Nicknames: The Commerce Comet, The MickTeams: Independence Yankees (1949-1950); Joplin Miners (1950-1951); New York Yankees (1951-1968)
The Legend Of The Commerce Comet
Born on October 20, 1931, Mickey Mantle grew up to become one of the most famous baseball players in history. The son of a lead miner, he spent his childhood in Commerce, Oklahoma, which led to his nickname later in life "The Commerce Comet". He spent his teenage years as a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, though he would become famous as a member of the New York Yankees.
After graduating high school in 1949, he signed a minor league contract with the Yankees Class D farm team the Independence Yankees. While playing for Independence, he hit foe a .313 average. One year later, he moved up to the Class C Joplin Miners, where he won the Western Association Batting Title with an average of .383 and hammered an impressive 26 home runs.
A mere two years after graduating high school, the Yankees called Mantle up and started him as a right fielder. Yankees manager Bill Dickey was quoted as saying, "He's the greatest prospect I've seen in my time, and I go back quite a ways. I'll swear I expect to see that boy just take off and fly any time."
The enormous expectations that were placed on him began to affect Mantle, however, and he was sent to the minor leagues later that season. Unable to deal with this, he informed his father that he was not going to play professional baseball anymore. According to Mickey, his father replied, "I thought I raised a man. I see I raised a coward instead. You can come back to Oklahoma and work the mines with me.". Mantle immediately reconsidered his decision.
He was called back up to the Yankees again in the 1951 season and never left. In the 1951 World Series he accidentally tripped over an exposed drain pipe in the outfield and tore his ACL. This injury would plague him for the rest of his life.
He achieved his greatest successes between the years of 1952 to 1964, where he garnered the all-time record for World Series home runs, RBI's, and runs scored (18, 40 & 42 respectively).
Unfortunately, most professional ballplayers of that era were hard living and Mantle was no exception. After retirement, he sought treatment for his alcoholism and completed it successfully. Upon being approved for a liver a transplant, it was discovered that he had inoperable cancer of the liver. He died on August 13th, 1995 at the age of 63, his wife by his side.
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