How Would Mickey Mantle Have Fared in the Social Media Age?

ShutterstockMantleTussaudsOn the heels of Robert Lipsyte’s final column, The Big Lead’s Ryan Glasspiegel has posted a sparkling 6-4-3 email Q&A with the outgoing ESPN ombudsman. Among other things, he gets Lipsyte to highlight who his favorite current sportswriter is.

Another strand that jumped out to FishbowlNY occurs about halfway through the conversation. Glasspiegel notes how Mickey Mantle was rude to Lipsyte as a young reporter and wonders, in today’s Deadspin, TMZ and social media-driven media age, whether the gruff Yankee would have been quite so deified. Lipsyte’s answer:

“It’s a great question, Ryan, because by thinking about it, you start to think about how we are treating this generation of big, rich, handsome hormone-driven child men. Mickey was 19 when he hit New York in 1951, suddenly free of the Oklahoma mines. He stuffed his insecurity by screwing and drinking. His story – father issues, early marriage and kids, wild companions, no real guidance from the club – gets repeated every season, every sport.”

“Most of the current Mickey Mantle’s are separated from media and fans by economic and racial divides – which he was not. There are always a few superstars that are so important to their sports that they are protected – Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, most obviously – until they can’t be. It’s open media season on most of the rest. I’m torn. Is it the Faustian bargain of celebrity? Don’t they deserve privacy? Is there such a thing anymore? And do we keep exposing their lives to prop up the myth that they are somehow socially important?

Separately, we hope a final suggestion made by Lipsyte to The Mother Ship – ESPN-J, a nationwide program for aspiring high school journalists without privileged connections, perches – comes to fruition. Read the full conversation here.

[Photo of the NYC Madame Tussauds Mantle: JStone/Shutterstock.com]