Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Mickey Rivers, and Bernie Williams walk into a bar.

Mantle and Williams sit at one side of a table, and The Mick motions for Rivers and Maris to sit at the other.

“Park it there,” Mantle says. “You two need to be closer to the door.”

Williams tries to keep a straight face, but when Mantle breaks into a grin, Bernie can’t stifle his giggle.

“What’s it’s gonna be, boys?” the bartender calls out from the front of the room.

“A coupla beers for Bernie and me,” Mantle says. “We’re gonna be here awhile.”

“And for your friends?”

Mantle smirks.

“Something fast and furious for the newbs. Tequila, maybe. Or a pair of Long Island Ice Teas.”

Bernie bursts into full-out laughter. The bartender nods and disappears into the shadows.

“Laugh all you want,” Rivers says as he shuffles his feet under the table and taps his fingers on the wooden surface. “Only one of us went three-for-three.”

Mantle waves a dismissive hand.

“It’s too easy for you mercenaries, coming in when everything is all set up for you.”

“Well, I was one-for-one.” Maris nearly whispers from beside Rivers.

“How’s that?” Mantle sits upright in his chair, stares through the gloom at his former teammate.

“I’m just saying, the one year I played center field in October, we went to the World Series.”

Bernie fake coughs. “And lost!” he utters through the rasp.

Mantle relaxes, grinning again. “That’s right. We lost that one to the Cardinals.”

“We lost to the Dodgers in ‘63. Who was in center then?” Maris still speaks evenly, looking at the table top.

Mantle roars back, “And who was in center in ‘62, the last time we won the Series? And who played center all through the ‘50s, when we were there every October?”

The bartender shows up with their drinks.

Rivers just looks at his Long Island Ice Tea.

“Well, you may think I was a mercenary, but the fact remains — I was the missing link, the vital cog.”

Mantle guffaws. “This I gotta hear!”

Maris gets it. “No Yankees centerfielders at all in the World Series between me and Quick.”

Mantle squints.

“And none between me and Bernie,” Rivers says, limbs quiet now, staring back at the men he bridged.

Bernie’s eyes go wide. “So it was you who brought the Yankees back into the limelight.”

Rivers shrugs.

Maris runs a palm over his brush cut. “That’s what the timing says.”

Mantle huffs, kicks his feet out, eyes his hops.

“Reggie might have something to say about that.”

“He had a candy bar!” Williams enthuses.

“And he was still there in 1979,” Rivers points out.

“And in 1980 and 1981,” Maris chimes in.

“How many Series did the Yanks win those years?” Quick asks, finally taking a sip.

“And where was Reggie in 1976, again?” Maris asks quietly.

“Argh!” Mantle bellows, sitting up again and pointing across the table. “You’ll always be that squirrelly guy struggling to get a bead on a fly ball in the Angels outfield, Rivers.”

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“Besides, you only played in three World Series,” Williams says, smiling nervously, looking to Mantle for validation, to Maris for some sign of having swayed the slugger.

“Right,” Rivers says. “I forget — how did your last Series pan out, again?”

His 1978 ring sparkles in the dim light.

“Well, I …,” Bernie begins but is interrupted by the chirp of a cell phone.

Rivers fishes the device from his shirt pocket, plops it on the table, squints at the small screen.

“Sorry, fellas, I gotta go. Pat Corrales is blowing up my phone again.”

He stands and points toward the door.

“Don’t worry, though. Here comes Ruppert Jones.”

Mantle rolls his eyes, sighs, shuffles to his feet. “I gotta take a leak.”

Maris lets him get about halfway to the bathroom, then calls out. “Hey, Mick — I’ll see if Bobby Murcer can come keep your chair warm while you’re gone.”

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