Mickey Mantle Made Baseball Magical

September 7th, 2013 by Michael Tabor


This morning on NPR, I had the great pleasure of hearing the aging but still incredibly clever and tasteful comedian, Billy Crystal talk a little bit about his boyhood idol and dear friend – Mickey Mantle.  I was born in 1963 and unfortunately, I never had the chance to actually see ‘The Mick” play, but believe me the Mickey Mantle allure along with the magical decade of the 1950’s were seemingly always the talk of the town for me as a youngster. I’ve since later learned that the ‘50’s, were not as innocent in terms of good old America, apple pie, civility, respect, etc. but Mickey Mantle was or at least still symbolizes what once was.

The Last time I looked, Mickey Mantle’s rookie card still sold for more than any other ballplayer’s (anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the condition of the card) second only to Honus Wagner which can demand a ridiculous price of  $250,000 and up because of very different reasons e.g. not only is the card ancient (1909), there are only a handful of them out there because of Wagner’s insistence that the card not be inserted into tobacco packages (Wagner was anti – tobacco – even back then !) However, back to Mickey …. Mickey Mantle’s card is worth so much because, well, Mickey Mantle was an icon not only of the sport of baseball but because he also epitomized everything that was good and righteous about baseball and the decade of the 1950’s whether mythical or true.

Mickey Mantle never took steroids (he drank beer – too much) but the truth be told, no man has ever hit the ball harder (536 home runs in his short career) nor as high & far (643 feet) than the great Mantle. Word of note, the folks who witnessed the 6 hundred and forty – three – footer thought the ball would never descend and keep rising and rising perhaps into the earth’s atmosphere(when you’re a kid, baseball can really seem otherworldly). The 6’3″ blonde – haired, blue – eyed, naturally – strong man was a real – live – super – hero to all who saw him play and to everybody afterwards who can only imagine and marvel upon who he was. His legacy speaks volumes about baseball and our perceived notion of the prosperity and greatness of the 1950’s in this country.

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Hey, does anyone out there have a Mickey Mantle card you want to sell?

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One Response to “Mickey Mantle Made Baseball Magical”

  1. Michael Tabor Says:

    Incidentally, my father was a life – long Yankees fan (not as fervidly during the entire Steinbrenner tenure – 1975 on, but still a fan nonetheless) and for him, nobody was more emblematic of greatness, class, baseball, the good ‘ole days, etc. than Joe DiMaggio, who like so many other Yankee greats was sort of mythical and god – like in stature. But, that was the 1940’s. My dad always talked about the “Splendid Splinter” , Ted Williams, as well, who happened to be on the archrival team, the Boston Red Sox, but for whom he still equally had the same respect and admiration.

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