‘DiMag & Mick’ Reveals Mickey Mantle’s True Love

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Young lovers Holly Brooke and Mickey Mantle out on the town in Manhattan in 1951, his rookie season chronicled in DiMag & Mick. (Mickey Mantle Museum)

 

“Above Grand Central Station, there used to be this incredibly fabulously opulent apartment that looked like a palace that the original architect built as part of the original design, and in 1951 I knew someone — I knew a lot of people even then—who arranged for me, for us, to stay there one night that summer. And so Mickey and I spent one of the greatest nights of our lives there. It was a romantic, magical evening. We made love all night. We were both young and in love, and he wanted to marry me and spend the rest of our lives together.”

                                                                           — Holly Brooke in DiMag & Mick

MICKEY MANTLE FANS, memorize the name Holly Brooke.

In his new book DiMag & Mick, author Tony Castro reveals that the Yankees’ switch-hitting icon proposed to New York actress Holly Brooke during his 1951 rookie season and that they carried on a torrid love affair for years even after he married his high school sweetheart just to please his dying father.

Holly’s existence had been known since the 1950s and for decades, sportswriters and authors tried unsuccessfully to interview Brooke –but were never even able to track her down.

But Castro, the author of the critically acclaimed biography Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son, not only found the elusive Holly Brooke but interviewed her exhaustively about her relationship with Mick and her recollection of Mantle’s time in New York — including the friendship he shared with Joe DiMaggio but which few others knew about.

“What led to this book, DiMag & Mick, was an e-mail I received a few years ago from a man thanking me for having written so favorably in my Mantle biography about his aunt, an actress named Holly Brooke, who has been described in most books about Mickey as a showgirl who had been his girlfriend in 1951,” Castro said in an interview about writing the book.

“However, no biographer had been able to interview her or even locate her. I think most of us had assumed she was dead. Holly’s nephew, though, said not only was she still alive and well but that she was also willing to talk to me.

“That began a series of almost daily visits and conversations that proved to be incredible. She convinced me with her stories and some strong documentation that her love affair with Mickey lasted beyond his marriage in 1951 and carried on well into the 1960s.”

Holly had lived with Mantle much of his rookie year, even when he was sent down to the minors to play in Kansas City, which had a Yankees’ minor league team at that time. She was also the reason Mickey asked to have his uniform number changed from 6 to 7 when he returned to the majors, a number that was her date of birth.

In the book, Castro writes:

On August 22, 1951, the Yankees’ new prodigal son returned to New York, arriving with Holly on a Super Chief train at Grand Central Station and passing through what was then known as the “Kissing Room,” where travelers once embraced their sweethearts, friends, and family, and offering cozy access to the Biltmore Hotel above. That was where Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald had honeymooned, she whispered to Mickey as they snuggled arm and arm with the crowd.

“I don’t know if Mickey knew who F. Scott Fitzgerald was,” said Holly, smiling as she dreamily remembered that day. “I shouldn’t say that. He was a very smart man. He just didn’t like to show it, but his mind was like a steel trap. Once he heard or saw something, he knew it by heart. I suspect that’s what helped make him such a great hitter and ballplayer. But I think he enjoyed being seen as that good ol’ country boy.

“We had a drink at the Kissing Room. We had come in a day early, and Mickey didn’t have to report back to the team until the next day. He didn’t want to go to the Concourse Plaza where they had a room for him. That was all the way out in the Bronx, and we were in Manhattan and at Grand Central Station, and we had the day to ourselves, and I had come to think that we would have the rest of our lives together as well.

“‘Holly, I want you to marry me,’ Mickey said to me that night. He had said it earlier, but I think, returning to New York, he knew he now had it together. The Yankees wanted him back in the majors, and this time he knew he was going to stick with the team for good, and that he would live up to all they were expecting of him. We had talked about marriage. He had talked about marriage. He had talked about wanting to marry me and about adopting my son. But this time was different. He was so insistent. And when he asked me to marry him this time, it wasn’t like the other times. He knew the only person who could stand in our way was his father. But Mutt had seen us together in Kansas City, just as he had seen us together here in New York before Mickey was sent down. And in Kansas City, I think he saw in Mickey’s face his determination to be with me. There in front of me, Mickey said to his father, ‘Dad, so what if she’s older than me? She’s seven years older than me. Mom was ten years older than you when you married her, and she had been married before as well. If it can work out for you and Mom, why couldn’t it work out for Holly and me?’ I thought Mutt was going to cry. He left our room, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did shed a tear later. You could tell that Mickey had hit a soft spot. So that night back in New York, Mickey says to me, ‘Dad won’t like it. You saw what he’s like. He wants me to marry Merlyn, but I can’t. I’m not in love with her. I’m in love with you.’ So I’ll bring him around.’ And, of course, I said, ‘Yes, Mickey, I’ll marry you. I love you.’ And he told me he loved me, too. ‘You’re the love of my life, Holly.’ And that’s how we left it. Mickey was going to talk to his father—‘Come hell or high water,’ I think is how he said it—and we were going to get married as soon as the season ended. Mickey said the only thing that would be more perfect was if the Yankees won the World Series as well.”

Holly also had a toddler son that Mantle wanted to adopt as his own, and Mickey proposed to her and likely would have married her if it hadn’t been for his father.

After the 1951 season, Mickey’s father learned he was dying, and he demanded that Mickey marry his hometown sweetheart as his dying wish. Of course, it was just part of the unusual hold that Mickey’s father held over him.

‘DiMag & Mick’ Redefines DiMaggio-Mantle Relationship

“There have been a number of wonderful books about Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle but none are as good as this one.  I thought I knew everything there was to know about these two Yankee legends.  Boy, was I wrong!  Tony Castro has given us a great piece of sports journalism. Many of the intimate details found in DiMag & Mick are simply jaw-dropping.”

                                      Peter Golenbock, author of Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964 


“In the genre of biography, it’s rare these days to read a brand new story.  It seems that every story worth telling has been told many times over.  However, with his latest work, Tony Castro gives us a compelling and completely new account of the friendship – as complicated as it is misunderstood – between two of the greatest heroes of the sports world, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.  This is not only an informative and vastly researched book, it’s also quite moving… and, I dare say, a lot of fun.  I enjoyed it immensely.” 

J. Randy Taraborrelli, New York Times best-selling author 


“For all their valor on the field, Joe and Mickey were complicated people off it.  Tony Castro breaks that down in this revealing book about two American legends and what made them tick.”

                                                           Marty Appelauthor of Pinstripe Empire

 


 

“Tony’s work illustrates the human side of the athlete. His diligence into the deeper life off the field shows that our heroes also have feelings and are more than just that homerun or double in the gap. It’s refreshing to gain the access into all aspects of their lives to see what really build these men into the immortals that they truly became.”

–Andrew Vilacky, Safe at Home Ballpark Collectibles, Cooperstown, NY

 


 

DiMAG & MICK is a fulfilling book that will satisfy any baseball fans need for a look inside the real lives of these legends. Being a friend of Mickey’s for over 25 years, Tony has done an amazing job capturing not just the ballplayer, but also the man.”

–Tom Catal, Mickey Mantle Museum, Cooperstown, NY

 


 

“For one thrilling summer and fall, two baseball giants — Joe DiMaggio, a flickering but still brilliant star at the end of a legendary career — and Mickey Mantle, an ascendant comet in his rookie season — played together for the New York Yankees, baseball’s most storied franchise. In DIMAG & MICK: Sibling Rivals, Yankee Blood Brothers, award-winning journalist Tony Castro takes the reader beyond the field and the locker room and into the lives, loves, and heartbreaks of two of America’s greatest sports stars and cultural icons, during a time when America seemed innocent and full of promise. DIMAG & MICK is a must-read for sports fans, for Yankees followers, for students of American history.”

— Ruben Castaneda, author of ‘S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C.’


“Tony Castro resurrects ­­­­­­––warts and all­­––the Hall-of-Fame careers and personal lives of legendary Yankee greats Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle From Mantle’s baptism in New York’s glamorous and seductive nightlife to DiMaggio’s graceful feats on the field and publicly stoic departure from baseball, Castro has produced a remarkable work of journalism.”

— Dale Tafoya, author of ‘Bash Brothers: A Legacy Subpoenaed’

‘Tony Castro’s really fantastic book, DiMag & Mick’

Best-selling author Peter Golenbock, someone I’ve always considered baseball’s historian-in-residence, wrote a glowing recommendation that’s on the dust jacket of ‘DiMag & Mick’ and here again is incredibly kind in his thoughts from his Facebook page. Thank you, Peter.

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‘DiMag & Mick’ Book Release Countdown: 2 Days

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Grant and Isabel Hayes of Dallas: “Picking up a copy of our cousin’s book! Can’t wait to read it Tony! Also check out tonycastro.com for more great reads!”

‘DiMag & Mick’ Release Countdown: 3 Days

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‘DiMAG & MICK: Sibling Rivals, Yankee Blood Brothers’
They were the legends of the greatest team in the greatest era of the game at the greatest time in America – Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle – and it seems that forever they have been depicted as bitter enemies fighting over who was the greatest New York Yankee.

But ‘DiMag & Mick’ reveals for the first time that the two sports legends shared a lifelong private friendship that began in 1951 – the final season of DiMaggio’s glorious career and Mantle’s rookie year – amid a turbulent climate that created the public feud that, in fact, never existed… http://www.amazon.com/DiMag-Mick-Sibling-Rivals-Brothers/dp/1630761249/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Joe DiMaggio Born 101 Years Ago Today

 

Joe DiMaggio, whose 56 consecutive game hitting record will never be broken, was on this day — November 25, 1914 — 101 years ago. Happy Birthday, Joltin’ Joe!

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Could Molly Knight Be Vin Scully’s Successor?

Author Molly Knight's new best-seller on the Los Angeles Dodgers is as

Author Molly Knight’s new best-seller on the Los Angeles Dodgers is as refreshing and entertaining as listening to the personal, informative voice of Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully.

FOUR ALMOST FOUR DECADES, MY SUMMERS have been passed listening to Vin Scully religiously, bemoaning the cutback in his announcing schedule and, I suppose, unconsciously preparing myself for that day when Vinny calls it a career.

I am also one of those baseball fans who wears headphones and listens to Scully call a game on the radio even when I’m at Dodger Stadium.

Especially today, Vinny makes a bearable experience out of what otherwise at times resembles a virtual drive in a convertible through the hood or the barrio bombarded by a cacophony of butchered languages peppered with hip-hop that has sullied the traditional pastoral sense of the game.

The fictional literary character Terence Mann perhaps stated it more succinctly in the Hollywood film Field of Dreams when he says to protagonist Ray Kinsella: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

That’s what Vin Scully has also meant for the game. He’s been a link to baseball of its glory years, and he’s done that through those marvelous stories he often tells, almost as an afterthought, throughout a broadcast — like his tales about Chad Billingsley, saying that he pitched “with the Sword of Damocles over his head,” using Greek legend to depict the former Dodger so often pitching with danger looming nearby.

I can’t imagine any pretender to Scully’s throne having his wit and talent, much less his ability to weave classical literature into a broadcast.

That is not until I read former ESPN writer Molly Knight’s new best-seller The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse. 

Knight’s book details how the new Dodger ownership, Guggenheim Partners, since 2013 has overtaken the New York Yankees in their annual payrolls though reaping nothing more than near-misses in the playoffs, while having more success in keeping Cuban boy wonder Yasiel Puig alive amid death threats from a smuggling underworld that wanted its share of the slugger’s newfound wealth.

The book fittingly portrays the new Dodger owners as having more dollars than sense, which allowed them to triple the team payroll while under the widely detested Frank McCourt, who sold the team in 2012, much to the delight of fans who thought no one could be worse and thus were willing to give the Guggenheim Partners a long honeymoon while waiting for a World Series championship.

But these Dodgers, unfortunately, have not been the Boys of Summer, nor even the romantic underdog Oakland A’s of Moneyball.

At one point, concerned about the disappointing production of an injury recovering Matt Kemp — the slugging outfielder traded to the San Diego Padres before this season — the befuddled Dodgers brass, according to Knight, even “dispatched a club executive to speak with Kemp’s mother, who attended almost every home game, about what the team might do to help her son. Was he having girl problems?”

If that makes the Dodgers appear a bit like the old bums of Brooklyn, imagine that scene playing out on the big screen should this book become a Hollywood movie, a baseball comedy, for sure.

Then the book also covers a particular Dodgers losing streak that begs comparison with how Oakland general manage Billy Beane handled similar woes in Moneyball. Beane, a genius compared to his counter-part in Los Angeles, made trades, even discarding an All-Star, and insisted that the reluctant A’s manager play the productive journeymen ballplayers that he had signed.

What did the Guggenheim Partners Dodgers do?

“Unsure of what else to do,” Knight writes, “an anxious (GM Ned) Colletti emailed leadership surveys to” half a dozen handpicked players.

These are small nuggets in the overall book, which covers two years of the current Dodgers, but they show Knight’s appreciation of irony and how those kinds of stories are what Scully has used for years to help mold our understanding of baseball and those who play it.

Knight is also not afraid to be honest. Her book offers fresh insight into Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke, who is having a career season in 2016 and whose social anxiety issues have been chronicled in the past.

But Knight may have had a better understanding of Greinke because of her own anxiety disorder of the past of which she has talked candidly in interviews, including a panic attack as she was finishing the book – and of how she went back on the medication Zoloft, which she reveals that Greinke also takes.

When is the last time a Dodger insider was this open about the team, the front office or especially themselves?

I can only think of Vin Scully.

And now Molly Knight, cut from the same cloth as the legend.