When the fans saw Mickey Mantle—a power hitter with the speed of a sprinter—they were in awe. Yet did the average fan see the symptoms of the alcoholism? Most did not, but his family did.
Mickey’s children spoke of his increasing inattention to his family while they were young. He became more depressed, more irritable. When the Yankees lost a game or when Mickey struck out, the children knew to leave their dad alone. The entire family walked on eggshells, hoping to prevent the inevitable verbal abuse. Not only was Mickey in denial about his alcoholism, but his wife also minimized the problem.
Mantle made excuses for his absences, which often included time spent with other women. His increasing use of alcohol was a desperate attempt to boost his self-esteem. More and more, alcohol was necessary for him to function during the day, then more and more it became necessary in order for him to sleep at night. A therapist once commented, “Mickey is totally controlled by fear. He is filled with fear about everything.” Mickey himself stated, “I am embarrassed by what I did when I drank: the foul language, the rudeness, having to face people the next day whom I didn’t remember insulting the night before.” No wonder he had fear.
“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” (Romans 6:12)