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Articles by Yosef Cohen
ゥ The Chicago Tribune 1984.  Used by permission.
Mantle deserves a break

by Joe Cohen
Chicago Tribune, Sunday, May 20, 1984

UNLIKE 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."

The 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 aside.

My 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.

Mantle 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.

WHEN 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.

The 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.

Nowadays, 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.

MANTLE 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!

A 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.

No, Mantle didn't have a drug problem. His son is terminally ill and his constant care costs a fortune.

No, 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 the casino.

MANTLE 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 terminally ill.

Mickey 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.

Joe Cohen, Chicago.

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