Mickey Mantle was a gifted, talented white baseball player who was admired and truly loved by his fans.
Winter recounts how Mantle grew up in a poor Oklahoma mining community, where his father saw baseball as his son’s future. He was named for a ballplayer, drilled in baseball skills, and taught to be a switch-hitter. He overcame a serious bone disease that nearly led to a leg amputation and became an amazing athlete, incredibly fast and powerful. He wanted to be the greatest player ever; he wanted to be perfect. In his first world series with the New York Yankees, he sustained an injury that caused him pain for the rest of his life. But, in spite of the pain, he sent home runs flying out of stadiums and set many records, some still in place. He never felt he lived up to what was expected of him, but to fans, teammates, and even opposing players, he was simply wonderful. Winter tells the story of Mantle’s baseball feats and mishaps with obvious affection, using a colloquial voice that helps maintain the icon’s humanity. He puts a positive spin on his relationship with his parents and omits many personal difficulties and challenges, though he briefly mentions them in an author’s note. Payne’s softly drawn acrylic-and-pencil illustrations nicely capture events and emotions. Endpapers show Mickey’s No. 7 set in Yankee pinstripes.
A loving perspective on a beloved Yankee hero. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)