cover image A Season in the Sun: The Rise of Mickey Mantle

A Season in the Sun: The Rise of Mickey Mantle

Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith. Basic, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-09442-4

Historians Roberts and Smith (Blood Brothers) detail the defining season of legendary New York Yankee Mickey Mantle: 1956, during which Mantle threatened to break Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs. The authors tell the story of Mantle: his youth in rural Oklahoma, his early years of frustration and injuries after joining the Yankees in 1951, and the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers during which he displayed his defensive as well as offensive skills. From here, the authors weave Mantle into a much larger cultural tapestry, explaining how Mantle’s “emergence as an icon was a product of a particular moment when the country confronted the Cold War and baseball confronted an array of problems.” They argue that Mantle’s athletic prowess was used by baseball professionals, writers, and fans to maintain the game’s image as a wholesome sport during a perceived rise in juvenile delinquency and massive social change, as America was suburbanized and men who had returned from war saw women in the workplace as a threat against “traditional masculinity.” Against this backdrop, the authors write, “Mantle’s ascendance occurred at a time when Americans revered traditional masculine vigor and rugged individualism.” This is a rich, detailed exploration of the Mantle legend. [em](Mar.) [/em]