Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' Blogs

January 29, 2013

‘The Mick’ should be remembered in wake of Armstrong’s troubles

The two comments were almost identical.

Almost 18 years apart. Our attention spans don’t last that long. If they did, we would’ve remembered what Mickey Mantle said. His advice and regrets would’ve kept us realistic about elevating athletes and public figures to role models. Maybe Lance Armstrong would never have resorted to using performance-enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles, become a cultural icon, and protected that “one big lie” through cover-ups and intimidation.

Mantle warned us.

We forgot.

Instead, just recently, one of the world’s most recognized sports figures uttered virtually the same lament that Mantle did in 1995.

“I will spend the rest of my life … trying to earn back trust and apologize to people,” Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey, admitting to doping after years of denials.

The 41-year-old cyclist, who famously conquered cancer on his way to championship glory, looked distressed but far less broken than “The Mick” did on July 12, 1995. The man idolized by kids in the 1950s was then 63, frail and recovering from liver-transplant surgery that he hoped had saved his life. Little did Mantle know that the cancer he thought he’d dodged was spreading throughout his once strapping body.

But on that day, sitting before cameras in the Baylor University Medical Center, a pale, gaunt Mantle vowed this …

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to make up.”

He died a month and a day later.

In those few days, though, Mantle came closer to heroism than at any point during his 18 incredible seasons as a New York Yankee, the greatest switch-hitter and World Series home run hitter in history. He made clear to parents and kids that his choices in a 40-year battle with alcoholism hurt a lot of people around him, especially his wife and kids, and “shortened my career.” He tried his best to put the public worship of his baseball exploits in stark perspective.

Text Only
Sister Newspapers' Blogs
Bill Archer
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents Today in History for August 1st Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell US, UN Announce Deal on Gaza Cease-Fire
Greg Jordan