In looking for images of this Mickey Mantle glove that is being attributed by the owner/authenticator as being the one used by Mantle in the 1956 World Series, I came across one in the book Glove Affairs: The Romance, History, and Tradition of the Baseball Glove written by Noah Liberman. This book features the Mantle glove in question on the cover. If you look into the palm of this glove, you will see what I believe is the faint outline of the familiar shape of the steer used to highlight these gloves were made from the “Heart of the Hide.”
Please note that the image of the Heart of the Hide Logo as shown in this article is NOT the one that appears on the glove featured in Glove Affairs. It is only offered as an illustratve example.
According the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the filing for the Heart of the Hide Trademark was not filed until May 8th 1959. A registration of this as a registered trade mark was granted on September 6, 1960.
I would suspect that use of this logo may have predated the fileing, but the issue here is did it occur three years prior. There is also the issue of the wrist patch that can be seen in late 1957. There is no mention of this “Heart of the Hide” in the Rawlings catalogs in 1956 or 1957. The first mention of this is the 1958 catalog with the statement of “Once again Rawlings improves on the games’ finest in the new Heart of the Hide gloves and mitts-topps in preference. The HH (Harvey Haddix) model glove is described in the 1958 catalog as being “Made of the new Heart of the Hide Leather for 1958.”
If the glove in question was used by Mantle in the 1956 season, it would have had to been manufactured in early 1956. Even if it was not used in the full season, but later on, you still have to account for why other professional model gloves, including team mate Don Larsen’s gloves form 1956 can be found with the red Rawlings patch. These images for Larsen can be found from both April and October 1956.
Do I have doubt this is a Mickey Mantle game used glove? No not really. Do I question its attribution to being the one used to make the catch in the 1956 World Series? Yes I do based not on anecdotal or testimonial evidence but on what dated period images, manufacturers production information as well as information available from the U.S. Patent Office indicates.
Remember the template I developed. It works along this logic trail when dealing with attributing a glove to a specific event:
Is the glove correct for the period or event in question? If so, how do you know and how is it seen? If these basic conditions can not be met, it is of little value going any further with respect to the player or event attribution.
What we do know is for a catalog to be available and reflect a given years offering’s, it would have to have been produced some time before as seen in the Adirondack example I listed. To me, this would suggest that I would expect to see variations in patches, and other changes and innovations a year prior to the publishing date. Hence this is why we have a 1958 patch and 1958 Heart of the Hide logo on a glove I believe was manufactured in 1957. Remember this patch does show up on a 1957 Mantle World Series glove.
If you have been following this story and doing your own work, hats off to you. If you made a search of Getty images for Mantle in 1956, you will have found a couple of interesting photographs, both dated 1 January 1956.
Getty Image # #81778513 shows Mantle sitting in his locker with a red label Rawlings glove. Getty Image #52988854 shows Mantle sitting on the steps of the dugout at Yankee Stadium with what appears to be the Rawlings black and gold patch variant. If using the latter image to say the patch black and gold was available in 1956 then you have to accept the image with the red patch as well. You would also have to be satisfied that the date was correct and Mantle actually engaged in the photo shoot on New Years Day.
With respect to looking at event specific images, the only images I have been able to find of the famous Mantle catch in the 1956 World Series is a three shot action spread. These images only confirm that Mantle was wearing a glove on his left hand when making the catch. No other discernable or relevant information can be garnered from these images with respect to confirming manufacture, model, let alone more minute details necessary to confirm specific event attribution.
There are a couple of posed advertising shots of Mantle pointing to a glove with a black patch, that even if dated to 1956, do no make it the glove in question. There is always the possibility these photos were taken after the event or with another glove. For those who will offer than Mantle would never use or pose with a glove that was not his own because how particular he was about his equipment, to me that argument doesn’t hold much water either. Remember the mammoth home run Mantle hit on April 17th 1953 at Griffith Stadium off of Chuck Stobbs? Well he hit that with a bat belonging to teammate Irv Noren. If you happen to watch the 1959 TV series home run and pay attention to Mantle vs Jackie Jensen, you will hear host Mark Scott regale Mantle’s great success at the plate only to have Jensen comment “what makes it worse is that he’s using my bat.” Even though some of these photos show the glove he is holding does in fact have his number “7” written on it, this only supports it is his glove. It does not make it the glove used to make the catch in the 1956 World Series.
The issues for me on this topic and this glove relate to a number of things, beyond what the owner/authenticator of this glove thinks it is and why. They are and remain:
1. What should be an acceptable methodology and process for evaluating game used gloves? I have already provided my thoughts on this and subjected it to public review and scrutiny.
2. What should be an acceptable level of research and analysis that should go into supporting claims of definitive attribution for hallmark event items? I have already provided my thoughts on this and subjected it to public review and scrutiny by way my work on the Roger Maris and Babe Ruth jerseys.
3. How glove and manufacturers catalog information should be viewed, researched, and interpreted. I have shown by way of the Adirondack catalog and accompanying letter as well as images from of Mantle from 1957, that items listed in a certain years catalog are actually likely to have been available at the professional level the previous year.
If the contention is that the catalogs actually lag two or more years behind the professional offerings, then why do non-black and gold patches still show up in and throughout 1956? Also, why would Rawlings have introduced something as marketable as the product and slogan “Heart of the Hide” in 1956, but then decided not to feature it in the 1956 or 1957 catalogs? Why would they also wait three years until applying for a trademark for this as well? Even if you have somehow resolved this to your own satisfaction in your own mind, what are the objectively known and verifiable points of comparison on this glove and the one in the images of Mantle making the ACTUAL catch? How are other possible gloves accounted for and shown to be excluded from this possibility?
At the end of the day, each person will have to be satisfied with the body of work and the totality of the circumstances surrounding this glove and any claim to what it is, might be or is not. That is an individual decision. For me, in this case and others, it all goes back to what do you know, how do you know it, and how is this objectively demonstrated…Whether it be a glove, bat or jersey….That is the Heart of the Matter…
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com