Time in a Bottle
Whether it was from the pressures of the fear of death, the expectations he had always lived with, or some other inexplicable reason, Mickey Mantle soon started what was to be a lifelong pattern of alcohol abuse when he first came to the Yankees. In his autobiography The Mick he writes: "If I tasted the high life in 1951, I got a bellyful starting in 1952 — especially on the road. Parties, flashy people, hard liquor, staying out really late. Billy and I were often the life of the party. We wouldn't go upstairs to our old room until we were just about ready to drop."
While it seemed a glamorous life to a naive young ballplayer, it gradually evolved to something that got ugly, and at times dangerous. One evening, during the off-season, as he left his house his wife asked him how long he would be. He told her "just a couple of hours." At his favorite "watering hole" he chatted with some buddies as he graduated from beers to boilermakers to bourbon. Near five in the morning he was on his way home when he saw his neighbor with some friends getting ready for an early morning fishing trip. They asked him to go with them, and falling into a drunken sleep in the car, he found himself at a remote spot in Arkansas without a phone nearby. Two days later he showed up at home with a nice catch of fish to find his wife, Merlyn, frantic with worry. She cried, "How can you do this to me?" but he shrugged and went to bed without explanation. Another time he came within inches of killing Merlyn when he crashed into a telephone pole, after refusing to let her drive for him in his drunken condition.
After retirement from baseball the drinking seemed to get worse. In an article he did for Sports Illustrated he wrote, "It was when I had no commitments, nothing to do or nowhere to be that I lapsed into those long drinking sessions. It was the loneliness and emptiness. I found 'friends' at bars, and I filled my emptiness with alcohol. "He told of going through...
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