By now, you’ve probably seen the reviews on Jane Leavy’s “The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood.” (And, if not, click here and here for a few samples of what’s been said on this one to date.)
In any event, since I’ve just finished reading this one, I thought I would add my opinion to the party – albeit seven weeks later than most of the other reviews of “The Last Boy.”
Without question, Jane Leavy’s book on Mickey Mantle is one of the best baseball biographies that I have read in the last 35 years. You can go back as far as Al Stump’s Cobb or as recent as James Hirsch’s Willie Mays and “The Last Boy” ranks right up there with them.
Now, I’ve read books on Mantle in the past – and there have been a lot of them. And, many of us know his story – as a player and after. But, Leavy offers such a robust picture of the man and performs some incredible sleuthing in this effort that you’re bound to be impressed with her book.
Me? Until reading this book, I never appreciated, fully, what it was like when Mickey Mantle first made the Yankees. Picture a player who had the speed of Carl Crawford or Ichiro Suzuki combined with the tape-measure power of a batter like Adam Dunn or Darryl Strawberry playing in the major leagues at the age of nineteen and put on a team that’s in the media capital of the world and who just won three of the last four World Series. What would that be like today in terms of hype? A-Rod circa 1995-96? Or, Bryce Harper, say, a year from now? Maybe…but…probably not. Remember, we’re talking about the New York Yankees here. Plus, in many ways, Mantle was being pegged as the successor to Joe DiMaggio too, at the time. Need a little more pressure?
I cannot imagine what that would be like for a player today. And, perhaps, Mantle was blessed to have this happen in the 1950′s? What would his career been like, today, if he was 19-years old in 2010 with all this talent? Now, there’s food for thought.
Usually, when I read a baseball book this good, and it involves the Yankees, I suggest that it’s something that may interest baseball fans and that it’s something that all Yankees fans should check out. But, Leavy’s book is better than that. “The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood” is a must read for all baseball fans. And, if you haven’t read it, get it on your holiday wish list. (Just one caveat, if you’re buying this one for someone else this holiday season, it’s a “PG-13″ book, without question, so, use good judgement if you’re giving it to a youngster.)
Please feel free to use the comments section of this entry to discuss what you’ve heard on this book, or your thoughts on it, or to just discuss “Mick” in general.