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Yankees' Spring Training -- Without Mickey Mantle, March 18, 1969

March 18, 2009 |  8:00 am


1969_0318_sports_runover The Yankees were turning a page in 1969, getting ready for a season without Mickey Mantle. Some people thought they just didn't look like the Yankees anymore.

The Times' John Wiesbusch watched as people visited with Manager Ralph Houk about his team and mostly about the retired Mantle.

"Yeah, believe me it's not the same. It's not the same now but it won't really hit us until we get to Yankee Stadium," Houk said.

"The locker room is the thing that will be different. They say it was the same with Ruth and Gehrig and I know it was with DiMaggio. That's why you tuck their uniforms away in trophy cases along with the memories."

But this being spring, the news wasn't all bad.

"Watch that No. 28, Thurman Munson, a catcher," Houk said deep in the story. "He's going to be a great one. ... When you get on base against this guy you better just stay there on the bag. ... I wouldn't be afraid to use him, but naw, he needs a year or two more in the minors."

Munson played in 26 games in 1969 and eventually became the Yankees' captain. He was killed in a plane crash during the 1979 season.

--Keith Thursby