Mickey Mantle was a CardinKid!
(Actually, they lived out at Whitebird, south of the power plant)
From the Daily Oklahoman, July 12, 1953
-Dally Oklahoman Staff Photos by Bob Albright
Baseball Great Mickey Wants
Mantle Twins to Play Football
By LEW JOHNSON
(Daily Oklahoman Sports Writer)
COMMERCE, July 11-1953 "The twins will play college football if Mickey has his way."
It was Mrs. Elven Mantle speaking, and the charming mother of New York Yankee phenom Mickey Mantle was discussing her favorite subject "My family."
The twins are Roy and Ray, 17-year old brothers of baseball's rocketing young star. They'll be seniors next year in Commerce high school, where they have starred in football, basketball and baseball the past two years.
Every bit as shy as their famous brother, Roy and Ray have very little to say about anything, including their athletic futures. But mommy Mantle, who looks younger than her 40-odd years, doesn't mind dropping a few hints.
"Mickey would like for the boys to go to Oklahoma University and play football when they graduate. He really likes football. I guess he's so interested in it because his leg (Mickey has osteomylitis) kept him out of the game so much”.
"He'd rather watch the boys play football more than any thing,” she said with a sparkle in her eyes.
The pride and joy of Commerce (and the Yankees) may get his wish.
Ray scored 16 touchdowns as left halfback and Roy chipped in with eight from the other side, while sparking their team to the district championship last autumn. Most of the TDs came on cross-country romps with Ray returning a punt 95 yards against arch-rival Picher.
Mickey left New York immediately after the Yankees won the World Series from Brooklyn last October in an effort to watch the Commerce-Picher game. He arrived at halftime, a few minutes after Ray had cut loose with his 95-yard scamper.
THE twins both stand six feet even and weigh 170 pounds. Mickey is a half-inch shorter at 5-11, but tips the scales at 197. Roy and Ray should be that heavy when they fill out.
As for speed, both boys have it. Roy has never raced Mickey, but Ray made a creditable showing against baseball's fleetest base runner, losing a 75-yard race by three strides shortly after the Yankee outfielder returned home last October.
Ray, who will say a few words when urged, says he and Roy would like to sign with the Yankees some day "if we are good enough. "
Roy plays first base on the high school team. He bats left-handed and throws right. Ray, an outfielder, is right-handed all the way. Neither knew his batting average last spring, but Ray admitted that “someone said we hit about .350."
Roy poled four home runs in three games during a tournament at Ketchum; and Ray had a triple among his hits. "Some boy made a nice catch to rob Ray of a home run in that tournament," Mrs. Mantle recalled proudly.
“No, we haven’t been bothered much by baseball scouts. The twins have another year in high school. A fellow from the Atlanta Crackers (double A Southern association) did drop by for a talk, but I don't remember his name”.
"Of course, Tom Greenwade (the Yankee scout who signed Mickey) drops by every now and then to see the boys," Mrs. Mantle revealed with a smile.
Mrs. Mantle is tremendously interested in the athletic careers of her boys, but all make their own decisions, including 12 year old Larry "Butch" Mantle, Mickey's youngest brother.
Typical of Mrs. Mantle is her philosophy concerning the public censuring Casey Stengel gave Mantle for swinging too hard during the recent Yankee slump.
"Casey knows what he's doing," she declared. "He won't do anything to hurt the boys”.
"Mickey told me when he was home last month (Mantle was benched several days with a skin rash) that he appreciates advice from Casey and the older players on the team. He said he still has a lot to learn about baseball, and I think he does, too" the down-to-earth mother added critically.
Mrs. Mantle said her husband, the late Elven C. Mantle, who died May 6, 1952, had hoped Mickey would stay in the minors at least two years longer than he did. .
"Elven told me several times that he wanted Mickey to play a year at Beaumont and another at Kansas City before going to the Yankees. He didn't think it was fair to put all that pressure on a young boy without more seasoning in the minors," she recalls.
Mrs. Mantle is also amused by some of the articles being written about her 21-year-old son.
"One story said he cut his teeth on a baseball rather than a bottle, and it said he was swinging a bat when he was 18 months old. That is pure nonsense, as any mother would know," she scolded".
“He was a very ordinary baby. In fact he was so small that Elven often worried about his weight. He always said Mickey would play in the majors if he gained some weight. I never gave it much thought."
The cheerful housewife said most people ask her how it feels to be the mother of a famous son. "To me, Mickey isn't any different now than he was before he played with the Yankees. He's just like all the other children."
Actually, Mickey still doesn't realize his greatness. Proof of this is a talk he had with his mother when home last month. He told Mrs. Mantle he would be home for three days while the All-Star game was being played. Most any fan in the country could have told you then that Mickey would be an easy choice to play in the American league outfield in the annual classic Tuesday.
"He still gets homesick for Commerce during the season. Micky told me he hoped the St. Louis Cardinals won in the National league, and that the World Series wound up in St. Louis so he'd be close to home," Mrs. Mantle said.
If you take that to mean that Mick figures the Bombers will win their fifth straight pennant, you're right!
The Yankee hitting star is building a new six-room home in Commerce, just across, the street from the football stadium.
"You should see the bathroom in Mickey's new house. It has blue tile and is finished in white," young Larry Mantle said excitedly.
MICKEY recently gave the twins a new Mercury and gave his mother the modest four room frame house where the family now resides at 317 South River street.
“We usually get the results of the Yankee games over television. We listen to Dizzy Dean when he's broadcasting the Yankee games in the afternoon, too," the energetic matron added.
Merlyn, Mickey's pretty wife, and infant son, Mickey Elven Mantle are staying in New York while the season is in progress.
"Mickey hardly ever went with the girls. He was more interested in sports, but it was love at first sight between him and Merlyn. They met at a football game when Merlyn had a date with one of Mickey's friends.
"He had a date with her not long after that. When he came home, Mickey said 'Mom you should see my girl friend. She's real cute, comes about up to here on me,' he said and held his hand against his chest."
Ray would like to get one story straight. It was reported that the modest Yankee star sent the ball home which he hit for his first home run.
"The papers said we took the ball outside, and played with it until it was torn up. That's only partly right. We didn't have a ball to play with one day after Mickey got home. He came in and got the ball, and we had a big game. The ball didn't last long."
The neighborhood gang will have to wait a month longer to get Mickey in their ballgames this autumn. He has already signed to play exhibition games with a group of major leaguers for a month in Hawaii after the season ends.
Only two of the five Mantle children were born in Commerce, but all have spent most of their lives in this sports-loving town located just 11 miles south of the Kansas border.
Mickey was born in Spavinaw, and Roy and Ray were born in Cardin, a small community nestled between Commerce and Picher. Larry and Barbara, the boys' pretty 15-year-old sister, were born in Commerce.
Like his brothers, Larry is going to be a ballplayer. He practices every day, and, may do the twins one better in following in Mickey's steps.
"I'm going to be a switch hitter, just like Mickey," the 12-year-old lad promises.