This photo hangs in the hallway of my home. Guests that visit my house have to pass it on the way to the restroom so I get all sorts of questions about it. Most think my stories are pretty cool so I thought I would share one with you all.
The photo is of Mickey Mantle, his friend Marshall Smith and my grandfather, Clarence Burggraf. My grandfather owned and operated a tire chain in Quapaw,Oklahoma. Mickey grew up in a town not too far away called Commerce. Marshall introduced Mickey to my grandfather and told him about Mickey's tire being manufactured. My grandfather quickly signed up to be a retailer of the tire. Mickey is pointing at his tire in the photo. Over the years, my grandfather came to know Mickey and was around him a few times. One of the funniest stories my family tells on Mickey is when he first came to my grandfather's house to meet his kids.
Mickey was in town for a party. The party was not too far from my grandfather's house so he asked Mickey would he mind going over to meet his three kids. Mickey quickly agreed and soon they arrived at the house. My mother being the oldest remembers this the best. Mickey came in and she could tell even as a child, he had drank too much that day. She had worked hard that morning baking an oatmeal cake for the family's dessert that night. Mickey came in, said hello, rubbed the kids on the head and made his way into the kitchen. He spots my mom's cake on the stove and walks over to it. Before anyone could say a word, he stuck his hand into my mom's cake and shoved a handful in his mouth. He finished chewing it and looked down at my mom and said, "Did you make this?" Her eyes were as wide as saucers, she could not believe what she had just seen. "Yes," she says. He looks down at her and says, "That was the best goddamn meatloaf I have ever had!" There are other stories, but that one by far is the funniest.
I also got to meet Mickey a few times, got a few baseballs signed. I wish I could say it was a pleasant experience but more often than not he was rude. I guess maybe it was all the years of signing autographs and dealing with fans...it just got old.
I wish now that I had understood just how important he was to the game of baseball. I wish I would have talked to him more, asked him a few questions. How often is it that you get to hang around a legend?