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Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball's Golden Age
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Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball's Golden Age

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  171 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Acclaimed sportswriter Allen Barra exposes the uncanny parallels--and lifelong friendship--between two of the greatest baseball players ever to take the field.

Culturally, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were light-years apart. Yet they were nearly the same age and almost the same size, and they came to New York at the same time. They possessed virtually the same talents and
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Crown Archetype (first published June 5th 2012)
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Kevin McAllister
Mar 21, 2013 Kevin McAllister rated it really liked it
There have been many bios written about Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle but Allen Barra, the author of this one had a great idea ; since the two were so often compared why not write a bio about the both of them, comparing their upbringings, their playing careers, and their retirement years ? These were two of baseballs most iconic payers, heroes to millions of boys growing up during the 50ies and 60ies and it becomes very clear early in this book that Barra was one of those boys. So it came as no ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Don rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: baseball fans
Really enjoyed reading this book. Barra does a good job of writing in an integrated fashion, jumping back and forth between the lives of Mantle and Mays highlights his subtitle of parallel their lives were. The book isn't in depth as it could be, but what was fascinating to me what seeing Barra alternate his perspective, from the moments when he was writing purely as a biographer, to the times as a journalist and asking tough questions and making honest conclusions, to the times when he was just ...more
Nov 11, 2013 Spence rated it liked it
Since my dad was a big Mickey Mantle fan as a kid he was someone I always liked as well. This was a great book that told me a lot about both of these guys I never knew about. It was say Mays wasn't awarded more MVPs. Great book overall.
Jun 03, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
Geez. Not enough primary sources; Barra basically read every other biography of Mantle and Mays and strung them together. Which saves me from having to read them, for which I should be thankful, but I wish he had added more of his own memories.
Nov 03, 2014 Rob1109 rated it did not like it
Before I review "Mickey and Willie" I feel it's necessary to give some feedback so you know where I'm coming from. Firstly, I've always believed--in my opinion--Willie Mays is the greatest all-around player in history. (My opinion--not looking to start a debate.) Secondly: I am a Mets fan and therefore it's my duty to hate the Yankees! LOL That being said, however, there are certain Yankees that ya just gotta love: Jeter, Mariano, Reggie, Yogi. And Yes, of course, THE MICK!

I looked fwd to readin
Donna Davis
Three stars for general interest; four stars for a niche audience. If you enjoy baseball and also like biographies, this may be a winner for you.

As for me, I found myself wishing I had read separate biographies of each of these players before tackling one that compares the two. The first third of the book was very slow going for me, because the narrative flips from one to the other frequently, and during their growing up years I found myself becoming confused…now wait a second, which one has the
Nov 16, 2015 Gerry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
This book opens with the first sentence in the introduction: “I didn’t cry when my father died, but I held back tears on August 13, 1995, when I heard that Mickey Mantle was gone.” This was not an inspiring sentence for me and was rather a crude awakening – sports stars are people that most people do not know personally (like Rock Stars, Movie Stars, Famous Poets, Authors etc.) I felt this opening was rather cold and barren. From the git-go after reading this opening sentence I believed this ...more
Jim Gallen
Jul 16, 2014 Jim Gallen rated it really liked it
“Mickey and Willie” is a dual biography of two contemporaries who defined baseball excellence during their careers. Their lives had remarkable similarities, friendships, rivalries and personal failures. One thing they had in common was a father who pushed them into baseball. Mickey was the son of a miner from Commerce, Oklahoma and actually rode a horse to school. Willie was the son of a steel worker in a black section of Birmingham, Alabama. Willie played for the Birmingham Black Barons in the ...more
Sep 19, 2015 Harley rated it it was amazing
This book is the author's love letter to two of his favorite baseball players: Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Allen Barra grew up in New York while Mickey and Willie were playing there. As a sports writer he had the opportunity to interview both players over the years. The careers of both Willie and Mickey began almost at the same time. Barra traces their lives and their careers. He examines the legends and stories that grew up around each man and either confirms the truth of the legend or ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing
This is not simply a biography of two players who have each had numerous biographies already written about them. Rather, it shows how their careers and lives were so similar and so connected early on, and how they were not only the greatest players of their generation (which is supported by statistics quoted throughout the book), but possibly the two best to ever play baseball.
There is new information in this book, including personal stories from the author, but it also draws from (and compares
Nov 04, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
I'm not a real baseball fan, I'm a fair weather fan. It's my third American sport after football and basketball. My family and friends are major SF Giants fans, and my husband is a Dodger fan.

This was a great book and I had so many baseball conversations that started with "did you know..." I was enthralled and couldn't put it down. There are too many stats for me, but all the player references kept prompting me to ask my husband "is so-and-so still alive?" I can't believe such stories are still
Aug 17, 2013 zumiee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What more can be said about Mantle and Mays? Well, it turns out: a lot. The author does an effective and interesting job of comparing Mickey and Willie in an entertaining and thought-provoking narrative. The writing is insightful throughout, and often poignant. The author has obviously spent years thinking about what baseball during the era of Mantle and Mays meant to our nation, and to the author personally. Mickey and Willie are presented in all their colorful mix of complexity and simplicity, ...more
Luis Perez
Aug 28, 2013 Luis Perez rated it really liked it
It's obvious this was a labor of love for the author. His childhood love of Mantle and Mays (as it surely was for millions of youngsters in the '50s and '60s) practically mandated that he (or someone like him) would eventually write this book. Barra does an extensive amount of research to piece his material together and carefully build his case.

This is a great look at the lives and careers of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, but all that ground has been covered before. The real hook to this book
Sep 10, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot, but then I'm a huge baseball fan. This is the story of 2 of the greatest ever - Willie Mays & Mickey Mantle. As players they were remarkably similar - same age, almost the same size, and the same set of "do it all" talent. They both came from ball playing families. They were both trained by their fathers almost from birth. They both hit fame at the same time. But their personal lives were troubled & as time went on, they both struggled with the roles they were ...more
John Kues
Dec 09, 2013 John Kues rated it really liked it
A very detailed comparisons of theirs upbringing and baseball careers. Compares their careers both historically and by modern stats. Really unfair treatment of Mickey by the fans for not serving in the Army, even though he would be classified as 4F because of his bone disease would not have been accepted even if he volunteered. For this he received death threats and boos for years. While Mays gets the title of Greatest Centerfielder, Mantle may have been even better if he hadn't suffered so many ...more
Jun 10, 2015 Joni rated it really liked it
Excellent telling of two of the greatest baseball players of all time and how their lives intertwined during the golden age of baseball. Alan Barra turns his hero worship into a detailed look at the life and careers of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays leaving no stone unturned. Barra has a great talent for setting the scene whether it be the 1950s, 60s, or beyond. The BOCD was read beautifully by Andrew Garman.
Mike Gabor
May 20, 2013 Mike Gabor rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
Not a bad book but if you've read previous bios of Mantle and Mays you aren't going to find anything new in here.The book was well researched and the author does us a good look at the public and private lives of Mantle and Mays I would however recommend this book to people who haven't read much about these two players.
Mar 02, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
Book got better as I worked my way through it. Earlier sections seemed to jump between Mickey and Willie from paragraph to paragraph. And! many of the similarities were ones that many a pair of boys and young men might share. Once the book got to their professional careers it became far more interesting.
Aug 05, 2013 Chad rated it really liked it
This book was long, and about a lot of things with Mantle and Mays that I didn't know. Have to really be someone in my age bracket that is interested in baseball from the golden age of the game. If you aren't interested in reading about the game and lifestyles of two Hall of Famers, then either you don't like baseball at all, or this book wouldn't interest you.
Charles M.
May 27, 2013 Charles M. rated it it was amazing
Fascinating parallel comparison of two of baseball biggest stars during 50s and 60s---Mickey mantle and Willie Mays. very enduiring account of their careers and what baseball was like back then: pre-union/free agency and certainly pre-steroids. Reader can come away with opinion of who was better!!!
Sep 12, 2015 Rick rated it it was amazing
Have read many books about both Mantle and Mays and have to say that I totally enjoyed this well written and interesting approach the author used to describe these two immortals. Highly recommended read for all dire baseball history fans.
Mr. Steve
May 13, 2014 Mr. Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nf
As somebody born well after Mantle and Mays retired, I didn't know much about them, besides their names and stats. Lots of interesting anecdotes in here, most of which were new to me. Definitely an enjoyable read.
Paul Miller
Jan 25, 2016 Paul Miller rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
Biographies of the two best center fielders of their era - written in parallel. Clever way to approach the subject of two incredibly talented (but hugely personally flawed) superstars. A fun read for baseball history folks (like me!), but not quite a must read.
Ike Stephenson
May 20, 2013 Ike Stephenson rated it it was amazing
An enthusiastic combination of baseball history, statistical analysis, biography and pop culture. As a ted Williams fan perhaps I never understood the greatness of these players and off field prominence. Now I do and it was an enjoyable learning process.
Aug 10, 2013 Phil rated it really liked it
I've probably read all there is on Mantle, and nearly as much on Mays. But Barra's parallel of both, and the struggle he addresses of being a fan of these two magnificent if flawed players was a pleasure to read.
Dec 19, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing
In this rare dual-biography Barra follows the lives and careers of two of baseball greatest players. The similarities (and dissimilarities) are very interesting and enlightening. In many ways both are tragic stories. I enjoyed the insight into this era of baseball and American history.
Apr 23, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing
One of best baseball books I have read in some time. Author mixed personal anecdotes just enough to make it have real narrative feel, without getting away from the baseball.
Nov 09, 2013 Cindy rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, baseball, biograhpy
This was almost scarey as the author listed the parales between these great players. They were both flawed men who became hero's to thousands of young boys.
Jacob Kosmicki
Aug 29, 2016 Jacob Kosmicki rated it it was ok
For whatever reason felt like the book was dragging along, perhaps just the fact that I wasn't all that fascinated with mays and mantle to begin with. Quit this one before I finished it
Mar 23, 2015 Steven rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, 2015
The book was a good history book on the lives of Mantle and Mays. The last paragraph of the book made it worth the read.
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