Mickey Mantle was born on October 20, 1931 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma. When he was four, his family moved to Commerce, Oklahoma, where he spent the rest of his childhood. His dad taught him how to play baseball and how to be switch hitter (bat right handed and left handed). Mickey was an outstanding athlete from an early age. He played baseball, basketball and football in high school. A high-school football injury to his leg resulted in an infection that nearly necessitated its amputation. Although the infection eventually subsided, he would suffer from its effects for the rest of this life.
Mickey was signed by the New York Yankees at age 18. He was so talented that he almost immediately was called up from the minor leagues to the Yankees. Yankees management believed he would be the next great Yankees star and gave him the number “6” (Babe Ruth was 3, Lou Gehrig was 4, and Joe Dimaggio was 5). The pressure on the 20 year-old kid from Oklahoma was intense. Mickey played poorly in his first stint in the major leagues and was sent back to the minors. It was a devastating setback to Mantle. He even thought of quitting. Nevertheless, he was soon called back up to the majors. This time, he wore the number “7”. The rest, they say is history.
Mickey Mantle went on to enjoy an incredible baseball career as the Yankees starting center fielder for 18 years. He was one of the most popular athletes in sports history. Kids and adults alike, throughout the nation, idolized “The Mick”. He played for the New York Yankees from 1951-1968. During that time, he hit 536 home runs, several of which are said to be among the longest in history. He was a 16 time All-Star and won three American League MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards. He played on seven World Championship Yankee teams, and still holds the Major League record for World Series Home Runs (18), RBIs (40) and runs scored (42). In 1956, Mickey Mantle won the Major League Triple Crown, hitting 52 home runs, batting .353, and knocking in 130 runs (RBI’s). Injuries to Mickey’s legs eventually caught up with him. He retired on March 1, 1969. He was inducted in the Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame in 1974. His number “7” was retired by the Yankees.
Behind the scenes, however, Mickey Mantle’s life was turbulent. Years of alcoholism eventually destroyed his liver. In June of 1995, he received a liver transplant. On August 13, 1995, however, Mickey Mantle died. The words “A Great Teammate” are etched on his tombstone. Mickey Mantle is honored on a 2006 U.S. postage stamp. Today, his popularity lives on. His baseball cards are worth more than virtually any other athlete (except Babe Ruth). Pictured is Mickey’s card from the 1964 Topps Baseball Card Set. His 1952 rookie card has sold for as much as $50,000 in mint condition.