Mickey Mantle: Money, the New York Yankees, and Teammates

August 8, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

“If I was playing with the Yankees now, or even then, if somebody said, ‘Hey, I’ll give you a million dollars a year to go to Cleveland,’ my ass would have been in Cleveland. But they didn’t have that.

“When I came to the Yankees, I was 19-years old. I was like a little brother.”

Right fielder Hank Bauer, who made sure that anyone who could help the Yankees win helped the Yankees win, took Mickey under his wing.

The only clothing Mickey had was a pair of Levis and penny loafers.

Bauer took Mickey shopping, bought him a few suits, and slowly taught him the ropes.

Mickey was loyal to the Yankees. He credited their great run in the late 1940s and 1950s to a feeling of family.

“Heck, if we’d won in ’54 and ’59, it would have been like 16, 17 straight years (it would have been 1949-1964). I don’t think it will ever happen again. They don’t have the family feeling on a club anymore. I blame free agency.”

To the Yankees, Mickey Mantle was a leader, but he was also one of the guys.

“It wasn’t like I was their idol. I was their friend, their drinking friend.”

How revealing, how wonderful, and how sad.

When Mickey and the great Roger Maris were challenging Babe Ruth’s single season home run record, which Roger broke and still, to this day, holds, some baseball writers, looking for a juicy story, wrote that Mickey and Roger didn’t get along.

It was a lie.

Mickey loved to tell how, after reading the garbage that was written, he and Roger would go shopping at a Queens supermarket, each pushing his own shopping cart.

They were sometimes recognized, but often they were taken for what they were – two young men loading up on food for their apartment.

“I was as close to Roger Maris as I was to Whitey and Billy. That (61 homers) was the greatest single thing I’ve ever seen.”

Mickey Mantle retired after the 1968 season. He returned to his home in Dallas, where he was virtually forgotten, despite his name.

“It was like Mickey Mantle died for about two or three years. I had Mickey Mantle Country Cookin’ and a bowling alley. None of it worked. Then, somebody bought a bubble gum card or something, Next thing I know I’m getting letters, getting invited to banquets and stuff. It was like being reborn to me.”

Mickey Mantle made more money in one year from baseball cards than he did during his career with the New York Yankees, which has been estimated at “only” $1 million.

“It’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

Of course, that statement must be taken with a grain of salt, but it is a fact that the memorabilia business changed Mantle’s and other retired players’ lives.

Mantle related how he had been retired for 25 years and that he was awed that a father would arrive at 8:30 AM for a signing that was scheduled for 7:30 PM.

He shouldn’t have been.

Mickey was in St. Louis for a card show. When one says “St. Louis,” one might as well be saying “Stan Musial.”

Just as fans were thrilled to meet one of their heroes, Mickey was just as excited to meet one of his.

“Stan Musial came up and had breakfast with me. I couldn’t believe it. I got goose bumps.”

Mickey’s hero was a real hero. So was Mickey.


Shaughnessy, Dan. “Young Mickey Mantle: He Was the Ultimate in Speed, Power.” Baseball Digest. Feb. 1995.

Mickey Mantle at Baseball Reference

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