Mickey Charles Mantle was born on October 20, 1931, in Spavinaw, Oklahoma. Mantle's parents were named Elvin ("Mutt") and Lowell Mantle. His nickname was "The Mick," and he was a switch-hitter, who went on to win four home-run championships, a Triple Crown, and three most valuable player awards during his 18-year career with the New York Yankees.
Mickey played baseball and basketball at his high school in Commerce, Oklahoma, and was also a star halfback on the football team. During one game, however, he was kicked in the leg and developed osteomyelitis. This was a bone marrow disease that affected his future baseball career.
He then went to the Yankees minor league team in Independence, Kansas, in 1949 as a switch-hitting shortstop. After two years in the minor leagues, the Yankees invited him to their major league spring training camp. While their, he earned a place on the roster, only 19 years old and two years out of high school, Mantle did not immediately live up to the public's high expectations.
He started slowly in his new position, right field, and was sent back briefly to the minors. His difficulties continued, his father, Mutt Mantle, died of Hodgkin's disease at the age of 39 in the early part of 1952. Mantle had been very close to his father, and he took his death hard.
Mantle continued to succeed even though his legs hurt most of the time from the osteomyelitis and other injuries. He became frustrated with his pain and with his many strikeouts. During the 1965 season he said, "It isn't any fun when things are like this. I'm only 33, but I feel like 40." Mantle continued to play through the 1968 season, and soon announced his retirement in the spring of 1969. He left the...