The Champions exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery brings us face to face with American athletes whose impact has extended beyond sports and made them a part of the larger story of the nation. Among the champions celebrated is Mickey Mantle.
Broad, blond, and blue-eyed, Mantle became the first sports superstar of the television age. His limitless potential, speed, and power were a metaphor for America’s resources and postwar optimism. As he put it, “I guess you could say I’m what this country is all about.” Mantle was a perennial All-Star and a three-time MVP who played in the World Series in 12 of his first 14 seasons.
The Smithsonian hosts a look at author Jane Leavy’s new biography of Number 7. Leavy is joined by Mantle’s former teammate Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four, a groundbreaking book about Major League baseball players, including Mantle, plus Marty Appel, longtime Yankees public relations director. Phil Hochberg, former Washington Senators and Redskins stadium announcer, moderates.
Leavy’s book The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood (HarperCollins) is available for signing.