Merlyn Mantle, widow of Yankee icon Mickey Mantle, succumbs to Alzheimer's disease at age 77 [NY Daily News]
Merlyn Mantle, the widow of Mickey Mantle who was by turns the adoring, troubled and stoic partner in a 43-year marriage to the Yankee icon, died Monday in a hospice in Plano, Tex. She was 77.
Merlyn and Mickey, high school sweethearts, were married on Dec. 23, 1951, following Mickey's rookie season with the Yankees and two years after what Merlyn later described in a memoir as love at first sight. When they met, Mickey was a student at Commerce High School in Oklahoma and Merlyn a cheerleader at Commerce's archrival, Picher High.
"I developed an instant crush on Mickey Mantle, and by our second or third date, I was in love with him and always would be," Merlyn wrote in a 1996 book, "A Hero All His Life," that she co-authored with sons David and Danny Mantle, along with the writer Mickey Herskowitz.
But the couple's 43-year marriage did not fit the fairy tale that their two-year courtship did. Mickey, Merlyn, Danny, David and son Mickey Jr. all waged their separate battles with alcoholism, with the four men being treated at various times at the Betty Ford Clinic and Merlyn finding help in Alcoholics Anonymous. After Mickey's retirement following the 1968 season, his habits for partying and womanizing became well-known until he came to public grips with them before his death from cancer on Aug. 13, 1995, in Dallas.