SI Vault
September 25, 1995
Whoever thought baseball could die twice in the same year?LAURIE RUSSO, NEW YORK CITY
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September 25, 1995


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So what, if in my middle age. I find that Mantle was as human as millions of us are? I can handle it. But when I was 10 and needed a hero, Mickey was that and more. He was larger and better than life. For being there when I was a boy, I will always love Mickey.
CHARLES E. FAUROAT, Sarasota, Flu.

The perception that Mantle's career was about what-could-have-been if not for injuries and abuse does not do him justice. His most serious knee injury came during his rookie season of 1951, yet Mantle's three best years were '56, '57 and '61. In all, he played more games than either Rogers Hornsby, Duke Snider or Ted Williams, and more games as a Yankee than anyone.

Contrary to what he and most others have said, Mantle was every bit as good as Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays. At his peak, he was better. During the finest four-year periods of their careers, DiMaggio's and Mays's slugging and on-base percentages were, respectively, .636 and .416, and .627 and .397. From 1955 to '58, Mantle beat both in slugging (.643) and in on-base (.462). Mantle's four-year stretch at the plate is second only to Williams's war-interrupted performance of '41, '42, '46 and '47 (.669 and .510) among big leaguers who played the bulk of their careers after '40, and the Mick was a gem with the leather as well.

No apologies need be made for what Mickey Mantle could have been. What he was, was awesome—at his best, perhaps the top postwar ballplayer.
JEFF ANDERSON, Upland, Calif.

Richard Hoffer makes baseball seem less like the national pastime and more like a segregated men's club. He writes that "for generations of men he's the guy," "generations of men who watched him play," and "Let's just say you were of this generation of men, that you had once been a kid growing up in the '50s." What Hoffer missed is that Mickey Mantle was not just another object of male sports hero worship, he was everyone's hero. He became an American icon who represented the epitome of greatness to all.
MARA KURTZ, New York City

My brother, 11 months older than I, died nearly seven years ago while waiting for a liver transplant. He was 21. Friends thought I would he livid that Mantle received a liver and my brother died while waiting. Not a chance. My brother was a pioneer. Mantle is the greatest thing to happened to organ donation. Because of him, many lives will be saved.

Mantle may have had a greater impact in his last months than he did at the height of his powers. We will miss him.
ANDRHW H. CONNOR, Frankfort, Ill.

Signing Bonus
Enclosed is a copy of Mickey Mantle's bonus for signing with the Independence Baseball Club in Independence, Kans., in 1949. John Vallina was secretary and W.B. Tole was president of that club, a Class D minor league team owned by the Yankees.
PAUL H. VIETS, Independence, Kans.

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