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Mickey Mantle

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Mickey Mantle

Born : 20 October 1931
City : Spavinaw, Oklahoma
Rank : ( 449 )
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Mickey Mantle Biography

Mickey Mantle was the New York Yankees' most beloved slugger since Babe Ruth. He played his first game for the Yankees in 1951, the same year Joe DiMaggio retired; Mantle went on to replace DiMaggio in center field. Mantle was famous for his home run power both right- and left-handed; he hit 536 home runs in his career. Mantle was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1956, 1957 and 1962, and won seven World Series championships with the Yankees before he retired on March 1, 1969. As great as he was, Mantle might have been greater without leg problems that dogged him throughout his career; he tore up his right knee in 1951 when he caught his spikes on a drain cover in a World Series game. A famously hard drinker, Mantle went to the Betty Ford Clinic for alcohol treatment in 1994 and received a liver transplant in 1995, shortly before his death.

Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995), nicknamed "The Commerce Comet" or "The Mick", was an American professional baseball player. He was a Major League Baseball (MLB) centerfielder and first baseman for the New York Yankees for 18 seasons, from 1951 through 1968. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.

Early life

Mickey Mantle was born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, the son of Elvin Charles Mantle (1912–1952), a lead miner known as "Mutt," and Lovell (nee Richardson) Mantle (1904–1995). He was of at least partial English ancestry; his great-grandfather, George Mantle, left Brierley Hill, in England's Black Country, in 1848.

Professional career

Mantle began his professional career with the semi-professional Baxter Springs Whiz Kids.In 1948, Yankees' scout Tom Greenwade came to Baxter Springs to watch Mantle's teammate, third baseman Billy Johnson. During the game, Mantle hit three home runs. Greenwade returned in 1949, after Mantle's high school graduation, to sign Mantle to a minor league contract. Mantle signed for $140 per month ($1,388 today) with a $1,500 ($14,868 today) signing bonus.

Last seasons: 1965-1968

The Yankees and Mantle were slowed down by injuries during the 1965 season, and they finished in 6th place, 25 games behind the Minnesota Twins.He hit .255 with 19 home runs and 46 RBIs. In 1966, his batting average increased to .288 with 23 home runs and 56 RBIs. After the 1966 season, he was moved to first base with Joe Pepitone taking over his place in the outfield. On May 14, 1967 (Mother's Day) Mantle became the sixth member of the 500 Homerun Club.

Player profile

Mantle hit some of the longest home runs in Major League history. On September 10, 1960, he hit a ball left-handed that cleared the right-field roof at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and, based on where it was found, was estimated years later by historian Mark Gallagher to have traveled 643 feet (196 m). Another Mantle homer, hit right-handed off Chuck Stobbs at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. on April 17, 1953, was measured by Yankees traveling secretary Red Patterson (hence the term "tape-measure home run") to have traveled 565 feet (172 m). Deducting for bounces, there is no doubt that both landed well over 500 feet (152 m) from home plate. Mantle twice hit balls off the third-deck facade at Yankee Stadium, nearly becoming the only player to hit a fair ball out of the stadium during a game.

Personal life

On December 23, 1951, Mantle married Merlyn Johnson (1932-2009) in Commerce, Oklahoma; they had four sons. In an autobiography, Mantle said he married Merlyn not out of love, but because he was told to by his domineering father. While his drinking became public knowledge during his lifetime, the press (per established practice at the time) kept quiet about his many marital infidelities. Mantle was not entirely discreet about them, and when he went to his retirement ceremony in 1969, he brought his mistress along with his wife. In 1980, Mickey and Merlyn separated for 15 years, but neither filed for divorce. During this time, Mantle lived with his agent, Greer Johnson.
Autograph signature of Mickey Mantle.

The couple's four sons were Mickey Jr. (1953–2000), David (born 1955), Billy (1957–94), whom Mickey named for Billy Martin, his best friend among his Yankee teammates, and Danny (born 1960). Like Mickey, Merlyn and three of their sons became alcoholics, and Billy developed Hodgkin's disease, as had several previous men in Mantle's family.

Illness and death

Well before he finally sought treatment for alcoholism, Mantle admitted his hard living had hurt both his playing and his family. His rationale was that the men in his family had all died young, so he expected to die young as well. His father died of Hodgkin's disease at age 40 in 1952, and his grandfather also died young of the same disease. "I'm not gonna be cheated," he would say. Mantle did not know at the time that most of the men in his family had inhaled lead and zinc dust in the mines, which contribute to Hodgkins' and other cancers. As the years passed, and he outlived all the men in his family by several years, he frequently used a line popularized by football legend Bobby Layne, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Mantle's who also died in part due to alcohol abuse: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself.

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