Mickey Mantle's sons dig through family vault for new baseball card release

David and Danny Mantle woke up Saturday and couldn’t help but think of their dad. Not because a fresh baseball season was only hours away, not because the Yankees were the first game on the schedule and not because of the new Mickey Mantle baseball card that’s being released Monday — though that last bit is rather important.

No, The Mick’s kids were flooded with memories of their father because it was April 1. And if opening day was Mantle’s New Year, April Fool’s Day was his Christmas.

Mickey would often wake up at 6 a.m. on April Fools day if it meant playing a prank.

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Like the time David woke up to a ringing phone one April 1 in the early 1990s, just a few days after his daughter’s birth. David’s wife, Marla, picked up and within moments started crying. The new parents had just purchased a home that needed a few repairs before they could move in. In the meantime, they were staying at Mickey’s house while he tried to sell it. Well, at 6 a.m., with Marla on the other end of the line, Mantle told his daughter-in-law that the house had been closed on. He needed them to get out of there by noon.

Marla was in tears as she told her husband the news. David couldn’t stop laughing.

That’s the Mickey Mantle they remember.

David and Danny Mantle spoke with Big League Stew as Panini America and the Mantle Estate get set to unveil a new set of trading cards on Monday honoring No. 7 — featuring autographs and memorabilia from The Mick. It’s the first time the Mantle family has licensed new cards since 2012. They opened up on digging through their dad’s relics, Mike Trout comparisons and a potential museum for Yankee greats.

The first card will officially go on sale Monday, April 3rd on Panini’s website found here.

Front side of the first Mickey Mantle card from Panini.
Front side of the first Mickey Mantle card released from Panini.
Back side of the first Mickey Mantle card released by Panini.
Back side of the first Mickey Mantle card released by Panini.

BLS: What brought you to the decision to reintroduce the Mantle legacy on trading cards?

Danny: We had come off a long contract with another company, and they had pretty much flooded the market with cards. So me and David decided we should let it dry up a little bit. But fans kept asking us what’s going and why aren’t there cards? It just made sense to do it.

BLS: Some of the autographs and memorabilia will be coming straight from your family, can you take us through the process of going through some of your dad’s keepsakes and deciding what to part with?

David: We never really bugged Dad for a whole lot for stuff. Every now and then he’d come home and just sit around asking if we had anything he wanted us to sign. That was more or less what he did all day so we never wanted to bug him. When he came home we just wanted to play golf and spend time with him. Especially those last 18 months of his life, after we had all gone to Betty Ford [Addiction Treatment Center], we’d sit around and help him sign stuff. We had a few things of ours, some baseball cards that he’d sign, a couple of balls, and of course the 500 home run bats. We just saved those up. I did it for my daughter so she would have something and could give it to her kids. We’ve got a few extras that we’re going to feel good about getting rid of with Panini.

BLS: Is there anything you consider totally untouchable in that collection?

David: After Dad has passed away we were up at our attorney’s office and they gave me the check Dad signed for me to go to Betty Ford. That’s one thing I’m going to keep hanging on to.

Danny: I’ve got several original artworks that he signed. This particular piece is one of a kind and he wrote just about every one of his stats on it. That’s something I gave to my son. It’ll stay in the family. And, of course, the World Series rings.

BLS: David, you’ve said yourself, any time a kid comes along with speed and power, the comparison to Mickey inevitably comes up. With Mike Trout that comparison always seemed a bit more realistic than those that’d come before it. What moments with Trout made you really stop and consider the comparison?

David: We were out there doing a thing at Yankee Stadium, I even said it when we were doing the promo, but I told him he even smiles like Dad. Everything he does reminds me of Dad.

Danny: They always put comparisons up on the screen of them running. They are so similar to each other. It’s pretty wild.

BLS: Now that it’s a few years into Trout’s career, what sticks out to you about his development?

Danny: With me, it’s his strength. He can hit it so hard.

BLS: Are there any players who early on you thought could turn out like Mickey, but you were completely wrong?

David: No one I can say off the top of my head. You see tons of guys come up like that. Of course, you don’t want anyone to break your dad’s records. But you know that’s just going to happen. It’s just part of life. When you see someone like that you just hope after 18 years they have the same stats he did.

Danny: I think what made my dad so amazing was the fact that he only played like three months uninjured through his 18 years. I think that’s what made him so mythical. Nobody could believe that he could still play and he still had speed and power. A lot of his fans thought of him as a god and everything and I’ll tell you what, I think I got to where I heard it so much that I thought he was a god, too. So when he passed away it was like god has died. But my dad was very complimentary of younger players. He used to love to say that he wasn’t one of the old-timers who get on the players of today.

BLS: How often do you worry about someone breaking his records?

David: We still think the 18 World Series home runs will still stand. And they didn’t have the full playoffs then. To think if he could’ve had an extra seven or eight games per year, he might have 35 home runs.

Danny: Even after all the steroid stuff, dad, with his natural talent almost hit one out of Yankee Stadium. Dad still has the longest home runs. We still have the tape measure they gave us when they started measuring them.

BLS: Other than Trout, which current players are you most excited to watch this season?

Danny: I’ve always liked [Bryce] Harper. I haven’t really been keeping track of the Yankees much now that all the older guys are gone. I don’t really know who’s on their team right now.

David: I’m a Rangers fan, but when the Yankees come in I can’t help rooting for them. But I always look to see if there’s another lefty coming up like Whitey [Ford]

BLS: You’ve both talked in the past about wanting to open a Mickey Mantle museum, any updates?

Danny: We’ve heard talk of a museum for the four guys: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Mantle. I think that would be a cool museum. Especially to have it in New York. We think something like that would probably get off the ground. Hopefully one day something like that will get done.

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Blake Schuster is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at blakeschuster@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!