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Knuckle Sandwich

Over at SI.com Jane Leavy has a piece about the Mick’s Game-Winning Homer off Barney Schultz in the ’64 Serious.


1 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 9, 2010 12:01 pm

God... I just LOVE Mickey Mantle.
The greatest talent to ever play baseball.
Maybe I can't see straight, but it seems like there is such great drama is so many Mantle stories... as if there was Mickey, and then the rest of baseball.

"But the knee he had injured in the 1951 World Series was degenerating and his lefthanded batting average suffered accordingly (he batted .241 lefthanded, .421 righthanded in 1964). "

Think about batting .421 in the original YS, where Death valley was 457' and CF was 463'. That is simply insane.

Mickey said, 'I'm gonna hit one outta here.'
"It wasn't a big announcement. He wasn't like that. He wasn't a grandstander. He understood that Barney Schultz was the wrong guy for them to bring in."

"Squatting just a few feet from where he stood, you could just feel the power resonating from him," McCarver said. "When he hit in the cages before a game, you stopped what you were doing and you watched. You stopped playing catch. You stopped running. You stopped stretching. You stopped doing a lotta things.

"And he had that smile on his face, that right Mantle-esk smile that was not quite like any other that I remember," McCarver said. "Great smile. More than subdued warmth to it. It was almost a measure of a man in his smile I felt."

Man... great writing. It seems like you could make a movie of that at-bat.

It's been 42 years since I saw Mickey's last at bat.
And still I wonder... what could have been.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 9, 2010 12:16 pm

I didn't grow up with him so I don't have that sense of nostalgia about the guy, but I always thought he was plenty remarkable despite his injuries and alcoholism.

3 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 9, 2010 1:49 pm

[3] The guy was going to to the best player ever.
You're a historian so you know when he first came up, many considered him the faster runner in the game. Think about that. We know he was the greatest power hitter in the game. When you talk about that rare power/speed combination, Mantle was off the charts.

But he had a serious injury in the WS of his first year.
As a youth, he had a leg infection so bad, he was literally hours away from having it amputated. He didn't just drink, he drank heavily. He partied heavily. Neither his father and or grandfather lived past 40, and he was absolutely sure he wouldn't either, so he was gonna jam a lifetime of booze and women into his next 20 years.

He also had no idea what his legacy as a ballplayer meant to fans and to baseball. He knew he was a great player, but didn't put much stock in it.

So you take the greatest player, add 1 part the suffering of many injuries, 1 part of totally disregarded his health and body, 1 part of dranking to the extreme, and what do you get?

One of the top 10 baseball players in history?
Jesus... what could have been.

12th in career WAR
9th in career Offensive WAR
6th in career OPS+ (tied with Pujols!)

4 omarcoming   ~  Nov 9, 2010 6:05 pm

There are no words to describe how much he meant this young/old man.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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