Skip to comments.Remembering Mickey Mantle
Posted on 08/14/2012 6:53:48 AM PDT by thurmant
On August 13, 1995 baseball lost one of its biggest icons Mickey Mantle. Mickey Mantle played hard, and he lived hard. He was able to change his lifestyle at the end, but it eventually caught up with him. In the end we lost him to cancer. I say we because Mickey was a larger than life icon and his life touched millions of people and inspired hundreds of baseball players.
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Jane Leavy wrote a masterpiece biography of The Mick a few years ago, “The Last Boy.” He was my childhood hero but a terrible role model.
I am fortunate enough to have his autograph.
I read "The Last Boy". What a sad, sad story. But, I remember watching my boyhood hero play and meeting him in 1964, and I remember what he meant to me.
So long, Mick. You were the most talented all-around baseball player that ever laced up his spikes.
“You brushed back the Mick?” - Jerry
“He was crowding the plate.” - Kramer
“He was my childhood hero...”
My hero as well. Back in the mid-50’s, I had his number on my Bronxwood Little League uniform. Didn’t improve my batting average.
No, that was Joe Dimaggio. He was a dunker.
Mantle is still regarded as having the fastest home-to-first time in baseball history. He delivered Hall of Fame production while playing 18 Major League seasons on one leg.
I was sitting in my office in Houston the day they announced The Mick had died. I was crying when the Marshal walked in - he asked what was wrong, had something happened to my parents and I said no, that Mickey Mantle had just died. He asked why I was crying and I told him that I grew up thinking that I would be Mrs Mickey Mantle when I grew up - he just shook his head and left my office - I’m sure he thought I was a few beers short of a six pack.....
Hey, I cried, too, and I never considered being Mrs. anything. He was an Okie, did his State proud. I wish they would reclaim the former Mrs. Warren. (Now married to Bruce Mann, she divorced Jim Warren in 1978.)
Billy Crystal got it right in “61.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250934/ If you haven’t seen the movie, GET IT. Poor Maris—he was up against a living legend, not just the embodiment of the Yankees, but of New York, of sport, of manhood. Even in winning, Maris lost.
If you had read Mrs. Mantle’s bio, you might think differently.
Mantle’s father and uncle both died in their 40s and Mantle was convinced he would die young too. So he drank to excess, cheated on his wife, caroused and lived something of a rock-star lifestyle before people came to know what that was. Mantle’s thinking was that he was going to die soon anyway so he might as well live for today.
“People call me a role model,” Mantle said when his cancer was discovered. “And I guess I am in a way. Don’t be like me.”
In later years, Mantle also said he had a dream of dying and meeting St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. “Mickey,” said St. Peter, “with all the things you’ve done, I’m afraid we can’t let you into Heaven. But since you’re here, would you mind autographing a few dozen balls for us?”
I think many of his idolized Mickey because of his heroic feats on the diamond and his aw-shucks honesty off of it. But the media protected athletes back in those days the way they protect Obama today. Had everyone known the truth then, Mantle might not have enjoyed the reputation he had.
Did he? Last time I saw him on TV he was shilling for a Liquor by the drink law in Oklahoma.
He said If Oklahoma passes this law he might return to his home state more often. He lived in some other state. The was known here as an alcoholic.
I am too young to have experienced the icon that was Mickey Mantle, but I do know it was a time where there was less diversity in experience. Less TV channels, less news channels, and less people looking for anything wrong with a hero.
I dont like it when the living blame the dead on why they died. This person smoked too much, or drank too much, or slept around too much. Just let them be. If you loved them, love them unconditionally. Dont point your finger and say see thats how NOT to live. Bullcrap.
He lived to be 64. Thats not a bad life. If he would have lived a clean life he could have lived to be 75 or 80, but would he have been the same Mick? Probably not. And I feel the same way about many of my loved ones Ive lost.
You may be young, skinndogNN, but you have the wisdom of the ages. All of us have feet of clay. I am old enough to have experienced the magic of "the chase for glory" in 1961. Mickey Mantle and Roger Marris ARE heroes.
It reminded me of this from David Falkner's 1995 book The Last Hero, The Life of Mickey Mantle, pages 180-181.
"Dave Nelson was a rookie second baseman for Cleveland in 1968, Mantle's last year, He was not much of a hitter, but he was quick, could steal a base, get his bat on the ball, and make the plays in the field. His first trip to Yankee Stadium, he said, was memorable in ways he never anticipated. ... 'I was just a young kid then, just turned twenty-three, I think, and there I was in the big leagues, in Yankee Stadium, and I'm just in awe of the place. I don't remember who was on the mound - maybe it was Al Downing,' he said, 'but Mickey was on first and I knew his knees were gone. I had no clue at this time that other clubs had decided some things among themselves out of reverence for him. So, in this one at bat, I pushed the ball, push-bunted right between the pitcher and first base and they had to go for it. I had great speed so it was a base hit. I turn around halfway down the right field line, and there's our first base coach walking towards me, and he stops me and tells me 'Hey, Dave, we don't bunt on Mick out of respect for him.' I go to myself, 'Oh-kayyy.' So then I walked back to first base and I'm standing next to Mickey Mantle. I'm looking at this guy's arms and they look like tree trunks, and I'm saying, 'Man, he's gonna pinch my head off,' and then he pats me on the butt and he says, 'Nice bunt, rook.' And I look at him and say, 'Thanks, Mr. Mantle.'"