Mantle ran so hard, they said,
he tore his legs to pieces.
What is this but spirit?
52 homers in '56, the triple crown.
I was a high school junior, batting
fourth behind him in a dream.
I prayed for him to quit, before
his lifetime dropped below .300.
But he didn't, and it did.
He makes Brylcreem commercials now,
models with opened mouths draped around him
as they never were in Commerce, Oklahoma,
where the sandy-haired, wide-shouldered boy
stood up against his barn,
lefty for an hour (Ruth, Gehrig),
then righty (DiMaggio),
as his father winged them in,
and the future blew toward him,
now a fastball, now a slow
like a model's smile.