However Peter Golenbock’s 7 fares – and so far, its prognosis isn’t very good for initial, let alone continued success – it’s just the latest in a long line of books devoted to all things Mickey Mantle, as the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir discovers. The first, an “autobiography” of the young Mick as told to Ben Epstein, was published way back in 1953. 20 books have followed since. So what is the attraction?
“Mickey’s kind of like Abe Lincoln; he keeps catching people,” said Robert W. Creamer, who wrote and researched the 1964 book THE QUALITY OF COURAGE, a collection of inspirational stories, for Mantle. “He was, in a way, a kind of perfect American,” added David Falkner, the author of THE LAST HERO: THE LIFE OF MICKEY MANTLE which came out soon after his subject’s death in 1995. “So vulnerable, so innocent, and he could not hide who he was, which was both beautiful and horrible.”
Whatever the case (I’m not so sure about calling Mantle “innocent” but do accept there are greater emotional truths at work) it seems likely the definitive word may rest with Jane Leavy, currently researching a biography of Mantle (slated for eventual publication by HarperCollins, which dropped 7 like a hot potato until The Lyons Press picked it back up.) “Jane’s job is challenging because we know so much about Mickey,” said Marty Appel, former New York Yankees public relations officer and a connoisseur and collector of what Sandomir cringingly dubs “MickLit”. “But he will always fascinate us, because he wasn’t what we believed him to be in the first place, but when we found out more about him, we loved him all over again.”