I recently looked up the beginning professional careers of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, as reported by the New York Times in 1950 and 1951. The paper talked about Mantle more before he came up than it did Mays.
On September 17, 1950, the Times reported:
“The highly touted Mickey Mantle, brilliant 18-year-old shortstop prospect, also will join the Yanks on this jaunt (road trip).
“‘Nothing like giving these kids first-hand demonstration of what it’s like on a ball club shooting for a pennant,’ says Casey (Stengel). Mantle, a switch-hitter, batted at a .390 clip for Joplin during the past season.”
Mantle was on hand as only an observer for the conclusion of the Yankees’ 1950 season. On January 6, 1951, the Times added that “Mantle is a shortstop on the Binghamton roster but, in the opinion of Tom Greenwade, veteran scout, ‘might be a great center fielder.’ This means that the Yankees are looking to the day when DiMaggio hangs up his glove.”
On April 17, 1951, Mantle made his debut, playing in right field and batting third, with DiMaggio in center and batting cleanup, for a 5-0 home win over the Red Sox to start the 1951 season. In the sixth Jackie Jensen led off with a double, in the wake of which “came solid singles by Mickey Mantle (scoring Jensen), tagged as the rookie sensation of 1951, the venerable Joe DiMaggio and robust Yogi Berra.”