Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mickey Mantle

My favorite baseball player of all time was Mickey Mantle. I was fortunate enough to see him play when I was growing up, both on television and in person at Yankee Stadium.

Here is a magazine about the Mick from 1957.

Mickey had great power and hit many a "tape-measure" shot. He is credited with hitting the longest home run, a 565 foot shot in 1953 at Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC. Here is a baseball card from 1961 noting this feat.

No player ever hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium, but Mantle almost did, twice. One shot hit a seat high in the upper deck and the other hit the facade hanging from the upper deck. But he was not all power, he had great speed though slowed by injuries his whole career. He once hit 3 inside the park home runs in one month! He was also a superb bunter, much like his boyhood idol, Phil Rizzuto.

Mantle was born October 30, 1931. He was the son of Mutt and Lovell Mantle. Form the time he was 4, his dad, Mutt, spent all the time he had available teaching Mick the fundamentals of baseball, including to be a switch hitter. Here is a card from 1962 showing the switch hitter connecting on another long home run.

Here are two coins from 1964, one showing him as a righty and the other as a lefty.

Here is a card showing my favorite Mantle memory. The Mick hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning off Barney Schultz to give the Yankees a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the 1964 World Series. My bother and I watched the game, after we got out of school, at my grandmother's house.

Mickey Mantle retired from baseball on May 1, 1969, after many individual awards but leading the Yankees team to many a World Series title. Here is his final card.

No male in the Mantle family ever lived to an old age, working in the mines is a tough way to earn a living. Mantle always said "If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself." Mickey Mantle died from cancer in August of 1995 with his wife, Merlyn and his son, David, at his side. Mickey and Merlyn had 3 other children, Mickey Jr., Danny and Billy. Billy passed away in 1994.

Mickey was not perfect and had his faults as a person, but in between the foul lines, he was as great as a player that ever was or will ever be.

Here is my favorite Mantle anecdote.

After one World Series, Mick was invited to Disneyland. At one point, he was asked to pose with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and the whole Disney gang. Mantle was in the center of everyone. The photographer looked up from his camera and said "Goofy, move a little to the right."

Mantle slid over a few inches to the right.

The photographer stuttered "I was talking to the guy behind you." Mick turned around and there was Goofy, eight feet tall with long ears and a cartoon grin.

Asked later if he thought some joker with a camera was really likely to address him as "Goofy", Mick replied, "I've been called worse."

Thank you Mickey.

1 comment:

Martha said...

Great Little Blog post, I enjoyed it!
Martha a/k/a Wifey