One of the greatest players in baseball history, Mantle mashed home runs during the day and lived a crazy life at night. Mantle joined teammates, including future Yankees manager Billy Martin, in spending many evenings at the bar.
That life eventually caught up to Mantle. A month before his tragic death in 1995, Mantle gave a nationally-televised speech where he warned his fans about substance abuse.
Mickey Mantle is a New York Yankees legend
In 18 seasons, all with the Yankees, Mantle hit .298 with 536 home runs and 1,509 RBIs. A three-time AL MVP selection, Mantle earned All-Star honors 20 times — the league tried holding two Midsummer Classics per year at one point in his career — and won the Triple Crown in 1956.
Mantle hit .257 with 18 home runs and 40 RBIs in 65 World Series games. He left baseball having won seven World Series titles.
The Yankees retired Mantle’s No. 7 in June 1969. Mantle entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, nearly six years after he played his final game.
Mickey Mantle was a controversial character
Mickey Mantle was the face of baseball and the life of the party.
Mantle’s off-field career of drinking, gambling, and partying is well-known. He and teammates spent many nights at the Copacabana, a popular nightclub, in New York City.
Stories emerged after Mantle’s retirement of how wild his life could be at times. Former Yankees teammate Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four that Mantle and other Yankees players spied on women during road trips.
Mantle used his health problems to warn others about substance abuse
Mickey Mantle dealt with numerous health issues in retirement and checked into the Betty Ford Clinic in January 1994 to treat alcoholism.
Mantle turned to Christianity in his final years. Before receiving a liver transplant in June 1995, Mantle learned that he had an inoperable type of liver cancer.
A few weeks later, Mantle appeared on national television and read a speech from his deathbed where he warned his fans about drugs and alcohol. In 2014, Fox Sports posted a photo of the speech, which Mantle wrote on the back of a PGA golf tour scorecard.
Mantle spent part of the speech talking about Yankees legend Lou Gehrig before he shared his warning.
“I’ve always said when I died I want on my tombstone ‘a great teamate’ [sic] but I didn’t mean this soon. To all my little teamates [sic] out there. Please don’t do drugs + [alcohol.] God only gave us 1 body take care of it.”
Mantle died of a heart attack only four weeks later.
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.