Mickey Mantle: Baseball Legend
A Career of Achievements
Even with his history of injuries, which was
to haunt him throughout his career, few players have ever accomplished
what Mickey accomplished. During his career with the Yankees Mickey played
more games as a Yankee than any other player (2,401), won three Most
Valuable Player awards: 1956, 1957 and 1962
(in the photo on the right American League President Joe
Cronin presents Mickey with his MVP Award for 1962), won baseball's Triple
Crown in 1956 with a .353 batting average, 52 homers and 130 RBI (leading
the major leagues in all three categories), won four home run titles (1955,
1956, 1958 and 1960), led the league in runs scored six times (1954, 1956, 1957,
1958, 1960 and 1961), led the league in slugging three times (1955, 1956 and
1961) and hit 536 career home runs,
third highest when he retired and the most ever by a switch-hitter. Mickey
appeared in 12 World Series during his first 14 years with the Yankees,
winning seven World Championships. His 18 home runs, 42 runs, 40 RBI and
43 bases on balls are still World Series records.
Tape Measure Home Runs
No one in the history of the game has hit the
ball farther than Mickey Mantle. His 565-foot home run hit at Griffith
Stadium in Washington on April 17, 1953 is the home run that coined the
term "tape measure home run." It's listed in the Guinness Book of World
Records as the longest home run ever measured. Guinness also
notes that Mickey's 643-foot homer hit at Detroit's Tiger Stadium on September
10, 1960 is the longest home run measured "mathematically after the fact."
But neither of those home runs is Mickey's longest.
In an exhibition game at the University of Southern
California during his rookie spring training in 1951 Mickey walloped a
656-foot shot left-handed that left Bovard Field and crossed an adjacent
football field. It may be the longest home run in history. It was also
his second monster homer of the game. He also hit a ball right-handed
that cleared the left-field wall and landed on top of a three-story house
well over 500 feet away. As Mickey's teammate and close friend Billy Martin
put it, "No man in the history of baseball had as much power as Mickey
Mantle. No man. When you're talking about Mickey Mantle - it's an altogether
different level. Separates the men from the boys."
Baseball Legend, American IdolMickey is one of the most popular players to ever
play the game. After he retired from baseball on March 1, 1969 he may have
become even more popular with fans. Everywhere he went his presence generated
tremendous excitement, to the point that he rarely had any time to himself.
He worked as a broadcaster for Sports Channel in New York for a number
of years. His restaurant at 42 Central Park South, Mickey
Mantle's, is one of the most popular
eateries in New York. His baseball cards have become astonishingly valuable.
Recently his rookie card sold in excess of $50,000. His autograph is one
of the best known and most sought after in all of sports. He wrote several books
about his life and experiences as a ballplayer, including his 1985 best-seller,
Mick. His autobiographical
film, Mickey Mantle: The American Dream
was a BILLBOARD Magazine national best-seller two years in a row: #3 in
1989 and #1 in 1990. It has won numerous awards and is widely considered the best sports portrayal
ever made. A wide variety of publications called it,
"The best baseball video ever made,"
including The NY Daily News, The Washington
Post, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The
Today Show, Larry King Live, The Roy Firestone Show, and many others. It
is broadcast periodically on Public Television, generating high ratings, and has
become a fan favorite across the country. There is an expanded edition of the
program, called, The Deluxe
Lost Stories Edition, that
includes a bonus hour of never-before-released Mickey stories that
complement and complete the original program. The
Mickey Mantle: The American Dream
To Life® Official
offers a variety of merchandise for fans, and the program maintains the
Mickey Mantle: The American Dream
To Life® Official Web
which has thousands of visitors every month. Simply
put, Mickey is one of the most beloved figures in history.
In 1993 Mickey was admitted to the Betty Ford
Center for alcohol rehabilitation. During his stay Mickey received
more mail than anyone in the history of the center. Afterward he spread
the message of the ills of drug and alcohol abuse to kids, appearing on
a number of television programs to speak about his experiences.
Mickey's Liver TransplantOn June 8, 1995 Mickey received a liver transplant at
Baylor University Hospital in Dallas. Sadly, during the transplant
surgery it was discovered that Mickey had contracted inoperable cancer. Before
he died he formed the Mickey
Mantle Foundation to raise awareness
of the importance of becoming an organ donor. It became the cause closest
to his heart. Mickey died at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas, Texas on
August 13, 1995. He was 63 years old.
Mickey was survived by his wife Merlyn and
three of his four sons: Mickey Jr., David and Danny. On March 12, 1994, the
year before Mickey died, his third son, Billy, died of complications
resulting from Hodgkin's disease. Five years after his father's death, on Dec.
20, 2000, Mickey Jr. died of cancer. Mickey's wife
Merlyn died of Alzheimer's disease on August 10, 2009. His remaining sons David and Danny are
both active in the Mickey
promoting the importance of organ donations.
The Mickey Mantle legend lives on through his
foundation, his film, the memories he left, and in the hearts of his fans
everywhere. I am proud to say he was my friend.
© Copyright 1998-2002 Lewis Early
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