|My 1959 Topps Mickey Mantle encased in protective plastic|
When I was 17, our next-door neighbor's brother found his collection of baseball cards and offered to sell me whatever I wanted. This was early in my collecting and I didn't have very many 1950s and 60s cards. It was in October or November, and my father let me pick which ones I wanted and they would be my Christmas gift. The neighbor's brother was kind enough to let me keep that box of cards at my home while I looked through them and decided which ones I wanted to buy.
There were some tough choices in that box. The first picks were easy: all the Cardinals cards he had, which became the foundations for many of the sets I completed over the next 25 years. But I wanted at least one card of superstars like Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roger Maris, etc. I picked a '55 Williams, '59 Aaron, and a '58 Banks. I remember having to choose between a 1959 and 1961 Topps Maris and going with the '61 because it showed him with the Yankees.
I think I had two or three Mantles to choose from, but this is the one I picked, mostly because I liked the way it looked. He wasn't a Cardinal (although having grown up near the Missouri border, I don't think he would've minded being one), but he was a classic baseball player, warts and all.
If it's within your budget--even if you find a less-than-mint one--I recommend getting a Mantle...any Mantle.