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On the Trail of a Hero
Ed Graham
August 26, 1963
Anyone who spends a day on the road with Mickey Mantle makes this unhappy discovery: playing baseball for the Yankees is the easiest thing he does
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August 26, 1963

On The Trail Of A Hero

Anyone who spends a day on the road with Mickey Mantle makes this unhappy discovery: playing baseball for the Yankees is the easiest thing he does

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Just before the first game young Tom Tresh, who had been in a minor slump, was the target of some Mantle roughhousing. He went on to hit two home runs. I don't know if there was a connection or not, but at the time Tresh looked as proud to have been sitting next to Mickey Mantle as I was.

Between the two games Mantle took a whirlpool bath. It seemed like a spot to relax. Instead, the time was assigned to answering written requests for autographed pictures. At the start of the second game there was more autograph signing along the runway that leads from the dressing room back to the bench. The game was in progress, but not for anyone near the section.

After the game a crowd formed outside the players' exit. A knot of boys gathered around the ventilator that fed air into the dressing room. Someone had discovered that if you looked through the top of the ventilator you could see a portion of the dressing room inside. "Can you see Mickey Mantle?" one kid yelled. "No," another answered, "but I can see Yogi Berra. And he's naked!" As each Yankee boarded the bus, I interviewed him for "background on the story I was doing." I asked the players if it was like this always, wherever Mantle went. "Sometimes worse," they said.

Cletis Boyer told me he had tried to go deer hunting with Mantle after the last World Series. "It was ridiculous," he said. "Crowds trooping around through the woods after us, asking for autographs. I think even a couple of deer recognized him." I asked Yogi Berra, "Ever go into a restaurant with Mantle?"

"Sure," he said.

"What usually happens?" I asked.

"We eat," Yogi said.

"He means with the people who come over to the table," Phil Rizzuto told him.

"Oh!" said Berra. Then he told me about sitting facing Mantle at a table in Minnesota. A drunk approached Mantle from the rear. "Just as Mickey was cutting into his steak this guy slaps him on the back and says, ' Mickey Mantle!' and the steak slid off the plate right on the floor."

"Did the drunk apologize?" I asked.

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