Mickey Mantle (1931 - 1995)

A photo of Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
1931 - 1995
October 20, 1931
August 13, 1995
Other Names
Mickey Charles Mantle
Mickey Mantle was born on October 20, 1931. He died on August 13, 1995 at age 63.
Updated: October 20, 2020
Mickey Mantle Famous Center Fielder Born: October 20, 1931 Spavinaw, Oklahoma Died: August 13, 1995 (aged 63) Dallas, Texas Batted: Switch Threw: Right MLB debut April 17, 1951, for the New York Yankees Last MLB appearance September 28, 1968, for the New York Yankees MLB statistics Batting average .298 Hits 2,415 Home runs 536 Runs batted in 1,509 Teams New York Yankees (1951–1968) Career highlights and awards 20× All-Star (1952–1965, 1967, 1968) 7× World Series champion (1951–1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962) 3× AL MVP (1956, 1957, 1962) Triple Crown (1956) Gold Glove Award (1962) AL batting champion (1956) 4× AL home run leader (1955, 1956, 1958, 1960) AL RBI leader (1956) New York Yankees No. 7 retired Monument Park honoree Major League Baseball All-Century Team Member of the National Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Induction 1974 Vote 88.2% (first ballot) Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995), nicknamed The Commerce Comet and The Mick,[1] was an American professional baseball player. Mantle played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career (1951–1968) with the New York Yankees as a center fielder, right fielder, and first baseman. Mantle was one of the best players and sluggers and is regarded by many as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history.[2] Mantle was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974[3] and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999. Mantle was one of the greatest offensive threats of any center fielder in baseball history. He has the second highest career OPS+ among center fielders, (behind Mike Trout) and he had the highest stolen base percentage in history at the time of his retirement. In addition, compared to the other four center fielders on the All-Century team, he had the lowest career rate of grounding into double plays, and he had the highest World Series on-base percentage and World Series slugging percentage. He also had an excellent .984 fielding percentage when playing center field. Mantle was noted for his ability to hit for both average and power,[4] especially tape measure home runs,[5] a term that had its origin in a play-by-play caller reacting to one of Mantle's 1953 home runs.[6] He hit 536 MLB career home runs, batted .300 or more ten times, and is the career leader (tied with Jim Thome) in walk-off home runs, with thirteen — twelve in the regular season, one in the postseason. Mantle is 16th all-time in Home runs per at bats. He is 18th in on-base percentage . He was safe three out of four times he attempted to steal a base. He won the MVP Award three times, came in second three times, and came within nine votes of winning five times. Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956, when he led the major leagues in batting average (.353), home runs (52), and runs batted in (RBI) (130). He later wrote a book (My Favorite Summer 1956) about his best year in baseball. He was an All-Star for 16 seasons, playing in 16 of the 20 All-Star Games that were played during his career.[a] He was an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times and a Gold Glove winner once. Mantle appeared in 12 World Series including seven championships, and he holds World Series records for the most home runs (18), RBIs (40), extra-base hits (26), runs (42), walks (43), and total bases (123). Early years Mantle was born on October 20, 1931, in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, the son of Lovell (née Richardson) Mantle (1904–1995) and Elven Charles "Mutt" Mantle. He was of at least partial English ancestry; his great-grandfather, George Mantle, left Brierley Hill, in England's Black Country, in 1848. Mutt named his son in honor of Mickey Cochrane, a Hall of Fame catcher.[9] Later in his life, Mantle expressed relief that his father had not known Cochrane's true first name because he would have hated to be named Gordon. Mantle spoke warmly of his father and said he was the bravest man he ever knew. "No boy ever loved his father more," he said. Mantle batted left-handed against his father when his father pitched to him right-handed, and he batted right-handed against his grandfather, Charles Mantle, when his grandfather pitched to him left-handed. His grandfather died at the age of 60 in 1944, and his father died of Hodgkin's disease at the age of 40 on May 7, 1952. When Mantle was four years old, his family moved to the nearby town of Commerce, Oklahoma, where his father worked in lead and zinc mines. As a teenager, Mantle rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals. In addition to his first love, baseball, Mantle was an all-around athlete at Commerce High School, playing basketball as well as football. He played halfback and Oklahoma offered him a football scholarship. His football playing nearly ended his athletic career. In his sophomore year, he was kicked on the left shin during a practice game, and he developed osteomyelitis—a crippling disease that was incurable just a few years earlier—in his left ankle. Mantle's parents drove him at midnight to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he was treated at the children's hospital with the newly available penicillin, which reduced the infection and saved his leg from amputation.
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Mickey Mantle
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Major leagues, New York Yankees (1951–1968) Rookie season: 1951 Mantle as a 19-year-old rookie in 1951 Mantle was invited to the Yankees instructional camp before the 1951 season. After an impressive spring training, Yankees manager Casey Stengel decided to promote Mantle to the majors as a right fielder instead of sending him to the minors.[9] Mickey Mantle's salary for the 1951 season was $7,500. "He's the greatest prospect I've seen in my time, and I go back quite a ways. I'll swear I expect to see that boy just take off and fly any time." —Bill Dickey on Mickey Mantle Mantle was assigned uniform #6, signifying the expectation that he would become the next Yankees star, following Babe Ruth (#3), Lou Gehrig (#4) and Joe DiMaggio (#5).[9] Stengel, speaking to SPORT, stated "He's got more natural power from both sides than anybody I ever saw."[18] Bill Dickey called Mantle "the greatest prospect [he's] seen in [his] time." After a brief slump, Mantle was sent down to the Yankees' top farm team, the Kansas City Blues. However, he was not able to find the power he once had in the lower minors. Out of frustration, he called his father one day and told him, "I don't think I can play baseball anymore." Mutt drove up to Kansas City that day. When he arrived, he started packing his son's clothes and, according to Mantle's memory, said "I thought I raised a man. I see I raised a coward instead. You can come back to Oklahoma and work the mines with me."[19] Mantle immediately broke out of his slump, and went on to hit .361 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs during his stay in Kansas City. Mantle was called up to the Yankees after 40 games with Kansas City, this time wearing uniform #7.He hit .267 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI in 96 games. In the second game of the 1951 World Series, New York Giants rookie Willie Mays hit a fly ball to right-center field. Mantle, playing right field, raced for the ball together with center fielder Joe DiMaggio, who called for the ball (and made the catch). In getting out of DiMaggio's way, Mantle tripped over an exposed drain pipe and severely injured his right knee. This was the first of numerous injuries that plagued his 18-year career with the Yankees. He played the rest of his career with a torn ACL. Stardom: 1952–1964 Mantle on the cover of Time (June 15, 1953) Joe DiMaggio retired from baseball following the 1951 World Series. The following year, Mantle moved to center field.[9] He was selected an "All-Star" for the first time and made the AL team, but did not play in the 5-inning All-Star game that had Boston Red Sox Dom DiMaggio at center field. In his first complete World Series (1952), Mantle was the Yankees hitting star, with an on-base percentage above .400 and a slugging percentage above .600. He homered for the third Yankee run in a 3–2 Game 6 win and he knocked in the winning runs in the 4–2 Game 7 win, with a homer in the sixth inning and an RBI single in the seventh inning. Mantle played center field full-time for the Yankees until 1965, when he was moved to left field. He spent his final two seasons at first base. Among his many accomplishments are all-time World Series records for home runs (18), runs scored (42), and runs batted in (40). Bowman's Mantle trading card, 1954 The osteomyelitic condition of Mantle's left leg had exempted him from being drafted for military service since he was 18 in 1949,[21][22] but his emergence as a star center fielder in the major leagues during the Korean War in 1952 led baseball fans to question his 4-F deferment. Two Armed Forces physicals were ordered, including a highly publicized exam on November 4, 1952 which was brought on by his All-Star selection, that ended in a final rejection. Mantle had high hopes that 1953 would be a breakout year but his momentum was stopped by an injury. He missed several weeks, so his numbers were modest but respectable, especially with 92 RBIs. Mantle had his first 100 plus RBI year, in 1954, in a full season and regained .300 status . The next is arguably his first great year, as he concluded with 37 home runs and a .306 batting average. With 37 homers, he was now a home run hitter, not just an all-around player with tremendous power. Mantle had his breakout season in 1956 after showing progressive improvement each of his first five years. Described by him as his "favorite summer", his major league-leading .353 batting average, 52 home runs, and 130 runs batted in brought home both the Triple Crown and first of three Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Awards. He also hit his second All-Star Game home run that season. During Game 5 of the 1956 World Series—Don Larsen's perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers—Mantle kept the perfect game alive by making a running catch of a deep fly ball off the bat of Gil Hodges, and provided the first of the two runs the Yankees would score with a fourth-inning home run off Brooklyn starter Sal Maglie. Mantle's overall performance in 1956 was so exceptional that he was bestowed the Hickok Belt (unanimously) as the top American professional athlete of the year. He is the only player to win a league Triple Crown as a switch hitter. Mantle won his second consecutive MVP in 1957 behind league leads in runs and walks, a career-high .365 batting average (second to Ted Williams' .388), and hitting into a league-low five double plays. His batting average in mid-season had climbed as high as .392. His on-base percentage at one point, reached .537. Mantle reached base more times than he made outs (319 to 312), one of two seasons in which he achieved the feat.[citation needed] The 1958 season started slowly for Mantle—the first half saw him at the .274 mark, as a shoulder injury from a collision with Braves’ Red Schoendienst in the World Series left him with permanent struggles in his uppercut from the left side. He did, however, regain his status, hitting .330 in the second half, and leading his team back to the Series. The 1959 season was another frustrating situation—this time the first half of his season was good and his second-half comparatively bad. The season was bad for the Yankees, too, as they finished third. Although his numbers dipped again, he managed to score 104 runs and his fielding was near perfect. It was that year, also, he was timed running from home plate to first base in 3.1 seconds, considered outstanding for a heavy hitter. ‘59 was the first of four consecutive seasons that two All-Star games were played and Mantle played in seven of these games.[25] Mantle made the AL All-Star team as a reserve player in 1959, as his numbers had tailed off from previous seasons, he was used as a pinch runner for Baltimore Orioles catcher Gus Triandos and replacement right fielder for Cleveland Indians Rocky Colavito in the first game with Detroit Tigers Al Kaline playing the center field position. Mantle was the starting center fielder in the second All-Star Game's lineup, getting a single and a walk in four at bats. In 1960 Mantle started in both All-Star games, getting two walks in the first and a single in the second game. Mantle had another “off year”, - indeed, the first week of June saw his batting average drop to .228 - although by mid-August, he was back in his prime, leading the team to another World Series. Although his batting average was his lowest since his rookie year, his league-leading 40 home runs and 94 runs batted in, saw him come in a close second to Roger Maris’ MVP award. His on-base percentage was .400, for the year. 1960 was also the year he hit what was and is, the longest home run, in history. He hit one reportedly over the right center field roof at Briggs Stadium, which is said to have traveled 643 feet. On January 16, 1961, Mantle became the highest-paid player in baseball by signing a $75,000 (equivalent to $640,000 in 2019) contract.[26] DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, and Ted Williams, who had just retired, had been paid over $100,000 in a season, and Ruth had a peak salary of $80,000. Mantle became the highest-paid active player of his time. Mantle's top salary was $100,000, which he reached for the 1963 season. Having reached that pinnacle in his 13th season, he never asked for another raise.[27]

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Mickey Mantle, Legend Of Baseball, Dies at 63 August 14, 1995 Mickey Mantle, 63, the superstar slugging center fielder of the New York Yankees of the 1950s and 1960s whose baseball feats and golden good looks made him an American legend, died of liver cancer yesterday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. His life in baseball and afterward was the pith and marrow of a basic American myth, and it reflected high triumph and tragedy. Mantle was the clean-cut country boy from Commerce, Okla. The "Commerce Comet" joined the Yankees at age 19, overcoming adversity early on and taking the big city by storm. With a telegenic, boyish grin, an aw-shucks Oklahoma drawl and a big No. 7 across his muscular back, he became everyone's idea of what a great baseball player should look and sound like. His Homeric feats on the field and love of play off it endeared him to America. He became bigger than the sport itself. After he retired, his celebrity status continued, and he drew large crowds to autograph shows and his baseball camps and appeared on TV talk shows and even music videos. But as a Yankees superstar, he had developed a taste for high living and good liquor that only accelerated after his playing days ended, and he eventually became a chronic alcoholic. He was treated for alcoholism, and his damaged liver eventually was ravaged by cirrhosis, hepatitis C and the cancer that led to his death. Mantle played for the Yankees from 1951 through 1968 and was a vital element in a Yankees tradition and mystique that transcended the boundaries of sports. To millions, the Yankees stood for winning, invincibility and being the best, and Mantle, as the successor to the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, was a major force in preserving and enhancing that image. He played alongside such other legends as outfielder Roger Maris, catcher Yogi Berra and pitcher Whitey Ford. Not only were they teammates but they also were friends off the field. And from the time Mantle joined the Yankees through 1960, his manager was the colorful and eccentric Casey Stengel. Mantle was one of a trio of 1950s New York center fielders immortalized in legend and in the 1980s hit song "Willie, Mickey and the Duke," along with the New York Giants' Willie Mays and the Brooklyn Dodgers' Duke Snider. For most of Mantle's career, the Yankees dominated major league baseball, and he was considered by many the greatest player on baseball's greatest team. Mantle helped lead the Bronx Bombers to 12 American League pennants and seven World Series titles. His 18 home runs in World Series play still stands as a record. Mantle was voted the American League's most valuable player three times -- in 1956, 1957 and 1962 -- and finished his career with 536 regular season home runs. When he retired, he was third on the all-time home run list, behind Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, and almost 30 years later, he is still eighth all-time. He hit more than .300 five straight years and hit a career high of .365 in 1957. He ended his career with 1,509 runs batted in. Ten times, he homered from both sides of the plate in the same game. He retired with a lifetime batting average of .298, which was a disappointment to many of Mantle's fans and to Mantle himself. Years later, he told friends that he wished he'd retired after the 1964 season, his last year of greatness, when he batted .303 and hit 35 home runs. Had he left the game after that season, Mantle's career batting average would have been well over .300. But his last four years were not good ones. His legs hurt. His knees hurt. And his batting average sank. Five years later, in 1974, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mickey Charles Mantle was born Oct. 20, 1931, in Spavinaw, Okla. He was named for Mickey Cochrane, the great hitting catcher of the Philadelphia Athletics and the Detroit Tigers. His father, Mutt Mantle, was a lead and zinc miner who had played semiprofessional baseball, and his grandfather Charles Mantle had played baseball on a mining company team. The two men drilled the boy in the fundamentals of baseball from an early age, and it was at their insistence that he learned to be a switch hitter. By the time young Mickey was a teenager, he was playing baseball 12 to 14 hours a day, day after day. At high school in Commerce, where the family had moved when he was 4, Mantle played on the football, basketball and baseball teams. While still in high school, Mantle also played baseball for a team called the Whiz Kids in a league for players younger than 21. He was noticed by a scout for the Yankees' organization named Tom Greenwade, who signed him to a minor league contract the day he graduated from Commerce High School. He received a $1,150 signing bonus and a salary of $140 a month to play for the Independence, Kan., team in the Class D Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League. Hospitalized in the same room, the outfielder was treated for torn knee ligaments and the father was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, which killed him less than a year later. Mickey Mantle's grandfather and an uncle both had died young of the same ailment, and in his thirties he also would lose a son to Hodgkin's. Mantle admitted that he always feared that he, too, would die young of Hodgkin's. He once spoke of the pain of losing his father. "I was devastated, and that's when I started drinking," he said. "I guess alcohol helped me escape the pain of losing my dad." The next year, his first full season as a Yankee, Mantle hit .311 with 23 home runs in 142 games. Four years later, in 1956, he won the first of his three most valuable player awards and also captured the Triple Crown by leading the American League in batting, at .353; in home runs, with 52; and in runs batted in, with 130. He was MVP the next year, also, batting .365. In 1961, Mantle and Maris battled each other for the home run title, with Maris winning and breaking Ruth's record, with 61. Mantle hit 54 home runs that year, his career best. The 1961 team set a major league record with 240 home runs and included six players who hit 20 or more. In retirement, Mantle participated in managing a variety of businesses, including restaurants and clothing stores. In 1983, baseball's commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, banned him from baseball for doing public relations assignments for an Atlantic City casino. Two years later, Kuhn's successor, Peter Ueberroth, reinstated Mantle. Early in 1994 -- warned by doctors that his next drink might be his last -- Mantle checked himself into the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for a 28-day program of rehabilitation from alcohol abuse. He later wrote about that experience in a cover story for Sports Illustrated magazine. "God gave me a great body to play with, and I didn't take care of it. And I blame a lot of it on alcohol," he declared. After leaving the Betty Ford Center, Mantle remained sober, but the damage to his body from years of heavy drinking had been done. He developed liver cancer, and a long-dormant hepatitis C infection flared up. On June 8, he underwent a liver transplant, which appeared to have been successful. Early in August, the cancer from Mantle's diseased liver was detected in his lungs, and he was readmitted to Baylor Medical Center. Doctors soon discovered that it had spread to other parts of his body. Drugs he had taken to prevent his body from rejecting the new liver had weakened his immune system, making it easier for the cancer to spread, doctors said. At a news conference several weeks before his death, the man idolized by millions for his grace and power expressed remorse for his years of heavy drinking. He declared that he was no role model for America's youth. "Don't be like me," he warned. Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Merlyn, of Dallas; and three sons, Danny, David and Mickey Jr.

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Mickey's lifetime.

In 1931, in the year that Mickey Mantle was born, in March, “The Star Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem by congressional resolution. Other songs had previously been used - among them, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", "God Bless America", and "America the Beautiful". There was fierce debate about making "The Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem - Southerners and veterans organizations supported it, pacifists and educators opposed it.

In 1953, at the age of 22 years old, Mickey was alive when on January 20th, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the 34th President of the United States. Formerly the 1st Supreme Allied Commander Europe in World War II, Eisenhower had never previously held a political office.

In 1965, Mickey was 34 years old when on March 8th, the first US combat troops arrived in Vietnam. The 3500 Marines joined 23,000 "advisors" already in South Vietnam. By the end of the year, 190,000 American soldiers were in the country.

In 1981, he was 50 years old when on January 20th, Ronald Reagan became the 40th President of the United States. He ran against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, and won 50.7% of the popular vote to Carter's 41.0%.

In 1995, in the year of Mickey Mantle's passing, on September 3rd, eBay was founded in San Jose California. Beginning as simply a place for Pierre Omidyar's girlfriend (now wife) to share her Pez passion and collection online, the site has become a multibillion-dollar business and operates in 30 countries.

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