"I don't think so," Berra answered. "I just remember he pulled up a chair, sat down and started asking Mickey who was better—himself or Ted Williams."
I asked Ford about the mob pounding on his hotel room door. "Is there a friend of Mickey's brother Frank who tips people off in the other towns too?" I asked him. "No," he said. "Usually somebody just gives a bellboy a buck for the room number."
"Couldn't the two of you get off away from the team hotel and relax somewhere?"
"If there's a night game, sometimes we'll go to a movie in the afternoon. But on summer vacations, school kids see him coming in, and then they all sit behind him and ask questions. The first 10 minutes of Dr. No were great. But then some kid hollered out, 'Hey! Mickey Mantle's sitting in this row right here!' Then a whole bunch started crowding around and making remarks, you know. When we left the theater, this same kid hollered, ' Mickey Mantle's leaving! Big deal!'"
When the bus arrived back at the hotel it pulled up to a side entrance. It was almost 11 p.m. Riding up on the elevator with Mantle, Ford and Houk, I asked Mantle what his plans were for the night.
"I'm going to call my motel in Joplin [a place called Mickey Mantle's Holiday Inn]. My wife said she might come up from Dallas. If she did, I can get there in less than an hour. Otherwise, I'm going to go to bed."
The door opened for the sixth floor. Mantle and I shook hands, and he left. As the elevator door closed I heard a whoop and the now-familiar stampede of feet. "It's Mickey Mantle!" kids shouted. "Hey, Mickey!"
It felt nice to be getting off at Ralph Houk's floor instead.