Mickey Mantle, the Yankee legend and hero to a generation of baseball fans would have been 92 years old today. Mantle passed away on August 13, 1995, at the age of 63. Over half a century ago, on March 1, 1969, he bid farewell to Major League Baseball. At the time of his retirement, he held the record for the most games played as a Yankee, with an impressive tally of 2,401. However, this record was later surpassed by Derek Jeter on August 29, 2011.
He devoted his entire 18-year career to the New York Yankees. However, injuries prevented him from fully realizing his potential when he first arrived in 1951. Despite never reaching full fitness, Mantle established himself as one of the game’s greatest players.
Mantle’s upbringing in Oklahoma was marked by a near career-ending incident. While playing youth football, he was kicked in the shin, causing an infection of osteomyelitis. The long-term impact of this disease affected him throughout his life. Some suspect it may have contributed to later injuries that reduced his once formidable speed in the early years of his career.
Mickey Mantle’s Yankee Career Got Off to a Rocky Start
During the 1951 World Series, a significant setback occurred for the rookie Mantle when he suffered a severe knee injury while chasing a fly ball. However, displaying what would become his trademark grit, he returned to the Yankees in 1952. He became the team’s starting center fielder, succeeding the legendary Joe DiMaggio.
From 1953 to 1955, this switch-hitter boasted an impressive average of 28 home runs, 98 RBI, and 118 runs per season. He was selected for the All-Star team for 18 straight years.
Mantle Built a Legacy Despite Being Plagued By Injury
Before the 1969 season, Mantle retired, leaving behind an impressive legacy. Throughout his career, he hit 536 home runs, scored 1,676 runs, and had 1,509 RBI and 1,733 walks. He was honored with 20 All-Star Game selections and earned a Gold Glove for his exceptional play in center field in 1962. Notably, Mantle was a pivotal member of seven Yankees teams that won the World Series. In the Fall Classic, he hit a record-breaking 18 home runs in 12 appearances. Mantle was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974.
Mickey was undoubtedly the favorite ball player of a generation that grew up in the 50s and 60s. However, the tributes seem to diminish each year. As the game evolves, Mickey Mantle’s monochrome images fade. As the decades pass, fewer anecdotes are shared about his baseball dominance. Baseball, like most things, has changed, and the game Mantle excelled is different from today’s.
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