It is ironic that the iconic ballplayer from 1950s bubblegum cards, Mickey Mantle, was once subjected to the legendary sharp tongue of manager Casey Stengel for the sin of having been photographed during a game blowing a gum bubble.
I found an article in the Sept. 23, 1953, issue of The Sporting News that featured a full-length photo of Mantle standing in center field, hands on hips, blowing a good-size bubble. Without doing a great deal of work it's not currently possible for me to reproduce the photo here, but there's no reason not to give you the full flavor of the TSN article.
The article was date-lined New York. The headline read "Mickey Bubbles Busted by Ol' Case".
There was a subhead: Gum Chums Rate Mantle's Technique Bush League; Say Texture Wrong, Too".
In full, here is the article:
"On Thursday, September 10, while the Yankees were taking their final meeting with the White Sox, 1 to 0, one of the photographers in the Stadium trained his telescopic lens on Mickey Mantle in center field.
"Much to the cameraman's amazement, he saw a big bubble issuing from Mickey's mouth. He looked again. It really was a bubble. Mantle was chewing bubble gum, and having himself a juvenile time.
"The photographer alerted his companions and the next day most of the local newspapers had pictures of Mantle and his gum bubble.
"Casey Stengel hauled Mantle on the carpet and asked him what he thought he was doing out there. Casey uttered about 50 dozen choice words, and Bubbles, of course, had nothing to say, except, 'It never will happen again.'
"And what did the kids--the experts--think of Mickey's technique as a bubbler?
"They said it's all wrong. He had his head too straight. Any bubble blower knows you can't get 'em real big that way. And if you do, you get in a mess if the bubble busts all over your chin and chest.
"The youngsters couldn't say much for the texture of his bubble, either. Theirs are clean and clear--like window panes. Mickey's was solid thick.
"Anyone could blow 'em that way, the kids agreed."
Then, as now, bubble gum was available free to players in the locker room. With both Topps and Bowman vying for player exclusivity, it's easy to imagine the players had their choice. A collector today has to wonder if the free locker room gum included packs of baseball cards.