Mickey Mantle's Greatest Victory - Part II
Ten years ago today, my namesake, Mickey Mantle, died after a struggle with alcoholism and cancer. Earlier this week I wrote about the new HBO documentary Mantle and how it honestly shows the man's failings and eventual redemption, but doesn't mention his acceptance of Christ right before he died. Yesterday, Agape Press posted an article by James L. Lambert titled "Mickey Mantle's 11th-Hour Miracle," which contains some more details about Mantle's final days, his conversion and his friendship with New York Yankee teammate Bobby Richardson.
Lambert writes: . . .
Several years before Mantle admitted himself into the Betty Ford Center, Richardson remembered hearing Mickey mention in a television interview that he had "a void in his heart" after his friend and fellow Yankee slugger Roger Maris died unexpectedly in 1985. Clearly, this made Mantle aware of his own mortality. From Richardson's perspective, he also became more open to the message of Christ. Once Mantle finished his treatment at the Betty Ford Center, he was an outstanding spokesman to people everywhere who were suffering from alcoholism.
By 1995 Mantle's health had taken a turn for the worse when it was discovered that he had traces of cancer in his body. It didn't take long for Mantle to call his friend Bobby Richardson to ask for prayer. Richardson found out later that Mantle had heard a Christian testimonial tape from the great basketball player Pete Maravich. Richardson suspects that this powerful tape was instrumental in guiding Mickey to God.
Richardson vividly remembers visiting Mantle a few weeks before his death. One of the first things Mantle wanted to tell him, he recalls, was that he now trusted in Christ as his Lord and Savior. Mantle assured Richardson that he truly believed he was Christ's by quoting the famous Bible salvation verse, John 3:16.
Ten years have passed since Mantle died on August 13, 1995. Richardson says he is still amazed at all the opportunities he gets to share his own testimony with various baseball organizations across the country. But while the media appears reluctant to shine the light on Mantle's 11th-hour miracle, Richardson takes comfort in knowing that he will see his teammate again someday.