Chicago Tribune - We are currently unavailable in your region
In , New York Yankees Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris both phenom Bryce Harper has aptly labeled “clown questions,” baseball. Casey Stengel and Mickey Mantle (Getty Images) ankle drunk or sober) is his yielding the home-run record to Roger Maris in because. A look at the most persistent misconceptions about Roger Maris's shattering of the Babe's record.
- Post navigation
Does that mean that "Pride Of The Yankees" and "Fear Strikes Out" -- probably the two best baseball movies that deal with actual characters and events -- are to be relegated to the bench, just because Gary Cooper and Anthony Perkins who played Lou Gehrig and Jimmy Piersall, respectively, in those films didn't look the part?
Is the drama of "Pride" lessened because, in the film, Gehrig comes to his manager and ends his playing streak on the field at Briggs Stadium, rather than in a Detroit hotel room?
Is the tension of "Fear" mitigated because the Red Sox players are seen running around a faux Fenway Park wearing uniform numbers in the 60s and 70s? I say, no and no. The emphasis instead should be focused on larger points -- the relationship between Maris and Mantle; the points of view of the media; the reaction of the fans; and the role of Frick. With regard to the latter, Crystal has identified Frick as the "villain" of the film, because of his ruling on the game deadline.
Frick, a former sportswriter, had known and admired Ruth, and had worked with the Babe on various stories that appeared under Ruth's byline. So perhaps, unlike Caesar's wife, he was not above reproach. But as to the merits of Frick's decision itself, things were not as clear in as they are now.
For more than 50 years, the year-to-year sameness of the baseball schedule was part of the religion of the sport. That seems a quaint notion now, but it was a real one then; HBO began its "When It Was A Game" documentary -- still the best sports program that I have ever seen -- by talking about the rhythm of the season and its familiar two-league, eight-team, game schedule.
When Maris and Mantle threatened to break the record the first year after the schedule was changed, the questions that were raised on how the record should be treated were legitimate ones.
Would this happen every year? A poll by The Sporting News showed that more than two-thirds of veteran writers supported Frick's decision. Perhaps more to the point, more than 70 percent of active star players questioned by that publication on Frick's ruling also endorsed it. Among the players quoted on the subject were: Baseball records were based on game schedules.
Eight additional games can make a big difference in the records. Ruth set it in games, and you should beat it in the same number of games. If I should break it in the th game, I wouldn't want the record. But if Mick breaks it, I hope he does it in The same goes for me. I think Vincent was correct in doing so, and, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm proud and happy to have played a small part in his decision. But the point is that whatever your feelings on Frick's decision, it was truly a difficult one at the time that he made it.
Finally, I never met Ford Frick and don't know anyone in his family. But this much is clear: Because it was Frick, when he was National League president inwho stood tall in opposing the plans hatched by various National League players to refuse to play against the Brooklyn Dodgers if Jackie Robinson were in the Dodgers' lineup. It was Frick who was the second-most important baseball executive -- second only to Branch Rickey -- in that saga.
It was Frick who proclaimed that he would go "down the line" with Robinson, and that he didn't care if there were forfeited games "or it if wrecks the league for five years" - that Robinson had as much right to play in the league as any other American citizen. The resistance to Robinson crumbled.
It would be a shame if his legacy is reduced to that of a "villain. At the first All-Star game break of July there were two All-Star games played at the time, the second coming in AugustMaris was in the lead at 33 home runs with Mantle at Then on July 17th that summer, Commissioner of Baseball, Ford Frick, made a ruling addressing the difference between the Ruth-era game schedule and new game schedule inaugurated that year in the American League to accommodate its expansion to 10 teams.
Failing that, and anyone hitting more than 60 during the game schedule would have to carry some special mark or notation indicating that it was done during the longer schedule. Roger Maris was a bit misunderstood by the press, who treated him unfairly in their reporting, adding to his woes and the pressure to beat the Ruth record.
The Frick ruling touched off a long-running controversy, with divided opinion among fans and players. Still, Mantle and Maris at that point were both on pace to eclipse Ruth in games, but the pressure was on both of them. In fact, on July 17th, the day of the Frick ruling, during the second game of a doubleheader at Baltimore, both Mantle and Maris each lost a home run they had hit that day due to a rain out, with that game and their home runs cancelled.
And unlike Mantle, he was not the easy-going type, personality-wise. His workman-like focus on his craft was often mistaken for a dower, unconcerned disposition.
And accordingly, he suffered, unfairly, for how the press portrayed him in their stories. Still, Maris always took time to talk with the press — multiple times a day in some cases as the race heated up with reporters camped out at his locker — often subject to repeated and inane questioning. While the harsh treatment he received from fans and press did bother and upset him, it also helped steel him in his quest for the record.
Meanwhile, back in the home run hunt, Mickey Mantle went on a bit of tear in mid-Julyhitting seven homers in eight games at Yankee Stadium. Against Chicago on July 13th and 14th, Mantle hit two Nos. Maris was then having a bit of a hitless stretch over some 19 at-bats in six games.
But Maris soon broke out of his funk in a big way on July 25th in Boston. During a doubleheader there he hit four home runs — two in each game — for Nos. In early August, Mantle had another multiple home run performance, hitting three home runs — Nos.
Maris had hit his 41st homer two days earlier. Ruth 36, Maris 41, and Mantle The Yankee win streak ended the next day, as they lost to the Senators, but Maris hit his 43rd.
1961 Yankees Review: Mickey Mantle And Roger Maris, How The Battle Made Them Close
Inside the magazine, a several-page story featured Mantle and Maris in separate photos, each swinging mightily for the fences. The odds were against Maris, but the combined probability of one or the other or both men breaking the record was in favor.
But behind the scenes, there was a high-stakes drama in play as well, and it was taking a toll on both hitters, especially Maris. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were much alike on one level, both coming from the Midwest, raised in working class families, with similar high school athletic stardom, and both marrying their high school sweethearts. Yet, in terms of personality and lifestyle, they were quite different. Mantle was more outgoing and gregarious than Maris, and liked being in the limelight.
Though he played it humbly, Mantle really loved the media attention and he wanted the adulation. Mickey Mantle, a switch-hitter, showing his power from the right side of the plate, capable of 'distant shot' home runs of feet or more. Roger Maris was a line-drive power hitter with a long, smooth swing, and more of a contact hitter.
Press Pressure Mantle had the benefit of 10 years experience in the New York fishbowl, and had learned quickly how and when to smile and what to say and not say to the press. Even inon his way to the Triple Crown, as Mantle crossed the 50 home run threshold and was seen as a possible contender to the Ruth home run record, fans and press jumped on him as the undeserving soul and threat to the Ruth legacy.
Now, Maris was getting the treatment full bore — fans jeering and booing him, receiving threatening mail and telegrams, and followed by a constant throng of press at his every turn. Yet this attitude often made the press go after him all the more. In his book, OctoberDavid Halberstam would write of Maris in the latter months of the home run race: The Yankees, completely unprepared for the media circus, gave him no help, offered him no protection, and set not guidelines.
They let him, stubborn, suspicious and without guile, hang out there alone, utterly ill prepared for this ordeal; they never gave him a press officer to serve as a buffer between him and the media, or even set certain times when he would deal with the reporters, so what it would not be a constant burden.
They did not filter requests, or tell him who he might trust and whom he might not or which requests were legitimate and which were trivial. Under all this pressure, Maris grew more and more irritable.
Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris's Relationship During the Home Run Record Race of '61 | HubPages
He found that he could go nowhere without a phalanx of journalists…. Maris and Cerv had in effect, rescued Mantle from his more freewheeling lifestyle and Times Square hangovers, when he lived downtown at the St.
Sure, Mantle and Maris were competitors in the home run race, but they were also friends despite significant lifestyle differences. And as a pair of New York Yankees hitting home runs, they were very good for the business of baseball, and not only in New York. As the Yankees went on the road to other cities, record crowds began coming out, but not to see their home teams.
Radio audiences for Yankee games were also up. Roger Maris, in particular, continued his hot-hitting through August, as Mantle went cold for a time. Maris became the first player in history to hit 50 home runs by the end of August. On August 26, in a game on the road against Kansas City, Maris hit s 51st.
But when the boys went hitless, as they did on August 27th, the headlines would note that too. On August 30th and 31st, Mantle got back on track, hitting home runs Nos. For the month of August, Maris had hit 11 and Mantle 9.
On September 1st with the start of a critical three-game series with the Detroit Tigers, who were only one-and-a-half games behind the Yankees in the pennant race, Maris led the home run race with 51, while Mantle stood at Both Maris and Mantle went hitless in the first game of the Detroit series, each going 0-for Then, on September 2nd, against the Tigers, before a Yankee Stadium crown of 50, Maris hit two home runs — Nos. That made him the first Yankee to hit 53 in a season, after Ruth.
Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris's Relationship During the Home Run Record Race of '61
But he kept playing. The following day against the Senators, Maris added his 54th. At this point, the combined total of home runs hit by Maris and Mantle,eclipsed the previous record set by a pair of teammates — Ruth 60 and Gehrig 47 at —set back in Mantle would hit his 50th home run in the same game in the 9th inning.
On September 14th, after the Yankees had dropped a doubleheader to the Chicago White Sox in Chicago, Mickey Mantle, who had gone hitless in both games, made a surprising statement after the game. I figure if I could have hit a couple here in the Chicago doubleheader I might have been able to do it. Mickey Mantle, frustrated at first base after grounding into a force play during Chicago game, afterwhich he would assess his HR record chances as poor, but he then had an infected hip.
Mantle had been waylaid with what was variously reported as a virus, head cold, and upper respiratory infection that had lingered for some time, affecting his performance. Still, Mantle continued to play, though not at his best. In the Detroit series, September 16th and 17th, and he hit a couple of long balls that almost made it out. The game itself would go into extra innings, until the top of the 12th when Maris hit his 58th homer of the season — a two-run blast — giving the Yanks a victory.
Maris would have three RBIs that day while Mantle struggled, going hitless in four at bats. By the time the Yankees traveled to Baltimore for a three-game series, September thru, Mantle only made one appearance as a pinch hitter.
The next day in Boston, Mantle went hitless, and the day after that he could only play one inning. On the plane ride back from Boston, Mantle, still feeling under the weather, spoke with Yankee announcer Mel Allen who said he knew a doctor who could fix him up — an infamous physician, it turns out, named Max Jacobson.
Jacobson, popular for a time with celebrities and even President John F. Mantle received one of Dr. By September 28th, Mantle was taken to the hospital where he was treated for an infected hip, as doctors excised and packed the abscess.
Mantle was effectively knocked out of the home run race, hospitalized for the final week of the season. Roger Maris, watching one of his homers leave the yard. At one point, patches of his hair were falling out.
Still, he soldiered on. There, Maris had a some rough at bats in the first game of a doubleheader on September 19th. The second game was the th game of the season, in which he could equal or exceed Ruth.