Award-winning sports writer Jane Leavy follows her New York Times runaway bestseller Sandy Koufax with the definitive biography of baseball icon Mickey Mantle. The legendary Hall-of-Fame outfielder was a national hero during his record-setting career with the New York Yankees, but public revelations of alcoholism, infidelity, and family strife badly tarnished the ballplayer's reputation in his latter years. In The Last Boy, Leavy plumbs the depths of the complex athlete, using copious first-hand research as well as her own memories, to show why The Mick remains the most beloved and misunderstood Yankee slugger of all time.
Bob Costas eulogized the Yankee great as "a fragile hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that it defied logic." The "we" in Costas's remarks with author Leavy (Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy) as stand-in is as much the subject of this fascinating biography as the ballplayer himself. Mantle, who succumbed to cancer in 1995 at age 63, was justly famous for his baseball exploits, but what Costas described as Mantle's "paradoxical grip" on a certain generation of baseball fans is exactly what Leavy tackles in this book. She should know. She spent much time in her childhood in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, a tomboyish "Mickey guy" listening to the roar of the crowd from across the Grand Concourse. While a sportswriter for the Washington Post, she won a 1983 assignment to interview Mantle for his upcoming golf tournament in Atlantic City. What happened that day and night between the fading, embittered Mantle and the former fan girl trying to do her job is the drama that structures Leavy's narrative she has never reported the truth till now, and she does so without judgment. Instead, she proceeds with steely determination to understand what brought this onetime golden boy from the zinc mines of Oklahoma to center stage at Yankee Stadium and made him into America's quintessential tragic hero, a freakily gifted athlete haunted by a deadly genetic inheritance, including alcoholism. With storytelling bravado and fresh research, Leavy weaves around her own story the milestone dates in "the Mick's" career, which as often burnishes the legend as tarnishes it. Leavy concludes that Mantle cavorted in a more innocent time, when people believed in sports heroes and would not hear otherwise. That's hardly a new idea, but no matter: by the end of this book, readers will know what made Mantle rise, fall, and survive into recovery for his last 18 months. In Leavy's hands, the life of Mantle no longer defies logic: it seems inevitable. She's hit a long home run. 8 pages of color and 8 pages of b&w photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Belongs in the lifestyle section, not the sports pages
There's no denying that Leavy does a great job in painting a picture of The Mick as an alcoholic, womanizing, man child who happened to play a sport. If you want to learn more about the feelings of the people in Mickey's life, how he treated them, and how they were affected by him (including the author), then this is the book for you.
Me? I could have used with more stories from the field of play. Exploits on the playing field. More about interactions with other players on and off the field. More stories from former players about their reminiscences of The Mick. More of the sports page than the lifestyle section.
Fastball down the middle
I loved the book. At the same time, I'm right down the middle of the strike zone. 60 year old male, who grew up as a huge fan of the Yankees, and of course Mickey Mantle. That said, this book is beautifully written, and the research was incredible. It gave me plenty of information on Mickey, as a player, but also a phenomenal look into his life. We all can follow the careers of our athletic heroes, but we always wish we knew what they were really like. This is it.
it was ok
it was an ok book but some parts of it made me very confused, but then later I caught on, but at the moment, I am almost in the middle and i am sort of like very confused. :)