Mickey Mantle's family wants to preserve the legend of the Mick with a museum, and Mantle's widow, Merlyn, is sure of only one thing. She wants the museum in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma RedHawks say there's no better place than downtown Oklahoma City. They have a convincing argument. The Mickey Mantle statue is a common stop for visitors to Bricktown, baseball fans or not. The Mickey Mantle Steakhouse sits across bricked Mickey Mantle Drive from the ballpark. "I think it's the ideal place,” said RedHawks managing partner Scott Pruitt. "I wouldn't be surprised if the family felt the same way.” Mantle's son, Danny, and family advisor Randall Swearingen visited Oklahoma City a few weeks ago, meeting with Pruitt and John Allgood of the RedHawks, along with Bricktown Association director Jim Cowan. Swearingen, speaking for the Mantle family, termed the discussions very preliminary but said, "Oklahoma City has a lot going for it. The steakhouse, statue, the ballpark. It's just a beautiful area.” The Mantles also have discussed the idea with Tulsa officials but have not visited. Oklahoma City has a headstart on two fronts: the Mantle stamp already at Bricktown, and Tulsa, while planning a new downtown ballpark, has yet to settle on funding. Mantle's Oklahoma City ties are not strong, other than his 1946 visit to Children's Hospital, where doctors saved his leg after an abscessed bone. But the city has embraced Mantle over the years, starting with the statue, which at the dedication and 1998 ballpark opening drew a host of Mantle's Yankee teammates. A Mantle museum would be quite the catch for either OKC or Tulsa. Few American icons, sports or otherwise, resonate like Mickey Mantle. John Wayne. Babe Ruth. Elvis Presley. Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Stewart. The list is short. "Mickey deserves to have a museum,” said Swearingen, who met Mantle at a fantasy camp in 1994. Mantle died in 1995. Swearingen started a Mantle Web site — mickey-mantle.com — and old Yankees Tony Kubek and Moose Skowron became contributors. Swearingen got the rights to some vintage Mantle photos, started collecting and two years ago wrote a book, "A Great Teammate: The Legend of Mickey Mantle.” Through those processes, Swearingen became a friend and adviser to the Mantle family. "I have been talking to the Mantles for some time about a museum,” Swearingen said. "Efforts in smaller cities just didn't pan out.” Notably Commerce, Mantle's hometown in Ottawa County. Several years ago, Commerce officials had museum plans drawn up and began raising funds for a 30,000-square foot building that would cost at least $10 million. Swearingen admitted such a lofty undertaking probably was overkill even for OKC or Tulsa. "Those efforts have ceased,” Swearingen said. "Great people. Their hearts are in the right place. "It just became clear to the Mantle family that it wasn't the ideal location. A bigger city would give the museum a much greater chance of success.” That left only two options. Oklahoma City and Tulsa. "Merlyn feels very strongly she wants the museum in Oklahoma, because that's where Mickey grew up,” Swearingen said. A baseball museum built correctly is a wonderful addition to a downtown landscape. Look no farther than Kansas City's wonderful Negro Leagues Museum, built in the historic 18th and Vine district. It's a splendid museum that simply and beautifully tells the story of black baseball. The same could be done for Mickey Mantle. Among the ideas thrown around by Swearingen and the Mantles: •Oklahoma histories of the Dust Bowl and mining; Mantle's father, Mutt, was a miner in Commerce, and Mantle lived through the Great Depression; •Educational facilities concerning alcoholism, from which Mantle suffered, and Hodgkin's Disease, which killed both Mutt Mantle and Billy Mantle, Mickey's son. •Interactive exhibits, like a 90-foot hallway in which kids could measure their speed to first base against Mantle's reputed 3.1 seconds. •Galleries of photos and paintings of Mantle, who inspired many artists over the last half century. •And Mantle memorabilia, of which Swearingen believes he has the world's largest collection, and the Mantle family has its share, too, from championship rings to player-of-the-year awards to jerseys. "We have the memorabilia to supply the museum,” Swearingen said. What they need is the funding, and that's the dilemma for both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. But Pruitt said a variety of options abound, and asking the city for money is not necessarily required. The RedHawks would like to house the museum on the grounds of the ballpark, preferably near the regal Mantle statue, which sits in front of the ballpark's entrance. "Honestly, it's something that will attract people from outside the state fairly significantly,” Pruitt said. "I think the impact nationally would be substantial.” I agree. I say bring the Mantle museum to Oklahoma City.