different versions of the box exist: one with Mickey by himself promoting the product and the second featured Mickey and Bonnie Prudden (Photo No. 394). Mantle’s testimony stated, “Invest 1 minute a day and have muscles and the physique of an athlete … without strain, without sweat, without exhaustive exercises.” Complete packages are valued around $25.
Mickey Mantle Bobbin’ Head Dolls
Several different variations of the Mickey Mantle Bobblehead doll exist. Made in Japan from 1961 to 1963, the Dolls originally sold for $1. Four players (Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente) were produced in addition to the mascots of Major League Baseball teams (Photo No. 395).
A round and square base (Photo No. 396) exists for the Mantle and his facsimile autograph adorns the base. The size of the players was usually around 7¼ inches tall. A box with a caricature of Mantle accompanied each Bobblehead (Photo No. 397). The boxes are worth about $200. A Mickey Mantle white base mini Bobblehead was made along with a Roger Maris (Photo No. 398). Each mini measured about 4½” tall and are considered very rare. A Mantle mini can bring as much as $2,000 in mint condition. The Mantle mini box also has a different caricature drawing than the regular sized issue.
1957-58 Children’s Novelty Watch
This novelty watch made in Japan in the late 1950s contained two photos of some of the game’s biggest stars. Comprised of a tin face and a paper drawing of a clock, the novelty items were not meant to keep time. The “watch” front contained two oblong holes for small black-and-white photos to be inserted. The Mantle watch contained a picture of Mickey on the right and Hank Aaron on the left. The watch also had a small elastic band, which was made to go around the child’s wrist. A common problem for this child’s toy was rusting because of oxidation. The novelty watch of Mantle and Aaron is valued around $100 (Photo No. 399).
1962 Mantle and Maris Jigsaw Puzzles
Two different black-and-white jigsaw puzzles were made circa 1961-62 showing the M&M boys holding their bats. The one shows Mickey and Roger with the Yankee Stadium façade as a backdop (Photo No. 400), while the second shows the M&M boys kneeling on the Yankee dugout steps while leaning on their bats and looking to their right (Photo No. 401). The first puzzle has facsimile signatures of both, while the second does not. Both of the puzzles are valued around $150-$200 each in near-mint condition.
1964 Mantle, Maris, Mays All-Star Youth Wristwatch
Endorsed by Mantle, Maris and Mays, this beautiful youth All-Star watch with metal wristband (Photo No. 402), was overshadowed by its package design, which includes portrait illustrations of each player (Photo No. 403). Each player’s signature appears on a silver-and-red baseball surrounded by a large green circle (Photo No. 404). The company name and year of issue, “1964 Bendley Time Division,” is printed on the front insert of the box. Also included with the watch was a Baseball Tips booklet.
The watch is fairly common, but the red display box (51/2-by-2-by-2 inches) with illustrations is very rare. Also available is a very rare outer box that is mint green in color and contained caricature drawings of Mantle, Mays and Maris with facsimile autographs (Photo No. 405).
Mantle, Maris, Mays and Koufax All-Star Youth Watch
Circa 1965, the name Sandy Koufax was added to the All-Star Youth wristwatch. Almost identical in design, the watch features four signatures instead of three (Photo Nos. 406-408). Inside the red and silver baseball, Mantle’s signature appears at 12 o’clock, Sandy Koufax’s at 3 o’clock, Willie Mays’ at 6 o’clock, and Roger Maris’ at 9 o’clock. The display box has changed slightly with the addition of Sandy Koufax’s portrait.
1961-62 Mantle and Maris Stellar Radio
Generated by the Mantle and Maris historic pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1961, Stellar manufactured a baseball-themed AM radio with the likenesses of Mantle and Maris (Photo Nos. 409-412). Measuring 5 inches in height by 7 inches wide and 4 inches in depth, it features the signatures of Mantle and Maris under the green, diamond-shaped on-off switch. Housed within a wood case, the unit has a molded plastic front featuring the raised-relief image of a batter (in a Yankees uniform) displayed over the speaker panel. The tuning knob is constructed in the form of a ball and bat. Prices for near-mint condition radios have reached $1,200-plus. The Mantle/Maris Stellar box is very rare as well. Most were discarded and did contain pictures of the M&M boys (Photo No. 413).
Transogram Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays
From 1962-69, Transogram made a number of plastic products that featured baseball Hall of Famers Mantle and Mays together (Photo Nos. 414-415). Several of the products featured different length bats that usually accompanied several Transogram Zipee balls. Zipee balls were plastic baseballs that were made with air holes (Photo Nos. 416-419). A product that was basically the same as the “Whiffle” ball.
Transogram also produced plastic baseballs that did not have air holes. Both types of plastic balls were mixed in with most Mantle and Mays products. The following is a list of Transogram Mantle and Mays items:
- 30-inch Mantle and Mays Bat N Ball with three baseballs with yellow-and-black header card (Photo No. 420)
- 26-inch Mantle and Mays Bat N Ball with hand-rubbed wood finish bat and two balls, plus red-white-and-black header card
- 33-inch Mantle and Mays Bat N Ball Softball with three Zipee balls
- 30-inch Mantle and Mays Bat N Ball with three baseballs and one Zipee ball with air holes (Photo No. 421). No. 3129, it featured a beige or off-white-blue-and-orange header card.
- 30-inch Mantle and Mays Bat N Ball with one baseball and one Zipee ball on a teal header card
- 18-inch Bat N Ball yellow header card with only Mantle
- Mantle-Mays Spring Training Camp – This was a pitch-back device that enabled a youngster to throw a baseball against an elastic screen and have the ball return to them (Photo Nos. 422-423). The game came with a Pitch N Catch Net, a Pop-A-Matic Home Run Trainer, a 30-inch bat and practice baseball. The toy came with a large header card showing head shots of Mantle and Mays. The item was No. 3158. A smaller version of the Spring Training elastic screen is also known to exist.
- Mantle and Mays Pitch Up Practice Batter – a pitch-up device that serves up a Zipee ball for the batter to hit. Red-white-and-blue header card (Photo No. 424)
- 26-inch Mantle and Mays Pitch O Matic – Red and yellow design with batting trainer (Photo No. 425)
- 30-inch Mantle and Mays Bat N Ball with four baseballs, copper-colored bat and shows head shots of Mickey and Willie on a blue home plate
- 30-inch Mantle and Mays Bat N Ball, just like the before mentioned, exists with only three baseballs
- Mantle and Mays Official Baseball Set – includes bat, ball and batting helmet on a yellow-and-blue header card (Photo No. 426)
- Mantle/Mays Home Run Trainer with stomp-on-it plunger. Comes with bat, balls, plunger server and “How to Hit Like a Champion” booklet with Mantle and Mays. Features a red-and-yellow header card (Photo No. 427)
- The Champions Choice – Mantle and Mays Zipee practice baseballs with a yellow and blue packaging and header card.
- The Champions Choice – Mantle and Mays Zipee practice baseballs with a teal package and header card
- The Champions Choice – Mantle and Mays Official practice baseballs with a blue package and header card
- Mantle and Mays Self-Selling Bat N Ball Display – Probably the rarest of all Transogram Mantle and Mays items (Photo No. 428). This large cardboard display housed approximately 50 units with both 28-inch and 30-inch varieties. The cardboard display showed pictures of Mantle and Mays on the top and bottom areas as well as both sides. In all likelihood, these displays were not for sale and delivered only to the larger toy stores that carried Transogram products.
- Most items are valued in the $200-$400 range, depending on condition. In 1969, Transogram entered into to the toy baseball statue market. They produced a total of 60 different statues that measured 3½ inches tall. Included with each statue was a bright yellow color photo baseball card (standard card size of 21/2-by-31/2 inches) that was on the back of the box. Today, a complete box of Mantle in near-mint condition can bring in excess of $1,200 (Photo No. 429).
Japanese Mechanical Toys of the 1960s
In the 1960s, Japanese toy makers made several baseball toys that “resembled” Mickey Mantle. I use the word “resemble” in quotations because in most cases the resemblance wasn’t even close. Never appearing in a Yankees uniform, toys would either have a face that looked something like Mickey’s or would put a No. 7 on the back of a uniform without the famous interlocking “NY.” Not wanting to infringe upon trademark and publicity rights, the toy makers would try to make the items look as much like Mickey Mantle without saying so.
Three such items are a metal cutout of a baseball player used for a lamp pull chain (Photo No. 430), a Japanese jigsaw puzzle (Photo No. 431), and a mechanical toy called “All-Stars Mr. Baseball, Jr. (Photo Nos. 432-433) Some of these items are a hit with collectors and other collectors have a philosophy of “close, but no cigar.”
1969 Win A Card Trading Cards Game by Milton Bradley
Win A Card was a very rare and interesting game put out by Milton Bradley in 1969. Using 1968 Topps Baseball cards, which were included in the game, players would use a spinner to determine how many cards would be exchanged (Photo No. 434). There is a very interesting side note to this game, however. The 1968 Topps cards that came with the game have a different color back than the regular 1968 issued Topps cards (Photo No. 435). The backs of the game’s cards are a bright yellow color as opposed to the 1968 Topps regular-issue orange backs. The variation has never been fully explained, but one theory is that Topps printed these special cards just for this game. Although the number of cards in the game box would vary and no two boxes would contain the same exact cards, there is a Mantle card with the different backing.
1950s Mickey Mantle’s Swing T
A very rare game by Sports Fun Damentals of Dallas, Texas, that features Mickey Mantle’s name and picture (Photo No. 436). The Swing-T was another baseball product that was designed to help youngsters become better hitters. The game came in a long, thin box that housed a batting tee, baseball, and connecting cord. The Swing T box has a testimonial statement from Mickey fully recommending the Swing T batting tee. (Photo Nos. 437-438)
1956-57 Mac Boy Batting Rack and Decal
Made from wood, this colorful bat rack featured a cutout of a youngster who resembled “Bazooka Joe.” (Photo No. 439) Holding up to three bats and two baseballs, the Mac Boy featured a decal and facsimile autograph of Mantle (Photo No. 440). The decals were made in great excess during this time period and are worth about $25, while the bat racks are very rare. They are seldom seen in the hobby and are valued at around $500.
1950s Diamond Dust Nickel Punchboard
With a baseball theme, this game of chance was not intended for kids. Very popular in country and five-and-dime stores in the 1950s, this gambling board that featured some of baseball’s biggest stars. Names and pictures of Mantle, Duke Snider, Al Kaline, Yogi Berra, Richie Ashburn, Ernie Banks and Jimmy Piersall all graced the front design of the Diamond Dust Punchboard. Costing only a nickel per punch, there were 15 prizes of $1, which could net the seller a total of $15. Mantle’s picture is No. 33 and is at the head of the puchboard. It is this author’s belief that the puchboard was made in the 1980s to resemble a 1950s product. The punchboards are worth around $100 (Photo No. 441).
APBA and Strat-O-Matic Baseball Games
Two of the best baseball board games, APBA and Strat-O-Matic have long been favorites of the baseball board-game community (Photo No. 442). Although not a Mickey Mantle game, the games do include several cards of Mantle that can be used to play the game. The games give fans a chance to own, manage and match strategies using cards of his favorite team and players. Game cards feature statistical data from the player’s previous year, but do not contain any pictures of the players.
1950s Mickey Mantle Gumball Machine Lockets
Using a smaller-sized 1954 Mickey Mantle Red Heart photograph, two Mantle lockets were sold back in the 1950s and 1960s (Photo No. 443). Framed and with an enamel-like finish, the two different plastic variations had silver and gold backings. The lockets were reportedly sold in gumball machines for a penny and are valued around $10 each. It is the opinion of this author that these lockets are bogus and were made in the 1980s to resemble a gumball prize from the 1950s.
1954 Barr Rubber Sponge Balls
The Barr Rubber Products Co. of Sandusky, Ohio, made rubber sponge balls that featured facsimile autographs of Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and George Kell, to name a few. Rubber balls or sponge balls were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s as kids would play stickball in the city streets. With the sponge ball, many car windows and homes were saved. A Barr Co. trade advertisement promotes the 1954 product line (Photo No. 444).
1970 Little League World Series View-Master made by GAF
A set of three reels that show photos of the 1970 Little League World Series broadcasted by ABC’s Wide World of Sports announcer Jim McKay. Mantle is shown autographing baseballs for the Little Leaguers (Photo No. 445). A booklet is included and shows illustrations of Reggie Jackson, Tom Seaver, and has references to Mantle and John “Boog” Powell. The reels are valued at around $20 (Photo No. 446).
1960s Mickey Mantle Gumball Machine Ring
Supposedly sold in gumball machines for only a penny, one of the lucky prizes that a youngster could receive was a Mickey Mantle picture ring. The face of the ring shows a bust shot of Mickey Mantle batting right-handed. The adjustable ring has a rounded glass finish. It is the opinion of this author that these rings are bogus and were made in the 1980s to resemble a typical toy ring from the 1960s. The value of these rings is $10-$15 (Photo No. 447).
Mickey Mantle Progressive Slot Machine
The second game would be the Mickey Mantle Baseball progressive slot machine. Introduced at the Global Gaming Expo as a test product in 2003, the slot machine featured Mickey’s picture, signature, and famous No. 7 (Photo Nos. 448-449). It is unclear as to wether the product was massed produced for the various casinos throughout the country.
Owning slot machines is illegal in most states; therefore securing one for your own collection could be very costly and almost impossible. It is known that part of the machine with Mickey’s face was auctioned on eBay back in 2008. The game had a baseball theme and highlighted some of Mick’s career accomplishments.
1959-65 Sterling Silver Mickey Mantle Holiday Inn Charm
Available in the Holiday Inn gift shop in Joplin , Mo., a tiny sterling silver trinket was sold that showed Mickey in caricature form posing behind a Holiday Inn table in the dugout lounge (Photo No. 450). The silver trinket was to be added to a necklace or a bracelet. The trinket is valued at around $250-$300.
Kelly R. Eisenhauer of Lehighton, Pa., has been a fan and collector of Mickey Mantle memorabilia for more than 40 years. He supplied photography for the HBO documentary “Mantle, The Definitive Story” and is featured in Richard Wolfe’s current book, For Yankee Fans Only – Vol. 2. Eisenhauer owns and operates his own Mickey Mantle webpage at www.hofmemories.com. Anyone with questions or comments can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the photographs from this multi-part series, including a remarkable number of one-of-a-kind pieces, came from the Mickey Mantle Collection of B.S. Alpert.