The names Mickey Mantle and New York Yankees are synonymous, much like love and marriage, and toast and peanut butter. Affectionately called “the Mick,” Mantle was a full-blooded Yankee, from his rookie season in 1951, until he retired in 1969.
Mickey Charles Mantle was the oldest son of Elvin “Mutt” and Lovell Mantle, born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, on October 20, 1931. At a young age, he moved with his family to Commerce, Oklahoma, and Mickey called that home. Mutt loved baseball, played semi-pro ball and named his first son after Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochran. Mantle had three brothers and a sister.
Mutt started teaching Mickey baseball as soon as his son could throw a ball, and swing a bat. After Mickey started school, Mutt and Mickey’s grandfather ingrained the love of the game into him, by daily pitching to Mickey when he came home from school. The side of an old tin barn provided a backstop, and his left-handed father, and his right-handed grandfather took turns pitching to him. Thus, Mickey learned the art of
When he was older, during the summer Mickey worked in the mines swinging an axe, which developed his upper body strength allowing him to hit tape measure home runs when he became a pro.
Mantle’s talents and ability far exceeded his peers, and by the time he was 16 he played in a semi-pro league, on which he was the youngest player. At a game, a scout from the New York Yankees was there to watch one of his teammates, and Mantle hit two towering home runs. After the game the scout talked to him about professional baseball, but when he learned Mantle was still in school he promised he’d be back when Mantle graduated.
When he graduated, in 1949, the scout was there and signed him to a minor league contract. Two years later, in 1951, the parent club invited him for a tryout and he made the team.
Although beset with injuries, his professional career was legendary. As a Yankee, he played in 2401 games, which is more than any other Yankee player. He hit 536 home runs the most ever by a switch hitter, led the American League in slugging percentage three times, in runs scored six times, and he held four home run titles, three Most Valuable Player awards, and won the Triple Crown once. Mantle was a post-season phenomenon. In World Series play, he hit 18 home runs, scored 42 runs, and had 40 RBI’s and 43 bases on balls. They all are still World Series records.
In addition, no one has ever matched the distance he could hit a ball. The Guinness book of records says a 565-foot home run he hit in 1953, is the longest hit ball in a Major League season game. However, in 1951, in an exhibition game in his rookie year, he hit one that traveled 656-feet.
In June, of 1995, Mantle had a liver transplant, and doctors discovered inoperable cancer. Mickey Mantle died on August 13, 1995, at the age of 63.
Lewis Early: A Biography of Mickey Mantle: the mick.com