Steven Lane makes Mickey Mantle come to life
Steven Lane calls it a museum in a book.
When he lived in Brooklyn, Steven Lane was called a traitor — he rooted for the dreaded Yankees.
“You might wonder how someone who was born and raised in Brooklyn had the audacity – and courage – to become a Yankee fan,” he pens in his new book, Mickey Mantle, A Life in Memorabilia – The Steven Lane Collection.
“It’s really pretty simple,” he continues, “In 1961 I was six-years-old. The former New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers had abandoned New York. The New York Mets were not yet in existence, although I doubt that I could have ever rooted for a team that lost 120 games in one season.”
The Mets went 40-120 in their 1962 inaugural season.
“I was always interested in baseball,” Lane told the Brooklyn Eagle from his law office in New Orleans. “My dad took me to see the Yankees play in 1961, and I was hooked.”
The kid who attended P.S. 199 and Cunningham Junior High School was more than hooked –he was devoured by the Yankees.
And Mickey Mantle.
“I’d go to the neighborhood deli, buy a pack of Topps baseball cards; keep the Yankee cards and trade away Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax.”
Pretty strange for someone living on 1319 East 10th Street – later moving to 1580 East 13th Street – around Kings Highway and Coney Island Avenue – Lane was supposed to be a Yankee hater.
He couldn’t – and he wouldn’t.
So much so, after practicing law for some 42 years he said: “I wanted to do what I want, and when I want to do it.”
He did – he started going through his 60-year collection of Mickey Mantle memorabilia – his one-of-a-kind gems from the Mantle family.
“I’ve traced his (Mantle’s) life through memorabilia,” Lane said, “and thought why not put the collection in a book.”
That collection includes Mantle’s 535th career home-run ball—the shot pitcher Denny McLain grooved to him and pushed Mantle’s career-mark past Jimmy Foxx.
How about a Mickey Mantle 1963 game-worn glove? “I got that from Mickey’s sons – David and Danny,” Lane said.
And a ball signed by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays and Mantle.
What about Mantle’s sophomore high school newspaper – from Commerce, Oklahoma – signed Mickey Chuck Mantle?
“It was the only time he signed Chuck,” Lane said. “He always signed Charles.”
Lane said it took him about 18 months to finalize the book; find a publisher and photographer.
“We found Eugenia Hull,” Laned said, “perhaps the best food photographer in Louisiana. She never did a sports book, but her dad loved Mantle. She was wonderful.”
Mickey Mantle – A Life in Memorabilia – The Steven Lane Collection —can be found only in two places, Lane said.
“At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown,” he said, “and on our website, The MickeyMantle.com.”
Profits from the book, Lane says, will go to a designated charity selected by the Mantle family.
“I did send some copies to former Yankee players,” he said, “and a copy to Yankee President Randy Levine. Randy and I played baseball together at Boardman Junior High School and later at Oceanside (NY) High School.”
Lane also donated some 45 books to the participating teams in the Mickey Mantle Baseball Classic, staged in Mantle’s hometown of Commerce, Oklahoma.
“The tournament is in April,” Lane said. “Three championship divisions with 15 kids on each team. Every kid got a book.”
Maybe Steven Lane is really just a fan – remember that’s short for fanatic – and when it comes to Mickey Mantle and the Yankees, well that’s exactly what he is.
But it’s the cover of the book that says it all: “I know my dad would have been very proud of this book and appreciative of Steve’s collection.” – Danny Mantle.
That’s a home run.
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR
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