I was exploring YouTube tonight and came across the video of Mickey Mantle’s 500th Homerun from 1967. Kind of fitting as I just announced the start of my 500 Homerun Club – Milestones Collection. I decided to do a little research on Mickey Mantle. I knew quite a bit about the legendary New York Yankees outfielder but I always enjoy researching old players and baseball history. Mantle played from 1951 through 1968, all with the Yankees. Something I learned was the fact that his entire career he battled injuries. In high school he dealt with acute and chronic injuries to bones and and cartilage in his legs. In the 1951 World Series, during his rookie season he tore the cartilage in his right on a fly ball by Willie Mays. I read that some believed he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and played his whole career with the injury since the techniques to repair the injury today did not exist in the 1950’s. Again during the 1957 World Series he injured his shoulder during a collision at second base and would have difficulty batting from the left side for the remainder of his career. Even with these injuries Mantle was a 20x All-Star (1952-’65, 1967-’68), American League batting champion (1956), 4x American League homerun champion (1955-’56, 1958, 1960), 3x American League MVP (1956-’57, 1962), American League Gold Glove Award winner (1962) and won the American League Triple Crown in 1956. During his career he was part of 7 World Series Championships teams (1951-’53, 1956, 1958, 1961-’62) and finished his career with a .298 batting average, 536 homeruns, 2, 415 hits and 1,509 runs batted in. Mantle announced his retirement on March 1, 1969 and at the time was #3 on the all-time homerun list. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
Mantle died on August 13, 1995. The New York Yankees played the remainder of the season with black mourning bands topped by a number 7 on their left sleeves. Sportscaster Bob Costas described Mantle as “a fragile hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that it defied logic” and said, “In the last year of his life, Mickey Mantle, always so hard on himself, finally came to accept and appreciate the distinction between a role model and a hero. The first, he often was not. The second, he always will be. And, in the end, people got it.”
So here is the video that sparked my research. On May 14, 1967 against the Baltimore Orioles, Mantle hit a homerun to right field off reliever Stu Miller to join the 500 Homerun Club. You will notice how he struggles just to round the bases in the later part of his career. ENJOY some baseball history!
Check out the eulogy by Bob Costas at Mickey Mantle’s funeral.