Here's another in a line of what might be called junk-food books. This hamburger is called Explosion! Mickey Mantle's Legendary Home Runs (Arbor House, $18.95), and it's the fourth in a menu cooked up by Mark Gallagher, whose other entrees are The Yankee Encyclopedia, Day by Day in New York Yankee History and Fifty Years of Yankee All-Stars. Gallagher is hashing over his material, which explains the exclamation point in the title. It's like a pickle: You feel you're getting something more appetizing than you really are.
Even the "legendary" is a bit cheesy. Mantle's home runs aren't legends, they're facts, as the author demonstrates in excruciating detail. He appends a chart that lists not only the date and place of every one of Mickey's 536 homers, but also the name of the rival pitcher, the score of the game, Mantle's position in the field, his place in the batting order, whether he batted left or right, how many men were on base, and his at bat, hit, run and RBI totals that day. The chart runs 124 pages.
And there's more. (Have another pickle.) Little side dishes of description ("Mickey's 450-footer to right was one of four Yankee homers") accompany the chart, while other lists recapitulate such things as Mantle's inside-the-park, pinch-hit, grand slam and Opening Day homers. All this is merely the chocolate shake that goes with the Big Mac, the body of the book—which is a relentless chronology of Mantle's 18 seasons, as told through his home runs.
Often injured, Mantle had a relatively short career for such a great player—he was only 36 when he retired—but the mass of information in Explosion! makes it seem as though he played for a century. Still, if you're a Mantle freak or a Yankee fanatic, come on in and gorge yourself. All you can eat for $18.95.