Sixty years ago today, the legend of Mickey Mantle began when he hit a homerun in a preseason game at the age of 19 in the USC ball field. How did the Oklahoma country boy grow to be one of the best baseball players of all time? It basically happened over night for the boy wonder.

Baxter Holmes - LA Times

In the Yankees' dugout before the game, Rizzuto, the 1950 American League MVP, called down the bench to Mantle.

"Hey, rook," Rizzuto said, "I've got someone down here about your age."

Mantle came over and plopped down next to Justin Dedeaux. Rod's 7-year-old son was USC's bat boy.

The two joked around, but Justin didn't know a thing about Mantle and was really waiting to to see his favorite player, DiMaggio.

And when DiMaggio emerged from the building where the Yankees dressed, Justin trembled. "It was like God, God himself, walked out," he recalled.

Mantle, the son of a coal miner, was far from that, looking more like one of USC's players with his blond hair and boyish smile.

But physically he was stocky, broad through the chest with thick arms and legs. He was built more like a running back than an outfielder.

"Everything about him looked powerful," said Dave Rankin, then a sophomore reliever for USC.

Dedeaux didn't tell his pitchers much except that Mantle could hit for power.

"So he said what he said about every power hitter," Rankin remembered. '"Keep the ball down, and we'll see what happens.'"

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