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Robert Lipsyte
June 04, 1984
He arrived in the springtime of the American Dream, a golden teenager from Oklahoma with milker's forearms and a country-fresh grin. He was going to replace Joe DiMaggio as the beau ideal of our national pastime. He was going to be better than Babe Ruth.
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June 04, 1984

This Baseball Great Taught A Cub Reporter It Pays To Be Skeptical

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"Didn't you have any other interests?"

"No, playing baseball was all I knew and that's all I wanted to do."

"Did you think baseball would just go on forever?"

Mantle shrugged. "I don't think I ever really thought about it, I just did it. Everything was spontaneous to me. I didn't think out anything. Maybe I really did think that baseball was going to go on forever.

"Or maybe in the back of my mind I did think I wasn't going to last till 40. I just know that the one thing I would change, I would take better care of myself. I would. I'm sorry about that."

His voice trailed off. His eyes seemed damp and tinged with red. Were they still watering from that windy round of golf, I wondered, or from the liquor, or were they misty with regrets?

"You still think about baseball a lot?"

"I dream about it," he said. "Every night almost."

"What kind of dream?"

"Well, first of all I take a cab to the ball park, and I'm in my uniform and I've got a bat. And I get there and the game's going on and I hear them say, Mickey Mantle batting, Number Seven, Mickey Mantle.

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