Drive just a few miles north to Commerce, Oklahoma and see the boyhood home of baseball legend Mickey Mantle. The New York Yankee slugger became known as “The Commerce Comet.” You can get out and walk around the lawn where he learned to hit and throw balls. The old tin barn that served as his backdrop still stands and you can see and feel all the dents and dings in the metal where he spent countless hours honing his skills. Inside home tours are available by making arrangements in advance. Call the CVB for inquiry.
In 2010, Commerce officials dedicated a huge statue of Mickey, which was designed by local artist Nick Calcagno. Frozen in time as if he’d slugged one of his mammoth homeruns, a bronze Mickey Mantle stands beyond the center field of the Commerce High School baseball field. Perched atop a granite base inside a miniature baseball diamond, the star of the New York Yankees through the 1950s and ’60s, stands 9-feet tall and weighs over a ton.
Mickey Charles Mantle, was born to Elvin “Mutt” and Lovell Mantle on October 20, 1931 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma. When he was four years old, his family moved to Commerce, Oklahoma, about five miles north of Miami, where his father worked in the lead and zinc mines. Mutt named his son in honor of Mickey Cochrane, a Hall of Fame Catcher. Later in his life, Mickey expressed relief that his father had not known Cochrane’s true first name, as he would have hated to be named Gordon!
Mutt was an avid baseball fan and instilled the love of the game in his son. They would spend hours practicing in front of the old tin barn that still stands to this day. Mantle batted left-handed against his father whenever they practiced together. However, the baseball legend would bat right-handed when practicing with his grandfather, Charles Mantle. And did all that practice pay off! He is still considered by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time.
Baseball was his first love, but he was an all-around athlete at Commerce High School, playing basketball as well as football (he was offered a football scholarship by the University of Oklahoma.) His football career nearly ended his athletic ambitions and almost his life. Kicked in the left shin during a practice game during his sophomore year, his ankle soon became infected with osteomyelitis, a crippling disease that was incurable just a few years earlier. A midnight drive to Tulsa, Oklahoma enabled him to be treated with newly available penicillin, saving his swollen leg from amputation.
Mickey was discovered by Yankee scout, Tom Greenwade, in 1948 while playing for the local Baxter Springs Whiz Kids. On his graduation day, Greenwade signed Mickey to a professional contract at $140 a month plus a $1150 signing bonus. By 1951, he was playing with the New York Yankees after a brief stint in the Minor Leagues.
- He won the 1956 Triple Crown with a .353 BA, 52 HRs, and 130 RBIs
- He won the American League MVP 1956, 1957, and 1962 and the Golden Glove in 1962.
- He had an 18 year major league career
- He was a 16 time All-Star
- He played in 12 World Series and won 7
- He still holds the record for the most World Series HRs with 18
- He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974
- He hit a career with 536 HRs
- He swung a Louisville Slugger
- He retired March 1, 1969
- He is still considered the best switch hitter of all time
- He died of a heart attack on August 13, 1995 at the age of 63 in Dallas, Texas
Mickey Mantle is still regarded today as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. In 1999, he was ranked 17th in the Top 100 baseball players of all time. Also in 1999, ESPN’s Sports Century had him listed 37th on their list of “50 Greatest Athletes.”