Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Mickey Mantle Biography - Growing Up, The Early Years, Chronology, The Powerful Star Is Born, Tragic Hero? - Semi-Pro During High School, SELECTED WRITINGS BY MANTLE:

Mickey Mantle - The Early Years

baseball yankees knee stengel

He began his professional baseball career in Independence, Kansas, playing on a Class D team. He was seventeen years old, shy, and insecure; in fact, Mickey was so in awe of the pros that, two years later, he found it impossible to speak to his teammate Joe DiMaggio.

When Mickey came up to the majors, Yankees Manager Casey Stengel created media interest by calling Mantle "my phenom." Stengel claimed he would be better than Babe Ruth or DiMaggio. Whether or not Stengel was right, Mantle soon became part of the Yankee legend, remaining with the team from 1951 to 1968. Number 7, the former "Commerce Comet"—the kid from Oklahoma—would become a baseball hero.

His first few months in the majors he struck out too much—a common problem with many power hitters. Yet it was too much for Stengel, and he sent Mantle back to the minors. A short trip, however; less than two months later he was called back up to the squad, in time to join the Yankees as they played in the world series. Yet once more injury found its way to Mickey, and his season would be cut short when, trying to avoid an out-field collision with DiMaggio, he tripped on a sprinkler and tore the ligaments in his knee. He underwent four knee operations.


1931 Born October 20 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, to Elvin "Mutt" and Lowell Mantle
1935 Family moves near Commerce Oklahoma
1946 Develops osteomyelitis, a chronic bone disease, after getting kicked in the shin in high school football practice
1948 Begins minor league baseball career in Independence, Kansas, with a Class D team
1951 Joins New York Yankees and becomes part of legendary team that would dominate baseball in the 1950s and 1960s
1951 Trips on sprinkler head in outfield, tearing ligaments in his knee. Undergoes first of five knee operations
1951 Marries Merlyn Louise Johnson, his high school sweetheart and a teller in an Oklahoma bank
1952 Learns that his father, Mutt, has died of Hodgkin's disease at 39. Mantle takes death hard
1953 Hits fabled 565 foot home run at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.
1956 Wins triple crown with 52 home runs, 130 runs batted in and a .353 batting average
1963 Comes to within a few feet of hitting the ball out of Yankee Stadium
1963 Breaks his ankle while playing in Baltimore. On disabled list for two months
1969 Announces his retirement at Yankees spring training
1974 Inducted unanimously into Baseball Hall of Fame
1988 Mantle and his wife separate
1989 Mantle's old teammate and drinking buddy Billy Martin dies in drunk driving accident
1994 Confronts his alcoholism and checks himself into Betty Ford clinic
1994 Mantle's own son Billy dies of heart failure
1995 Undergoes liver transplant but would die weeks later, on August 13, at age of 63
Mickey Mantle - Chronology [next] [back] Mickey Mantle - Growing Up

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