Mantle's mammoth blast

Updated: October 17, 2001, 9:25 AM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

Signature Game
April 17, 1952 - It was the fifth inning at Griffith Stadium. At the plate was 21-year-old Mickey Mantle, batting righthanded against lefthander Chuck Stobbs, making his first appearance for the Washington Senators.

Yankees announcer Mel Allen made the call: "Here's the pitch . . . Mantle swings . . . there's a tremendous drive going into deep leftfield! It's going, going, it's over the bleachers and over the sign atop the bleachers into the yards of houses across the street! It's got to be one of the longest home runs I've ever seen hit. How about that!"

Mantle's awesome blast, his first homer of the season, was estimated at 565 feet by Arthur Patterson of the Yankees' front-office staff. Patterson paid the 10-year-old boy who retrieved the ball $5 for it and then gave the ball to Mantle.

The drive was the first of the tape-measure homers. Many consider it the farthest that any baseball has ever traveled. One of them was Clark Griffith, the Senators' 83-year-old president. "No doubt about it," he said, "that was the longest home run ever hit in the history of baseball."

Mantle by the numbers

Career Statistics
Year Tm/L AB Runs Hits HR RBI BA OBP SLG
1951 NY-A 341 61 91 13 65 .267 .349 .443
1952 NY-A 549 94 171 23 87 .311 .394 .530
1953 NY-A 461 105 136 21 92 .295 .398 .497
1954 NY-A 543 129 163 27 102 .300 .411 .525
1955 NY-A 517 121 158 37 99 .306 .433 .611
1956 NY-A 533 132 188 52 130 .353 .467 .705
1957 NY-A 474 121 173 34 94 .365 .515 .665
1958 NY-A 519 127 158 42 97 .304 .445 .592
1959 NY-A 541 104 154 31 75 .285 .392 .514
1960 NY-A 527 119 145 40 94 .275 .402 .558
1961 NY-A 514 132 163 54 128 .317 .452 .687
1962 NY-A 377 96 121 30 89 .321 .488 .605
1963 NY-A 172 40 54 15 35 .314 .443 .622
1964 NY-A 465 92 141 35 111 .303 .426 .591
1965 NY-A 361 44 92 19 46 .255 .380 .452
1966 NY-A 333 40 96 23 56 .288 .392 .538
1967 NY-A 440 63 108 22 55 .245 .394 .434
1968 NY-A 435 57 103 18 54 .237 .387 .398
TOTAL 18 yrs 8,102 1,677 24,115 536 1,509 .298 .423 .557
*Statistics in bold denote league leader

Odds 'n' Ends
  • Besides holding the World Series record for most homers (18), Mantle also leads in RBI (40), runs (42), total bases (123), walks (43) and strikeouts (54). His batting average in 65 games was .257.

  • In his two seasons in the minors, Mantle was a shortstop, making 47 and 55 errors, respectively. But he was a terror at the plate, batting .317 in 1949 and .383 with 26 homers and 136 RBI in 1950.

  • Yankees manager Casey Stengel switched him to the outfield in spring training 1951.

  • Mantle's first major league homer was off Chicago's Randy Gumpert on May 1, 1951. His last homer was off Boston's Jim Lonborg on Sept. 20, 1968.

  • When Mantle was returned to the minors in 1951 and struggled his first week, he told his father he was thinking about quitting. Mantle expected sympathy. Instead, Mutt began packing Mick's bags. He told his son he was a quitter and that he could go work back home in the mines. Mickey changed his mind, and in his next game, broke out of his slump.

  • In 1952, Mantle's first full season with the Yankees, he fanned a league-leading 111 times. When the hot-tempered Mantle took out his frustration on the water cooler after one strikeout, Stengel advised him, "That water cooler ain't striking you out, son."

  • In the 1952 World Series, with the Yankees trailing the Brooklyn Dodgers three games to two, Mantle homered in Games 6 and 7. His sixth-inning homer in the final game broke a 2-2 tie and the Yankees won 4-2.

  • Mantle had more than 100 strikeouts eight times, five times leading the league. He finished with 1,710 strikeouts, with a career-worst of 126 in 1959.

  • He had more than 100 walks 10 times, leading the league five times. He finished with 1,734 walks, with a career-high of 146 in 1957.

  • Mantle led the league in runs six times between 1954 and 1961, with a career-best of 132 in 1956 and 1961.

  • His 1,509 RBI were a record for a switch-hitter until broken by Eddie Murray in 1992.

  • Selected to play in 20 All-Star Games, Mantle appeared in 16 and batted .233 with two homers and four RBI.

  • He was clocked in 3.1 seconds from home to first base. Though one of the fastest players in the game in his prime, the Yankees preferred that he didn't run. He stole 153 bases in his career, with a high of 21 in 1959.

  • In his last seven seasons, Mantle never started more than 132 games because of injuries. He played first base his final two years to make it easier on his legs.

  • Mantle began drinking after he came to New York. He said he did it out of shyness, boredom and pain.

  • Commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned Mantle from baseball in 1983 when the Mick accepted a job with the Claridge Casino Hotel in Atlantic City as a goodwill ambassador. The next commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, reinstated him in 1985.

  • Mantle was friends with Bobby Layne, the star quarterback for the Detroit Lions. It was from Layne that Mantle appropriated the line: "If I had known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself."

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