Mickey Mantle’s Hunting Tale (Guest post by Robert Skead)
As told to fans in bars across America and on national television:
Billy Martin did such a good job managing the Texas Rangers one year that they gave him a brand new rifle. So of course Billy wanted to go hunting.
“I know a guy who owns a ranch,” Mickey said. “He’s a doctor and good friend of mine, and I’m pretty sure he’ll let us go deer hunting on his ranch. You’re going to have to get up early though, around four o’clock in the morning, because it’ll take a few hours to get there.”
“I don’t care. I really want to go deer hunting with my new rifle,” said Billy.
So Mickey and Billy drove all the way down to the ranch.
“Now you wait in the car,” said Mickey. “I’ll go up and knock on the door, and I’ll ask the doctor if it’s all right for us to go hunting.”
Billy stayed in the car while Mickey knocked on the door.
The doctor answered and said, “Hey Mick, what are you doing down here?”
“I’ve got Billy Martin, the manager of the Rangers out here with me. He’s waiting in the car and we’re wondering if we could go deer hunting on your ranch.”
“Sure anytime,” the doctor replied. “But you’ve got to leave the car there, and go through the barnyard to get to where you need to go hunting.”
Mickey smiled, turned and walked away.
“Hey! By the way… Can you do me a favor?” shouted the doctor. “When you go through the barnyard you’ll see an old mule… standing over by the barn… can you shoot that mule for me?”
Mickey paused and shook his head. “Oh man, we don’t want to shoot your mule. We came down here to hunt deer.”
“Well you’d be doing me a big favor,” said the doctor. “Because I just don’t have the heart to do it… I’ve had him a long time. He’s about twenty-years-old. He hasn’t done any work in about ten years. I’m going to have to have him put down anyway. If you shoot him for me, you’ll really be doing me a big favor.”
Mickey nodded. “Ok. I’ll shoot your mule.” As Mickey headed back to the car, he decided to play a joke on Billy. He ran to the car, yanked the door open. “Give me my rifle!” he said with a ticked-off tone.
“What’s the matter?” asked Billy.
“We drove four hours to get down here to go deer hunting and this guy says we can’t go hunting.” Mickey’s voice grew angry and serious. “I’m going to shoot his mule.” Mickey took out his rifle and loaded it.
Billy tugged on Mickey’s rifle. “Oh my God, you can’t do that. We’ll get in trouble. There’ll be jail.”
“Give me the rifle.” Mickey pulled his rifle away from Billy. He ran to the barn. Billy followed him.
Mickey shot the mule in the side of the neck and it dropped to the ground with a THUD.
Mickey spun and spotted Billy with his gun. “Billy, what are you doing?”
“I got three of his cows!”
The Truth behind the Tale
The joke was always on the audience… Both Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin loved to tell this story… sometimes it involved putting down a cow and Billy shooting three of the farmer’s horses or bulls. Sometimes Mickey did the last shooting. Whitey Ford was even present in a few of the tales. The reality is the story is based on an old joke told on stage and in other forms of media. Mickey and Billy fine tuned the story and made it their own—and it worked like a charm thanks to Martin’s well-known temper issues. The pair told the story so well in bars across the nation, and on television, that thousands of people believed it. It looks like they got the best laugh of all. In any case, no cows or mules were injured in the telling of this joke.
Robert Skead – If you think this story would make a fun adult picture book, so does Robert Skead, which is why he originally transcribed it. He is the author of several kids books. See www.robertskead.com, and check out his blog there too.