On January 7, 1968, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays put in an appearance at a sporting goods fair at the New Yorker Hotel. By that time, they had become relaxed enough with each other to exchange a few good-natured barbs. "You sure you know how to use one of these things?" Willie quipped as Mickey held up a glove. "Man," Mickey said in reply, as he tried on Willie's mitt, "some people said I couldn't carry your glove. Now I see why. It's so damn big."
The fair was also an opportunity for Esquire magazine to put together a photo shoot and dual interview, which appeared in the August issue: "Mantle Fans Mays/Mays Fans Mantle—Willie and Mickey Appraise Each Other in Relation." Mickey's text (written, as he revealed to me at a 1985 party for The Mick, by Dick Schaap, who had written Mantle's paperback biography in the Sport magazine biography series) contained some genuine appreciation and insight: "Outside of Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays is the greatest all-around baseball player of my time. Certainly he's been the most daring. Mays would steal home, a tough play and one in which you've got a great chance to look bad. Willie didn't even think of that, he'd just go. Nine times out of ten, he'd make it." (Mickey was almost right—Mays stole home eight times in ten tries in his career.)