The 1991 Score Exclusive Mickey Mantle Card Promotion

I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgic kick lately, highlighting early 90s insert promotions that Upper Deck kicked off in 1990 with the Find the Reggie promotion. Next, I detailed all of Upper Deck’s 1991 Autograph Heroes Series cards and Donruss’ response by describing their 1991, 1992, and 1993 Signature Series Cards. But hey, this was the Junk Wax era, and a ton of companies were printing baseball cards. Well, Score “inserted” themselves in the autograph promotion game in 1991 as well with “The Mickey Mantle of Baseball Cards” as they introduced a “spectacular new seven-card series of hand-signed Mickey Mantle Cards.” Score printed 38,500 cards in this “limited” promotion, 2500 of which Mantle autographed. The cards were primarily found in Score’s Series 2 baseball card boxes, but a handful were available via a mail-in promotion. 

One of the ways Score announced the promotion was through the following brochure they sent to dealers.

1991 Score Exclusive Promotion – Mantle Photo and Envelope
1991 Score Exclusive Promotion – Promotion Details and Envelope

The ad sheet highlighted Score’s exclusivity with Mickey Mantle and how they gave their customers a chance to win a series of seven Mantle cards “to be produced on an exclusive, limited basis for distribution in Score Series II Baseball count goods.” I suspect this promotion had to be a late response to Upper Deck and Donruss since it was a Series II release, and the bottom of the ad extended the order cut-off date for dealers. Though, it’s possible negotiations with Mantle just took too long.

The sell sheet explains that the seven-card Mantle set depicts him at various stages of his 18-year career. Specifically, Score explained that equal quantities of each card would be printed, that they would randomly insert them in packs of Series II products for sale in March 1991, and a total of 38500 cards would be printed. Mickey would personally autograph 2500, meaning only 356 signed sets of seven would be available. They also explained that there would be two ways to get autographed and non-autographed cards; instantly in packs or through a special mail-in sweepstakes. 

As an aside, Score also issued these 7-card cello packs to hobby dealers and media members on Score’s mailing list that were serial numbered to 5000 (the unsigned Mantle cards in Series II packs weren’t numbered). These cards are known as the 1991 Score Mickey Mantle Glossy cards. Packs can usually be picked up for between $40 and $50.

1991 Score Mickey Mantle Limited Edition Glossy Set Cello Pack

I’ve tracked down the following pair of advertisements for this promotion. The first features Mantle signing the cards.

1991 Score Mantle Promotion Ad – Mantle Signing

It shows the front of each of the seven cards along the bottom, a few of the same specs from the sell sheet, and a few other notes about the rest of the set.

The second ad looks more like the glossy set pack pictured above. 

1991 Score Mantle Promotion Ad – The Mickey Mantle of Baseball Cards

It highlights Score as “The Mickey Mantle of Baseball Cards,” shows all seven cards, and has more details about the promo and set.

When the boxes finally came out, they had some text that collectors could “Win Exclusive Mickey mantle Cards” and said to “See Details on Wrappers.”

1991 Score Baseball Series 2 Boxes

The front of the wrapper had a similar note about winning the Mantle Cards.

1991 Score Baseball Series 2 Pack – Front

Then, on the side of the pack, you can see that the cards were available to win in two ways…instantly or in a sweepstakes drawing.

1991 Score Baseball Series 2 Pack – Side

The back of the wrapper explains that 2,493 autographed and 35951 unautographed exclusive Mickey Mantle cards have been randomly packed in Series 2 Score baseball cards. 

1991 Score Baseball Series 2 Pack – Back

The sweepstakes included seven autographed and 49 unautographed cards. I like that the odds of winning instantly were “indeterminate” but no less than 30000 to 1 for autographed cards and 2000 to 1 for unautographed cards; they printed a ton of boxes then.

The print numbers from the pack ad up. On the ad sheets, Score explained that 38500 cards would be printed, and then the pack, between inserts and the mail-in sweepstakes, shows 2493 + 35951 + 7 + 49 cards equaling the 38500 total. There’s been some debate in the hobby if 2500 of each card or 2500 total Mantle cards were signed. I think this clears things up, and he only signed 2500, not 17500 cards; that would be a chore! Again, a lot of hobby guides write that 5500 of each unsigned card was printed; 5500 x 7 is 38500, but we can see that the 38500 total included the autographed cards. This is interesting, though, given a few sales and stories about the cards that have emerged that I’ll cover in a bit (it seems a few extras were made).

Now, the cards themselves are pretty great. Mantle signed the front of six of them and the back of the “The Rookie” card since the picture used on it was rather dark. The seven cards, in order, are #1 – The Rookie, #2 – Triple Crown, #3 – World Series, #4 – Going, Going, Gone, #5 – Speed and Grace, #6 A True Yankee, and #7 – Twilight. Together, the backs form a pretty nice little bio of Mantle’s career. Here are examples of all seven cards; notice that the backs have a ‘No. of 2500 personally autographed cards’ hand drawn.

1991 Score Mickey Mantle #1 Auto – The Rookie
1991 Score Mickey Mantle #2 Auto – Triple Crown
1991 Score Mickey Mantle #3 Auto – World Series
1991 Score Mickey Mantle #4 Auto – Going, Going, Gone
1991 Score Mickey Mantle #5 Auto – Speed and Grace
1991 Score Mickey Mantle #6 Auto – A True Yankee
1991 Score Mickey Mantle #7 Auto – Twilight

The PSA pop report for the Mantle inserts is complex to digest, given that there are non-auto cards and the ambiguity of the PSA Card vs. PSA/DNA categories. Plus, the Auction Pprices Realized page doesn’t show that many examples changing hands. So, it’s clear they don’t come up for sale that often. Before the hobby bubble, they sold for between $500 and $750, randomly a bit higher. More recently, in March 2023, a ‘Speed and Grace’ auto sold for $1305, and in August 2022, a ‘The Rookie’ auto sold for $1184.

SCP auctions sold a complete PSA-Graded Auto Set for $2423 in November 2006. Here’s a photo of two of the cards from that sale.

1991 Score Mickey Mantle Cards from SCP Auctions

There have been a few weird cases in recent memory. For example, Lelands sold this example, numbered 0007 of 2500, in March 2017 for $438.

1991 Score Mickey Mantle #7 Auto – Twilight Lelands Numbered 0007 of 2500

But other collectors have shared other examples numbered 0007. There are a few theories about what happened. Some say that the first few were given to the Mantle family and that the sweepstakes cards may have all been numbered 0007. Extras could have also been printed and signed in case of damage that could have snuck out the back door by employees. And then forgeries are always possible (the Beckett card’s numbering is thicker than the other examples). 

The thing is, Score absolutely printed a few autos without serial numbers. Robert Edward Auctions sold this raw, unnumbered set for $2700 in their Spring 2018 auction. 

1991 Score Mickey Mantle Auto Set – Unnumbered

They described it as an unnumbered proof set given to Barry Halper, a partner in Score at the time and as a friend of Mantle, instrumental in getting Mantle to participate in the promotion. REA wrote that Score presented Halper with nine unnumbered proof sets signed by Mantle.

Signed Mantle cards, just like these, without serial numbers, will pop up on the market occasionally, so someone could have added the 0007 to the Beckett graded example above, trying to increase the card’s value. 

I’ve written about Mickey Mantle cards quite a bit on the blog, but if you want to read about a few items that are even more exclusive than these 1991 Score cards, check out these three articles:

And if you have any more insight to add about the 1991 Score Mickey Mantle cards, leave a note in the comments, or shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll feature the info in a future Post War Cards Newsletter. Happy collecting!

Leave a Reply