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Doctors there agreed that he had osteomyelitis, but they had a much less drastic treatment plan: eight shots a day of a new wonder drug called penicillin.
Within a week the swelling in Mickey’s ankle dissipated, and he was soon back in sports.
Doctors told the Mantles that they had to amputate the leg to save the child’s life.
Mickey’s parents sought a second opinion at the Crippled Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Mutt had been lucky enough to land a job working in the Eagle-Picher company’s lead and zinc mines. Those who worked for many years at the plant were at risk for lung disease, heart ailments, and cancer.
In fact, cancer had been the grim reaper of the Mantle family, claiming among others, Mickey’s uncle, his grandfather, and a couple of other relatives, all in their 40s or younger.
One day late in that 1948 season, a New York Yankees scout named Tom Greenwade came to Baxter Springs to evaluate one of Mantle’s teammates, a third baseman named Billy Johnson.
He observed the likes of Joe Di Maggio, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto as they were locked in a pennant race with the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox.
One weekend he met a high-school senior named Merlyn Johnson, and the two began dating regularly.
Mantle got his first taste of major-league life when the Yankees called him up on September 17, 1950.
”4 Mickey and his father were both stunned at first, but soon became excited about the prospect of Mickey becoming a Yankee.
Greenwade explained that because Mickey was only 16 years old, he would have to wait until he graduated from high school before the Yankees could sign him.
Despite this brutal and exhausting work life, the elder Mantle still found time to play baseball on the weekends and, when the time came, to teach his son the game.