The late Mickey Mantle’s vices are part of his public portrait, but the hulking, handsome, pinstriped golden boy who hit home runs is the persona most portrayed.
A new Mantle biography out today examines the entire Mantle, especially the one America didn’t always see. In THE LAST BOY: Mickey Mantle and the end of Americas’ childhood, author Jane Leavy delves deeply into the abyss of Mantle’s alcoholism and suggests that being sexually molested as as a child played a role in his behavior, especially in his relationship with women.
Leavy, who grew up on Long Island and idolized Mantle as a child, says she got generous cooperation from Mantle’s late wife, Merlyn, and sons Danny and David. Through discussions with Merlyn Mantle and Mickey Mantle’s close friends, Leavy reports of how Mantle was sexually abused by his teenage half sister and an older boy.
According to an interview with Leavy on the book’s page at Amazon.com, a story in the New York Daily News and an excerpt in Sports Illustrated, the book is full of revelations about Mantle. They include how he could be insulting to his fans — even children — in public and how the story of his legendary home run in Washington that landed in someone’s backyard may have holes in it. Leavy also found out Mantle didn’t have surgery on his knee after injuring it while trying to avoid a collision with Joe DiMaggio in 1951 until two years later.
Leavy also mentions how, while interviewing Mantle as a Washington Post reporter in 1983, he made a pass at her.
By Stephen Borelli