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Take Me Out to the Ballpark - July 31, 2015

Mickey Mantle (labeled) played shortstop on The Whiz Kids, the 1948 Cardinal Junior League championship team from Baxter Springs, Kan. The original photograph was autographed by Mantle in 1986. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society /

Q: Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Mickey Mantle was born in Oklahoma, but before he became a New York Yankee he played semi-professional and minor-league baseball in Kansas. Name one of the two teams he played for in Kansas.


In 1948, a scout for the New York Yankees discovered Mickey while he was playing for the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids.

A: The Baxter Springs Whiz Kids (or…) The Independence Yankees

Mickey Charles Mantle was born in 1931 in Spavinaw, Okla. Soon after, his family moved to Commerce, Okla. That’s where his father and grandfather taught him how to play baseball. By the age of 15, Mantle was playing for the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids, a semi-pro league. He was an excellent left and right-handed batter.  
In 1948, a scout for the New York Yankees discovered Mickey while he was playing for the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids. When Mantle graduated from high school, the scout signed him to a professional contract. By 1949, he was playing for the minor league team, the Independence (Kansas) Yankees, and a year later he was promoted to a higher-level minor league team, the Joplin Miners. Mickey was then called up to the majors and made his debut as a New York Yankee on April 17, 1951.  
Mantle was sent down to the minor leagues – to the Kansas City Blues - to improve his batting and learn how to play center field. But that was just a minor setback for Mantle. Before long, he would return to the majors and become one of the greatest baseball players of all time. 
During his 18-year career with the Yankees, he played in 12 World Series, leading the team to seven World Championships. Mantle still holds the record for most World Series home runs with 18. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and died in 1995. To many, Mantle remains the greatest switch hitter of all time. 

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