Dad takes a break from his beloved garden and joins me on the porch for some lemonade.
“Dad, Mickey hit two bombs last night.”
Mickey is Mickey Mantle, the Yankee legend. Men and boys idolized him, and still do over 50 years later. The ultimate golden boy, in every way.
Dad looks straight ahead. Gently rocks the glider. Long pause.
“He can’t touch the Babe, Greg.”
Babe is Babe Ruth. Nearly one hundred years after he broke in, he is still considered the greatest of all time.
If Dad talked baseball, it was always about the Babe. Dad lived near Yankee Stadium, and in the 1920’s, he saw Babe play hundreds of times.
He thrilled at Babe’s majestic home runs, he was awestruck at Babe’s world series performances, he marvelled at his appetite for beer and hot dogs, and envied Babe’s incredible conquests of women.
I don’t think Dad ever got over Babe’s death.
One thing was certain. After Babe retired, Dad rarely travelled to Yankee Stadium.
And in the summer of 1960, Dad didn’t care about the Yankees at all, even though the Yanks had the mighty Mick.
Someone had to take Dad’s place as the “adorer”. And that person was me.
As Dad adored the Babe, I idolized Mickey. And I believe more males idolized Mantle then any other athlete in history.
In 1960, I could not get enough of the Yankees. And like my Dad, I eventually lost all interest.
In today’s world, the Yankees have no idols, especially with the retirement of Jeter.
And that is a sad thing.
Kids need a Babe or a Mick.