Thursday, September 13, 2012


Mickey Mantle, 1961

“The [Mickey] Mantles, [Yogi] Berras and [Gil] McDougalds occasionally shared a babysitter named Martha Helen Kostyra, a young grammar school student who was embarking on a career of domesticity by organizing birthday parties for neighborhood kids.   

'They behaved for Martha,'  declared the empress of style herself, Martha Stewart.  

(Yogi and Carmen didn’t remember her.)"

Jane Leavy, The Last Boy:  Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood, New York, Harper, 2010.

Martha Stewart, née Kostyra, 1959


Funny to think about this.  Many young people I know (and some adults also, including many television writers) would describe the event recounted here as "ironic,"  when of course it is merely coincidental.  It is always fascinating to consider obscure, unremarked-on, untelevised, un-"socialized" (horrible neologism), mundane terrestrial encounters between and among actual
Giants. (I am certain that Martha Stewart already considered herself to be an imminent Giant, and that really is the case, her various faults notwithstanding.)  As for Mantle, Berra and McDougald, 'nuff said.

In the late 1980s I had the oddest experience when I found myself as a co-defendant with Mickey Mantle in a personal injury lawsuit.  (To be precise, I was the lawyer for a company in that position.)  The plaintiff in the case claimed he sustained some badly broken bones and grievous internal injuries when he executed -- at our express direction --  a living room base-stealing drill contained in a video program featuring Mickey and a couple of younger star players, and collided with a glass and metal coffee table at home. Mickey's lawyer managed to get the plaintiff to dismiss him from the case fairly early on, following MM's appearance at pre-trial depositions, basically on the grounds that it would be wrong to inconvenience No. 7 in this way. The deposition transcripts, as I recall,  comprised remarkable sacred texts of Mantle-worship, replete with stage direction genuflections to MM and catechismic recitations to the very great man. 

Don't get me wrong.

I understand completely.  

I'm a New Yorker who grew up worshipping Mickey and the Yankees.  In some ways, I still do, though they make it harder every year.

Jane Leavy's The Last Boy is terrific.

Yogi Berra, 1961 (photographed by Tony Kubek)

Gil McDougald, 1959

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