Sunday, February 22, 2009

Baseball Place No. 16: Mickey Mantle's Restaurant

We all have skeletons in our closets — deep, dark and twisted actions that we would love to disavow or forget.

But sometimes the stain of shame is too great. The memory will rise up out of nowhere and poke like dull wooden skewer.

It is said that confession is good. Now, gentle reader, I shall open the closet door and just pray that you do not think differently of me.

Here goes.

I once went to Mickey Mantle’s restaurant.

It gets worse.

I bought a T-shirt.

Darn you, Josh Pahigian, for naming Mickey Mantle’s as place No. 16 in the "101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out."

I was 25, young and foolish — but not as foolish as Michael Phelps and ARod.

I don’t recall the occasion, and I have only a slight memory of walking into the place, located between 5th and 6th Avenues on Central Park South.

And I have no idea what possessed me to purchase a T-shirt.

I’m not saying this isn’t horrible, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. The name "Yankees" did not appear anywhere. I can proudly say that a Yankee hat has never sat atop my head.

It was a dark blue shirt with Mantle’s signature in white, and the frieze from their stadium.

Maybe I was recalling that magical day in 1985 when Tom Seaver claimed that stadium for his 300th win. I just don’t know.

Josh talks about memorabilia lining the walls, but I recall none of it. The place had only been open a year, and I’m not sure any of that was up. I remember it being kind of dark. I bought the shirt and skedaddled.

Now don’t go calling me a Jeter-hugger. I renounced the shirt and all it represents. It’s long-gone.

And as a penance I wear a much better shirt to places near and far.

I speak, of course, of the classic "Faith and Fear and Flushing" T-shirt, stylish with its Mets’ retired numbers boldly placed across the chest.

And not too many blocks north of Mantle’s place, I spent a much nicer time in 2006 with Faith co-writer Greg Prince at a place on Amsterdam Ave. called The Dead Poet.

I was attending an education writer’s conference, and a rare Saturday day game foiled my plans to get to Shea. Greg went, and joined me later for dinner and fellowship.

A table on the street on a beautiful, busy September evening talking baseball with a friend absolutely trumps sneaking into an old Yankee’s greasy spoon!


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you Mets fans can't get married in California anymore. Real bummer

G-Fafif said...

Good alternate choice! Not to mess with a good story, but the Mets won that day. Lost the night before and the day after, but El Duque beat Maddux on Saturday.

Never stepped foot inside Mantle's, though I hear good things. Rusty's, now that was a Baseball Place to see.

Turo said...

Would like to use your photo of Mickey Mantle restaurant to accompany an article on The Daily Meal. Will fully credit, of course. Please email me at abovino[at]