Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meeting Mickey Mantle Spring Of 1956

In the spring of 1956 I was about to turn 16 years old that year. I got a job as a ball boy after school at the baseball stadium in Mobile, Alabama just at the time the major league teams were heading north for the new baseball season. Several top teams came through Mobile that spring and played each other. I remember the Dodgers came through and I remember watching Gil Hodges clowning around during infield practice throwing the ball behind his back with his glove. I got to play catch with catcher Smokey Burgess who was with the Cincinatti Redlegs that year.
I rememeber hearing Don Drysdale who was rookie that year telling other Dodgers how many beers he had drank the night before. The Dodgers traveled on their own train so as not to have any problems in the still segregated south. The Braves came through as did the Phillies and of course my beloved New York Yankees. I got to the stadium early that day and I went in the clubhouse dressing room that was for the Yankees. I was surprised to find that only Elston Howard was there. No one else was around. I engaged him in conversation all the while wondering why he was there alone. I asked him how Mantle's leg was and he said it was getting better. It was only later that I figured out that Howard had come to the stadium alone because he had not stayed with the rest of the team wherever they were staying.
Soon the rest of team did show up and I got to see some of my baseball heroes up close down on the field. Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel,Billy Martin, and all the rest of the Yankees of the year 1956.
I happened to see Mantle walk by. I said, "Hi Mickey". He kept right on walking and did not say a word. But I had my ace in the hole. I had seen his twin brothers Ray and Roy play outfield in the Class C Cotton States League. They played left and right field for the Monroe,La. team. I had seen them play the Meridian Millers in Meridian Miss. the year before. So I called out to Mantle's back as he walked away,"I saw your brothers Ray and Roy play in the Cotton States League". He turned around and came back. I told him I had seen Ray or Roy(whichever one was in right field that night)drop a fly ball in the 9th inning that cost Monroe the ball game and that Ray or Roy turned around and threw his glove over the fence. I don't remember any more except he turned around again and walked off. He had a great year that year.

Monroe Sports
From BR Bullpen

Location: Monroe, LA
League: Cotton States League 1950-1955; Evangeline League 1956
Affiliation: Shreveport Sports 1953; New York Yankees 1955-1956
The 1955 Sports featured twins Roy Mantle and Ray Mantle - brothers of Mickey Mantle. Roy made the all-star team in the OF.