Larry Mantle handles the questions about his brother with grace.
Mantle is the younger brother of Hall of Fame baseball player Mickey Mantle, but he's also an accomplished high school football coach who now teaches General Education Development at the Lawton Correctional Facility.
Still, he is often asked about his famous brother, who died in 1995 from liver cancer.
Friday night, though, was Larry's night as he was honored by Cashion at halftime for guiding the Wildcats to the state championship in 1977 and setting the school's record for career wins.
He also spent time at Cordell, Northwest Classen, Cyril and even a period in Texas coaching six-man football.
Mantle talked with The Oklahoman about his brother, his coaching career and more.
Of course the first 18 years of my life at Commerce it wasn't that big of a deal. I really think it's a bigger deal with people now more than ever. I work out at the prison, so those guys out there are all in awe that I'm Mickey Mantle's brother.
I used to go to New York about every summer. Kind of a two-day deal: I liked to go to the games and all of that, but I think the main purpose was he had four boys and Merlyn needed help when he was on the road.
One thing that people also get awed at was we carpooled from New Jersey to Yankee Stadium. Our carpool was Bill Skowron, Hank Bauer and Yogi Berra. But my experience in New York was just mainly going to ballgames and whatever Merlyn wanted to do.
We were a pretty athletic family. I played (basketball) in three national tournaments in college and was one of the main players. When I went to junior college, I played for Cotton Fitzsimmons at Worley Junior College and finished third in the nation my first year and then my second year in the National Junior College Tournament we got beat in overtime in the finals.
I went into the Navy and when I came back I was just looking for a job. Of course I thought I was probably going to be a basketball coach, but come to find out I was a lot better football coach.
I was the head football coach and student teacher my first year. Cashion itself had just been playing for three years and they had won one game in their lifetime. Really, I played high school football but that didn't amount to nothing. So here's a guy who coached football but hadn't really played much, so what I did was what I think a lot of people do when they don't know what to do is they work the kids' hind ends off. I realized that I'm not teaching these guys anything; I'm just working them to death.
We never practiced in full pads ever from about my third year on. What we would do was practice in shoulder pads and shorts, and just teach technique. It worked out good for me.
I had coached nine years of eight-man football. I was just ready to see what 11-man is like. Come to find out, it's not a whole lot different. Some people may think so, but still yet with three less people you still needed to teach blocking, tackling and strategy. That's the main reason I went from Cashion to Cordell.
You just have to adjust to (six-man football). Again, you still do the same thing, though. The reason I think we were pretty successful was we blocked and tackled, ran and caught things better than anyone else.
There's good people down there and good people up here. They carry on that Texas is such a football state, but Oklahoma's pretty much a football state, too.
The first thing was when I got to Northwest Classen we had 22 kids report to practice out of about 1,900 students. I said, “There's something the matter with this.”
They were 0-38 when I got there and in our fifth game we beat Choctaw and you would have thought that we won the state championship at that point.
I got to checking around with the kids (about why they weren't playing) and the main reason talking to them in the hallway, “Hey, I'd love to play but I can't get home after school and certainly not after practices.” So I went to Mr. (Robert) Vrooman and said, “I think if you give me a bus, I can drive a bus route after practice and after games, and we'll get more people.” Then my third year out we had 105 people come out for football.
Where I'm working at right now, it's the same type of deal. Those young men made a mistake in their life. It's just like (Friday), from Wednesday to this Friday we had GED tests and they work hard, at least it seems like for me.
Let me tell you what, we have a thing for them to recap their experience and the one that stays with me is the one where the young man said he appreciates Coach Mantle, “Because for the first time in my life I accomplished what I set out to do.”
Early, I thought that was the best place for my kids to grow up (in a small town). I never regretted that at all.
I've been very lucky. Of course, my greatest accomplishment is keeping my wife and having this family.