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Time In A Bottle
May 25, 2011 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Before his death, Mickey Mantle spoke to Sports Illustrated about the effect that alcoholism had on his life and career.

Here is a single page version of the article.
posted by reenum (25 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by clavdivs at 6:27 PM on May 25, 2011


"I don't talk much, and I wasn't sure I wanted to get into a situation at Betty Ford where I'd have to talk about my feelings. I was afraid I was going to cry in front of strangers, and I thought people would think less of me. Mickey Mantle shouldn't cry."

And this:

"In the last 10 years, thanks to the sports-memorabilia business, the expectations of being Mickey Mantle became overwhelming lots of times. When I used to do card shows, guys would come up to me all the time, tears in their eyes, and they'd say, "Mickey Mantle. I've been waiting all my life to meet you." This one guy said to his little boy, "Son, that's the greatest ballplayer that ever lived." And the little boy looked up and said, "Daddy, that's an old man.""

Thanks, reenum.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:03 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. Guy drank because he didn't live up to his dad's dream of being the greatest baseball player ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:10 PM on May 25, 2011


Guy drank because he didn't live up to his dad's dream of being the greatest baseball player ever.

People drink to numb all kinds of pain.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:12 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


People drink to numb all kinds of pain.

Marilyn Monroe told Joe DiMaggio about entertaining the troops in Korea: "You never heard such cheering."

He is said to have answered: I have.
posted by Trurl at 7:19 PM on May 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Guy drank because he didn't live up to his dad's dream of being the greatest baseball player ever.

People drink to numb all kinds of pain.


But many consider him to be the greatest baseball player ever. And if he's not, he is the second greatest baseball player ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:21 PM on May 25, 2011


When Jose Canseco, the model of the modern sprinter-slugger, had his [40 hits and 40 steals] season, Mickey Mantle mused - he was serious - that if he had known folks would make such a fuss about that achievement, he would have done it a few times. - George Will
posted by Trurl at 7:32 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, most knowledgeable sources dont consider Mickey Mantle better than 10. Sporting News for instance calls him number 17, SABR ranks him number 12, Bill James number 10... Great player though. I have never actually heard of anyone of any reputation consider him to be the greatest player ever, or even second. He certainly was a great player though, and I am pretty sure he was the greatest switch hitter of all time. Better than Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Barry Bonds??? No.

Just so you can fire back at me if you want, I would take Ricky Henderson over the Mick anytime... Ricky as the most underrated player of the pantheon. Talk about a disruptive force.

Nice article, thank you.
posted by jcworth at 7:35 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rickey's the best! Rickey's the best!
posted by docgonzo at 7:38 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


jcworth is clearly Ricky Henderson's sock puppet. You can tell from the way he refers to Ricky Henderson in the third person, just the way Ricky Henderson does.

Oh, shit.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:41 PM on May 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


People drink to numb all kinds of pain.

As I've gotten older, I've finally been able to understand what this sentence means, especially the kind of pain some people carry around with them their entire lives.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:41 PM on May 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wow. Guy drank because he didn't live up to his dad's dream of being the greatest baseball player ever.

Guy didn't become the best baseball player ever because he drank.

Leastaways, that's how I read it.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:42 PM on May 25, 2011


Or they were intertwined, anyway.

Great article, thanks for the link.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:43 PM on May 25, 2011


Horace, you are no doubt correct. I favorited you just cuz you made JC laugh.
posted by jcworth at 7:49 PM on May 25, 2011




it's no reflection, really, on Mick but what I remember most vividly of his last years is my mom cursing the fact that he was given a liver transplant after years of hard drinking. I know, and she openly admitted to me (I was seven), that the reason she was so upset was because my grandfather couldn't get a liver transplant when his pancreatic cancer spread.

This is completely not about Mickey Mantle and a personal memory, but it's just so vivid and I think about it every time he comes up.

Great article - thanks.
posted by glaucon at 8:15 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I spent a Looooong afternoon and evening with the dude late in the eighties, and he's not lying or exaggerating how obnoxious he'd become. I'm really surprised how honest his description of that time was, but I'm sure he was just taking his family's word. I'm pretty sure he would not have been able to remember a bit of it.
posted by cookie-k at 8:26 PM on May 25, 2011


Guy didn't become the best baseball player ever because he drank.

Who knows if the alcohol would've been as much a factor, but I have to think he didn't become the best ballplayer ever because he tore his knee apart in his rookie year (for which I blame DiMaggio and the Yankee Stadium grounds crew in equal measure), and was never fully healthy after that - Asshole or not (and I certainly lean toward the former), everything he accomplished on the field he did so in almost constant pain. It's scary to imagine what a Mantle with two good knees would've done.
posted by jalexei at 9:00 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


How sad. My dad met Mantle, some time in the 70s or 80s, and described him as "a grade-A asshole", if I'm remembering correctly. Now we know why.

Willie Mays was the greatest baseball player ever
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:23 PM on May 25, 2011


One night in Detroit after quite a few drinks, we went back to our hotel room, and Billy said, "Let's climb out on the ledge and see what's going on in the other rooms." We happened to be staying on the 22nd floor. He climbed out the window, and I was right behind him. Well, the stunt got old pretty fast because nobody's lights were on—and I'm afraid of heights. But the ledge was so narrow that we couldn't turn around, so we had to crawl all the way around the building to get back to our room.

Holy cow!
posted by interrobang at 9:38 PM on May 25, 2011


Jalexei has the correct answer. Mantle on two good knees would have blown the field out of the water. Only Mays would come close.

(I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a baseball fan in New York in the 50's, and being able to alternate watching Mantle and Mays.)
posted by dry white toast at 10:07 PM on May 25, 2011


Lots to comment on. I'll just say that the hangover/anxiety attack is a nasty thing to deal with. Especially if you're predisposed to anxiety. I really felt what he was describing. Alcohol is a bitch.

Thanks for posting this. Not being a sports person at all, it was interesting seeing this side of him.
posted by brundlefly at 11:02 PM on May 25, 2011


I would take Ricky Henderson over the Mick anytime... Ricky as the most underrated player of the pantheon. Talk about a disruptive force.

Don't want to derail this too far, but I was in the stands for Game 4 of the Toronto-Oakland AL Championship in 1989. 500-level, six rows from the very top of the SkyDome's nosebleed section.

Even way up there, you could feel Rickey Henderson's indomitable will. He was simply going to reach base somehow. He was already thinking about how to steal second before he stepped up to the plate. He hit two home runs that game, batted in four. Stole four bases in the second game of that series. Absolutely unstoppable.
posted by gompa at 11:13 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, in fairness I have to add that the guy was so thoroughly taped up from ankle to waist that he could barely flex a leg, but I've been around some world class drunks in my day, and I still think the surliness and needing to be positioned against a solid wall was 65-70% grain based.
posted by cookie-k at 5:40 AM on May 26, 2011


Crushing piece. So many things jump out at me - he felt the weight of being Mickey Mantle, but it seemed to be such a specifically masculine problem, that he had. This sense of being a man in the right way. Of being a man for his Dad, and being a man for Billy Martin, and being a man for the whole country. And so it just screams at me the many ways in which sexism is a messed up system that hurts everybody even the people it supposedly benefits.

Anyway, good for him for finally finding and using his strength:

I like the idea of having to stay sober in public, knowing that people are watching me. Now they won't be buying me drinks. They'll expect me not to drink. For all those years I lived the life of somebody I didn't know. A cartoon character. From now on, Mickey Mantle is going to be a real person.
posted by entropone at 6:16 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


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