Whitey Ford refers to him as “a superstar who never acted like one. He was a humble man who was kind and friendly to all his teammates, even the rawest rookie. He was idolized by all the other players.”
Mickey Mantle was an iconic baseball player with immense talent. His drive and love for the game pushed him past the injuries he was plagued with and into the record books.
He played his entire 18-year career with the New York Yankees, and the injuries he suffered never allowed him to live up to the potential he displayed to the team when he arrived in 1951.
Despite never quite being at 100 percent, Mantle established himself as the greatest switch-hitter to play the game, and one of the game’s best players ever. The outfielder almost had his career cut short when his leg was infected with osteomyelitis after being kicked in the shin playing youth football. Effects of the disease lasted his lifetime and might have been responsible for other injuries that took much of the speed he had early in his career.
A 1951 on-field accident resulted in a serious leg injury, preventing Mantle from ever playing his best again, and he returned to the Yankees in 1952 as the starting center fielder. He batted .311 with 23 home runs, 87 RBI, and 94 runs scored, making the All-Star team for the first of 11 consecutive selections.
From 1953 to 1955, he averaged 28 home runs, 98 RBI and 118 runs per season. He also batted over .300 in two of the three years. He led the American League in 1954 with 129 runs and in 1955 he topped the AL with 37 home runs, a .431 on-base percentage and a .611 slugging percentage. In 1956 he won the AL Triple Crown, batting .353 with 52 home runs and 130 RBI, and won the first of two consecutive MVP awards. He also led the Yankees to their sixth pennant in seven seasons with the team.
In 1962, Mantle missed almost 40 games, but still managed to capture his third MVP title, while bringing New York to their third consecutive pennant and second straight world championship. That season, he batted .321 with 30 home runs, 89 RBIs and 96 runs scored. He also led the league with a .488 on-base percentage and a .605 slugging mark.