Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mickey Mantle Hit The Ball OUT of Tiger Stadium September 10, 1960

From The Cards
That Never Were
On this day in Baseball History September 10, 1960: At Briggs Stadium (later known as Tiger Stadium) in Detroit, Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees strides to the plate with two men on base and two outs against Detroit starter Paul Foytack in the seventh inning. Mantle being a switch hitter took his place in the left-hand hitter box.

Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto described Mantle's swing as "putting good wood on the ball" as Mantle swung at the 2-0 offering by Foytack and put the ball over the right field roof of Briggs Stadium. Let me repeat that, he hit the ball OVER the roof of Briggs Stadium. The ball landed at a lumberyard across the street. Though not measured at the time, a measurement "after the fact" estimated that the ball traveled a distance of 643 feet. The article Mickey Mantle's 10 Longest Home Runs by Lewis Early from The describes the story in detail about Mantle's homer and the measurement:
Detroit's Tiger Stadium (the name was changed from Briggs Stadium) was a favorite Mantle hunting ground for legendary home run blasts. On September 10, 1960, with two out and two on in the seventh, Mickey worked the count to 2-0. Righty Paul Foytack fired a fastball right into the Mick's killing zone and he jumped on it. He crushed a spectacular drive that easily cleared the right-field roof (something Mickey had done several times by this point in his career), crossed Trumbull Avenue and landed at the base of a shed in the Brooks lumberyard across from the ballpark.

For spectators that day it was another of many tape measure homers Mantle hit during his career. For the Yankees the win - coupled with a Baltimore Orioles loss - put them back in first place in a tight pennant race. This overshadowed the magnitude of Mickey's blast in the stories that appeared in newspapers the next day. That plus the fact that spectacular Mantle home runs were becoming somewhat commonplace. So much so that Yankees' PR director Bob Fishel (Red Patterson's successor), who had many other duties, couldn't keep up with every tape measure blast Mantle hit. For that matter, Fishel wasn't with the Yankees in Detroit on that trip, so there was no one to emphasize to the press what Mickey had accomplished, and the Tigers certainly had no motivation to point it out.

But this one turns into quite a story a quarter of a century later. As told by Mark Gallagher in his excellent book, Explosion!, Dr. Paul Susman, a true Mantle fan, was convinced that this home run was special. As part of Dr. Susman's research for Gallagher's book, he went to Detroit to see if he could get the necessary information to calculate the exact distance the ball traveled.

It turns out that the story of Mickey's historic drive was well known at Brooks Lumber. Paul Borders, a Brooks employee, saw exactly where the ball landed. Susman and fellow researcher Robert Schiewe calculated the distance through Schiewe's use of the Pythagorean Theorem. The result was a prodigious 643 feet. This is the longest home run to have actually been measured from the point it was hit to the point at which it landed. Although it was measured after the fact, the point of impact was well-known and we believe this distance to be completely reliable. This is no computer estimate. This is the distance the ball traveled in the air from home plate to the place where it landed. The Guinness Book of Sports Records notes it as the longest home run in a major league game to be measured "after the fact." It is the longest home run ever hit in a major league game where it was possible to get the exact measurement. Considered along with the Bovard Field homer, it demonstrates that Mickey's unheard of home run distances are no flukes.
Now as the article Tigers beaten 5-1 by John Drebinger in the New York Times of September 11, 1960 states:
In one of Mantle's two previous clouts over this same roof, Foytack was also the victim. That occurred on June 18, 1956. Mantle's second one was hit off of Jim Bunning on Sept. 17, 1958.

Prior to that, only one homer cleared that Detroit rampart and this took place more than twenty-one years ago. (Ted) Williams did it on May 4, 1939.
Here is the box score for the September 10, 1960 game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers from the September 11, 1960 New York Times:

Mantle would go on to hit a total of 536 homers over an 18-year career. In doing so, Mantle sits at the top of the list of the most home runs by a switch-hitter in the history of the game (Eddie Murray is second with 504 homers). Mantle would retire in 1968 and would be inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 with 88.2% of the vote (322/365 ballots).

Ok, let me rant for a minute. How the hell does Mickey Mantle not get at least 90% of the vote for induction. We're talking about Mickey "F'n" Mantle here. You ever get into a discussion with a person who believes that the Hall of Fame should have less members and their criteria is "If you have to think about someone being a Hall of Famer then they shouldn't be in"? If I'm going by that, the Mick is a no-brainer. You don't have to think if the Mick was a Hall of Famer. He was. HE IS!!! Bar none. His getting 88.2% of the vote is downright embarrassing. Mays got 94.6% of the vote (409/432 ballots) and in my mind, I think Mays and Mantle goes hand-in-hand. I know the Yankees dominated during Mantle's time with the era, so the Yankees hate must have been really strong. LOL. Getting off the soapbox now.

Many people wonder if we'll ever see a player like Mickey Mantle. Switch-hitting aside, I think Mike Trout is as close as we'll get this generation to a player of Mantle's caliber. Now only time will tell if Trout will continue on the pace he's playing at to make this a fair comparison.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Mickey Mantle's career statistics from Baseball
- Click here to access the article Mickey Mantle's 10 Longest Home Runs by Lewis Early from The
- Click here to access Distance of Longest Batted Baseball from The Physics Factbook Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students from the Physics Factbook website