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Williams was well-liked by his teammates
I have no idea whether Mantle was a jerk or not, but time and cognitive dissonance have a way of changing one's feeling about the past regardless of how they felt at the time. Besides, isn't what people mostly say about Mantle isn't so much that he was a jerk but that he was a famous guy with a massive drinking problem?
Brooks Robinson remembers one of Howard's hits off Bender well. "He almost got me killed one time. Frank Howard was the one guy I really, I wouldn't say feared, but had extra respect for as a third baseman. He was so strong and hit the ball so hard. Gene dropped down from the side, Frank hit one over my head, and I jumped. But it was a day game -- people were wearing white shirts and I couldn't pick up the ball very well. The ball hit the left field wall. I said to Gene, 'If I'd jumped at the wrong time, I might have gotten killed!"
A big advantage for Williams, at least for those games where b-r has the men on splits, is that the majority of his PA came with men on (not true for Bonds or Mac). Obviously we'd need to adjust for that. But his HR/AB was significantly higher with men on.
I have a Howard encounter of my own when I get a chance
He was forever being psychoanalyzed by the tabloids, was mercilessly booed at Yankee Stadium whenever he slumped for more than a week, and before 1961 he probably suffered the most hot-and-cold fan base of any player in memory. The more you read about Mantle, the more you get the feeling that beings at the ballpark among his teammates was the only place he could ever find any real sense of comfort and joy.
McCovey, on the other hand, was more famous for hitting laser beam line drives.
Thanks, Rob, for the corrections and suggestions. I appreciate your reading of TFA.
One of the many things I love about BBTF - people don't take it personally when you offer constructive criticism.
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