Mark S. Mitchell

Pastor, Writer, Follower of Jesus

Mickey Mantle and Hearing God


While on vacation a couple of weeks ago I read two very different books. Each book dealt with subject matter I’m interested in. One was about God and the other was about baseball. It wasn’t until I was finished with both that I realized the connection.

The baseball book I read was a biography of Mickey Mantle called, The Last Boy, by Jane Leavy. Although I was a National League fan growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I remember hearing a lot about Mickey and the Yankees. He always seemed to be the guy who had it all. Despite blowing out his knee his rookie season, he could hit with legendary power and run like a gazelle. But Mickey’s life was dark and tragic. He was both a helpless alcoholic and a chronic womanizer. For the most part, he left his four sons a legacy of abandonment and pain.

The other book I read was Dallas Willard’s, Hearing God. This is a book about developing a conversational relationship with God. Dallas deals with such questions as: Does God really talk to us? How do we discern his voice? How do we know we’re not just hearing our own voice? What part does the Bible play in all of that? This is a subject in which there has been much misunderstanding and debate. I must admit, I have been one of those guys who downplayed the idea that God speaks to us in very personal and specific ways. Willard’s book was a great corrective for me. I am now listening far more intently.

What does Mickey Mantle have to do with hearing God? Well, for one, at the end of his tragic life Mickey heard from God. While in the Betty Ford Center getting treatment for his alcoholism, Mickey got sober. Even better, Mickey heard from God and began a relationship with Jesus. His old friend and fellow Yankee, Bobby Richardson, wrote this, “Some years later in Dallas, Texas, he was in the hospital, already had a liver transplant. And my phone rang in the hotel, it was early in the morning. It was Mickey and he said, ‘I’m really hurtin.’ We had prayer together on the phone. Mickey and I talked together and as I was leaving to come back to South Carolina, I received a call that he’d taken a turn for the worst. Immediately we were on a plane flying out to Dallas. And one more time, I wanted to be bold because I wanted him to spend eternity with me in heaven – walked into Baylor Medical Center, he had a smile on his face. He said, ‘Come over here, I can’t wait to tell you this.’  He said, ‘I want you to know I’m a Christian, I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior.’” Bobby cried a little bit and helped Mickey to take his first steps as a baby Christian. A few months later Mickey died of liver cancer, but Bobby still looks forward to seeing his friend again. So do I.

Mickey’s biography also spoke to me on a personal level. His was a cautionary tale. I don’t want to wait until the end of my life to hear from God. I don’t want to leave my kids a legacy of pain. I don’t want to live in such a way now that I will die with more regrets than contentment.

Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 

So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, 

say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’”

1 Samuel 3:8-9

4 thoughts on “Mickey Mantle and Hearing God

  1. I looked up to Mickey Mantle when I was a kid growing up in New York City, and saw him and the Yankees play many times at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. He influenced me to be a switch hitter, though my left-handed batting stance lacked power.

    I witnessed Mantle smack a home run out of the stadium, the ball just nicking the overhang of the upper deck toward right field which would have put onto the subway train’s elevated station – that had to be well over 500 ft.

    The year his fellow teammate Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, Mantle hit 54 and I believe he would have broke Babe’s record if it weren’t for his knees giving out that year and having to sit out so many games. Dispite his bout with osteomyelitis, a bone disease, it didn’t deter Mickey from being one of baseball’s greatest players.

    Anyway, many years ago I was glad to read in a tract that Mickey, my boyhood idol, had came to Christ on his deathbed, and that Bobby Richardson, the 2nd baseman, was instrumental.

    “Hearing from God” is at times one of those nebulous areas in my walk with God, though I believe that “as the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God”, (Romans 8:16), this is also the way He may communicate with us. I would describe this as non-verbal glimpses, insights, impressions. However, the loudest and most distinct way He speaks to me is certainly through His Word.

    Dallas Willard’s books sounds interesting, will have to check it out, thanks Mark for sharing.

    • Sal, Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I envy you getting to see one of Mickey’s renowned bombs! I’m looking forward to seeing him in heaven!

  2. Thanks for the post, Mark. I’m more convinced than ever that I need to be consciously listening to God every waking (and sleeping) moment. I’ve been learning a lot about how to stay in that listening posture through some unlikely sources, and through some unpleasant experiences.
    Short version —
    Unlikely sources: “Mindfulness” training (through Intel, of all places) reminds me that God is always present with me; the problem is that I’m frequently so distracted, I’m not always present with myself; if I’m not even present with me, it’s impossible to be present with anyone else — specifically God.
    Unpleasant experiences: you know the pain we’re in. So easy to run away and hide; so hard to stay present with the pain and open to the reality. Especially hard to quit streaming my requests long enough to be receptive & open.
    I am hoping to read both books on my upcoming family vacation. Kindle makes it almost too easy to buy them… but still doesn’t read them for me… :-\

    Love to you & the family.

    PS: If God wanted football fields to be blue, He would have… oh never mind

  3. Hi Brian, So good to hear from you and thank you for your thoughtful words. I am good with the idea that we can honor truth wherever truth is found, even at Intel 🙂 Praying for you and Carla that His Presence would bring comfort, wisdom and perseverance.

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