Mickey Mantle

(Deb) Welcome back and what a baseball year this has been for Kansas and Frank we have so many legendary baseball players with Kansas connections and you’ve got another phenomenal story today. (Frank) Yes. That’s it, a lot of people think well, what are these major league players come from? Well, believe it or not, they still come from small towns. (Deb) Little bitty places, yea. (Frank) At one time Topeka, Kansas, was really a place where especially the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees came to scout for talent. And they don’t necessarily scout for them out of the colleges, they might come and look at a little league baseball team and say, “Wow, we need to watch this guy here.” In fact, my Grandson’s baseball team, last fall when they were playing, there was a minor league scout there taking a look at a 14-year-old… (Deb) Wow. (Frank) …who could hit the ball 300 feet. So, anyway, who knows, we might see this young man in the major leagues sometime. And that kind of is the lead in to the next story too, about someone that you might think, wow he was such a great star, a big star, where’d he come from? Well he came from Baxter Springs. Let’s take a look. He was an Oklahoma boy, who’s Dad Mutt worked in the lead and zinc mines, but named his son in honor of Baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Cochran. In the town of Commerce, Mickey played most high school sports and rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals. His baseball career began across the line in Baxter Springs, Kansas, where he played for the Whiz Kids. In 1948, a New York Yankee’s scout came to Baxter Springs to watch Mickey’s teammate third baseman Billy Johnson. During that game Mickey hit three home runs. The scout returned the next year after Mickey graduated high school. He signed the young man to a minor league contract. Mickey was assigned to the Yankees Class D independent Yankees of the Kansas/Oklahoma/Missouri league where he played short stop. He struggled and at one time told his Dad he was quitting. When his performance improved, he was sent to the Yankee’s training camp and manager Casey Stengel saw a lot of promise in him. Again, he struggled and he was sent back to the Yankee’s top farm team, the Kansas City Blues. Frustrated, he again told his father he was quitting. Mutt drove up to Kansas City and began packing his son’s bags telling him he could come back and work in the mines with him. His performance improved. Mickey immediately broke out of his slump, going on to hit .361, with 11 homers and 50 RBI’s during his stay in Kansas City. Mickey was called up to the Yankees after 40 games with Kansas City. He played with legends and he became a legend, racking up record after record. (Announcer) First game out of one. Here’s the pay off pitch. It’s a hit. There it goes. It’s outta here! (Frank) His outgoing personality made him a celebrity beyond baseball circles, and there was hardly a kid in the world who didn’t, and still doesn’t, recognize the name Mickey Mantle.