Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995), nicknamed The Commerce Comet and The Mick….was a legendary American professional baseball player….who played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the New York Yankees as a center fielder and first baseman from 1951 through 1968. Mickey Mantle was one of the best players and sluggers to ever play the game…..and is regarded by many as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 by unanimous vote….and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
Mantle was arguably the greatest offensive threat of any center fielder in baseball history. He has the highest career OPS+ of any center fielder….and he had the highest stolen base percentage in history at the time of his retirement. In addition, compared to the four other center fielders on the all-century team….he had the lowest career rate of grounding into double plays (by far)….and he had the highest World Series on-base percentage….and World Series slugging percentage. He also had an excellent 0.984 fielding percentage when playing center field. The Mick was noted for his ability to hit for both average and power….especially tape measure home runs….I mean, just look at those forearms in the photo above. He hit 536 MLB career home runs….batted .300 or more ten times…..and is the career leader (tied with Jim Thome) in walk-off home runs with a combined thirteen….twelve in the regular season and one in the postseason.
Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956….leading the major leagues in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI)….which he later wrote a book about in which he called it his best year in baseball. He was an All-Star for 16 seasons….playing in 16 of the 20 All-Star Games that were played. He was an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times….and a Gold Glove winner once. Mantle appeared in 12 World Series….including seven championships….and holds World Series records for the most home runs (18)….RBIs (40)….extra-base hits (26)….runs (42)….walks (43)….and total bases (123).
The Commerce Comet was a hero to dang near every kid on the little league fields of America during the decade of the 1950’s and 1960’s…..and there wasn’t a tag-up game ever played during his era that The Mick wasn’t the 1st or 2nd player chosen “to be” by the kids on the sandlots during the summertime.