When and where was Mickey Mantle born?
Mickey was born on October 20, 1931 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, located
about 35 miles southwest of the town of Commerce.
What can you tell us about Mickey's family?
Mickey was the oldest son of Elvin "Mutt" and Lovell Mantle. He had
three brothers: twin brothers Ray and Roy and brother Butch, the youngest,
as well as a sister, Barbara. He married hometown sweetheart Merlyn Johnson
on December 23, 1951 and had four sons: Mickey Jr., David, Billy and Danny.
How did Mickey learn to hit so well?
Mickey's dad "Mutt" Mantle was a great baseball fan. He shared his
love of the game with Mickey. Every day after Mickey came home from school
and Mutt returned from working in the lead mines, he and Mickey's grandfather
Charlie would pitch to Mickey. Mickey batted left-handed against Mutt,
who was right-handed, and right-handed against Grandpa Charlie, who was
a lefty. From an early age Mickey showed tremendous natural talent and
great power from both sides of the plate. It is said that Mutt foresaw
the platooning that later became common in baseball, and that by teaching
Mickey to switch-hit he insured that Mickey would play more in later years.
I know Mickey had problems with his legs.
How did he originally injure them?
While playing high school football Mickey was accidentally kicked in
the leg. The wound developed into the bone disease osteomyelitis,
and almost cost Mickey his leg. Mickey's mother refused to let doctors
remove his leg and transferred him to the crippled children's hospital
in Oklahoma City, where he received a brand-new wonder drug, penicillin.
It saved his leg, but Mickey was plagued with leg problems for the remainder
of his life.
How did the Yankees discover Mickey?
When Mickey was in high school he played baseball with a team called
the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids. Yankees' scout Tom Greenwade was sent
to see a teammate of Mickey's named Billy Johnson. In that game Mickey
hit two long home runs into a river that ran behind the ballpark's outfield
fence. Greenwade was so impressed he wanted to sign Mickey with the Yankees
on the spot. Upon finding out that Mickey was still in high school, he
told Mickey that he would come back and sign him right after he graduated
from high school, which is exactly what he did.
What was Mickey's first season with the
Mickey's first season with the Yankees was 1951. After a terrific spring
training in Arizona (the Yankees, who regularly trained in Florida, traded
spring training camps with the NY Giants), Casey Stengel talked owners
Del Webb and Dan Topping, and General Manager George Weiss, into signing
Mantle. He even convinced them to pay Mantle a $7,500 salary, $2,500 above
When was Mickey's first major league game?
Mickey's first major league game was scheduled to be against the Washington
Senators at Griffith Stadium on April 14, 1951. However, the games were
rained out and the Yankees returned to New York where they opened at Yankee
Stadium on April 17, 1951 against the Boston Red Sox.
What was Mickey's original uniform number
with the Yankees?
When Mickey first came up with the Yankees he was given uniform number
six. In photos from the first part of the 1951 season he can be seen wearing
number six. In July of that year, after a particularly horrendous slump,
Casey Stengel sent Mickey down to the Yankees Triple A minor league team
in Kansas City to regain his batting swing. In August Mickey was brought
back up and was given his famous number seven, which had become vacant
while he was away. Seven remained his number for the remainder of his career.
What was the longest ball Mickey ever hit?
Mickey's longest measured home run (measured when he hit it)
was hit on April 17, 1953 at Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC. It is
his best-known homer and the home run that coined the term "tape measure
home run." The pitcher was Chuck Stobbs. It traveled 565 feet and was measured
by Yankees' PR Director Red Patterson, who used a measuring tape to determine
the exact distance. This was the only ball ever hit that cleared the left-field
bleachers at Griffith Stadium in a regular season game in its 32 year history.
However, several other Mickey homers probably went farther. Other notable
Mantle homers include:
9/10/60 - Mantle unloaded a tremendous homer over the
right-field roof through a light tower (which it may have grazed) and out
of the park. The pitcher was Paul Foytack. Years later researcher Paul
Susman, Ph.D. found eyewitnesses who confirmed exactly where the
ball landed on the fly. Dr. Susman then measured the distance, which turned
out to be an astonishing 643 feet! This was almost certainly the
longest home run Mickey hit in a regular season game that could actually
be measured to the spot it landed, and probably the longest homer anyone
ever hit in a regular season game that could be measured to the actual
landing point. This homer is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records
as the longest homer ever "measured trigonometrically."
6/18/56 - Mantle walloped a tremendous homer over the
right-field roof between the light standard and the end of the upper deck.
It was all the more impressive because it was hit into a stiff wind. Again,
the pitcher was Paul Foytack. (This was actually the first out-of-the-park
homer Mantle hit off Foytack.) Two days later Mickey hit two homers into
the upper deck bleachers in centerfield - something no player had ever
done even once - both landing high above the 400 foot sign in the left-centerfield
9/17/58 - Catapulted high over the right-field roof
at Tiger Stadium (then called Briggs Stadium), it cleared Trumbull Avenue
and struck the second story of a building on the far side of the avenue.
This ball traveled well over 500 feet. The pitcher was Jim Bunning.
Baltimore, 8/10/57 - Mickey launched the first ball
to clear the hedge in centerfield, over 460 feet from home plate. The ball
continued to travel well past the hedge to an estimated length of 540 feet.
The pitcher was Ray Moore.
10/3/56 - In the first game of the World Series vs.
Brooklyn Mickey pumped a two-run homer over the right-field screen at Ebbets
Field, past Bedford Avenue and into a parking lot, where it caused about
$500 in damage when souvenir hunters scrambled over the cars in search
of the trophy. Distance was over 500 feet, and the pitcher was Sal Maglie,
who is better known as the losing pitcher in Don Larsen's Perfect Game
in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series on 10/8/56.
Yankee Stadium, 6/21/55 - Mickey crushed the first ball
to ever carry into the black seats in the centerfield bleachers at Yankee
Stadium, 486 feet. The pitcher was Alex Kellner of the Kansas City Athletics.
Yankee Stadium, 5/30/56 - Mickey belted his first shot
to hit the façade in right-field. While no ball ever went out of
Yankee Stadium during a game, this one missed by only 18 inches or less.
The pitcher was Pedro Ramos. It is believed that Mickey twice jacked balls
out of Yankee Stadium in right-field during batting practice and once even
cleared the left-field seats in batting practice. If true, these were among
the most epic shots in the history of the game.
Yankee Stadium, 5/22/63 - "The
hardest ball I ever hit was at Yankee Stadium in 1963." - Mickey Mantle.
Mickey pulverized a ball that rocketed through the night toward the upper
reaches of Yankee Stadium. Yogi Berra, thinking the ball was going out
of the park, cried out, "This is it!" Players from both teams jumped off
their benches to watch history be made. But the ball struck the right-field
façade just inches from the top. Mickey hit it with so much force
that after slamming into the cement façade it ricocheted all the
way back to the infield on the fly. The pitcher was Bill Fischer of the
Kansas City A's. Mathematicians have calculated that, had the ball not
struck the façade, it would have traveled at least 620 feet. This
distance assumes the ball was at its apex when it hit the façade,
and eyewitnesses are in unanimous agreement that the ball was still rising.
Therefore, 620 feet is the low end distance estimate. A computer projection
calculated the distance (had the ball not been obstructed by the façade)
to be an astronomical 734 feet!
Field, University of Southern California, 3/26/51 -
In an exhibition game during a pre-season barnstorm tour of the west coast,
Mickey blasted two long homers in the same game, one righty (it went out
of the park, across a street and landed on the roof of a three-story house
several houses down the street, a distance over 600 feet) and one lefty.
The left-handed homer is a legendary shot that may well be the longest
homer ever hit anywhere by anyone. It cleared the right-centerfield wall,
crossed an adjacent football field, and landed 656 feet from home plate
on the fly. This home run is well documented with two eye-witnesses (the
USC center fielder, Tom Riach, and legendary USC Coach Rod Dedeaux). Both
walked out (separately) after the game and pointed to the spot the ball
landed. The two spots they pointed to were only a few feet apart. Mickey hit many
more legendary home runs, with shots that went out of ballparks in Pittsburgh,
Washington, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Brooklyn,
Chicago, Baltimore, Kansas City, Boston and others. Mickey also hit the
first home run in the Houston Astrodome, in an exhibition game on 4/9/65.
What was Mickey's biggest contract with the
Mickey's largest contract with the Yankees was for $100,000. At the
time he signed it in 1963 only Joe DiMaggio had received that much before.
Mickey continued to play for that amount for the remainder of his career.
How many times was Mickey named Most Valuable
Mickey was named the American League's Most Valuable Player
three times: 1956, 1957 and 1962.
How many times did Mickey lead the league
Mickey led the American League in home runs four times: 1955, 1956,
1958 and 1960. Curiously enough, the year he hit his highest total in homers
- 1961, 54 homers - he came in second to Roger Maris, who hit his record
How many World Series did Mickey play in
and how many World Championships did he win?
Mickey played in 12 World Series (1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957,
1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964) and won 7 World Championships (1951,
1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, and 1962).
What was Mickey's best year?
That is a question that is open to debate, but it is hard to argue
with 1956, the season he won baseball's Triple Crown. Mickey led
not only the American League but also the entire Major Leagues in batting
average with .353, home runs with 52 and runs batted in with 130. Other
exceptionally great Mantle years were 1957 when he won his second MVP award
and hit his career high batting average of .365 (only to lose out to Ted
Williams in the batting race - Williams hit .388), 1961 when he hit his
career high of 54 homers (only to lose out to Roger Maris who hit a record
61), and 1962 when he won his third MVP award.
Did Mickey win the Rookie of the Year award
in his rookie season?
In Mickey's rookie season he was not selected rookie of the year. Mickey's
teammate Gil McDougald received the award.
How many gold gloves did Mickey win?
Mickey received one gold glove during his 18 year career.
How many career home runs did Mickey hit?
Mickey hit 536 career home runs, which placed him third in career home
runs when he retired.
How many World Series home runs did Mickey
Mickey hit 18 World Series home runs - still a record.
How many runs did Mickey drive in during
the World Series?
Mickey drove in 40 runs in World Series competition - also still a
How many home runs did Mickey hit in All-Star
Mickey hit two home runs in All-Star games: A three-run homer in 1955
at Milwaukee (left-handed off Hall of Fame member Robin Roberts), and a
solo homer in 1956 in Washington (right-handed off Hall of Fame member