A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 7 Mickey Mantle (Number 3 Center Field)

Mickey Mantle was a hero to kids my age, even though he finished his career when I was only 9 and truly wasn’t great anymore. But our parents and over siblings told us stories of what a great play he was. Also, he had the same first name as Mickey Mouse.
About a year after he retired, we lived in the Philippines. My Dad was stationed there in the Air Force. There weren’t many sports books in the BX where we shopped. Heck they didn’t have that many books, period. We did get Hardy Boys and books of Peanuts comics in a little shop next to the PX. When my brother and I pestered my Dad enough he gave a dollar to chose one or the other.
Getting back to the subject on hand one time my Dad found a sports book for kids. It was called “Winners Never Quit” by Phil Pepe. It was a book about 14 athletes who achieve stardom despite the obstacles they had to overcome. One of the chapters was about Mickey Mantle and the injuries he had to overcome. Also, his Father died at about the time he entered the majors. It was a mature book for young adults and I probably read it like a dozen times. Only when we came back to the United States did I have more choices on what to buy to read.
Also, when I got back, I read a book from the library by Mickey Mantle. It was called “The Quality of Courage: Heroes in and out of Baseball. It was a take off on John F. Kennedy’s books “Profiles in Courage”. Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize for his book. Mantle didn’t. Which is not to say it wasn’t a good book. It was very well written. I just found out that Robert Creamer wrote the book with Mickey. That had to help a lot. However, most of the book was like Mickey was talking to me. He told stories about famous players but had some other examples of bravery. One example I remember was a man had to carry a hot oil lamp in his hand some distance because if he would drop it the cabin would burn down and there were a lot of people in the cabin. Mickey said he asked the guy how he could do it and guy said I just knew I had to do it or people would die.
Entering my teen years there was another book about baseball I found more entertaining. It was called “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton. Bouton wrote a diary of the 1969 season, most of which he spent with the Seattle Pilots and expansion team. In addition, Bouton was part of the Yankees, at the end of Mantle’s glory days and he told stories about Mantle chasing women and other things. Needless to say, the baseball establishment including Mantle and the Commissioner were upset about the book and try to keep it from being published. Of course, I and a lot of my friends wanted to get our hands on the book. Which we did.
The ironic thing was Mantle came out with a bunch of books after he retired. He told stories about himself, which were worst than the stories Bouton told about him.
In a way Mickey Mantle was a lot like Babe Ruth only 25 years later. They both like to have fun and invited others around them to have fun. Both liked to drink and chase women. Both were real great natural athletes. Both probably could have been better, although I think Ruth came closer to his true abilities. Teammates seemed to like them. They both played in a lot of World Series. Ruth played in 10 Mantle played in 12.

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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