I have been very lazy about doing updates, I will be catching up over the next few days. We celebrated my birthday at a wonderful hotel in Miami, Oklahoma. We had to go several days late because of icy roads. We enjoyed a couple of days with room service and awesome meals in the Coleman Restaurant. The restaurant is a replica of the Coleman Theatre in Miami, they showed Charlie Chaplin silent movies while we dined.
While staying in Miami we also visited the town of Commerce, Oklahoma. It is only a few miles away and is rich in Route 66 history as well as being Mickey Mantle’s hometown. We visited a cool statue of Mick in town. We thought they had a museum, but we found out from the locals the funding never came through to build it.
Four decades after his retirement and nearly 15 years after his death, baseball legend Mickey Mantle finally received a larger-than-life tribute in his Route 66 hometown of Commerce, Oklahoma. Although Mantle was born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, his family moved to Commerce when he was 4 and remained there well after the New York Yankees slugger became known as “The Commerce Comet.” Charlie Duboise, who operates the Dairy King restaurant on Route 66 with his mother, said Mantle even owned a house in Commerce for a few years after he became a baseball star, until he eventually moved to Dallas. We enjoyed a long conversation with Charlie and his mom, they gave us so much needed information about the town.
Commerce officials dedicated a huge statue of Mantle swinging a bat, next to Mickey Mantle Field at Commerce High School. According to an article in the Joplin Globe, the statue is 9 feet tall and weighs 900 pounds. It sits on a 5-foot-tall pedestal. Artist Nick Calcagno designed the statue.
Local officials also plan to build a parking lot and sidewalk near the statue. The project cost $75,000, and was paid with Oklahoma Centennial funds. The statue stands just west of a big curve of U.S. 69, aka Route 66, just outside the baseball diamond’s centerfield wall. Commerce has also named a main street, a local baseball tournament, and the diamond after Mantle.
Mantle was baseball’s best player of the 1950s (only Willie Mays was close) and was one of the best of the 1960s. He was voted Most Valuable Player three times; won the Triple Crown in 1956 by leading the American League in home runs, RBI and batting average; earned a Gold Glove as a center fielder; led the league in home runs four times; hit more than 500 career home runs; and earned seven World Series rings. He also was baseball’s best switch-hitter ever, bar none. Mantle, whose remarkable career was slowed somewhat by injuries, retired after the 1968 season. He died of cancer in 1995.
I am adding a lot of pictures from the area and hope you enjoy. Check back later for more.