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And now Mickey is gone. The sadness of this inevitability is more apparent when you remember what he was—not the limping, sporadic shadow of the last few years but the superhero of super-heroes to an entire generation of small boys. Some of them lived in Tenafly, N.J. and, while the following, reprinted from The Echo, school paper of Tenafly High School, is as impudently funny as most good high school humor, it also reflects the rather extraordinary hold that Mantle had on a very large segment of American youth:
Once upon a time there was a Mickey Mantle fan club at Tenafly High School. It all began as a classroom lesson in parliamentary procedure. The names have been omitted to protect the guilty, but the official minutes of the meeting remain to tell the tale. They read in part as follows:
"We, the members of this class, in order to form a perfect fan club, honor Mickey, insure a .300 season, root for a better team defense, promote the Yankees' general welfare and secure the blessings of victory to ourselves and the other fans, do ordain and establish this constitution for the Mickey Mantle fan club." Mickey Mantle was made honorary president, and the club passed a resolution that "he shall forever reign supreme."
Next, the club members rose and recited their pledge of allegiance. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the greatest in America, and to the Yankees for whom he plays, one team, under Skipper Houk, unbeatable, with homers and victories for all."
As soon as everyone sat down, the president entertained a motion that the club anthem be sung at the beginning of each meeting by all "true" members. One student suggested that the word "insane" be substituted for the word "true," but he was reminded that if he didn't like it he could always join the Russian club. The motion was passed unanimously and the assemblage rose to sing, "My Mickey 'tis of thee, sweet team of victory, of thee I sing. Field where Bambino played, where Gehrig history made, where Mickey for years has played, the King of Smack."
In time, the fan club, too, was smacked, but it shall not be forgotten. One memory shall live on, that of the club banner (a picture of Mantle in red, white and blue pinstripes) fluttering in the breeze, and the inscription above the blackboard, E PLURIBUS MICKEY.
And that's it from Tenafly. So long, Mantle. Hey, how good is this kid, Bill Robinson?
RUN, PHIL, RUN
Philip C. Wallwork, safety director of the Automobile Legal Association, has directed the following stern admonition to joggers: