Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mickey Mantle (October 20, 1931 - August 13, 1995) Could Have Been the Greatest Baseball Player to Ever Play the Game




“Mickey Mantle hit 536 – many of them gargantuan – home runs in 18 seasons. He drove in 1,509 runs. And scored 1,677 runs. On one leg. As great as Mantle was – as legendary as he remains – injuries robbed The Mick of a Ruthian standing in baseball’s history.

“With bulging shoulders and arms and Popeye-like forearns, Mantle hardly looked the part of an injury-prone player. As teammate Jerry Coleman once observed, The Mick had ‘the body of a god. Only Mantle’s legs were mortal.’


“As a youth, Mantle suffered from a form of infantile paralysis that weakened his legs. In 1947, four years before his freshman season with the Yanks, Mantle was diagnosed with Osteomyelitis – an acute or chronic, and extremely painful, bone infection of his ankle and shin.

“Then, in Game 2 of the 1951 World Series, the rookie Mantle – playing right field in deference to Joe DiMaggio in center – took off after a fly ball off the bat of fellow rookie Willie Mays of the Giants, caught one of his spikes in a drainpipe covering, and ripped up his right knee. 

“He would never play another pain-free game. There were pulled muscles and sprains, fractures and abscesses. He even had a tonsillectomy in 1956. The frequent surgeries robbed him of his blazing speed. Mantle legged 49 triples in his first seven years in the majors – and just 23 in his last 11. He stole 124 bases before the age 30, and just 29 bases until his retirement at 36. 

“But he never stopped hitting. Indeed, his Triple Crown year and his 54 HR season came well after his legs failed him. And he remains the Yanks’ career leader in games-played with 2,401. ‘He is,’ manager Casey Stengel once marveled, ‘the best one-legged player I ever saw play the game.’”

(from the New York Post)

Mickey Mantle Interview with Bob Costas. 







3 comments:

  1. “Many argue that he was the greatest baseball player ever, and were it not for the almost constant menace of alcohol and health-related maladies during his long and successful career as a New York Yankee, chances are there would be no argument. Mickey Mantle played in twenty All-Star games, and he holds the record for most career World Series home runs, runs scored and runs batted in. He subscribed to the old adage that, ‘It is just as important to be lucky as it is to be good.’ But Mantle's luck would eventually run out. His body, hindered by alcoholism and physical afflictions, would eventually give up on him. Too weak to fight any longer, he would die of cancer in 1995 at the age of 63. In spite of his personal hardships, however, Mickey Mantle remains a hero in America…” (Encyclopedia.com).

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  2. Mickey Mantle’s Eulogy by Bob Costas:

    “…[H]e was a presence in our lives-a fragile hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that it defied logic. Mickey often said he didn’t understand it, this enduring connection and affection-the men now in their 40s and 50s, otherwise perfectly sensible, who went dry in the mouth and stammered like schoolboys in the presence of Mickey Mantle.

    “Maybe Mick was uncomfortable with it, not just because of his basic shyness, but because he was always too honest to regard himself as some kind of deity. But that was never really the point. In a very different time than today, the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis said, ‘Every boy builds a shrine to some baseball hero, and before that shrine, a candle always burns.’

    “For a huge portion of my generation, Mickey Mantle was that baseball hero. And for reasons that no statistics, no dry recitation of the facts can possibly capture, he was the most compelling baseball hero of our lifetime. And he was our symbol of baseball at a time when the game meant something to us that perhaps it no longer does.

    “Mickey Mantle had those dual qualities so seldom seen-exuding dynamism and excitement, but at the same time touching your heart-flawed, wounded. We knew there was something poignant about Mickey Mantle before we know what Poignant meant. We didn’t just root for him, we felt for him…

    “There was a greatness about him, but vulnerability too. He was our guy. When he was hot, we felt great. When he slumped or got hurt, we sagged a bit too. We tried to crease our caps like him; keel in an imaginary on-deck circle like him; run like him, heads down, elbows up…

    “Mickey Mantle was too humble and honest to believe that the whole truth about him could be found on a Wheaties box or a baseball card. But the emotional truths about childhood have a power that transcends objective fact. They stay with us through all the years, withstanding the ambivalence that so often accompanies the experience of adults…

    “In [his] last year, Mickey Mantle, always so hard on himself, finally came to accept and appreciate the distinction between a role model and a hero… And, in the end, people got it. And Mickey Mantle got from something other than misplaced and mindless celebrity worship. He got something far more meaningful. He got love. Love for what he had been, love for what he made us feel, love for the humanity and sweetness that was always there mixed in the flaws and all the pain that racked his body and his soul…”

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  3. Who are these baseball players today who pause to admire their homeruns before running the bases? What happened to the days when a baseball player simply put his head down and ran the bases after “going yard”?

    And what do these gestures to the sky signify? Do these baseball players really believe there is a supernatural being who inhabits the exosphere, watches baseball games, and cares enough about them to help them hit a homerun (or strike out an opposing batter)?

    These baseball players are not playing with “heart and emotion.” They are playing like the delusional, histrionic narcissists that they are. It is most unfortunate that their idiotic expressions of emotion are witnessed by countless young fans who idealize them.


    “After I hit a home run I had a habit of running the bases with my head down. I figured the pitcher already felt bad enough without me showing him up rounding the bases”—Mickey Mantle.

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