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City is perfect place to build Mantle museum
Downtown ‘just a beautiful area'

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 27, 2008 at 6:40 am •  Published: May 27, 2008
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.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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