Mickey Mantle pulled the curtain down on one of baseball’s greatest careers with a one-line statement, the simplicity of which typified the country boy who became one of the sport world’s most glamorous stars. When he simply and succinctly said, “I’m not going to play any more baseball” to a hurriedly called press conference, Mickey did more than announce his retirement. He drew to a close another chapter in the storied Yankee history. From Babe Ruth in 1921, the Yankees had a succession of superstars, success, and spectacular accomplishments unrivaled by any team in any sport.
Rumors had been flying even before last season, but no one could predict the unpredictable Mantle’s ultimate decision. He arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the night of February 28 and talked at length with Manager Ralph Houk by telephone. He had Saturday morning breakfast with team president Mike Burke, and then came the press conference, the announcement, and the end of the Age of the Slugger in Yankee Stadium.
“I was really going to try to play, but didn’t think I could,” Mantle said. “I have had three or four bad years in a row and, as a result, received the greatest disappointment of my career by falling under .300 as a lifetime average I was actually dreading playing another season. I can’t play any more and I know it. I can’t hit. I can’t go from first to third when I want to. I can’t steal second when I want to, and I can’t score from second on a hit any more. It really breaks me up to feel I can’t do these things and I figure it is best for the team that I stop now.”
Mantle finished his career third on the all-time home run list with 536 homers. He batted .299 for his career with 1525 RBI.