The Last Boy
Jane Leavy, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy, returns with a biography of an American original—number 7, Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than five hundred interviews with friends and family, teammates, and opponents, she delivers the definitive account of Mantle’s life, mining the mythology of The Mick for the true story of a luminous and illustrious talent with an achingly damaged soul.
Meticulously reported and elegantly written, THE LAST BOY is a baseball tapestry that weaves together episodes from the author’s weekend with The Mick in Atlantic City, where she interviewed her hero in 1983, after he was banned from baseball, with reminiscences from friends and family of the boy from Commerce, Oklahoma, who would lead the Yankees to seven world championships, be voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player three times, win the Triple Crown in 1956, and duel teammate Roger Maris for Babe Ruth’s home run crown in the summer of 1961—the same boy who would never grow up.
As she did so memorably in her biography of Sandy Koufax, Jane Leavy transcends the hyperbole of hero worship to reveal the man behind the coast-to-coast smile, who grappled with a wrenching childhood, crippling injuries, and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. In THE LAST BOY she chronicles her search to find out more about the person he was and, given what she discovers, to explain his mystifying hold on a generation of baseball fans, who were seduced by that lopsided, gap-toothed grin. It is an uncommon biography, with literary overtones: not only a portrait of an icon, but an investigation of memory itself. How long was the Tape Measure Home Run? Did Mantle swing the same way right-handed and left-handed? What really happened to his knee in the 1951 World Series? What happened to the red-haired, freckle-faced boy known back home as Mickey Charles?
“I believe in memory, not memorabilia,” Leavy writes in her preface. But in THE LAST BOY, she discovers that what we remember of our heroes—and even what they remember of themselves—is only where the story begins.
“Every kid growing up in New York in the Fifties wanted to be Mickey Mantle, including me. You wanted to wear the uniform like him, run like him, talk like him, look like him, and, most of all, play baseball like him. Jane Leavy has captured the hold he had on all of us in this gripping biography.” — Joe Torre, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers
“This is one of the best sports biographies I have ever read. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, it reveals with stunning insight both the talents and the demons that drove Mickey Mantle, bringing him to life as never before.”
— Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
“Leavy treats us to a rarely known Mantle: more flawed, more human, and more likable. A terrific read.” —Tom Verducci, coauthor of The Yankee Years
“The only thing about this book that is better than Jane Leavy’s vivid prose is her astonishing reporting. To my knowledge, no one has ever investigated the life of an American athlete with Leavy’s rigor and thoroughness. The Last Boy is as exceptional as Mickey Mantle’s extraordinary—and troubling—life.”
— Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition and Nine Innings
“Jane Leavy captures the beautiful, imperfect Mickey Mantle with equal measures of depth and empathy. She finds the buried answers to the riddle of what drove and haunted The Mick.” — David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi
|Atlantic City, 1983||Commerce, OK||April 17, 1953|
|My weekend with The Mick changed my life and was the catalyst for this book.||A tour of Mantle’s home town||Mantle hit what has come to be known as baseball’s first Tape Measure home run|
|A Tour of the Yankee
|The Opening of
|The author returns to the Stadium
to visit the landmarks of childhood
|Mickey Mantle’s, the restaurant on
Central Park So., opened in Feb. 1988
|The Kinetic Mick|
|There may have been only one Mickey Mantle, but he was two very different hitters, right-handed and left-handed.|