Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood

I finished reading The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood by Jane Leavy in late March. This is a 2010 biography of Yankee baseball star Mickey Mantle. I brought the book after hearing Jane Leavy interviewed by Bill Simmons on his B.S. Report podcast.

I frankly did not realize how good a career Mantle had. He received three American League Most Valuable Player Awards and played in twenty All-Star games. Mantle appeared in 12 World Series, winning 7 of them. He holds the records for most World Series home runs (18), RBIs (40), runs (42), walks (43), extra-base hits (26), and total bases (123). He is also the career leader in walk-off home runs, with a combined thirteen, twelve in the regular season and one in the postseason.

This is a very different biography then the Willie Mays book that I read last summer. Leavy has written a nonlinear biography that takes the form of 20 days in Mantle’s life. Some of the days are stretched to cover nearly a season or an entire childhood. Leavy uses this format to look at the patterns and influences in Mantle's life.

Late in Mantle's life, the author spent a weekend in Atlantic City following Mickey and interviewing him. She tells this story in parts over the course of the book. This experience provides some interesting first hand exclamation points on Mantle's personality.

This is a very well researched and written biography. As a baseball fan, it is definitely worth reading. Jane Leavy has also written a Sandy Koufax biography that I am going to add to my pile of books.

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