Mickey Mantle's death was a tragedy. Not only did we lose a great sports hero, but his death was from a preventable cause, namely, years of heavy alcohol drinking. His alcohol abuse caused both his liver cancer and cirrhosis.
As the public attempts to make something positive out of his health tragedy, there is an attempt by some to focus only on the need for increased organ donors. Although I can think of few acts more noble and more humanitarian than for an individual to become an organ donor, his premature death should also focus on positive actions to prevent alcohol abuse.Mickey Mantle's final message and request of youth was, "Don't look at me as a role model." By focusing on actions to prevent alcohol abuse, we can honor his request.
Two effective methods to diminish alcohol abuse are to reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages and to decrease alcohol advertising. If we want to honor and remember Mickey Mantle in a positive way, we can dramatically lessen the abundance of alcohol billboards and signs in our ball parks, and decrease the availability of alcoholic beverages by limiting the ubiquitous sales of alcoholic drinks throughout the stands and hallways of our baseball arenas.
We will do much more good in the lives of both young and old to remember Mickey Mantle for his efforts to prevent alcohol abuse by taking positive actions, than to remember him only for his failed liver transplant, resulting from a lifelong history of alcohol abuse.
George J. Van Komen
Salt Lake City