Why I’ve Written About Mickey Mantle

I WAS ATTRACTED TO THE double tragedy of Mickey’s youth and his death hanging over him and how he loses the one person who meant the world to him — his father. Mutt Mantle, the center of Mickey’s universe, died tragically young in the spring of 1952, Mantle’s second season as a Yankee. And, in his own way, Mickey goes mad with grief and rage. How could you not be moved by that story?

Mickey Mantle, 1951

Set in the epic world of baseball in which Mantle has a grand destiny, Mickey’s story is just an updating of one of the oldest classics in literature — whether it’s Achilles going mad with grief and rage after the death of his cousin and friend Patroclus. Or Hamlet going mad with grief and rage after the murder of his father. 

Achilles used his rage to help conquer Troy, and Hamlet’s rage drove him to destroy the kingdom that had been stolen from his father. 

Mantle? Though he, too, was doomed and without giving much thought to his own health, Mickey led a New York Yankees wrecking crew to championship after championship, becoming certainly the greatest switch-hitter in baseball and arguably — certainly in the minds of his legion of fans — the greatest player in the game.

Mickey’s is the definitive father-son story of our time.