New York Yankee great Mickey Mantle was a man who lived for friendships. Some friends seemed to bring out the best in the Mick; some did otherwise. But there was one friend Mickey knew he could depend on for the things that mattered most: Bobby Richardson, former Yankee second baseman.
Mickey Mantle was aware of his mortality. At age 42, he became the Mantle male who had lived the longest. He saw his father die at age 40. Later, his son would die at age 36. So when teammate Roger Maris died in 1985, Mantle approached Richardson and asked him to preside at his own funeral. Not that Mickey was ill at the time. He was just 53, but he realized he had not taken very good care of himself.
Mickey knew that what he feared in dying, Richardson had peace about. Throughout their friendship since the mid-50s, Bobby had gently reminded Mantle about the importance of making peace with God.
In August 1995, just five days before Mantle was to die, he asked that Richardson visit him. When Richardson arrived, his friend knew he was dying.
Mickey looked up at his teammate with those hollow eyes and said, “Bobby, I’ve been wanting to tell you something. I want you to know that I’ve received Christ as my Savior.”
Richardson gently went through the plan of salvation with Mickey and reminded him that to be saved a person must confess his sins and put his faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Quietly Mickey said, “That’s what I did.”
It had been forty years since Mick and Bobby had become friends. But it was a friendship that in the end would pay off for eternity.