Richard Sandomir of the New York Times wrote about Jane Leavy’s new Mickey Mantle biography and included this interesting tidbit regarding the Hall of Famer’s infamous 1951 knee injury:
Her research into Mantle’s injury history rejects his claim that his right knee was operated on after he fell over a drain cover at Yankee Stadium while stopping to let Joe DiMaggio catch a fly ball in the 1951 World Series.
When Mantle had surgery two years later, there was no established procedure to fix a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which she believes Mantle played on for the rest of his career. The orthopedic surgeon who analyzed the case history that Leavy compiled said it was likely that Mantle compensated for the torn ACL with what the orthopedist called “neuromuscular genius.”
There are no further details about the knee injury in Sandomir’s article–the goal is to get you to buy the book, after all, and the basic information about the injury is well known–but Mantle was a 19-year-old rookie in the aforementioned World Series and the notion that he went on to play 17 seasons with a torn ACL is pretty extraordinary. Mantle won three MVPs, hit 523 homers, stole 145 bases, and played 12,000 innings in center field after Leavy claims he tore his ACL.