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Original Issue


"At a time when passing the buck is all too common, I am happy to see Mickey Mantle take responsibility for his actions."

Mickey Mantle
As soon as I saw your cover highlighting Mickey Mantle's story about his life as an alcoholic (Time in a Bottle, April 18), I knew it was an article I did not want to read. As a 12-year-old Little Leaguer in 1961, I felt that Mickey could do no wrong. The '61 Yankees were my idea of the American dream.

But read the story I did, and at first I felt that my childhood trust and adoration had been betrayed by Mantle's abuse of his athletic talent. But as he described his struggles, losses and rehabilitation, I realized the mark of a true champion is not how he plays on the brightest days of summer, but how he performs when things are darkest.
DANIEL S. BENNETT, Pendleton, Ind.

It takes a hell of a man to tell a story the way Mickey Mantle did and to admit the things he admitted. He should know that he will always be remembered for the immeasurable contributions he made to the world's greatest sport. He is part of the reason that so many sons think about their fathers and grandfathers on Opening Days, part of the reason that so many athletes wear number 7, part of the reason that the word baseball puts a lump in so many throats.

I was named for Mickey Mantle, so this story was special for me. Mickey has been a guest at our family restaurant, and he once signed an autograph for me, saying that he hoped that I would turn out better than he had. At the time I didn't know what he meant. Now I realize that even 13 years ago, he knew he could have led a better life.
MICK SHOOK Kendallville, Ind.

I am 14 years old, and every day I feel the pressure to give in to drinking and smoking. I probably was going to experiment, but now that I have read what alcohol did to Mickey Mantle, I don't think I will. Thank you for the great article.

Please don't print my name. Some kids in my class can be really mean. They would probably make fun of me.

As a member of Alcoholics Anonymous since 1984, I found Mickey Mantle's story to be just like mine and that of many others. Because he's new to the program, he is still on his pink cloud. In time, reality will hit him, and it will become much tougher for him to order Diet Cokes at his restaurant. Making all those promises to be a better husband, father and role model is added pressure.

Welcome to AA, Mick. Keep coming.
JON DALTON, South Orange, N.J.

Back in the 1950s, I was one of the many kids who worked at Yankee Stadium selling food items. In those days the players' entrance was near the entrance for the concession personnel, so we got to see our heroes. I took particular interest in Mantle's comments in your story that he "always took pride in his dependability when he was doing public-relations work, endorsements and personal appearances."

That may be true, but nearly every time I saw a youngster ask for Mantle's autograph, he was turned down. Many fans would give players self-addressed postcards to be signed and returned later. Mickey would tear them up in front of the fans. One of the few times I saw Mantle sign was when a television crew was filming his arrival at the stadium. The interesting thing is that many of Mantle's buddies, like Billy Martin, Casey Stengel, Phil Rizzuto and others, were nice to their fans.

I feel sorry for Mickey, but he also broke the hearts of many young fans.
ALLAN WEISER Rochester, N.Y.

A Golden Tribute
I felt something was missing from this year's Masters when Jack Nicklaus failed to make the cut. Then I read Rick Reilly's POINT AFTER (April 11). His remarks were right on, as usual. Nicklaus embodies the spirit in which the Masters was conceived all those years ago by Bobby Jones. A permanent monument to Nicklaus would ensure that he will never be missed at Augusta again.
M.L. BISSELL, Lafayette, La.

Instead of the gold cup on the 16th green that Reilly suggests as a tribute to Nicklaus, what about a sculpture of a bear overlooking the green from among the azaleas?

Why not put the Golden Bear somewhere on the putting surface at 16 in darker green grass?
JOE DEMARCO, Cortland, N.Y.



Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.