Hank Bauer and the New York Yankees Finally Saved Mickey Mantle

by on December 21st, 2013
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Mickey Mantle became a legend many years before he became a legend. It created many problems for him, some of which he was unprepared to face.

On the field, Mantle had to learn how to play the outfield while in the major leagues. A shortstop who was defensively challenged, Casey Stengel and the New York Yankees decided that Mantle would become a decent defensive outfielder.

Mantle was faced with interviews and photographers on a daily basis. He was invited to dinner almost every night, was asked to appear on radio or television shows constantly, had to respond to questions about his draft status and was bombarded with business offers.

It was only two years after he graduated from high school. He had signed with the Yankees for a little more than $1,000 and he was paid between $175 and $250 a month his first two seasons in the minor leagues.

During the middle of May, 1951 Mantle had hit four home runs, two from each side of the plate and he was leading the league with 26 RBIs, but Stengel was concerned.

“This publicity” said the Ol’ Perfessor, “isn’t good for him. He’s bothered by it. Any kid coming up would be. Here he is with all those interviews…rather than tending to baseball business.”

The Yankees attempted to protect their players, especially the younger, inexperienced ones. They told Mantle that they could get him endorsements without any charges. It had little effect.

Mantle went out on his own when he endorsed a bat, for which he received $50, a glove, for which he received two new gloves and bubble gum, for which he was given a wristwatch.

On Apr. 15, an individual named Allan Savitt called Mantle at the Concourse Plaza Hotel, where Mantle was living.

Savitt told Mantle that he could get him a contract with an organization that would secure him testimonials and endorsements. He promised Mickey that he could get him $50,000 a year in endorsements and personal appearances.

Mantle would receive one-half the profits. The organization would receive the other one-half. Mantle agreed and signed a two-year contract with the firm. Savitt was now Mantle’s agent.

When the Yankees discovered what was about to happened, they were upset, as were some of Mantle’s teammates. The main objection was that the organization was going to receive 50 percent of the profits, which was much too high.

Hank Bauer and former Yankees’ traveling secretary Frank Scott tried to get Mantle to void the deal with Savitt, but Mickey was naive and stubborn.

“I’ve got bad news for you,” he told Scott. “This fellow wants to be my agent and he’s giving me a contract that guarantees me $50,000 a year.”

Mantle signed with Savitt. When Scott asked him if he had consulted a lawyer, Mantle responded that “…this fellow had a lawyer for me.”

It was a great con job, but it was far from over.

A showgirl named Holly Brooke hooked up with Mantle. She introduced him to New York’s nightlife. What was worse, unknown to Mickey, she became friendly with Savitt, who was desperate for money.

He asked Holly for a $1,500 loan in exchange for 25 percent of his interest in Mantle.

Neither Mantle nor Holly ever saw any money from Savitt because there was no $50,000 annual guarantee in the contract.. Eventually, the Yankees, general manager George Weiss and owner Dan Topping’s lawyer got Mantle out of the deal.

Casey Stengel had been right. The only business with which Mantle should have been concerned was the business of playing baseball.

References:

Young mickey mantle finds baseball is more than ball-swatting. (1951, Jun 03). New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 176. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/112089349?accountid=46260

Castro, Tony. Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son. Virginia: Dulles. 2002.


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