Legends are still being made in October, but none have yet matched the footprint left by the man who would have celebrated his 80th birthday on Thursday. Mickey Mantle was born on Oct. 20, 1931 in Spavinaw, Okla., a fair-haired Sooner who would fulfill his destiny in the Bronx as the New York Yankees' iconic center fielder. Being a Yankee meant regular appearances in the World Series and Mantle hit more Fall Classic home runs -- 18 -- than anyone else. Babe Ruth is No. 2, with 15.
In this era of expanded playoffs, we are regularly bombarded with growing numbers of postseason records, but no one has yet approached Mantle's homer production in his 12 World Series and 65 World Series games. Among contemporary players, no one has hit more World Series home runs than Reggie Jackson, whose 10 sufficed to earn him the nickname Mr. October. Pop culture's original one-name headliner as The Mick -- years before Elvis came along -- Mantle clocked his first Fall Classic homer on Oct. 6, 1952, off the Brooklyn Dodgers' Billy Loes and No. 18 on Oct. 15, 1964, off the Cardinals' Bob Gibson. That shot off the fellow Hall of Famer was also Mantle's latest on the calendar. In his days, World Series were over by mid-October, so he never got to celebrate a birthday in the World Series, as his Major League heirs now do. Mantle passed away on Aug. 13, 1995, at 63, in Dallas, Texas.