By the time “The Mick" concluded his major league career, he would achieve the pinnacle of success both as an individual and as part of some of the greatest Yankees teams ever assembled. Mantle played in more games than any other Yankee, won three Most Valuable Player awards, won baseball’s Triple Crown in 1956, and hit 536 career home runs, including some of the longest in the history of the game. He also appeared in twelve World Series during his first fourteen years as a Yankee and led his team to seven World Championships. But, like everything else, superstardom has to begin somewhere. Growing up in the small coal mining town of Commerce, Oklahoma, his baseball prowess became evident early in his youth. By the late 1940’s, the “Commerce Comet," as he became known, because of his great speed and mammoth home runs, had developed a reputation for having “big league stuff." The professional ball teams began to take notice. In late April of 1951, the promising young prospect was called to New York to be tested in the major leagues, carrying with him the weight of unbridled expectations. Word had spread that this young phenom who hit those monster home runs would be able to actually replace the irreplaceable Joe DiMaggio as the “new” Yankee idol. So convinced of this were the Yankees that they assigned their young prodigy uniform number “6," the next in a sequence that included Ruth (“3"), Gehrig (“4"), and Joltin’ Joe (“5"). The New York press and some Yankee teammates were typically cynical. “He was a real country boy, all shy and embarrassed," pitcher and Yankee great Whitey Ford said. “He arrived in New York City with a straw suitcase, two pairs of slacks and one blue sports jacket that probably cost about $8.00." To Mickey, he may as well have been entering a foreign land. “I was a real country bumpkin," Mantle himself recalled later. “I had never seen buildings so tall and had never really experienced anything . . . I mean anything . . . like New York City!" The pressure was more than the gifted slugger could bear at first. For several weeks Mantle struggled mightily, both at the plate as well as away from the game trying to adjust to life in an unfamiliar world. As the pressure mounted, the cynics turned smug believing Mantle’s scouting reports to be no more than hype. However, on May 1, 1951 the seed of Mickey Mantle’s legend would be planted. On that historic date, the New York Yankees arrived at Chicago’s Comiskey Park to take on the White Sox. Destiny would bring Mickey face to face with Randy Gumpert, a grizzled veteran who had pitched his first major league game some fifteen years earlier in 1936, when Mantle was just five-years old. In subsequent interviews and articles conducted throughout the years Gumpert vividly recalls the game and his confrontation with Mickey. In facing the rookie, he was keenly aware of the press expectations and Mantle’s urgency to impress. Thinking he would fool the eager youngster, Gumpert opted for a change-up. Mantle was ready, and according to Gumpert, “Mickey smacked the ball to dead center field right into the bullpen . . . it must have traveled 450 feet in the air!" It’s not often that a person who would eventually become a baseball legend, has the opportunity to collect his first home run baseball but, fortunately, as confirmed by Gumpert, Yankee catcher Charlie Silvera, warming up in the bullpen, retrieved the ball and gave it to his young teammate. Mantle inscribed the ball in his own hand. On two different panels it reads, “My first H.R. in the Majors, May 1, 1951, 4:50 p.m. Chicago" and “6th inning off Randy Gumpert." Fifty years after the event, this ball survives with a well documented legacy. It turns out that Mantle saved the ball and displayed it himself during the later part of his career when he opened a Holiday Inn restaurant in Joplin, Missouri. He was proud of many of his baseball awards but certainly regarded this little worn, yellowed baseball, the one representing the very beginning of his Hall of Fame career, with special fondness. Later, the ball joined several of Mickey’s artifacts, including his 500th home run ball, when they were donated to the Little League Museum in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Prior to its offering here, the ball has rested in the hands of a prominent collector who has owned it for many years. The ball is accompanied by numerous articles of provenance including a signed LOA from the former President of the Baxter Springs Little League Museum, photos of the ball on display at the museum, and copies of past appraisals. Copies of several articles about the ball are included as well, including one written by Frank Ceresi of the museum consulting and appraisal firm FC Associates. A signed letter from Ceresi, former curator of the National Sports Gallery in Washington D.C., is also included acknowledging their two-year public exhibition of the ball. Together with copy of photograph shown. Having been displayed rather crudely at one point, the ball exhibits considerable toning and a large mark where a strip of tape was one used to secure it. Mantle's notation remains fully legible, averaging (6-7/10). Fair to good condition overall. Other LOA’s: SCD Authentic, PSA/DNA.