“There’s a bit of magic to it,” said a recent visitor to Heritage Auctions as he eyed, with awe and reverence, the gray jersey adorned with “NEW YORK” on the front and “7” on the back. The slightly soiled, sweat-stained top belonged, of course, to Mickey Mantle — the No. 7. Of this, there is no doubt: It has been validated by myriad authentication and grading services. Mantle had also signed the jersey — inside, near the collar — just below the embroidered “M. Mantle.”
He wore it on the road during the 1954 season, his first in which he drove in more than 100 runs. The Mick also batted .300 that year, his fourth as a New York Yankee and his first full season back from injury. 1956 might have been Mantle’s “biggest year,” as he would later write. But ’54 was the season he began ascending from mere mortal to The Mick.