The country's most famous sports figure walked back into Yankee Stadium last Friday. The cast had been removed from Mickey Mantle's left foot, broken on June 5, but he was only there for treatment, not to play ball. Before the game that night Mantle took off the special, steel-reinforced shoe for which he had just been fitted, and drew a finger, over the bridge of his bare foot. Even that light touch left a white half-moon across the painful pink swelling. "I can hardly walk on it," he said, and he shook his head woefully at the suggestion he would be able to play by July 11, the most recent money-back guarantee date announced by the Yankee management. The Yankees, it seemed, were being unduly optimistic.
It was not, however, a desperate optimism. When Mantle went out, the Yankees had won 27 games and lost 18, a .600 pace. Without him they are 17-10 and .630, and there are still nine teams listed below them in the standings. The man most responsible is Roger Maris, the second M of M&M, the M they boo. They still boo Maris, of course, but now there are brazen cheers intermixed, forcing the boo-birds to extend themselves.
Maris (and the whole team) suffered a three-day hangover immediately after Mantle was hurt, but since then Roger, in 79 at bats, has hit .342 with eight home runs and 18 runs batted in. Because the sun still sets in the west he has won games with homers, but he has also won games with an out-of-character squeeze bunt and with a poke single to left. Afield and on the bases, Maris has been little short of brilliant. "Roger is doing anything for, team victory," says Bobby Richardson. "He's carrying the team," says Mantle. Maris, typically unaffected, says it is simply a coincidence that he started "finding the holes" after Mantle was hurt.
Mantle has returned again to his home in Dallas. During the weeks after he was injured, while he was resting there and in Joplin, Mo., James Drake took the exclusive photographs of Mickey and his family that appear on the following pages.
On a business and pleasure trip to Joplin, Mo., where he is part owner of a motel, Mantle visits between games with members of the Mickey Mantle League. It was formed to give youngsters unable to make the local Little League teams a chance to play.
Relaxing with his wife, Merlyn, Mantle props his injured foot on a poolside table. The Mantles were married after the 1951 season, Mickey's first in the majors. They met when he was playing in the minors and she was a high school majorette in Picher, Okla.
In the living room of his rambling one-story home in Dallas, Mantle laughs at the roughhousing antics of his four sons and goads them on to more action. Dave, age 7 (left), has Mickey, 10, momentarily pinned, while Billy, 5, easily holds down Danny, 3.
Framed by his aluminum crutches and a beach umbrella pole. Mantle and Dave laugh as young Billy pushes his oldest brother into the pool. Besides the unusual mid-season visit with his family, Mantle took care of a few business problems, went fishing with Merlyn, played nine holes of golf using a cart, gained three pounds and watched several Yankee games on television. "It looks a lot easier on TV," he said.
Roger Maris' hitting splurge (charted below) has kept the no-Mantle Yankees out of a slump.
[See caption above.]
Flanked by Team Physician Dr. Sidney Gaynor (left) and Trainer Joe Soares, Mantle sits on stool in Yankee locker room and broods over injury.