TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY TAKES US BACK TO FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA ON MARCH 1, 1969. An American icon of the 1950’s and 60’s retired on this date. Mickey Mantle made the announcement at the spring training home of the New York Yankees, ending an 18-year career.
It’s remarkable it lasted that long considering “Mick” endured a variety of injuries, mostly to his legs. In announcing his decision, Mantle revealed the frustrations of a proud athlete, whose body would not perform, “I don’t hit the ball when I need to. I can’t steal when I need to, I can’t score from second base when I need to.” It’s cruel how 37 can look so old.
Mantle had superstar numbers, but they could have been better. He was the prototype 5-tool player when he came up to the Yankees at age 19. He could run, hit, hit for power, throw and catch.
Early in his career he was described as the fastest player from home to first, but that was before leg injuries turned him into a 4-tool star.
- 3-time MVP
- 16-time all-star
- On 12 pennant winners
- On 7 World Series championship teams
- 536 home runs
- .298 average
- .421 on-base percentage
- .557 slugging percentage
Being among the first superstar players to face the best Black ballplayers for an entire career, Mantle put a mark of authenticity on the American athlete. When the news came, “Mickey Mantle Retires,” it was the end of an era.
New York Times, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 2, 1969
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