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Friday, March 2, 2018

Mickey Mantle's Forgotten Twin Brothers

In baseball, it’s rare for a player to be deified to the level of former New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle, who could seemingly do it all on the field. However, few baseball fans are aware that he had two younger twin brothers, Roy and Ray, who also played professional ball, but never reached the same heights as the Mick.

Mantle was the idol of a generation of children that grew up watching the Yankees in the 1950s and 1960s. The five-tool talent hit a combined .298 with 536 home runs, while winning three MVP awards and helping his teams to eight World Series titles (in 12 appearances). If not for nagging injuries and a fondness for the nightlife, his numbers might have been even more impressive, as hard as that is to believe.

Thus, it is with little doubt, teams must have been extremely excited about Mantle’s twin brothers, who were five years his junior and were also prodigious on the baseball diamond as outfielders. Naturally, there was only one team they were probably ever going to go to, and that was the New York Yankees.

Both Roy (batted left) and Ray (batted right), who were born February 22, 1936, signed with the Bronx Bombers in 1954 after start turns playing ball for their high school in Commerce, Oklahoma. They were both also football stars, a sport that Mickey preferred they pursue collegiately, but it was not to be. Ray had attended Northeast Oklahoma A&M College but decided to give professional baseball a try. He hit .231 with five home runs in 97 games spanning parts of two seasons (1954-55) in the low minors before enlisting in the Army and giving up his baseball career. He moved to Las Vegas around 1970 and began a career in the casino industry while raising a son with his wife, Nancy.

Roy showed a bit more promise during his stint in pro ball. He played three seasons (1954-56) and hit a combined .273 with eight home runs. He made the 1955 All Star team as a member of the Monroe Sports, although his teammate Ray did not. In a classic case of what might have been he had to retire prematurely due to a leg injury. He also ultimately spent the bulk of his adult life in Las Vegas, working in the same industry as his twin.

Roy passed away from Hodgkins disease in 2001, while Ray died in 2013 from cancer at the age of 77. They did not achieve the same legendary status of their older brother, but did make a go at it in pro ball before deciding their futures lay elsewhere. It’s always a tall task to live up to an older sibling. While Ray and Roy started to follow in Mickey’s footsteps, it was an undertaking that would never have been possible, and the twins ended up making their mark on their world in other ways. 

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