|ｩ The Chicago Tribune
1984. Used by permission.
deserves a break
by Joe Cohen
Chicago Tribune, Sunday,
May 20, 1984
A NEWS story that gets
buried somewhere in the sports section of the newspaper, this is a
sports story that belongs in the heart of the news section, somewhere
under the banner, "An Injustice For An American Hero."
number "7" brings to mind many
different things. To the gambler, it can be the make or break of a dice
roll. To the religious, the Sabbath and the day of rest. To some of us,
it brings to mind a pin-striped uniform belonging to a former member of
baseball. He played for the New York Yankees and his name is Mickey
Mantle -- the man baseball could use, but the man baseball has cast
friend Dave's father died in the
1960's. He was a publicist who had the honor to work with Mantle during
his career. Dave remembered that his father said that when you wanted
to get an interview with Mantle, you had to be up at 6:30 a.m. because
the next man to arrive at Yankee Stadium after the groundskeepers was
Mickey Mantle. Also, if you got up early enough, you would beat the
crowd of reporters that usually would arrive.
came so early each day because
he'd spend hours taping up his legs. His leg injuries had aggravated a
bone disease that caused him great pain and eventually prematurely
ended his baseball career. Mantle seldom, if ever, complained.
I WAS a kid, my family and I
went to Comiskey Park to see the Chicago White Sox play the New York
Yankees. Mantle hit a rocket shot home run over the center field wall.
As I waited for the ball to finally land, there was Mantle, not yet at
first base, limping his way around the bases. It took a while, but
finally he made it to home plate. Some of the Sox players had waited to
congratulate Mantle at home plate with the Yankee players.
crowd stood up and cheered
endlessly. Mantle went into and came right back out of the Yankee
dugout to tip his hat to all of his fans. After it quieted down, I said
to my dad that it was nice to see even the home team fans paying honor
and tribute to the opposition's man. I think everyone there felt
Mantle's pain as he hobbled around the bases. It made you feel proud to
be a part of it all.
when you hear most of the
old-time former baseball players interviewed, they almost all comment
on how they wish that they were as well paid when they played as the
players of today are. Except for Mantle. I have only heard him say how
much he misses playing the game itself.
WAS even offered more
money to be a Yankee coach for one season than he made as a player for
several seasons, but he turned down the offer because he said he
couldn't be that near to the game and not be able to play in it. What a
true love for baseball!
one-way love, however, because the
rules of baseball have officially kicked Mantle out fo the membership
of baseball. The rules state that a member of baseball can not be
employed in any capacity for any gambling casino. Mantle took a job at
a casino because he needed the kind of money the job paid.
Mantle didn't have a drug problem. His son is terminally ill and his
constant care costs a fortune.
Mantle wasn't busted for drug
possession, and he has not been reinstated into baseball since the
discovery of the circumstances that caused Mantle to take the job at
IS guilty of being a
loving father to a son who means the world to him. I guess baseball
can't use that kind of image. It might influence other kids to want
their dads to love them also. How dare Mantle golf with people who come
to the casino so that he can pay for his son's problem of being
Mantle hasn't complained about
his ousting from the membership of baseball. He just does his job,
visits his son each day and you can even see him doing commercials on
late-night television. He always was a good sport who made us proud and
he still is. As for us, well, we used to be.
* * * * *