Mickey Mantle had a terrible season in 1959. He batted .285, with 31 home runs, 75 RBI, and a.517 slugging average.
Most players would not consider that too bad, but Mantle was not most players.
Yankees general manager George Weiss wanted to slash Mantle's $75,000 salary by $15,000.
From his home in Dallas, Mantle agreed that his 1959 season "wasn't so good," but he felt the New York Yankees "cut my salary too much."
A $2,000 Cut Was Acceptable
One of Mantle's friends revealed that he would accept a salary cut of $2,000, but that was it.
The friend went on to say that Mantle made $72,000, not the reported $75,000.
The Yankees original offer of $55,000 made Mantle livid.
Mantle for Herb Score and Rocky Colavito?
A lot of bitterness existed between Mantle and Weiss. Mantle waited a few days, but nothing happened. In a television interview, Mantle said, "I've been waiting on them to call me. I thought they might have traded me last year for Herb Score and Rocky Colavito and a little bit of money to the Indians. At the time it made me feel a little bit bad. But I don't even know if I'd mind getting traded now or not."
George Weiss Wanted Mantle to "Act Like a Man."
Weiss went after Mantle the way Billy Martin would go after Reggie Jackson in 1977. "Lonesome" George ripped Mickey.
"We have been pampering this boy for nine years and I think it's about time he acted like a man. This is the year Mantle must learn the facts of life. He must learn he can't bulldoze us into meeting his terms. He must come in and talk over everything reasonably."
Mickey Exploded at Weiss' Remarks
When told what Weiss said, Mantle exploded.
"I don't know what he meant by bulldozing," said Mantle. "I am not contacting them. Why should I go down there? They know they can sign me by simply calling me."
The Yankees wanted Mantle to meet Weiss in person. Mantle insisted that a deal could be worked out over the phone since he was a holdout and would not go to camp.
How the Yankees Could Have Shown Respect
Weiss' statements were repugnant. Imagine if it were Willie Mays to whom Weiss referred to as "this boy."
Weiss' primary concern was holding down financial expenses at the expense of winning, and Mantle's primary concern was being respected by the Yankees, who could show their respect by treating him as a man and a great young player with pride.
Phil Rizzuto Didn't Support Mantle
Yankees' broadcaster Phil Rizzuto backed Weiss when the second most beloved shortstop in New York Yankees history said that Mantle was being silly.
Rizzuto claimed, "...because without baseball Mantle would be a has-been instead of a right-now."
Rizzuto went on to say that Mantle had not had a good year.
"It seems the fellow can bury his pride and at least meet his boss halfway. By that I mean get on his horse and show up at St. Pete."
Whitey Ford, never a company man, laced into Rizzuto when he reminded reporters that in his last two seasons, the Scooter had "spent most of his time sitting in the bullpen. He was well paid for that."
Play for the Yankees or Don't Play
Before free agency, the owners were in charge. Mantle had two choices. He could sign with the Yankees or not play baseball.
"The most important thing is getting this thing settled. If we can't, well," said Mantle.
Mantle didn't finish the sentence because in 1960, it wasn't necessary.
The Holdout Ends With a Whimper
On March 10, Mantle appeared, unannounced, at the Soreno Hotel in St. Petersburg at 10:30 in the evening. He met with Mr. Weiss the next morning and the Yankees announced they had signed Mantle for the 1960 season.
They would pay Mickey $7,000 less than his 1959 salary.
Free agency certainly has changed the playing field.
"Mantle Rejects Pact, Calls Pay Cut Too Big." New York Times. 21 January 1960, p.38.
"Mantle Waits for a Call." New York Times. 3 March 1960, p.35.
"Mantle Is Adamant." New York Times. 6 March 1960, p.S2.
Briordy, William J. "Pay Cut Too Much, Outfielder Says; Mantle Has "No Idea' How Long He'll Stay Away During Impasse." New York Times. 8 March 1960, p.39.
Drebinger, John. "Holdout Changes Stand in Dispute; Mantle Reports to Yankees." New York Times. 11 March 1960, p. 29.