Growing up a kid in New York, you would think I would have been immediately drawn to the greatest franchise in the history of sports. The only problem was that early in my life the New York Yankees were playing like anything but the great teams of their storied past. In fact, it wasn’t until 1996, when my Dad bought me the Official 1996 World Series Home Video that I really started to understand the Yankees and like baseball. I’ve now watched that video so many times, it’s only a matter of time before I wear out its viewings. But even before I learned who the Yankees actually were, I already knew of a man who seemed to be quite popular, but dead now for over a year. His name was even mentioned in the video, as on his birthday, October 20th, the Yankees lost Game One of the 1996 World Series 12-1 to the defending World Champion Atlanta Braves. This mythic figure turned out to be Mickey Mantle. A fan favorite and the first real sports icon of the television era, the Mick had all the characteristics of a great player. Obviously, Mantle was a first ballot Hall of Famer, but it is the story off the field that will forever link Mickey with generations to come.
My mission here is simple: Explain why Mickey Mantle really is a positive role model, not a negative one like he stated shortly before he passed away in 1995.