a 1958 LP.
Of Mickey Mantle‘s favorite music.
So, what’s on it? Well, I’m sure as hell not paying $179.99 to find out the exact recordings (or even if there is a sale), but based on what the back of the sleeve says, I can figure it out and give you a reasonably good proximity of what sort of music (hint: a bit of jazz, country and pre-Rock’n’Roll pop) the Mick liked to listen to…
“Begin The Beguine“, Artie Shaw
In the notes, Mantle says that “Begin The Beguine” reminds him of home and school dances.
“Home On The Range“, Vaughn Monroe
(The YouTube video of Vaughn Monroe’s “Home On The Range” was taken down, but it’s “Home On The Range”. You know what it sounds like.)
In the notes, Mantle says that this song (as well as “The Last Round-Up“, which will be later) are both songs that were popular back home in Oklahoma when he was a kid. Mantle famously grew up in Commerce, Oklahoma, which contributed to him two nicknames: “The Commerce Comet” and “The Oklahoma Kid” (the latter of which was referenced in the song “Talkin’ Baseball“).
“Tennessee Waltz“, Eddy Arnold
Can’t find the Eddy Arnold version on YouTube, but, like “Begin The Beguine“, Mantle says it reminds him of school dances. In case you ever wondered what was being played at the Commerce High School prom way back when.
“That Old Black Magic“, Glenn Miller Orchestra
Mantle writes that this reminds him of the early parts of his career, when he was trying to get hits. His rookie season of 1951 was not a good one by his standards, as he hit .267/.349/.443 in 386 PA, his worst line in the “slash stats” of BA, OBP and SLG until the final years of his career.
“Remember Me?“, Hal Kemp Orchestra
I can’t find a YouTube link, but Mantle wrote that this song reminded him of his second (and eventually permanent) stint with the Yankees. In 1952, Mantle made the All-Star Game and was third in the MVP race, leading the league in OPS (which wasn’t really a stat back then, but it’s still impressive) and 2nd in WAR amongst position players (which definitely wasn’t a stat back then, but is still impressive).
“I’ll Never Smile Again“, Tommy Dorsey
The Mick doesn’t say anything about this song on the liner notes. That said, the most popular version of this song has Frank Sinatra providing some vocals, decades before he sang his cover of “The Theme from New York, New York”.
“Come Rain or Come Shine”, Tony Martin
“Love Letters”, Hugo Winterhalter
Neither of these can be found on YouTube, far as I can tell, but the liner notes say that Mickey picked these songs because they reminded him of his wife. Of course, decades later we now know that Mantle married his wife because his father told him to, as well as the fact that Mickey was a womanizer throughout his life. But, hey, like he was going to put that on the back of a LP in 1958.
“(In My) Solitude”, Duke Ellington
Mickey wrote that this song reminded him of the pitchers he couldn’t hit. What pitchers would that be? Well, let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who dominated Mantle during his career (including post-season and All-Star Game) especially up to 1958 (thus eliminating, for example, Eddie Watt, who holds the record for most plate appearances facing Mantle without giving up a hit).
Amongst pitchers who faced Mantle at least 20 times, Jack Urban of the Kansas City Athletics was the pitcher who Mantle had the lowest batting average of from 1951-1958, as he went .143 against the righty in 24 PAs and striking out nine times. Urban, by the way, was a career 4.83 pitcher who only played in parts of three seasons, his MLB career ending in 1959 with the Cardinals.
Against pitchers he faced at least 40 times, Mantle struggled most against Saul Rogovin. In the period before this album came out, Mantle had faced Rogovin (who played with the Tigers, White Sox, Orioles and Phillies) 48 times and was batting just .150 off of him.
Finally, there is Bob Lemon, Mantle’s fellow Hall of Famer. By the time this album came out, Mantle had faced him in 139 PA and was hitting .202/.317/.395. He’d hit six homers, but he’d also struck out 26 times. If I had to guess who Mantle was thinking of when he heard “Solitude”, I’d guess it was Bob Lemon.
“Stormy Weather”, Billy Butterfield
Mantle wrote that this song reminded him of batting slumps. Mantle’s longest “hitless streak”, by the way, was 7 games.
“The Last Round-Up”, Sons of the Pioneers
Like “Home On The Range”, this was a song popular in Oklahoma when Mantle was a kid.
“Lullaby of Birdland”, Ralph Flanagan
A Jazz Standard that I can’t find the Flanagan version of, Mickey wrote that this was a type of music (Jazz) that he never really was exposed to until he came to New York City.
And that’s that. So, all of this begs the question of what a modern day Mickey Mantle would have played as his walk-up music. Now, given the change in ballplayer music preferences, I can only presume it would be some sort of heavy metal or rap version of one of the above songs. So, after going to YouTube, I’ve come to the conclusion that the modern-day Mickey Mantle would have this as his walk-up song: