It's not often
that a boy gets to meet his hero and have that meeting grow into
a lifelong friendship. But for Bob Emory, that's just what happened
with Yankee great Mickey Mantle. It all began in 1956 and lasted
almost four decades until Mantle's death in 1995. "Mickey was
a special friend and a true hero," Emory says. "He may have had
some tough years but, through it all, he was good to his fans.
We were important to him."
After attending numerous Yankee games and getting a few words
in to Mantle as he came out of the dugout, Emory decided he needed
to make a lasting impression on his hero and came up with a way
to do just that. At the time, Emory was working at a hardware
store, and on the third floor in storage was an old bowling trophy.
"I asked my boss if I could have it, and when he said yes, I changed
the mounting to a baseball player, cleaned it up, and put a new
plate on it. The next time the Yankees came to town, I dragged
it to the [Griffith] Stadium [in D.C.] and presented it to Mickey.
That was no easy task---the trophy was about 31 inches high. Our
friendship snowballed from there."
Over the years, Mantle would send Emory signed baseball cards,
photos and balls, and they would often talk when the Yankees came
to town. On one occasion, Emory went to the World Series and stayed
in the same hotel as the team. Then, in 1970, came Emory's ultimate
tribute to his hero. He named his only son Mickey. "I also asked
Mickey to be his godfather and he said yes. Although it was in
name only, it was a great honor."
Now, some 46 years later, an entire room in Emory's house is dedicated
to Mantle's memory. It is full of autographs, balls, figurines,
photos, and more. "My wife calls it my Mickey Mantle shrine."
His favorite pieces of memorabilia are the more personal ones,
like pictures of him or his family with the legendary player.
Emory's love of baseball and later for Mantle was nurtured by
what he considers a great childhood in Annapolis. "Back then,
Annapolis was a small town, and I grew up enjoying the simpler
things in life," he says. "My friends and I used to play baseball
all day during the summers. We would fantasize about being part
of the Yankee lineup and would take turns pretending we were famous
players up at bat."
Though his passion was for baseball, Emory knew he didn't have
what it took to be a professional player so he got a job at a
local hardware store after high school while he decided what to
do with his life. "When some friends suggested I look into the
police force, I thought, 'Why not?' It sounded interesting," he
says. "I have to admit that at first I didn't think it would become
my career, but once on the force, I loved the people I worked
with and enjoyed working with the community." Before he knew it
more than 30 years had passed. But even after it was time to retire,
which he did as a lieutenant, he couldn't tear himself away for
long. Now he is a part-time contractor with the Annapolis Police
Department and works with the auto theft division.
Married for almost 25 years to Carol, the love of his life, Emory
and his wife have six children and nine grandchildren. "Together
we have a wonderful blended family. I had a son and two daughters
from my first marriage, and she had two sons and a daughter from
hers. We brought them together to make a real family."
According to Emory, the secret to the success of his marriage
is that he and his wife laugh together. "It's important to find
humor in life," he says. "It also helps that we like the same
things and just enjoy being together." Recently, Emory and his
wife have discovered a love for cruises and have traveled to such
places as Alaska, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. They have
another cruise planned, this time to Nassau, to celebrate their
25th wedding anniversary.
You'd think between baseball, work, travel and his family, that
Emory would have enough on his plate to keep anyone busy. But
Emory also serves as president of the local Lions Club chapter.
"It's very satisfying," he says. "It's a great way to give back
to the community that I love." The Lions Club is an international
organization with nearly 1.4 million members in 190 countries.
Globally, members tackle issues such as blindness, drug abuse
prevention and diabetes awareness. On the local front, they seek
to improve the quality of life in their local communities by participating
in such activities as building parks, supporting hospitals and
establishing water treatment plants.
"A recent project that we undertook was to raise money to help
pay for and maintain the helicopter pad at the Anne Arundel Medical
Center." The Annapolis Lions Club also hosts such events as fruit
sales, bull roasts, golf tournaments and calendar sales to help
those in need in the area. "We also make annual contributions
to the local police and fire departments and sponsor scholarships."
The Lions Club maintains a popular fruit sale every winter. "You
can get boxes of tasty oranges, tangerines and grapefruit," Emory
says. (For information, call 410-721-3476 or 410-268-0996.)
Another ongoing project of the group is eyeglass recycling. You
can drop off your old glasses in boxes located at malls and stores
around the area. "We recycle these eyeglasses and send them to
people in the U.S. and around the world who can't afford to buy
The Lions Club is always looking for new members and invites everyone,
no matter what your age or gender, to join. (To find out more
about how to join or about the events the club sponsors, call
"Being a part of this organization is a very rewarding experience,"
Emory says. "After you've taken part in that first project and
stand back to look at the work you've done, you'll realize just
how great it is to help people in your community by giving of
your time and hard work, not by just writing a check."