Mickey Mantle Quotes

Unleashing the wisdom and humor of baseball legend Mickey Mantle
Written by Mark Bailey
Last updated on

The world of professional baseball has seen some remarkable individuals over the years, but few have had as much impact and influence on the game as Mickey Mantle. His presence in Major League Baseball for more than two decades was not just about his incredible talent, it was also about his legendary wit and wisdom – something best captured in his famous quotes. From advice on how to play the game to inspiring words that remain relevant today, here are some of Mickey Mantle’s most memorable quotes.

Funny Quotes

“Every time I see his name (Dean Chance) on a lineup card, I feel like throwing up.”

“I don’t care who you are, you hear those boos.”

“If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I’d wear a dress.”

“I hated to bat against (Don) Drysdale. After he hit you he’d come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, ‘Do you want me to sign it?’”

“Sometimes I sit in my den at home and read stories about myself. Kids used to save whole scrapbooks on me. They get tired of them and mail them to me. I’ll go in there and read them, and you know what? They might as well be about (Stan) Musial and (Joe) DiMaggio, it’s like reading about somebody else.”

“Sorry Mickey, but because of the way you lived on Earth, you can’t come in. But, before you leave, would you autograph these baseballs for HIM.”

“They (the Athletics) should have come out of the dugout on tippy-toes, holding hands and singing.”

“Watch the old man. Watch how the old man keeps the guys who aren’t playing happy.”

“To get a better piece of chicken, you’d have to be a rooster.”

“If I send the ball home, I know what will happen to it? My twin brothers will take it out on the lot, like any 20-cent rocket.”

“There are two kinds of people. There are leaders and there are followers—and I’m a follower.”

“A body came flying out and landed at my feet. At first, I thought it was Billy so I picked him up. But when I saw it wasn’t I dropped him back down.”

“I expected him to say, ‘Hang in there,’ or something like that. It took me an hour to talk him into giving me another chance!”

“You don’t have to talk to me about pensions. I won’t be around long enough to collect one.”

“I don’t know why, but for some reason, I seem to be more popular now than when I was playing.”

“If I were playing today I’d do what Joe DiMaggio said. I’d go knock on the door at Yankee Stadium and when George Steinbrenner answered I’d say, ‘Howdy, pardner.’”

“Butcher boy, damn it, butcher boy.”

“I’ve heard about you. I’ve heard about you, too.”

“He said to play louder. He can’t hear you.”

“We know you can bunt, Mick. You’re not down here to bunt. You’re here to get some hits and get your swing back.”

“There were things that would irritate Casey, but trying too hard or getting mad at sitting on the bench weren’t among them.”

“When I first came to Yankee Stadium I used to feel like the ghosts of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were walking around in there.”

“Hey man! Get away from me!”

“Before you go, would you sign that case of balls for me?”

“Billy (Martin) was a great one for jokes. He liked to play a joke more than anyone I ever knew.”

“What did you say, Joe?”

“Whenever someone says something Billy doesn’t agree with, he doesn’t listen very long.”

Best Quotes

“Heroes are people who are all good with no bad in them. That’s the way I always saw Joe DiMaggio. He was beyond question one of the greatest players of the century.”

“All I have is natural ability.”

“I always loved the game, but when my legs weren’t hurting it was a lot easier to love.”

“If I knew I’d live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

“When I hit a home run I usually didn’t care where it went. So long as it was a home run was all that mattered.”

“The hardest thing to do in sports, I think, is to hit a home run.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

“Hitting the ball was easy. Running around the bases was the tough part.”

“I’ll play baseball for the Army or fight for it, whatever they want me to do.”

Baseball Qoutes

“Well, baseball was my whole life. Nothing’s ever been as fun as baseball.”

“It was all I lived for, to play baseball.”

“Thank God for baseball.”

“I can’t play any more. I can’t hit the ball when I need to. I can’t steal second when I need to. I can’t go from first to third when I need to. I can’t score from second when I need to. I have to quit.”

“To play 18 years in Yankee Stadium is the best thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer.”

“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.”

“The best team I ever saw, and I really mean this, was the ’61 Yankees.I never got to see the ’27 Yankees. Everyone says that was the greatest team ever, but I think it would’ve been a great series if we’d have had the chance to play them.”

“During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.”

“You might as well go in and start getting dressed. I’m going to hit his first pitch for a home run.”

“After I hit a home run I had a habit of running the bases with my head down. I figured the pitcher already felt bad enough without me showing him up rounding the bases.”

“A lot of people wrote that Roger (Maris) and I didn’t like each other and that we didn’t get along. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“As far as I’m concerned, (Hank) Aaron is the best ball player of my era. He is to baseball of the last fifteen years what Joe DiMaggio was before him. He’s never received the credit he’s due.”

“Roger Maris was as good a man and as good a ballplayer as there ever was.”

“Somebody once asked me if I ever went up to the plate trying to hit a home run. I said, ‘Sure, every time.”

“The biggest game I ever played in was probably Don Larsen’s perfect game.”

“Today’s Little Leaguers, and there are millions of them each year, pick up how to hit and throw and field just by watching games on TV. By the time they’re out of high school, the good ones are almost ready to play professional ball.”

“Not after all the time my dad spent teaching me to switch-hit.”

“Casey wanted us to stay loose. That didn’t mean clowning around. He just meant we should be confident and relaxed. We shouldn’t feel that one strikeout was going to end the season for us.”

“To play 18 years in Yankee Stadium is the best thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer.”

“The best hitter I ever saw was Ted Williams.”

“My biggest regret was letting my lifetime average drop below .300. I always felt I was a .300 hitter, and if I could change one thing that would be it.”

“But goddamn, to think you’re a .300 hitter and end up at .237 in your last season, then find yourself looking at a lifetime .298 average—it made me want to cry.”

“If the World Series was on the line and I could pick one pitcher to pitch the game, I’d choose Whitey Ford every time.”

“A lot of people wrote that Roger Maris and I didn’t like each other and that we didn’t get along. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“My views are just about the same as Casey’s.”

“If you want to know who was better, me or Willie Mays, you have to look at our career stats. And Willie’s bottom line was better.”

“The greatest thing I ever saw was Roger Maris breaking Babe Ruth’s record.”

“I think the best all-round baseball player ever was Joe DiMaggio.”

“You hit .350 you’re a leader. You hit .250 and you’re not.”

“I never got to see the ’27 Yankees. Everyone says that was the greatest team ever. But I think it would’ve been a great series if we’d have had the chance to play them.”

“He foresaw the platooning that managers like Casey Stengel used years before it happened. He told me I had to be a switch-hitter if I was going to play.”

“Because the players knew that if Billy asked them to jump off a roof, he’d jump off with them.”

“After they remodeled Yankee Stadium I didn’t feel that the ghosts were there anymore. It just wasn’t the same.”

“He can run, steal bases, throw, hit for average, and hit with power like I’ve never seen. Just don’t put him at shortstop.”

“No man in the history of baseball had as much power as. No man.”

“If I hadn’t met those two guys (Billy Martin and Whitey Ford) at the start of my career, I would have lasted another five years.”

“In 1961 somebody could’ve hit a home run to win the game and the next day the headline was about the M&M boys not hitting a home run. But everyone was real good about it. Instead of getting mad they joked about it.”

“Ralph (Houk) brought out the best in everybody, and that included me. I consider myself lucky to have played for him.”

“Casey didn’t easily forgive a guy who got doubled up on a hit-and-run play. He didn’t see any reason why the runner couldn’t take a quick glance back toward the plate to make sure the ball was hit safely.”

“After a play in the field Casey would turn (to the players on the bench) and say ‘What did he do wrong?’ or ‘You’re better than that guy.’ Either way, he’d keep them from getting stale.”

“I don’t know why Roger (Maris) isn’t in the hall of fame. To me, he was as good as there ever was.”

“His fielding leaves you wondering. Then he steps up to hit and all doubts start to fade.”

“Billy (Martin) wasn’t afraid of anything.”

“I never saw him fight. I never saw Billy fight.”

Famous Quotes

“The only thing I can do is play baseball. I have to play ball. It’s the only thing I know.”

“All the ballparks and the big crowds have a certain mystique. You feel attached, permanently wedded to the sounds that ring out, to the fans chanting your name, even when there are only four or five thousand in the stands on a Wednesday afternoon.”

“You don’t realize how easy this game is until you get up in that broadcasting booth.”

“Sometimes I think if I had the same body and the same natural ability and someone else’s brain, who knows how good a player I might have been.”

“At my best I was as good as anyone.”

“Well, I beat my man. Now it’s up to you to beat yours.”

“I don’t care what the situation was, how high the stakes were—the bases could be loaded and the pennant riding on every pitch, it never bothered Whitey. He pitched his game. Cool. Craft. Nerves of steel.”

“In 1960 when Pittsburgh beat us in the World Series, we outscored them 55-27. It was the only time I think the better team lost. I was so disappointed I cried on the plane ride home.”

“My dad taught me to switch-hit. He and my grandfather, who was left-handed, pitched to me everyday after school in the back yard. I batted lefty against my dad and righty against my granddad.”

“I thought I raised a ballplayer. You’re nothing but a coward and a quitter.”

“I guess you could say I’m what this country is all about.”

“When I’m hitting, I’d play for nothing. When I’m not, any kind of money I receive makes me feel as if I’m stealing.”

“I leaned on him for support when I got out of the cab, and he just crumpled to the ground. That’s how we found out.”

“The biggest thrill I ever had was in 1969, when they held day at Yankee Stadium.”

“I wanted to throw my glass at the TV.”

“The strain on Roger (Maris) was unbelievable. After I dropped out the reporters only had one guy to go to. They surrounded him everywhere he went. He had big clumps of hair falling out. That he went ahead and did it was unbelievable.”

“It was the single greatest feat I ever saw.”

“As far as he knew, I was dying.”

“He who have the fastest cart never have to play a bad lie.”

Insightful Quotes

“I’ve often wondered how a man who knew he was going to die could stand here and say he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth, but now I guess I know how he felt.”

“A team is where a boy can prove his courage on his own. A gang is where a coward goes to hide.”

“Hey Mantle, you win. You’re the worst.”

“You never have to wait long, or look far, to be reminded of how thin the line is between being a hero or a goat.”

“Bravery is a complicated thing to describe. You can’t say it’s three feet long and two feet wide and that it weighs four hundred pounds or that it’s colored bright blue or that it sounds like a piano or that it smells like roses. It’s a quality, not a thing.”

“Don’t do as I did. I’m living proof of how not to live.”

“It gave me a second chance. I’d like everybody to have a second chance if they need it, so I’m trying to let people know how important it is to become an organ donor.”

“Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Listen to your moms and dads. In this great country of ours, you do whatever you set your mind to. Make us proud of you.”

“God gave me everything and I blew it. For the kids out there, don’t be like me!”

“Of course, I didn’t tell you about all the times I said I was going to hit one and it didn’t happen.”

“Those people don’t know how tough that really was.”

“I never understood how someone who was dying could say he was the luckiest man in the world, but now I understand.”

What stood out the most?

The words of Mickey Mantle will ring in baseball throughout the remainder of this generation and beyond. While he may be gone, his spirit lives on through his remarkable words. These quotes prove that he was more than an incredible athlete – he was a source of inspiration and motivation to all those around him. Whether they made us laugh, think, or just appreciate the beauty of the game, Mickey Mantle’s words will remain in our hearts and minds forever.

Have any stood out to you? Share this blog post with your friends and let us know the quotes that have been most memorable for you! We can’t wait to hear your thoughts and relive some of this legend’s legendary wit. Thank you for taking time to read about Mickey Mantle’s most memorable quotes!