Happy Birthday, Mick

As a kid, I liked that I shared today as a birthday with Mickey Mantle. He was my favorite player on my favorite team. That was probably in part because of the shared birthday, but everyone I knew liked the Mick.

It was an easier time for sports heroes. Sportswriters looked past the flaws. It wasn't until I was much older that I would read about Mantle's, alcohol problems, his affairs and what an absent father he was for his sons.

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood
My wife asked me if I wanted the new biography of him, The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood, as a gift. But, I don't think I want to read this one.

From the reviews I have seen, the book really shows Mickey at his worst.

He was only 63 when he died in 1995 from liver cancer and he was quoted as saying,"Don't be like me."

It was good that he had learned some lessons in the end, but sad that it was too late.

Mickey Mantle played all of his 18 years of his major-league career as a New York Yankees. He won 3 American League MVP titles and playied in 16 All-Star games. Mantle played on 12 pennant winners and 7 World Series Championship clubs. He still holds the records for most World Series home runs (18), RBIs (40), runs (42), walks (43), extra-base hits (26), and total bases (123). He is also the career leader in walk-off home runs, with 12 the the regular season and 1 in the postseason. He won the triple crown in 1956. He is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history.

I suppose it's a weakness in me that I want the Mantle I remember as a kid to be the same Mantle today. I still have my old copy of Mickey's book My Favorite Summer 1956.  I doubt he wrote much or any of the or other books like All My Octobers that list him as author.

I don't care. Leave Mickey alone.

Taken the year that Mantle led the American League
in home runs for the third time. I started kindergarten.

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